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The Curious Case of the Pentium 4

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August 11, 2013 6:40:25 PM

Hey Tom's

So its been quite awhile since I've been signed in on Tom's Hardware (though I still read), yet I've been having a problem while building a computer from spare parts.

Here's the specs I'm running first of all.

Intel Pentium 4 HT 540 3.2GHz
MSI G41M-P33 Combo
2GB Wintec AMPX
BFG 8600GT 512MB
Fujitsu 250GB SATA 2.5"
Cooler Master eXtreme Power Plus 500W
Cooler Master Elite 343

All parts are working properly to my knowledge

I've been having a problem the past few days. I'm thinking my Pentium 4 might be fried. I purchased a new motherboard from Fry's electronics the other day to work with this Pentium 4, that was known working from a Dell Dimension of a sort.

I dropped the Pentium into the new MSI with a new Rosewill CPU cooler which was within the TDP of the processor. Installing Windows 7 went without error, except when I tried to install 64-bit onto a 32-bit processor (dumb of me)

When it boots into Windows though, it seems to have a problem of locking up. Did not occurr during the install. It generally occurrs while installing things. Such as the driver disc and the Nvidia 320.49 driver set.

Since it was within the return period, I took the MSI motherboard and got another one. Same exact model, same exact problem. Which leads me to believe there may be another culprit in the computer. To my knowledge, the power supply (while not your guys' favorite) is operational, as well as the hard drive. The only suspect is the GPU, which is rather old. At the moment, I am trying to install things without the video card, and it seems to work, but it may freeze again.

The reason I suspect the GPU is it has happened before to me with another 8-series card, that time on my AMD chip. Once I installed the drivers, the freezing went away.

So, after this long post, any suggestions? I dont mind searching Craigslist for a cheap Core2Duo (or Quad).

Thanks
-Gunner

UPDATE: It has frozen again without the video card. The RAM went through 9 passes of Memtest overnight without error.

More about : curious case pentium

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August 11, 2013 7:11:52 PM

Have you run checkdisc? Is Windows fully updated? What are your temps looking like?
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August 11, 2013 8:00:28 PM

The temps seem to be normal; none of the temperatures on HW monitor are above 55ish (I dont know which one is the CPU one)

I cant seem to update Windows before it decides to freeze on me, I will try to update though. What would checkdisc do for me exactly?
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August 11, 2013 10:26:08 PM

checkdisc is a built in scanner to make sure the HDD isn't damaged or failing. Just a way t confirm the HDD is still in good condition.

The temps seem good. Were you able to get any of the Mobo drivers in before it freezes? Also, does it freeze in Safe Mode? Maybe you can install some of the drivers, like the chipset driver in safe mode.

Also, what version BIOS are you running? I believe you need at lease 32.2 for compatibility between the mobo and CPU:

Here is the MSI info and BIOS page:
http://www.msi.com/product/mb/G41M-P33-Combo.html#/?div...
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August 11, 2013 10:37:29 PM

Good call, didnt think of safe mode. I'll also look into the BIOS version, thanks for the tip! The HDD was in an enclosure before, but it doesnt hurt to check it.
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August 11, 2013 10:45:18 PM

Since after Intel Pentium III, the CPU just turns off the motherboard in-case of an overheat, so I think P4 CPUs will never get fried even if you don't have a heatsink (The computer will start for a few seconds and just turns off without any damage)

As for installations failure, I expect any of these:
-RAM corruption
-Hard Disk corruption
-CPU Overheating (Heatsink not doing its work correctly)
-Power supply aged capacitors (How many years old is your power supply?)

My last expectation would be the CPU, because if a CPU fails, the whole computer shuts down, or you will get a blue screen of death if the CPU writes to the wrong memory block, and thats not your case.

Best,
MJaoune
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August 11, 2013 11:24:12 PM

I figured it wasnt fried, and according to the BIOS, it seems to be at 38C, which is reasonable enough.

