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Is this a motherboard or video card problem?

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May 20, 2006 5:14:08 PM

I have a P4 3.0ghz processor that uses PC3200 RAM, and an old GeForce 4 4400 AGP video card. I was trying to install Windows a while back and I screwed up the installation.

All it does upon boot is hang at the part of the process right before the RAM counts down, and you can see that if you press DEL you'll be able to get into BIOS. However, if you press DEL, you can't get into BIOS.

I had a buddy look at the computer, and he told me that he set it all up and that the problem was with the video card, which admittedly had a bad fan. He told me that it worked fine with his other video card, but that nothing would appear on the monitor. Now, it appears that he likely didn't do anything, if at all with my computer problem (he had it for 2 months and kept forgetting about it). Long story short, he won't answer any of my emails and I don't have any other computer-savvy friends nearby.

So here's my question: Do you guys think that I should simply replace the motherboard (I don't even have a spare floppy drive to flash it or anything), or should I replace the video card? Which will solve the problem in the easiest manner? And if I should have to replace the motherboard, which type should I get (I don't know what sockets or what type of motherboard I currently have)?
a b V Motherboard
a b U Graphics card
May 20, 2006 5:53:41 PM

sounds more like a bad board to me than bad video, since you're getting video with the card in. However... try reseating the video card, and EVERY other cable inside the system.... IDE, SATA, power cables.... the whole works... if it still won't let you boot properly... my vote would go to it being a board issue.
May 20, 2006 7:30:51 PM

Okay, so if it's a board issue, can anyone tell me what kind of motherboard would accept my P4 3.0ghz processor and PC3200 RAM? I'd hate to have to upgrade or toss out perfectly good components just because of a bad board.
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a b V Motherboard
a b U Graphics card
May 20, 2006 7:35:44 PM

is that a socket 478 P4? or is it lga775?
May 20, 2006 8:06:41 PM

Um.. how do I find out what socket it is? Should it say on the processor chip itself?
May 20, 2006 9:19:49 PM

Oops, sorry, didn't read whole post. My bad...
May 20, 2006 10:23:43 PM

It's kinda hard to use CPU-Z or any piece of Windows-based software when it won't even boot. Please read before posting.
May 20, 2006 10:36:41 PM

Here is my suggestion to anyone with this type of issue (non-booting, non-POSTing, etc):

1) Strip system to the bare minimum, that is just the CPU/heat sink and fan, power supply, and motherboard. If this can't turn over (i.e. CPU fan spins, beeps due to missing components), stop right here and try to swap out each one of the 3 parts to find out what the problem is.

This does not seem to be your issue, so move to

2) Add in memory and a graphics card (in not built-in), hook up a monitor and see if it will boot and (correctly) report no OS consistently. If not, i.e. hangs, then it's a little less narrow, you now have to contend with 5 parts, but still manageable.

If that's fine, then we go to

3) Hook up a keyboard and a CDROM, make sure your BIOS sees it, load in your favorite diagnostic disk (Ultimate Boot CD is a fine one), and start up one of the many available burn-in tests. Try a few as well, especially focused ones (like MEMTEST x86+ to root out bad memory units).

If that succeeds, the next logical thing to test...

4) Hook up your primary hard disk, make sure your BIOS sees it, then with a diagnostic disk run a battery of tests to check the disk's SMART data to find obvious problems, then do a bad sector check, then a filesystem check.

If any of these steps fail, take a good long look at the parts just added. If things still aren't making sense in terms of why things aren't working, try a different wall socket for the powerstrip/UPS I know you have. I've seen that more than once...

Good luck and happy hunting.
a b V Motherboard
a b U Graphics card
May 20, 2006 11:11:54 PM

Quote:
Um.. how do I find out what socket it is? Should it say on the processor chip itself?


Find the motherboard model and post it here... It will be printed in most likely white letters on the PCB itself.

The other option is for you to pull the heatsink off of the processor... you will also be able to tell that way. Since you said it was a P4 3.0, it will either be a socket 478 chip, or an LGA775 chip. below are pictures of both so you'll be able to figure out which one you have should you decide to do this.

