Upgrade Core i3-530 to Sandy Bridge

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Upgrade Core i3-530 to Sandy Bridge

I've got a new motherboard coming on Monday and plan to upgrade my HTPC that I built last spring from an ASUS MB w/ Core i3-530 to an Intel MB (DH67BL) w/ Core i3-2100T.

I was wondering if anyone has tried such an upgrade and whether it was possible to do so without re-installing Win7 from scratch.  Ideally, I'd like to hook everything up and just fire it up... dealing with various driver issues after the fact (ie. the Intel MB has Intel NIC whereas the ASUS MB has Realtek NIC).  The video drivers for the Core i3-530 seem the same as drivers for the Core i3-2100T so I think I'm good there.

Reading the Intel site, there seems to be a big issue with the 64-bit Intel HD Graphics drivers and HDMI displays, but I'm not sure if the same issue exists for 32-bit (currently running Win7 32-bit).  I guess I'll find out.  At any rate, I have some older driver packages laying around that I can use (there are reports that 2291 doesn't have the HDMI blue-screen problems).

Just thought I'd ask if anyone has attempted a similar upgrade with the new SB stuff finally readily available and if there's any advice you might offer.  I'll certainly report back with my findings as I attempt this early next week.

Thanks,

// Dean

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I rolled back to the 2279 drivers (they were the ones that came on my motherboard driver disc).  The newer ones had the handshake HDMI blank screen boot/minute later blue screen issue.

Whenever swapping motherboards, it's a good idea to a clean install.  The last thing you want is a driver ghost hanging around causing issues.  Maybe Windows 7 is better at it, but I know older Windows versions were never happy with motherboard swaps.  You probably want your HTPC to be stable so shows get recorded 100% of the time, a clean install will keep you from having worry about the old OS's stuff being an issue.  I don't know how much RAM you're putting in your new system but it might be a good time for you to jump to 64-bit.  There are several good tools out there to make backing up/clean installs painless.

Aaron Ledger's picture
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I second the motion for a clean install. As far as x64 Intel HD Graphics drivers, I have been using a Clarkdale on x64 and generally use every updated driver from Intel. I haven't had any stability issues on any of the releases other than some of the very first when Clarkdale was new.

Senior Editor | @swoon_

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The problem with the newer drivers only manifests itself with the 6-series chipset.  See this long thread on Intel's forums for the details:

http://communities.intel.com/thread/20439?start=135&tstart=0

(at least Intel has been just now able to reproduce the bug, but who knows how long it will take for a fix to materialize).  Not sure if the problem is specific to 64-bit or also happens on 32-bit, but I guess I'll find out.

I plan to install 4GB -- I just don't see 64-bit as a big advantage until you have more than 4GB of RAM (64-bit programs are bigger, and use more memory while they run, so it is somewhat of a wash even though some of the memory above 3GB is not usable on 32-bit Win7).  And then there is the pain of dealing with the "Program Files" vs. "Program Files (x86)", 32-bit vs. 64-bit drivers/media filters/codecs.  A 64-bit Win7 installation also has a much larger footprint than does 32-bit (a concern if you're stuffing it onto a 60GB SSD).

I'll probably still attempt to do without a clean install and just see what happens.  I'd like to not be writing all that data (clean install, then updates, etc.) to my SSD as it certainly causes (perhaps unnecessary) wear and tear on the flash modules.  If things seem unstable, then I can always fully inventory my software setup and re-do it (and there is a lot of tweaks just over the past year: channel logos, channel line-up editing, remote re-mapping, registry tweaks for discrete IR on/off, power profile, libraries & paths, SSD tweaking, tweaking to folder structure using junctions to move some system data off the SSD and onto the hard disk, the list goes on...)

I'm not even sure I could remember all the tweaks over the last year... although if I have to re-do it, I will certainly keep a notebook/log.

At any rate, we'll certainly know more next week...

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Good luck. =)  Be sure to backup your show setting and stuff first, if it goes sideways during the attempt you may have a hard time pulling anything off the SSD afterwards.  Let us know what happens.

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I have full backup on my WHS, but are there any tools in particular that I should look at for backup/restore of series recordings, guide, etc?  Is there software that might make a fresh install easier?

