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New build - GA-EP35-DS3P BIOS problems recogising both HDDs

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July 23, 2008 3:21:08 PM


Hi there from a new user to the forum. I'm desperately hoping someone can help.

This is the nth new PC I've built, but the first in a long while. I started with 386s and DR-DOS, was it BC? The last was a PIII 750 no problems still working (with WIn '98). But getting rather long in the tooth and won't run the new DAW software I want.

So, my first venture into new territory with SATA and processor fans etc.. Kit:
Antec Sonata III 500 case. plus an extra internal fan.
Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS3P mobo.
Intel Core2 Duo E7200 CPU - own fan
2 Gigabytes Corsair Twin 2XX2048-6400C4DHX memory
Sapphire X1650 pro graphics - nothing hyper needed.
***** two Seagate ST3500320AS HDDs *****
Plus DVD r/w and floppy.

Will have Win XP when I get that far.

System just won't recognise either of the HDDs. I'm talking bios level.
I've tried swapping leads, plugging into different sata ports, nada.
Are both duff? Unlikely surely? Is this another of those bios upgrade problems?
It sees the DVD drive whatever port I plug that into.

A question just how should the devices be configured. Legacy IDE? AHCI or whatever it is?
I wasn't going to bother with RAID.

Can anybody suggest the next step? Send the HDDs back or the mobo?

Next question. Can anyone tell me the settings for the memory.
I've been to the Corsair website and I've picked up 4-4-4-12 which I can see how to set but there are other settings I guess I need to tweak to get it to run at its optimum I think. Again a request for assistance but nowhere near as urgent as the HDD problem.

Hoping that some of the best brains on the planet can help an oldie (don't ask) newbie. :pt1cable: 
Thanks in advance,
Regards,
SysExJohn.
July 23, 2008 11:32:41 PM

Let's start with the HDD issue. When you say the HDDs are not recognized at the bios level what do you mean? For example, during the posting process the various SATA and IDE channels will most likey be enumerated and displayed. So what you should see is something like SATA 0: ST3500320AS followed by SATA1, SATA2, etc. Alternatively, do you mean they don't show up under the "Standard CMOS Features" area of bios where it lists out the various IDE channels by master and slave connection?

If the HDDs don't show up on the post list you maay have serious problems. If they don't show up in the bios settings you may be ok. The bios on my P45 board routinely doesn't show the HDDs in bios but it will at post.

For simplicity sake in debuging you can set SATA RAID/AHCI Mode to Disabled and SATA Port 0-3 Native Mode to Enabled. There's a performance hit for doing so but we can deal with that later. If my memory serves me, thos particular HDDs also have a little jumper on them which limits their speed. Pulling the jumper off gives you the full 3Gbps speed.

As far as you memory goes, I would manually set 4-4-4-12 in bios while also making sure to set the memory voltage to 2.1V. You should be safe that way.
July 24, 2008 8:06:34 AM

Thanks very much for replying.

No, the HDDs don't show up in the POST process! At least they did once, showing two ST3500320 and the DVD R/W. So I started the boot up of Win XP. As far as I recall I had the bios set to AHCI mode and started to load the drivers (or whatever) from the floppy to which I'd copied them from the supplied Gigabyte CD. It didn't get very far though and just stopped. Now the HDDs don't show in the post process no matter how I set the bios (except RAID).

Nor can I get it to recognise the disks when further into the bios setup. It seems to know there's something there as it spends an age, well maybe 20 seconds or so, looking at the drive, and I can physically feel the drive spinning, although very quietly.

If I switch back to AHCI mode a different screen comes up showing the process and says that it can see three is it channels(?) but only identifying one, the DVD. I guess I need to check the bios level and maybe run qflash if it's an older one? Do you happen to know what bios is good and secure on this m/b?

Regards other settings I've upped the ram voltage to 2.08v, I guess that's close enough? I'll tweak the other settings up from their current default settings.

When you say "serious problems" do you mean m/b or hdd? Or potentially both? I'm beginning to wish I'd bought one "of the shelf" now!

Thanks for your help so far.
Best regards,
SysExJohn.
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July 24, 2008 11:59:39 PM

You've found yourself a very strange problem indeed. If you don't mind spending a few minutes, I'd like to see what error the WinXP installation CD throws.

1. First off set your ram to 5-5-5-18 @ 1.8V. I'm pretty sure this is the JEDEC standard for DDR2-800. It should be extra safe.
2. Connect your HDDs to SATA ports 0 and 1 and the DVD to port 2. (yellow ports if i remember the colors of that board)
3. Let's enable AHCI mode in bios and set SATA native mode to enabled.
4. Make sure you have your floppy driver disk ready.
5. When you get the chance load the "Intel(R) ICH9R/DO/DH SATA AHCI Controller" driver. Don't confuse this with the "Intel(R) ICH8R/ICH9R/ICH10R SATA RAID Controller" driver.
The box showing the available drivers is almost certainly smaller than the list of drivers so use the up and down arrows to scroll around and find the right one.
6. After the WinXP install CD finishes its priliminary thing you should either arrive at the HDD partition screen or an error screen about WinXP not finding any HDDs.
7. Which screen did you end up at?

