So, I've got an interesting tale to tell. here's the hardware: ga-k8n-sli, athlon x64 socket 939 processor, 3GB memory, WD1600 hard drive, hooked up with SATA. System's a decent plugger, up until a bit over a week ago. System freezes up, I reboot, and it repeats a few times before finally crashing and rebooting before completely loading windows. this is happening in normal as well as safe mode.
So I figure the hard drive's hosed, time to grab a new one. I go through 3 different hard drives just trying to install XP (SP2 and SP3, OEM installers from a known manufacturer -- not my system's builder). All of them, and I do mean all of them fail during the file copy process after the drive format. Dlls just fail to copy over. I try virgin install media and I swap the IDE DVD drive for a SATA, no joy. I even tried to do a repair on the hard drive from the xp install CD. Half the time it reboots when I try to log into the partition, and I've even gotten to run a chkdsk once, where a generic chkdsk says there's no problems, then the chkdsk /r errors out about 3/4ths of the way through.
So, I figure if the hard drive's are failing (known good ones, mind you -- even a brand new one, fresh out of box), and it doesn't matter what DVD ROM I use, it's gotta be the board. If nothing else, it's the SATA controllers. So, I blow some dough and get a cheaparse MSI MS-7184 micro ATX, Slap in the Athlon x64 processor, add the memory, video card, etc. Put in the drives and bam... same problem. Windows refuses to load on the new harddrive, with a failure to copy DLLs about 90% of the way through.
So that's where I sit. So far I've not replaced the case, power supply, processor or video card.
I hadn't made any changes in the BIOS regarding the IDE controller on the original board, no. When using IDE on both I was using the controller that's part of the board. Additionally, if I switched motherboards and ended up with the same result, wouldn't that negate the need to reset the CMOS?
I'll pull out sticks of RAM and run each individually and see if I can recreate the problem.
Well right now I've got only 2 SATA ports on the MSI motherboard, and so the DVD-ROM is on IDE0, my new harddrive is on SATA 1 and the original hard drive is on SATA 2. Was there more I need to look for in the settings?
Also, I have changed motherboards, originally thinking this was a SATA controller problem. So far the problems are still the same.
So I'm not seeing anything that explicitly focuses on IDE over SATA in the BIOS, but to play it safe, I have set the SATA drive as primary boot. I did receive an IRQL LESS THAN OR GREATER bluescreen when the windows install was scanning available drives to install on. So I'm going to strip it down further, rip out the oldest RAM in the bunch (2 .5GB sticks, leaving 2GB.) and run with the onboard VGA port and see what I get.
Ok, so after a bit of screaming and further elimination I found the problem that caused it all.
One Bad Stick of RAM.
After rearranging the sticks on the board I received a lot of beeping that the manuals determined was a memory error. Isolated the stick and threw it out and so far no problems. If I didn't know any better I'd say that it was the last stick of RAM in the set, and so it didn't error out until the system needed to fill up the bad address space on it. *shrug*
Now to recover the data off the old primary drive.
Thanks for giving me ideas to test out. Really needed a 2nd set of eyes on this one.