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Is my ASUS P5N-E SLI defective? Several problems...

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March 24, 2007 5:09:01 AM

Hey. My computer's been driving me crazy lately and I've come to suspect the motherboard is defective. I'm looking for others' opinions, ideas, and recommended courses of action, please. :D 

If there's any extra information that would be helpful or any tools I can use to obtain it please let me know and I'll post it.

First, my computers (outputs produced by PC Wizard 2007 but some info modified or made more specific):


Affected System
Mainboard : Asus P5N-E SLI
Chipset : nVidia 650i SLI SPP
Processor : Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 2400 MHz
Physical Memory : 2048 MB (2 x 1024 DDR2-SDRAM )
Video Card : ATI Technologies Inc Radeon X800 XT
Hard Disk : SAMSUNG (500 GB)
Hard Disk : ST3320620AS (320 GB)
Hard Disk : WDC (160 GB)
Hard Disk : WDC (500 GB)
DVD-Rom Drive : LITE-ON DVDRW SOHW-1633S
Network Card : NVIDIA nForce Networking Controller
Operating System : Microsoft Windows XP Professional 5.01.2600 Service Pack 2
DirectX : Version 9.0c
Power Supply : Cooler Master iGreen Power 600W


Voltages and Temperatures
Monitoring Chip : ITE IT8718F
CPU Core : 1.34 V
Aux. : 3.25 V
+5V Voltage : 4.85 V
+12V Voltage : 11.46 V [other applications say 12.22 V]
Chassis Fan : 2311 rpm
Processor Fan : 2008 rpm
Power/Aux Fan : 10 rpm
Processor Temperature : 30 °C
Processor Temperature (Core 1) : 37 °C
Processor Temperature (Core 2) : 42 °C
Mainboard Temperature : 40 °C
Power/Aux Temperature : 25 °C
Hard Disk Temperature WDC WD1600AAJS-00PSA0 : 29 °C
Hard Disk Temperature ST3320620AS : 30 °C
Hard Disk Temperature SAMSUNG HD501LJ : 25 °C
GPU Temperature : "Idles" around 60 °C, with minimal fan activity;
can reach as high as the 80s



Reference System/Older Computer (unaffected)
Mainboard : Asus A7N8X Deluxe
Chipset : nVidia nForce2 SPP
Processor : AMD Athlon XP @ 2166 MHz
Physical Memory : 1536 MB (3 x 512 DDR-SDRAM )
Video Card : Nvidia Corp GeForce 6600 GT
Hard Disk : WDC (250 GB)
DVD-Rom Drive : JLMS XJ-HD166S
DVD-Rom Drive : AOPEN 8X8 DVD Dual AAN
DVD-Rom Drive : WJ9161I QNQ585Z SCSI CdRom Device
Network Card : Nvidia Corp nForce MCP-T Networking Adapter
Network Card : 3COM Corp, Networking Division 3C920B-EMB Integrated Fast Ethernet Controller
Operating System : Microsoft Windows XP Professional 5.01.2600 Service Pack 2
DirectX : Version 9.0c


Voltages and Temperatures
Monitoring Chip : Asus ASB100
CPU Core : 1.68 V
+3.3V Voltage : 3.28 V
+5V Voltage : 4.97 V
+12V Voltage : 12.03 V
Chassis Fan : 4687 rpm
Power/Aux Fan : 2960 rpm
Processor Temperature : 24 °C
Mainboard Temperature : 54 °C
Monitoring Chip GPU : nVidia Driver + Thermal Diode
GPU Temperature : 37 °C
GPU Ambient : 29 °C
GPU Diode : 45 °C
GPU Fan : 100%
Hard Disk Temperature WDC WD2500JB-00GVA0 : 29 °C




The Problems

1. SATA issues. It seems that when I have a lot of data going through SATA (or eSATA) hard drives, such as when performing benchmarks on the drives (using SiSoftware Sandra for example), I can encounter system stalling and soft-lockups even when the benchmark is not being performed on a drive that's otherwise in use, with event log entries like "The driver detected a controller error on \Device\Harddisk3\D" or "An error was detected on device \Device\Harddisk3\D during a paging operation." For eSATA, I get these, and I have with multiple external enclosures/drives: "The device, \Device\Scsi\JRAID1, did not respond within the timeout period." Sometimes I also get "The device, \Device\Harddisk2\D, is not ready for access yet." The hard disk numbers vary as my drive configuration gets changed around when I remove/add drives to test these problems. My 160GB WD1600AAJS system drive is affected most often. I've run tests on bootable discs on the drives and there are never any problems. I've also tried the affected drives on my older computer and there are no issues.
Interestingly, if I have an eSATA hard drive hooked up and it's only idle, that will sometimes be enough to cause errors with *other* drives during benchmarks.
In other words, SATA is all-around screwy when it's under "heavy" usage.
Workaround: Uninstalling the nVidia IDE drivers gets around these problems for SATA hard drives. A drive plugged into the eSATA port will still be affected. There's no "standard" generic controller driver I can use for that, so basically the port is unusable. I use the USB 2.0 interface instead and there are no problems.
Status of hard drives: No problems in older computer. Test OK.