If you get the no HDDs screen I would retry the process with AHCI disabled. If you still get the no HDDs screen my inclination would be motherboard problem. If you have a spare IDE HDD it would be worth trying a WinXP install with just the IDE drive connected. If that test fails too then motherboard is the sure culprit.

As far as memory voltages, when Corsair says 2.1V they mean 2.1V. I realize the bios warns you at that level.

I can't really comment on the various bios revisions as I don't own the board. As a last resort before returning the board you could try updating the bios. Revisions up to F4 are available online.

July 25, 2008 7:41:28 AM

Thanks again for taking the time to help.

Yes, it certainly is a weird one. As I said earlier, I've built a few in my time but this one has me baffled. :pt1cable: 

Okay, what I'll do is reset the board back to "optimum defaults", check them out and then reset the sata interface as you say (I've already done this once) and try that again. Last time it just stopped after loading the ahci driver from the floppy. I'll also try putting the disks on sata 0 and 1.
I think that I've tried all the ports in desperation. What I might do is try one disk at a time.

But before I do that I think I'll try to update the bios. I've been to the gigabyte site and downloaded all four versions of the bios! My board is at rev 2.1 which seems to be the latest, but I think the bios is at F2. Which, according to the chart, is not right for the E7200 cpu. I say think because I've got the system box disconnected while I continue with other things on the good old Win 98 system. Boring old things like earning a living.

I'll post again later in the day to let you know whether there's any progress.

Thanks very much once again for taking an interest, a little support goes a long way. Many moons ago I used to work for ICL and the PC people used to send me m/bs to test because my early ISDN cards tested the m/b timing to the limit at that time. We're talking 386sx and the like though. Much water ... etc. Its especially annoying because the actual build took me so little time. Now Ive spent hours trying to resolve the problem. Maybe I should go for a different mobo next time. Any recommendations for ease of build and stabiilty?

Best regards,
SysExJohn
July 25, 2008 11:35:57 PM

Good catch on the cpu incompatibility with the F2 bios. I had not noticed that myself. By all means upgrade to F3 or F4 and see what happens. I'm hopeful that may solve your problems.

You know everyone has their own pet brand on motherboards. Asus and Gigabyte tend to be the most revered. MSI and Biostar have sort of a second tier status. Intel made boards have traditionally been bastions of stability but they sometimes have limited features or performance. If you want SLI your choice is Nvidia or Nvidia. I have heard some people say workstation boards are the most stable available. I know many of the top scores for 3dMark06 are from workstation class boards.

I have an old P4 Asus that has been running over half a decade without issues. I also have a brand new Core 2 Quad Gigabyte. Way back in the day I had an Intel based P2. Honestly, all the boards have been very good to me. Of course, not every board in a lot is a good egg. Someone is bound to get a defective board. I really believe you have to love tinkering a little to build your own system and personally the extra performance of a consumer board verses a big box board really makes my day. On the flip side, providing your own tech support can be a nightmare.

Let me give you a little insight into how I pick my hardware. I put a lot of time into researching what people are saying about the products I'm interested in. That generally means forums and user reviews at on-line retailers. Now obviously these sources are not totally trustworthy so I mix in a good helping of trusted reviews from sites like Toms. From these I can get a general flavor for what I might see if I bought it product. The downside of looking at popular products is they will frequently also be expensive top-of-the-line models. The other thing I'm interested in is the number of buyers. It's hard to track but the number of user reviews is often a good indicator of what products are getting the most attention. My hope in buying a popular product is that maybe it will receive more attention faster in the event of problems due to the install base. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, right? The last thing I look at is feature set. I would have bought another Asus this last build. Comparing features between Asus and Gigabyte swayed me considering the performance is rarely more than a few percentage points different.
July 26, 2008 10:02:09 AM

Thanks for the reply. Your process isn't dissimilar to mine. I tend to do a lot of research beforehand too. Although with me a feature set is important. I wanted a mother board that featured at least a couple of the old PCI slots, firewire, and the older com and lpt ports. As I use it mostly as a music PC, in fact a DAW. I want to be able to be able to run cubase with several VSTi's and loads of sampled orchestral sounds. So the ability to add extra hdds was a key factor too. Gigabyte has always, IMHO, had a good reputation. The disks, memory etc were chosen for a similar good reputation in much the same way you do it. Oh well!

I didn't get time to do anything yesterday but I should have time today. I'll let you know how things progress, or not.
Regards,
SysExJohn.
!