An attempt to see if a BIOS update would fix my weird video problems resulted in a motherboard which was bricked :-(. But that gave me an excuse to upgrade to a new Haswell processor :-).
I ordered these parts:
They arrived, they got swapped into the same case as the old new zooty system, and on June 20, 2013 I powered it up for the first time and found everything actually functioning.
Here's what it looked like after installing the cpu chip and cooler bracket, but before actually sticking the giant cooler back in the system:
Note the nifty thermal armor and dust covers over everything. It is also very nice the way all the headers and plugs on the board are arranged around the edges, so everything is right next to one of the rubber grommits this case uses to run the wires behind the motherboard and bring just the end through the grommit to the front.
I didn't take a picture of the system after installing the cooler, but you can be sure it looked much the same as the previous incarnation of zooty pictured here:
I do notice a bit of an extra mosquito-like hum from the small assist fans on the sabertooth motherboard, but going into the bios and setting the fan mode for them to silent helped a lot - they only crank up to a high hum now when something is getting warm.
I also find that my Western Digital USB 3.0 backup drive winds up disappearing when I reboot the system (which, fortunately, I don't do much). I don't know if this is related to the reported Z87 USB 3.0 bug or is just the standard chipset impedence mis-match that seems to crop up all the time (google certainly finds a slew of people complaining about USB drives disappearing on reboot on both old and new machines).
I've reported it here: USB 3.0 drive not seen at boot, and I'll see if anything happens with the report. On the bright side, I no longer have the video problems, which is a good tradeoff since I watch movies more often than I reboot :-).
If I get desperate, maybe I'll hook up a USB controlled relay device to power cycle the disk drive at boot time :-).
I've also asked about the problem in the Intel Chipset Forums, so I'll also see if that leads to any answers.
In any case, zooty seems to have been successfuly resurrected from the dead one more time (not resurrected quite as often as Beric Dondarrion though :-).
Now if my replacement BIOS chip would ever arrive (FedEx seems to have lost track of it in the sort facility in Ft. Lauderdale), I could try and resurrect the old motherboard as a test system. [The chip did indeed finally arrive, and the old motherboard now boots again, but it will be a while before I can test the video to see if it was fixed by the new bios].
A note on the BIOS: The new BIOS in the Asus Sabertooth Z87 is insane. Every time anyone ever said "Hey! You know what would be great..." when talking about a BIOS interface has had that idea incorporated into this BOIS :-). Starting with being able to press either F2 or DEL to enter the bios (so you don't have to remember which one this board uses), and going from there to features like being able to take notes and make screenshots to a USB stick, etc. The one annoying bit I have found is that it doesn't treat changing disk boot order as a "bios change", and when it summarizes the bios changes you made when you are about to save and exit, it says "no changes", which then makes you think you didn't actually change the boot order after all.
Boot time: I haven't actually put a clock on it (because I think my reflexes aren't good enough to hit the stop watch buttons fast enough :-), but this thing boots near instantly (basically while the monitor is trying to adjust to the new video mode after grub starts the kernel, the entire boot process runs - I never see any messages, just the login screen). Obviously the SSD drive I have for the OS to live on helps, but from when the last grub timeout expires to when the KDE login screen appears is mere seconds, almost just a "blink and you missed it" thing. The BIOS even includes the ability to bypass the waiting around for F2 or DEL and use a special button instead of a key, so if I turned that on and set the grub timeout to zero (and swapped the case reset switch for the BIOS entry switch) I'd bet this thing would power up from a standing start in less than 5 or 10 seconds. I may even try the experiment someday to see (I could use my Galaxy Camera to videotape it in slow motion and pull the frame numbers out to get exact times :-).
Silly Project Time:
I stumbled across this IR controlled power outlet when poking around looking for things I might use to power cycle the USB 3.0 disk drive.
I already have built a couple of versions of the AardRemote bluetooth remote control which I have successfully used from my computer.
Bing! The light bulb goes on! Why not use my AardRemote to control one of these outlets and plug the USB drive power cube into the outlet? This is a really cheap option and should be fun to get working from the rc.local script at boot time :-).
I'll see how it goes when the gadget arrives...
Too late! Updating the firmware in the extern drive fixed the problem, no more need for silly gadgets (I'm sure I'll come up with something else to do with them).