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http://madeformediacenter.com/m4mc/app.aspx?id=f57f787f-a8d4-4acf-9e5a-685627c8cd46 or http://www.missingremote.com/news/2011-01-31/wmc7-tv-recording-schedule-backup will let you save your series info.  You can use Window 7's backup and restore to move a bunch of stuff too.

 

The big concern without doing a clean install will be that all the drivers get redone.  When the system tries to redo the Northbridge/Southbridge drivers will be potential choke point.  Your power management, PCI controllers, memory controller, IDE/SATA controllers, etc are all going to change.  I have read about people successfully getting Windows 7 (and older builds of Windows) to work afterwards.  I've also known it to result in systems that appear to work but are unstable and have data corruption.  I'll be curious how your attempt works and hope it goes on the good side.

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As far as affecting the SSD lifespan, I don't think you'll really be saving much, if anything, by not going the clean install route. On a recent Win 7 clean install up to SP1 and all the programs I wanted, SSDLife still estimated 99% lifespan which was something ridiculous like 10 years left.

It will be interesting to see how it goes for you. I just don't recommend it for exactly the reason oliverredfox points out where systems have odd stability issues along with bringing over crap into the install that is no longer necessary.

Senior Editor | @swoon_

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Well... just as you guys stated, the in-place upgrade did not go well.  I was hoping the hardware was similar enough, but obviously it wasn't.  The system booted and worked OK, but there were issues.

Although I was careful to uninstall drivers before doing the upgrade, I guess I didn't uninstall enough.  One problem area was Intel's MEI.  Once the upgrade was complete something wasn't right with MEI and although I could uninstall it after the MB/CPU swap, I couldn't get it to re-install correctly.

I didn't spend much time messing with it, and after about an hour I just started over from scratch.  I used mceBackup to restore the scheduled recordings, and of course backed up and restored my Recorded TV folder to/from a USB hard drive.  mceBackup didn't work for my channel lineups (it duplicated all the channels and cleared a bunch of the call signs), so I had to redo TV setup after deleting the guide database files... so I've got to spend some time in GuideTool fixing that up.  Also, I've still got my channel logos to install and setup (might as well try version 2)... and there's something screwy with the tweaking I had to do to the registry to make discrete on/off work correctly.

So... I've got a little bit of work yet before it is to the state I started, but it is close and working.  And... with that 35w Core i3-2100T, Skythe Big Shuriken, and fanless power supply (Seasonic SS-400FL), my system finally acceptably quiet (my Samsung plasma TV now creates more noise than my HTPC).  It also runs cooler than the old i3-530.

// Dean

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Aw well, it was worth the try.  I hope you can get your few tweaks up and running quickly.  Pretty cool how your HTPC is quieter than your TV.

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I noticed that Ian Dixon, author of mcBackup, is seeking input for improvements. Perhaps you should report the issue you experienced with the tool.

Senior Editor | @swoon_

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I'll try to shoot an email to Ian about the mceBackup (restore) problem that I saw.  Having never used the tool, it was probably something I did wrong or a misunderstanding on my part about how it is supposed to work.

One other thing I should mention for those of you thinking about SB.  There is definitely some issues with HDMI and this chipset.  I'm not sure what is going on at this point, but it seems that after a soft reset (ie. Start -> Restart from Windows), the system will hang trying to start Windows.  It hangs even before the Win7 "flower animation."  Interestingly, I never saw it when I had it connected to an old Dell monitor via DVI-D (no HDCP, a Dell 1901FP, circa 2003) and I've never seen it happen on a cold boot.  And I did a lot of soft resets in the process of setting it up (all those reboots after Windows updates and installing software).  It wasn't until I hooked it up to my HT that I started seeing it.  In addition, it will generally work after failing by using the (hard) reset button (and answering "Start Windows Normally" at the "Windows failed to start last time" screen).

I'm planning to enable some boot trace output and see if I can figure which driver is causing it.

But let this be a word of warning.  It seems maybe Intel is slipping on their quality, given the big SATA issue earlier this year and now all these HDMI issues, not to mention how long it has taken them to adress the 24p frame-rate issue mentioned in every review on this website.

