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black screen of death

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June 23, 2008 10:30:16 PM

Hopefully I am in the right forum here. Sorry if I am not.

I ran into a problem the other day. I was playing everquest 2 when i got the infamous blue screen of death. When windows finished dumping the memory, the computer rebooted itself, went through all its bios stuff with out any errors showing that I can see. When it came time for windows to load, nothing came up. I got the black screen of death with the cursor in the upper left corner which blinked a few times then it dropped down two lines where it sits and blinks for as long as I let it. When I went to open up the computer case, the area on the top back of the case was extremely hot (area of the power supply). I open everything up, the usual dust is settled on everything. So I blow and vaccuum everything out, reseat the ram, video card, and cpu. Try it again and same thing, black screen of death. My keyboard is a logitech 5000 which is bluetooth and it won't allow me to get into bios, so my next step there is to get a ps/2 keyboard. But until, then I figured I would post here and see what you guys thought might be the culprit. Hard drives spool up, no unusual beeps from the mobo.

Thank you.

System

MSI K9A2 Platinum AM2+/AM2 AMD 790FX ATX AMD Motherboard
AMD Athlon 64 X2 6400+ Windsor 3.2GHz 2 x 1MB L2 Cache Socket AM2 125W Dual-Core Processor
CORSAIR XMS2 4GB (4 x 1024MB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory
MSI RX3870-T2D512E OC Radeon HD 3870 512MB 256-bit GDDR4 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card
Western Digital Caviar SE WD800AAJS 80GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive x3 in standard non raid mode
ZPower 500w power supply (about 4 yrs old)
SAMSUNG 2253BW Black 22" 2ms(GTG) DVI Widescreen LCD Monitor with HDCP Support 300 cd/m2 DC 8000:1
Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 64-bit English 1pk DSP OEI DVD for System Builders - OEM

More about : black screen death

a b V Motherboard
June 23, 2008 10:34:51 PM

You might try resetting the CMOS jumper to default the BIOS. Be sure to unplug the PSU when you remove the battery and reset the jumper. Instructins are in the MB manual. Also, you should set the speed, timings and voltage or your RAM in BIOS. Especially PC8500. Voltage should be 2.1v at least, timigs 5-5-5-15 and for PC8500 the speed must be set manually to 1066Mhz., no exceptions.
June 23, 2008 10:40:02 PM

K when I get home, I will reset the BIOS. I am not too familiar with timings and such. I had just let the mobo read it at 800Mhz, but from the sounds of it, it needs to be bumped up, huh?
Related resources
June 23, 2008 10:42:24 PM

You could also just flushing the power out of your PSU. Unplug the computer from the wall and hit the power button a couple of times. The first time you hit the power button the fans and lights might actually come on a split second, now you know the PSU and MB has no electrons stored in their caps anymore. Plug the computer back on and see what happens.

If that does nothing, definitely try clearing the CMOS, which you can do simply by pulling out the battery for about 10 minutes.

If that doesn't work, like badge said, check your RAM configuration, make sure it's right.
a b V Motherboard
June 23, 2008 10:45:22 PM

For PC8500 you will need to go into BIOS and adjust the RAM's voltage to 2.1v, timings to 5-5-5-15, and the speed to 1066Mhz. all manually. PC8500 will default to 800Mhz or PC6400 by default. The adjustment to PC8500 speed must be done manually. With your Nvidia chipset, I would also increase the Northbridge voltage to 1.5v to prevent system crashing like you are experiencing. Your PSU running hot could be a problem also.
a b V Motherboard
June 23, 2008 10:48:50 PM

You can download and install this tool and click on the memory tab to see the speed and timings your RAM is running at. If your PC8500 is defaulting to 1.8v currently, that could be the cause of your system crashing. especially it being a picky Nvidia chipset.
The northbridge probably could use a jolt of voltage also.
http://www.cpuid.com/cpuz.php
June 23, 2008 10:49:44 PM

Also with my keyboard issue, from what I have read with people with simuliar problems, everyone seems to suggest to use a ps/2 keyboard and not a usb for access BIOS. Is this correct? Currently mine is a bluetooth one via usb but I would rather go wired USB. But for this situation i'll go ps/2 just so I can acces the BIOS. Thank you.
June 23, 2008 10:52:01 PM

I believe my chipset is by AMD its a 790fx.
a b V Motherboard
June 23, 2008 10:55:03 PM

