PC Doctor Service Center 6 ReviewGadgets, Bugs / Virus
Reviewed by: ccokeman
Reviewed on: December 17, 2007
Have you ever had one of those days when it all just went wrong? Have you spent an entire day trying to trace down why your computer just won't work? I, like many in the enthusiast community, have been in that situation as well. Untold hours and dollars have been wasted buying and swapping parts to try and fix a problem without really knowing if it indeed is the root of the trouble. There may just be a solution to this problem. The PC Doctor Service Center 6 is a hardware diagnostic tool kit that can drastically reduce the time it takes to find and fix the problem or problems that are afflicting that magic box that we so love.
The PC Doctor Service Center 6 includes enough diagnostic tools to test the entire system. Included in the kit are a power supply tester,a PCI post card, a 128 MB USB flash drive, a multipurpose USB flash drive loaded up with low level testing abilities, loop back test adapters for RJ-45, parallel, serial, and game and sound ports. Last but not least, PCDoctor includes their own proprietary diagnostic software.
The PC Doctor Service Center 6 comes with its own carrying case with the company logo embroidered on the front flap, instead of some chintzy silk screening. All of the hardware and software included in this kit fits neatly inside.
The PC Doctor proprietary software is stored in its own hard shell case and is carried in the front pouch. The balance of the hardware is kept in the main pouch of the case.
The contents of the PC Doctor 6 kit contains enough diagnostic tools to allow anyone from the novice to the experienced computer repair technician the ability to perform professional level diagnostics and testing.
The tools in this kit are broken down into two different types. The first is hardware based to diagnose via the actual hard parts. Some interface with the software to make a quick and accurate diagnosis. The second set of tools is software based. I will look at each in depth.
Power Supply Tester: This tool is for troubleshooting the power supply. All three power levels can be checked. This is accomplished by hooking up the molex connectors to the tester on the cable specific connections. The connections available to test are the 24 pin ATX main power,4 pin molex, 4 pin floppy,8 pin 12v auxiliary power, and 6 pin PCIE.
Along the left side of the tester are the test connections for the 8 pin auxiliary 12v, 6 pin PCIE, and floppy drive 4 pin. The right hand side has the 24 pin ATX main power connection. The 4 pin molex and SATA connections are on opposite sides of the test device.
USB 2.0 Flash Drive: This device performs just like a flash drive should. It is only a 128 MB drive but is used primarily to store test results, hence the small capacity.
USB Multi-Purpose Device: The USB Multi-Purpose device is the key to the whole operation when it comes to using the software utilities. Instead of using a key code to activate the software the device must be installed into a USB port when the diagnostics software is in use. It too has proprietary software installed and allows the technician or user to boot to a low level software diagnostics menu. The Multi-Purpose USB device uses three LED's on the back side to help with the diagnostics. The attached card has a diagnostic menu that details what the LEDs mean during testing.
PCI Post Card: The PCI post card is a multi purpose tool that is used to diagnose boot issues and troubleshoot the PCI bus. It features a post code LED on both the front and back side to make reading the diagnostic codes much easier in cramped enclosures. There are small LEDs along the front face of the post card that provide feedback on the condition of the power supply connections to the motherboard. Light on = OK, Light off = Houston we have a problem!
Loopback Test Plugs: The PC Doctor 6 features loopback testing capabilities via the testing plugs. Included are plugs to check the Audio, RJ-45, parallel, game port, and serial connections. Each is color coded to make identification easier.
PC Doctor 6 Software Utilities: The software based diagnostic tools are included on three disks in a hard sided case. Included with the software is a quick start guide. The first of the three disks is the actual software utility disk, while the other two are used when testing optical drives during the diagnostic testing.
Installation of the PC Doctor 6 diagnostic software is a painless process that is as simple as inserting the software disk into an optical drive and following the on-screen prompts to complete the installation.
Once the autorun has completed and the GUI is up, you have several different options. You can do a complete install , a quick install, run from CD( with the USB device inserted), view the quick start guide, or use the restore utility. I will use the Install option to install the whole suite of software. Choose the location for the installation to continue the install. Once the install is complete the choice can be made to run the software or uncheck the option and then finish the process.
Starting the PC Doctor diagnostic software brings you to an easy to use main page. This page includes six main options and an amazing array of sub menus to complete the diagnostics testing.
System Script: The first option allows the user or technician the ability to run preset testing scripts to test the motherboard, CPU, memory, and system devices.
Burn in Script: This option allows the user to simultaneously test a variety of hardware devices, not just one or two. Once into this option there is a script window so you can choose the devices and tests that will be run to stress the system components.
System Information: This tab gives detailed information about the entire system. Driver version, firmware revision, and more are some of the items listed. If you want to know about any of the system hardware you can find it here.
Storage Script: This section lets you run storage specific testing to diagnose drive related problems. Choose the specific testing you want to run and the PC Doctor software takes over and gives a detailed report on the specified tests.
Script Editor: Under this tab you can make any number of custom testing scripts. If you want to test only one or two things thats great, but if you want to run a detailed test and bypass some of the items you can do that as well. Scripts can be made and saved so that they are available the next time you need them.
Help: The final tab in the PC Doctor Service Center 6 software is the Help Menu. If you find yourself in need of more direction this would be the first place to look.