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Actually -- it now looks like I've got a bad board or CPU.  After passing a 2 hour Prime95 stress test, it won't even boot from Windows 7 install media (tried both my USB stick and my DVD media).  It crashes after loading Windows usually with different BSOD specifics each time.

I turned on boot tracing for troubleshooting the hang on restart issue, and most of the time it hung on amdxata.sys, a couple of times the next one (can't remember what it was... fltmgr.sys?).  Then I turned on FastBoot in the BIOS.  That seemed to fix the problem on restart (strange eh?).  But a few restarts later, it would no longer start from the SSD, and in addition would no longer start from any media.

I suspected bad RAM, but I tried swapping from another system and same result.  Swapping RAM of course involved removing the HSF because of the way that Big Shuriken stands over top the RAM and makes it impossible to get at the RAM chips installed in the first two slots.

At this point I suspect I need to check my RMA options at provantage.com which is where the MB/CPU came from.

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Wow, that sucks. One thing to try if you haven't already is clear the CMOS and start from scratch with the BIOS. It's worth a shot on the small chance that some setting became corrupt. Perhaps another would be to double-check the HSF interface though that also seems pretty remote considering you've already removed and replaced it.

Oh, one more thing would be to check your power supply voltages with a multimeter.

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Tried restoring BIOS settings with F9 in BIOS setup.  Didn't help.  Also, my temps were great with the 3rd party HSF, and just OK with Intel's.  Don't think it was heat related.  Checked PS voltages and they looked OK (I have only an analog MM so I can't verify that they are within tolerances, but this PS was working just fine with the old Clarkdale setup for a few weeks).

Talked with Intel tech today and they agreed it is probably the board. New one is already in process (provantage.com service is excellent so far).

I'm hopeful that the Windows hang on restart I experienced were just related to the (failing) board.  So hopefully, I get a new board that just works.  Holding on to the processor for now as Intel people say unlikely a bad CPU.

I restored my HTPC back to the Clarkdale setup and will do it all over when the new board gets here.  Fun stuff.

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Here is an update. Got the new board yesterday. Same problem. CPU is now going back... New one already on its way. It has been a pain, but the good thing was I was planning to build two more systems based on the 2100t and may now go with the 620t for those machines.

Aaron Ledger's picture
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Ouch. I'm going through my own RMA headaches with another problem so I can empathize. The G620T is looking like an awesome chip for a lot of applications.

Senior Editor | @swoon_

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Another update.  Got the new i3-2100t through provantage.com RMA process (they were great folks to deal with, BTW... highly recommended).

The new chip solved all the problems and my system is back up and running.  Fast enough (ie. definitely slightly faster than the core i3-530 it replaced) and running very quiet.

I've also rec'd the two G620T and have built mini-ITX systems for a couple of satellite locations (guest house, and garage).  Nice little chip -- no speed demon like the i3-2100 but very nice with the power usage and does everything I need it to do in these locations.  Passmark CPU score is in the 1800-1900 range, so it beats the AMD 5800+, and really blows away the AMD 4200+ the new systems replace.

Now I've just got my new WHS 2011 server to build.  Which will be a necessary thing, as the Vista-32 drivers you need to use for WHSv1 for the DH67CF boards don't work with the WHSv1 client restore disk.  I had intended on using a WHS restore process to simply clone the guesthouse to garage system as they are almost identical.  No joy -- instead had to setup both systems from scratch even though they would be almost the same.  Could not get the network to work during client restore.  Hopefully WHS 2011 is better in its driver support.  Does no good to do backups if you can't use them when they are needed.  Having WHSv1 using Vista as its client restore foundation definitely is not a good thing.

One other note: It sure is nice to deal with the Intel motherboards.  Very nice Intel NICs... even the driver configuration section is nice -- it even has help for the various settings.  Very nice BIOS upgrade process.  Also no crazy fan at full blast during boot or wake from sleep.  And it was really nice to deal with the "software for adults" that Intel has in the Intel Desktop Utilities (my only previous experience was with the ASUS stuff, where the UI looks like it is designed for teenagers).

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