2. Sound card issues. a. For some reason, if I'm playing music in high-quality (e.g. 24-bit/48kHz or above) and I play a game which utilizes 3D sound (or even a MIDI as someone in another forum pointed out) at the same time, in a short amount of time the sound will emit high-pitched squealing if playing a game, or if playing a MIDI the instruments will go wacky and produce all sorts of random sounds, and closing the program playing the high-quality audio stream will cause the computer to either freeze or have a blue screen of death (MACHINE_CHECK_EXCEPTION). Using Debugging Tools for Windows, the exception always resolves to _VAL_UC_EN_PCC_BUSCONNERR_0 ("Bus and Interconnect Error").
b. Videos would skip ahead by about a half a second randomly. (This was isolated to being related to the sound card's performance on my system.)
In other words, my sound card is all-around screwy when it's under "heavy" usage (although it's not necessarily under heavy usage when the video skipping occurs)
Workaround: a. I could solve the squealing/BSOD issue in a few unrelated ways: setting hardware acceleration for the sound card to Basic, using the kX Project drivers for my sound card, or lowering the LDT Frequency in the BIOS from 5x to 1x.
b. I could solve the skip-ahead problem in a couple of ways: setting hardware acceleration for the sound card to Basic, or using the kX Project drivers.
Status of sound card: No problems in older computer.

The sound card issues have remained through many reinstallations of Windows and reformats. I've even done it for the express purpose of testing the sound card's problems and the only thing I can do is work around them as I described above.

I haven't reinstalled Windows for the express purpose of testing the SATA errors, but throughout my use of the computer and the many times I've reformatted I've always seen those errors in the event log, unless I work around them as I described above.

I've run a Memory tester and the memory is fine. I've tried removing system components one by one and was unable to isolate any of these problems except for the fact that some drives are more susceptible to having SATA errors than others. My new WD1600AAJS works fine in my older computer and without the nVidia IDE drivers installed, but other than that it will have SATA errors in the event log at startup and the rest of the fun problems. As I've said, I've run tests on the drive and everything checks out fine. I can use it without problems provided I don't have nVidia's drivers installed.

...

All of these strange issues lead me to believe that there's something wrong with the motherboard. If it were just the sound card with issues then I'd be satisfied blaming that on a general chipset incompatibility or poor manufacturing of the card (despite the fact that it works flawlessly on my older computer.) But the SATA issues suggest something deeper at work.

Do you agree? Any suggestions on how I can locate with certainty the source of the problem or any tests I can run, etc.? I'm fairly certain these aren't software problems (unless they're problems with the drivers which seems pretty unlikely since other people haven't reported similar problems that I've seen).

Thanks for the help!
- SireeBob
March 28, 2007 9:14:25 PM

I will probably post this seperately, but your sound issue seems to be same as mine (although mine is not as severe). Will try the acceleration tweak...

Ever since I got my second Video Card and went SLI I have had crippling sound problems. After playing for a while all sounds get replace with a high pitched squeal. This is only with games, not music (using WMP), DVDs (using WinDVD), and only with my sound card, not the (crappy) onboard sound (which has no problem). Some games may play for three minutes, others for close to fifty before this consistently happens. It seems to be simply subsistuting all sounds with this annoying noise. I quit the game it goes quiet, but music is now affected and DVDs have NO sound. Single GPU works fine (either card, either PCI-E slot), sound card in either PCI slot still causes the problem. I recently got a newer, better sound card but it does the exact same thing. I think it may be either a video card issue, or the motherboard. Is it something to due with the way the video card handles sound? Or the motherboard? HELP!! I really like the improved graphics (on a relative budget) that SLI brings, and don't like being hobbled like this.

Tried Turning down Sound Card Acceleration with the old card, didn't help.

My Computer
Old Alienware Case.
Asus P5N32 SE SLI-Deluxe
Inter Core 2 Duo E6600
3*Corsair PC5400 667 512mb
2*Maxtor 200GB 7200rpm
2*EVGA NVidia 7600 GT KO 256mb video (do have different bios #'s on the card)
SoundBlaster X-Fi Gamer Extreme (old card was SB Audigy 2)
Sony DVD writer.
Dell 2407wfp monitor
March 28, 2007 11:31:05 PM

Perhaps you have an LDT Frequency or HT(T) Frequency setting in the BIOS. If you make a note of what it is at before you change it (e.g. 4x) you could try setting it to 1x and see what effect it has. Theoretically it should have a performance impact, and for your SLI system it probably will (though it had no impact for my system), but it'd be interesting to see if it solves your sound issues anyway.