Installed on the USB Multi-purpose Device is the low level diagnostic software. If you cannot get into the O/S installation, this software may well become your best friend. Instead of taking a stab in the dark and replacing parts until the problem is found, this little bit of software can help make sure you diagnose and replace the "right" part(s).
Once the computer has booted into the diagnostic software menu, several choices are available. First, the log drive needs to be set. Then the balance of the testing options are available.
By choosing "R" from the available tools menu, the stand alone software is engaged and can be run. In this section there are six additional menus. Four of these sub menus have an expansive list of diagnostic testing that can be utilized.
- Enterprise PC service organizations
- PC repair centers
- Mobile PC technicians
- Low-volume PC manufacturers
- Low-volume warranty repair centers
- System designers
- Diagnostic CD for both Windows and low-level hardware testing in the offline diagnostic OS
- CD and DVD test media
- Five loopback devices for RJ45 ports, game, serial, audio, and parallel ports
- PCI POST card
- Power supply tester
- Multipurpose USB Device bootable to the offline OS for low-level testing
- Quick Start Guide
- Comprehensive documentation for advanced product usage
- More than 300 current, up-to-date diagnostics
- Hardware test devices — power supply tester, POST card, network tester, and loopbacks
- Bootable Multipurpose USB Device indicates test status
- Easy-to-use, intuitive graphical user interface
- Fast, 10-second start-up with no installation requirements
- Direct System Information™ architecture gathers information directly from devices
- Runs under Windows Vista, XP, Server 2003, 2000, and the included offline OS (contact [email protected] for legacy support of Windows 98/ME or NT)
- Multiple boot options: Hard drive, CD, New Multipurpose USB Device
- Updated script editor to create custom test scripts for your specific systems or recurring problems
- Test results can be saved and printed
- Shorten your service delivery times — fast, accurate diagnostics reduce time to troubleshoot and repair systems
- Reduce your service delivery costs — accurate tests help reduce out-of-box-failure (OOBF) rates in manufacturing and no-trouble-found (NTF) rates for components in service organizations
- Eliminate guesswork — comprehensive testing with the same industry-standard diagnostics used by the world's largest PC manufacturers quickly finds the real problem
- Intermittent problems and unbootable systems can be diagnosed accurately using the offline, bootable OS included on the CD and Multipurpose USB Device
- Deliver service into the field — the kit includes hardware test devices, test media, and software diagnostics in a compact satchel
- Increase customer satisfaction with your service — reporting features help you explain your troubleshooting conclusions to end-users and provide them with a record
All information taken from the manufacturers website at http://www.pc-doctor.com/pcd_service_center.php
During the testing phase I ran several tests with the supplied software and hardware diagnostic tools to see what kind of results I would get with my overclocked system. I wanted to see if the PC Doctor Service center 6 would show me any issues that my system may be hiding that would cause instability or errors.
- Processor: Intel E6750 460x8"
- Motherboard: Abit IP35 Pro"
- Memory:2 x 2GB Mushkin HP6400 930 fsb 5-4-4-12"
- Video Card(s):Diamond HD 3850 In Crossfire"
- Power Supply:Ultra X3 1000w Modular Power supply"
- Hard Drive:2 x WD 250GB 16MB cache SATA
- Opticals: NEC DV5700
- O/S: Windows XP SP2
The first Item I tested was the the PCI post card. After powering down the system I inserted it into an open PCI slot. After booting the computer up the PCI post card came alive and started running the post routine. All of the LED's were lit indicating I had the correct power sources connected to the motherboard and a successful post sequence.
The power supply tester actually diagnosed an issue with a power supply I had been having issues with. Simply plug the harness that is being tested into the appropriate socket and turn on the power supply to get the results. Lit up means no issue but if there is no light where there should be theres a problem that requires further investigation.
In the low level testing I decided to see if the processor in this build has any issues. Additionally a twenty minute load test was run to put the maximum load test on the system.
In the PC Doctor windows testing I built a test script and ran it looking for issues. I was pleased to see that none were found.
Overall, I found the software in the PC Doctor Service Center 6 easy to use. Navigating through the menus was a simple painless process. The ability to build your own suite of tests to diagnose hardware issues is a great thing. Having easy to use hardware testing tools takes the guess work out of the equation when the time comes to put your reputation on the line. It does not matter whether it is personally or professionally. You know who I am talking about if you are the neighborhood IT guy. Easily, the most useful part of the bundle of tools has to be the PCI post card. While many high end motherboards have built in diagnostic LEDs, not everyone has the top of the line enthusiast grade boards in their system. What this means for the average home user or professional tech is another avenue to take rather than the opinions and parts swapping that eventually gets you to the problem. Many times the cash outlay gets to be enough that the system could be replaced for what was spent in parts. While the power supply does not show the voltage on an LED it is still a handy device to have around. It actually works. Having just an LED to tell you good or bad is better than nothing at all. For the professional, the PC Doctor Service Center 6 could be an addition to your test regimen. For the home user, the Service center 6 is an all in one tool to help you easily diagnose those little hiccups you sometimes see.
The one drawback is the entry price for the Service center 6. If you are a pro this tool will pay for itself in short order. For the home user(Neighborhood IT guy)it may take substantially longer to break even. If you have to have the latest and greatest tools at home then this tool is one to add to the long list you already have!
- Easy to use software
- Detailed reporting
- PCI Post card
- Power supply tester
- Works with Vista
- Saves time
- Saves money
- Price (For the home user)