Yeah, wireless is not going to work with the system down like that. A USB keyboard should work fine, not all will cooperate. But a PS2 keyboard will work. Provided you don't have some other problem like a burned out hard drive or possibly a bad PSU. Haha, then no matter what keyboard you use, it's not going to cooperate. Yeah, just try and reset the CMOS jumper and see if you get back to the OS loading normally.
a b V Motherboard
June 23, 2008 10:58:37 PM

If you reset the CMOS jumper and get back in to windows, your BIOS will be set at 'default'. Your RAM requires at least 2.1v to operate properly. BIOS default is probably 1.8v. See where I am going? If you get back into windows Ok go into BIOS and set up the RAM (voltage, speed, timings) and increase the NB voltage while you are there to 1.5v. If that does not stabalize the system, your PSU would be the next logical culprit, especially with the heat put out of it like you said. Yikes!
June 23, 2008 11:11:14 PM

Yea, your board has the AMD 790FX Northbridge and the ATI SB600 Southbridge. If you had a PSU tester, that would come in handy right now. Make sure your PSU isn't making any whistling or whining noises, like you have a dying capacitor.
June 23, 2008 11:45:04 PM

Maybe it's time for a new psu also? It's 4 years old and on a ~power hungry'ish system
June 23, 2008 11:46:20 PM

is there some kind of psu calculator online. I used one at newegg.com but it seemed to be a little outdated.
June 23, 2008 11:48:01 PM

Just google 'psu calculator' or something similar. Remember PSUs power output degrades over time
June 24, 2008 12:30:59 AM

KK Been shopping for a new PSU on newegg.com and I think I am having a hard time picking one out. I would like to get one that will allow me to add crossfire later on. My problem is when I am using the filters, there are options for atx, atx12v, atx12v/eps12v, and eps12v. Whats this eps12v? a new form factor? I figure i am gonna need a atx12v, is that correct.

Thank you again, you guys big help
June 24, 2008 1:11:15 AM

i went ahead and ordered ABS Tagan BZ Series BZ800 800W ATX12V / EPS12V Patent Piperock Modular Power Supply. Next step is getting a keyboard. Will post updates on here after I clear cmos and get psu installed. Thanks again
June 24, 2008 6:12:37 PM

upon further investigation of my problem, i found that there is infact beeps on bootup, 3 shorts. I went to the MSI website and it states that 3 short beeps = Base 64k RAM failure. What does this mean? Is one of my ram sticks bad?


UPDATE: I pulled out all of my ram and tried out each stick one at a time in the DIMM1 slot and got the error for each one. Could this be my motherboard going bad or my ram. Not sure where to go from here. I don't know anyone with dimm2 ram to try it out on.
June 24, 2008 7:23:47 PM

Well, first I'd clean your contacts on all your RAM sticks with a pencil eraser. I'd then blow out the DIMM slots on your board. Now, boot the PC with no RAM installed and see if you get error beep codes for no RAM, and or the same Base 64K RAM failure error beep codes. If you still get the same Base 64K RAM failure beep codes with no RAM installed, then I'd say stick a fork in your board cause it's done. However, if you now get no RAM error beep codes then we'll proceed. Now try each stick, one at a time, in the first DIMM slot and see if you get the error. If you do get the error for every stick of RAM in the first slot, I'd then try all your sticks one at a time in each DIMM slot. Do this until you can narrow it down to the stick of RAM or DIMM slot that is bad. Maybe there's multiple sticks/slots that are bad and one of them caused the other.
June 24, 2008 7:44:43 PM

K I tried each stick in each DIMM Slot. Got the error for each stick on each slot. When I powered the PC with no sticks, the tower powered on and the screen went into what I thought looked sleep mode. Nothing really after that. No error beeps when I tried it with no sticks.
June 24, 2008 10:36:19 PM

Well $h!t, the next step would be testing your RAM in another board. But you said you don't have a friend with a DDR2 motherboard right?

Oh, don't worry about setting your RAM to 1066Mhz. AMD X2 CPU's have the memory controller on the CPU die. Your RAM will always run at the same speed or lower than your FSB. You'd have to overclock your FSB to 266Mhz or 267Mhz to run your RAM at 1066Mhz. And that would make your CPU run at 4256Mhz or 4272Mhz which can't be done on a 6400+ CPU.

You'll need to test that RAM in another board and different RAM in your board. You'll have to figure out which is the culprit. That's the only other thing I can think of right now that you can do. If I think of something else, I'll come back.
June 27, 2008 5:06:00 PM

I want to thank everyone that responded. I got it up and running. Turned out to be the power source. The ram and motherboard is fine. Thank you again. :) 
!