Socket 478:


LGA775:
May 20, 2006 11:51:06 PM

Weird.. I didn't know that there were motherboards/processors that didn't fit into those little sockets. My processor must be the socket 478 then. Are there socket 478 motherboards that also support pci express? And do all 478 motherboards support PC3200 RAM?
a b V Motherboard
a b U Graphics card
May 21, 2006 12:47:25 AM

Quote:
Weird.. I didn't know that there were motherboards/processors that didn't fit into those little sockets. My processor must be the socket 478 then. Are there socket 478 motherboards that also support pci express? And do all 478 motherboards support PC3200 RAM?


I never want to see "must be" when determining specifics about hardware. Don't guess, because if you do end up replacing the motherboard, you will need to know for sure what socket you are using so you don't end up having to return it because you can't use that particular board.

AFAIK, there are no socket 478 boards which support PCI-E. Not all socket 478 boards support up to pc3200, but i believe all of them do support at least support pc2100.
May 21, 2006 4:03:11 AM

So basically I would have to get a whole new motherboard and processor, as well as new RAM-- unless I were to find the exact same motherboard I currently have.. and probably replace my AGP card with a new one (which should really be replaced anyhow, since the fan is running loud and unevenly).

In which case I might as well get a new set-up and take advantage of the randomly free PCI-Express video card I got from work.

Man, sometimes things can be unnecessarily complicated. :?
a b V Motherboard
a b U Graphics card
May 21, 2006 4:34:56 AM

Quote:
So basically I would have to get a whole new motherboard and processor, as well as new RAM-- unless I were to find the exact same motherboard I currently have.. and probably replace my AGP card with a new one (which should really be replaced anyhow, since the fan is running loud and unevenly).

In which case I might as well get a new set-up and take advantage of the randomly free PCI-Express video card I got from work.

Man, sometimes things can be unnecessarily complicated. :?


No... you won't need a new processor and ram if you can tell me what socket your current processor is using. However, if you want to just build a new system and use the PCI-E video card you got from work, then i could make a few suggestions on supporting hardware.
May 21, 2006 5:01:25 AM

I couldn't get the heatsink off of the processor. The only thing I could do was lift up on 2 white latches, but I didn't know how to get the whole thing off. I went to http://www.wimsbios.com/ like someone else suggested, but the BIOS code wasn't on the site's list.

My BIOS code is 6A7L2E19C-00, and I didn't find anything on a Google search.
a b V Motherboard
a b U Graphics card
May 21, 2006 5:10:14 AM

ok then lets forget about trying to see the cpu socket.... see if you can find the motherboard brand and model. It will be printed on the motherboard itself in (most likely) white lettering. It will NOT be on a sticker on the board.
May 21, 2006 5:19:48 AM

Wow, first time I've ever looked at it. It's an ECS PT800CE-A board.
a b V Motherboard
a b U Graphics card
May 21, 2006 5:47:24 AM

perfect.... exactly what I was looking for.

The PT800CE-A is a socket 478 board. So if you go the route of just replacing the board instead of building a whole new system around the video card, a socket 478 board is what you'll need. If you do just replace the board, my suggestion for a good replacement would be the Asus P4P800SE
May 21, 2006 4:06:37 PM

Is there a socket 478 board that also has PCI-E support, for reference? And this board should support my existing RAM, correct? I don't know much about how the type of RAM correlates to BUS speeds or whatever..
May 22, 2006 1:17:26 AM

If it stops in the memory check could be the memory or bad mobo, also try a different PSU, for what I know PSUs are the cause of more problems that one would like or know.
Perhaps try the basics easiest's things to do, try the memory on a different compatible motherboard or try a different PSU.
May 22, 2006 4:15:09 AM

Thanks for all of your time and help, Prophecy. I'll have to do some more research and price comparison.. I'm on a backup computer right now, so it's not completely critical that I fix this other one just yet. Thanks again for the patience. :D 
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