I'm going to run memtest again tonight, but I find the RAM setup to be odd. The computer itself will not post with certain sticks of RAM in it. I had 2 1GB sticks of RAM, and was trying to run them in the 2 DDR2 slots that are on the board, and the board would not post, even with only one. It does post with this stick, so I am going to keep it that way.

The power supply is maybe 2 or so years old, I can try another one fro safe measure if I can dig up another one. I had the hard disk running for awhile in a enclosure as a portable hard drive, and it was working when pulled from it. I can test that as well though. CHKDSK shows no bad sectors.

I figured if it was the CPU, it wouldnt work at all anyway. Thanks MJaoune.

UPDATE: Tried to install Windows again based on a recommendation from a friend, and it froze RIGHT BEFORE Windows launched to the desktop. I am getting the feeling this is a heat issue. Will check temperatures tomorrow.

UPDATE: Memtest ran through 10 passes without a hitch. Trying a different stick of RAM now.
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Best solution

August 12, 2013 4:21:23 AM

Deemo13 said:
I figured it wasnt fried, and according to the BIOS, it seems to be at 38C, which is reasonable enough.

I'm going to run memtest again tonight, but I find the RAM setup to be odd. The computer itself will not post with certain sticks of RAM in it. I had 2 1GB sticks of RAM, and was trying to run them in the 2 DDR2 slots that are on the board, and the board would not post, even with only one. It does post with this stick, so I am going to keep it that way.

The power supply is maybe 2 or so years old, I can try another one fro safe measure if I can dig up another one. I had the hard disk running for awhile in a enclosure as a portable hard drive, and it was working when pulled from it. I can test that as well though. CHKDSK shows no bad sectors.

I figured if it was the CPU, it wouldnt work at all anyway. Thanks MJaoune.

UPDATE: Tried to install Windows again based on a recommendation from a friend, and it froze RIGHT BEFORE Windows launched to the desktop. I am getting the feeling this is a heat issue. Will check temperatures tomorrow.


No need to get a new Power Supply, 2 years wont harm the capacitors. I would recommend you if you got multiple RAM sticks to test each stick alone using Memtest, only 1 RAM stick at a time. And to be sure, try installing Windows using only 1 stick, even if it was 256 MB, Windows Installation still works.

Can it be that the Windows DVD-Rom is scratched? When your computer freezes, can you turn the Numlock LED on and off?

If the installations you are trying to install are all from CDs/DVDs maybe the CD/DVD RW drive is damaged from the inside somehow due to a fall or something?

A Pentium 4 can handle up to 75C, after that it will start throttling (Lowering frequencies to reduce heat and power consumption), and at 90C or 100C it will tell the motherboard to turn itself off.

Best,
MJaoune
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August 17, 2013 7:40:28 PM

The Windows DVD has no scratches currently on it, and it has successfully installed Windows on another computer as well. I havent booted the computer in a bit, but I will do it tonight to check the numlock thing.

I will try the different sticks of RAM.

UPDATE: As of now, the motherboard will not boot with several different power supplies. No signs of life at all.
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August 30, 2013 7:44:31 AM

Deemo13 said:
The Windows DVD has no scratches currently on it, and it has successfully installed Windows on another computer as well. I havent booted the computer in a bit, but I will do it tonight to check the numlock thing.

I will try the different sticks of RAM.

UPDATE: As of now, the motherboard will not boot with several different power supplies. No signs of life at all.


Motherboards newer than 2004 wont get burned that easily, so I doubt that it got damaged.

Are you sure you plugged in the 2 PSU wires into the motherboard?
1 Big cable (Many square holes) and a small cable (4 squares) next to it.
And another cable that is connected in the middle of the motherboard that has 4 square holes.

If you checked everything, and you found everything properly connected, try removing the Motherboard battery for a few minutes, and then put it back in. That would reset the settings of the BIOS for the motherboard.
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August 30, 2013 10:19:27 AM

I actually returned the motherboard (which was new from Fry's) and used the money to get a Antec Kuhler 620 for my main computer. Might just end up making the P4 a keychain or something.

Thanks for the help though!
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