I've upgraded to an X-Fi XtremeGamer too, only now I no longer have the squealing or BSOD's, but the only game I've tried is Oblivion. However, I still have the skipping in videos (and only with either Creative sound card installed, and not in my old PC).

I ordered a $20 PCI video card (GeForce4 MX4000) to see if the skipping was the problem of my ATI Radeon X800 XT. But I got a more interesting response from my system than I expected...

Right after the system installs the drivers for the card, and it doesn't matter whether this happens during the Windows setup process or when running in a completed Windows installation, the computer will BSOD. One of those DRIVER_IRQL.. or something errors.

But I experimented with some (albeit pathetic) methods to cool the southbridge on my motherboard (on your motherboard it's passively cooled but on mine it's not cooled at all). When doing this, I was actually able to get Windows to boot up with the PCI video card, but it froze after a few moments (my temporary cooling method wasn't meant to last very long).

This may or may not have been a fluke, but it seems to suggest that my ASUS motherboard provides inadequate stock cooling for the southbridge, which - in my motherboard - handles PCI and SATA, among other things. I'm not even overclocking! I've ordered a more official heatsink for the southbridge that I will try tomorrow or Friday depending on when it arrives. I'll let you know how it affects my SATA problems and my video-skipping problems, and if doing so allows me to use that PCI video card successfully. Obviously it's not meant for long-term use, but trying it did reveal to me that this motherboard, or this chipset, is incapable at stock configuration to handle effectively something that stresses the PCI bus.
Related resources
April 1, 2007 8:44:49 PM

Tried low-profile heatsink on southbridge. Seemed to have a small effect but not sure. Tried active cooling (Vantec CCB-A1C) on southbridge and the board failed to POST thereafter. I've RMA'd it and ordered a Gigabyte Intel P965-based motherboard to replace it (no SLI or dual PCI-E x16, but good enough at least until nVidia has more stability to offer in their nForce lineup and/or BIOS issues are fixed by most manufacturers).
April 4, 2007 11:18:55 PM

Will dig into my BIOS for that LDT and HT(T) thing. My problem has been fixed (but only by turning off SLI). A single GPU seems to make the system happy (although MP3s pop - but that may be a seperate issue). My problem was games only would go away with the closing off the program (old SB Audigy2 card) OR continue (new SB Gamer XFI) depending on the chosen sound mode (gamer). I've never had a game freeze or stutter or video skip (DVDs play with no problems). I may be getting more BSODs than usual (similar error codes apparently), but I can's say for sure (maybe twice this last month). The southbridge thing makes since to me, but in my case I don't think it is a heat thing. Some games may go 15 minutes others 2.
September 19, 2007 3:54:39 PM

Have you considered that the motherboard might be shoreting against the case? I'm having all sorts of issues with this motherboard and my case. If I build the system on the outside (on top of a bit of cardboard) it is perfectly stable - Inside the case it is very unstable. Awaiting some spacers for the MB screws. First time I've had to consider spacers for the MB though. Weird.
Anonymous
a b V Motherboard
June 30, 2008 10:54:01 PM

To fix your problems with the sound card, disable the parallel port in the BIOS. it fixes the issue. I dont know but it just does. if that doesn't work then try disabling the serial port as well.

For the eSata issue I need help on that one, since I pug in the drive that is supposed to be hot-swappable, am I right? eSata and everything. it just hangs my computer for a while, and then doesn't recognize the drive...I have to reboot the computer to have it be recognized. This Totally Defeats the Point of Hot pluggable!

Please someone, anyone if you know how to fix this issue. Tell me, Plz.

kenshin767
January 25, 2009 8:44:13 AM

I have one of these too.
As soon as I bought it, it occasionally failed to boot, I think it was having trouble detecting the ram (mine is micron based, Ballistic, as I know the m/b have issues with the ram)
It just hangs on a boot screen or I just get a black screen, restarting it is fine, it starts

It locks up every few days for no reason, often when just surfing the internet.

The keyboard " key wont work on the first keystoke, but will on the second, but if course I get ""
The right alt key wont work in Photoshop
I have tried many keyboards both usb and ps2, the bios kestroke speed is default.
Are these keyboard ussues an indicator of a dud motherboard.

As far a the locking up, I changed the ram and cpu but it still does it
!