A Warning on Hardware

Filed under hardware on January 16, 2022

Around October last year, I built myself a high end PC. Mostly because I could, and my existing rig was starting to age a little. And when I say high end, I mean it. AMD 5950x, RTX 3090, 128GB of RAM and 8TB of NVMe storage.

I also bought a case and AIO CPU cooler combo, since I’m not really patient enough to build a custom water setup.

Cracks Form

Around November, I started getting a ton of disk write errors on my storage drive. This first manifested as unloaded textures, music and SFX in some games I was playing with some of my friends. After a reboot it came good, but I kept having similar issues sporadically. Get to early December, and I’m trying to do some pretty heavy I/O processing of some files I got off the internet somewhere, and the hard drive would just completely disappear. I downloaded CrystalDiskInfo, and it’s reporting 0s for every S.M.A.R.T statistic.

Ok, I said, it’s just a faulty drive. No big deal, I can limp it along and just avoid writing data too quickly. That was until the day I couldn’t boot from my main OS drive.

The Culprit

My drives are both flaky, and incredibly annoyingly so. I’ve bought myself an 8TB SATA SSD to start moving data across, but it’s very slow going. I can’t really pull either of them out until I have the data off them, so I’ll have to suffer through for now. But I have no problem calling the part out, it was the ADATA XPG Spectrix S40

ADATA XPG Spectrix S40

I cheaped out slightly on my storage since I figured “eh, it’s fast enough”, and that’s on me. But I was using them well within the manufacturer’s limits on top of installing them in a motherboard with a cooling shroud over the drives.

It’s not acceptable, and while I think I can probably get a refund on one, the problem is too intermittent on the other that I doubt I’ll ever see any reimbursement. So I’ll yell into the void here, maybe someone will see it but I doubt it. The money doesn’t really matter, but the absolute annoyance of having to move my data off a drive that seemingly just turns itself off without warning is something I shouldn’t have to deal with mere months after purchasing my drive.

Other Observations

My running theory at this point is that this thing has a fault that causes it to cook itself. I’ve left CrystalDiskInfo running and kept an eye on it, it will spike to 80 degrees while idling. Case temperature will be sitting at 60 degrees, this thing will decide to plumb the depths of hell.

Another odd thing is Steam seems to have no problem writing data to it, still trying to figure out what makes it different. I’ve written a little util trying to throttle transfer rates, running experiments to try and find the sweet spot.

Dishonerable mention: Poorly picked combo

The cooler/case combo I purchased was also ill advised. While Scorptec has been fine to deal with (their phones are open, despite what the website says), this one was not a great choice. I got an Aorus C300 case with an Aorus Waterforce X 360 cooler. The cooler is great, and my CPU is very well looked after, but there’s some issues with the case.

The case was not made for a high end PC. First problem I had, the PSU shroud is riveted on. That would be fine, if I hadn’t had bought a modular power supply. In order to plug cables in, you need to unscrew the PSU, pull it out of the case, plug in your cables, then fight to get it back in. Horrible design.

The other issue with this case/cooler combo is that the only place the radiator will fit is at the front of the machine. This created all sorts of thermal issues with my GFX card, and it would throttle even under what would probably be considered light loads. I ended up pulling my new gear out of my new case and putting into old reliable. No cooling issues since.

While I think both these products would be fine on their own, together it was a horrible choice.

Wrap Up

I really just wanted to have a whinge about a poor decision I made. Also maybe provide a cautionary tale about buying cheaper parts, the disks had reviewed OK, but the only places talking about them were review sites. I eventually found one other kindred soul seeing the same issues I am with their Adata drives, but nothing useful to help fix my conundrum at the moment.

No big deal in the grand scheme of things, but you better believe I’m salty about it, and will definitely be more careful in the future.

Stephen Gream

Written by Stephen Gream who lives and works in Melbourne, Australia. You should follow him on Minds