Happy new year, everybody! Let's all plunge together into the economic abyss that is 2009. Whee.
The extended thermal testing and troubleshooting yesterday was more or less an unmitigated disaster. I managed to brick a dual-GPU Radeon in the process of flashing two new video BIOSes on it. Cosmetically, both flashes seemed to succeed, but upon reboot, the card was dead. I'm not sure it can be revived. I tried booting with it in a secondary PCIe slot and another card in the main one, but I can't get a video signal at all when the bricked card is installed. And scripting a blind dual BIOS flash on a boot disk sounds like a joy. Not that it would work, I don't think, since the POST process seems to hang before the system boots.
Ah, well. Such are the risks, I suppose.
Beyond that, I wanted to test a real deal-killer thermal issue on a different motherboard than our GPU test rig, just to be sure the issue isn't confined to a single mobo or chipset or something. However, most of the active systems around here are CPU test rigs and must be kept pristine, software and driver-wise. I tried using the Skulltrail rig for testing, but I only seemed to prove that it's somehow mysteriously incompatible with the video cards in question—it doesn't even POST right 60% of the time—unless that board has developed some other problem. Hard to say without even more extensive troubleshooting.
So my plan now is to shift gears and finish up the last bits of CPU testing for my Phenom II review. Then I can use my other CPU test rigs for my GPU thermal experiments, if needed.
At this point, just getting my one GPU and one CPU review ready for the 8th is looking like a challenge. Ugh. Some long days ahead.