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Artifacted Text @ POST, CMOS Checksum Error

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November 27, 2009 5:29:01 AM

Too long, Didn't read version:

CMOS Checksum Error, Artifacted Text at POST screen. Not GPU, Not PSU, Not CPU, Not cables, monitor, or connections. Possible memory problem but it would have to be affecting all 4 indentical sticks. However could be the case as all 4 sticks were subjected to electrically conductive liquid for weeks on end. To me, and I am no authority, it seems unlikely that 4 seperate modules, damaged or not, would produce identical artifacting and CMOS errors. I would expect, although I have no experience to really say, that one chip wouldn't POST, another might POST, another might give some random error, and another would... do something... else. Could be motherboard, but not in a position to replace it... RMA expired. Already replaced motherboard thinking it was the cause when it failed to even POST at all using the same leaked on memory.

System Specs:
EVGA nForce 790i SLI FTW
Intel Q9550
2 sets of 2x2-gig G.Skill DDR3-1600mhz (F3-12800CL7D-4GHBZ)
750w Rosewill modular PSU
8800GT 512mb PCI-E 2.0 verified to be working, and an ATI PCI VGA 64mb card verified to be working

Long Version:

Greetings, frustration compounds itself as my page long explanation of my issue was just swallowed up by the backspace key... an unfamiliar keyboard will do that to you!

Anyhow, generally I find the answer to my computer related questions via search engines but today is not the case.

I have a brand new EVGA nForce 790i SLU FTW motherboard that can POST, but most of the text is artifacted and unreadable. I can however read "CMOS Checksum Error, Defaults Used." There are no BIOS beeps.

I am using a BFG 8800GT PCI-E 2.0 DVI graphics card, and have established that the problem is not at all related to my graphics card, monitor, or video cable. I've tried an old PCI ATI VGA card using a VGA cable and it yields the same results. I've also reseated both cards many times over again, and moved the PCI-E card to each of the 3 slots on this motherboard, all rendering the same artifacted image. This is not a driver issue as there are no drives even attached to the motherboard from which drivers could load, and again this is all taking place at the POST screen, prior to booting. After reading pages and pages of forums I figure I should also say that it does not boot at all when a harddrive with windows installed is properly attached. I've read that some people have artifacts on their POST screen and splash screen but that it tends to disappear once windows is fully loaded, and so I'm just saying here.. that's not the case.

I have a quad core q9550 CPU which I have also established is not the problem, by inserting a known-to-be-working Q6600 quad core CPU. I have also ruled out power supply issues by using first a 550watt power supply, then a 750watt power supply. The PCI-E molex connected is properly seated in the 8800GT, and even if it were not properly seated the ATI PCI card surely would not produce the same error, which is powered solely by the PCI slot.

So... all that said I have ruled this problem down to the motherboard and memory.

The memory is 2 sets of G.Skill 2x2-gig DDR3-1600mhz (F3-12800CL7D-4GBHZ). I have cycled all 4 sticks (one at a time) through all 4 memory slots on the motherboard and gotten the exact same results. CMOS Checksum Error and garbled artifacted text. At this point one would assume it is the motherboard causing the problem... but not so fast. The memory is not new, and comes from a previous computer which utilized watercooling. Being that this watercooling was of inferior manufacturing quality it sprung a leak... and all 4 memory cards were covered in an electrically conductive solution for what I assume to be several weeks. Sadly this excludes them from warranty... unless I really cleaned them up nice and spiffy. ;) 

The motherboard I am currently trying to use is in fact the 2nd of it's kind. The first I received failed to post while using this same "leaked-on" memory. The previous computer had leaks everywhere, and it was never determined if the CPU, Motherboard, GPU, or Memory had failed, or all of them. I assumed that 4 sticks of memory couldn't possibly be all dead, causing a failure to POST on the first EVGA motherboard.

I was receiving an "F6" error from the motherboards LED screen which gives error code read-outs. Tech support didn't know what an "F6" error meant and so I RMA'd the board for a replacement. This replacement, the current board, gets to POST using the same "leaked-on" memory but the screen is almost all artifacted. Entering BIOS is possible, the keyboard responds, but it is completely unreadable.

Another item of possible interest is that the memory stick, which is supposed to run at 1600mhz, is running at 1066mhz according to the garbled POST screen. This motherboard supports up to 2000mhz DDR3.

I have unplugged the ac power, removed the CMOS battery, held down the CMOS reset button for 15 seconds, walked away (for good measure), reinserted the same battery, reapplied ac power... and all to no effect. The "CMOS Checksum ERROR, Defaults Used" remains.

And so we come to my dilemma;

Is it more likely to receive two faulty motherboards of the same make and model one after the other...

Or is more likely that 4 separate memory sticks, each with their own watercooling device -- which all leaked, can all produce the exact, identical error when inserted one at a time?

I really don't have the experience to judge, but I am leaning on it being a memory issue.

Or is it a third option that the CMOS error may give a hint to?

Here's the reason for this post: I have searched and searched and not found anything conclusive that states that CMOS Checksum Errors can be caused with memory, and furthermore that faulty memory can cause artifacting. Hell, I'm not even sure I've read that a faulty motherboard can cause artifacting. Everybody instantly assumes drivers, overheating gpu, powersupply, dead gpu -- in that order. I'm not able to run memtest on these sticks... as I don't have a working DDR3 computer nor do I know anyone who does.

My plan currently is to purchase 2x2-Gigs of DDR3-1600 from NewEgg... but if it ends up being a faulty motherboard I will be out more money in restocking fees. That may seem strange to you but I have a separate computer with 4gigs DDR2-800 2.4ghz Q6600 in which the motherboard just died.... so if I can spend $100 on DDR3 memory rather than $200 on a new DDR2 board... and then be using DDR3 with a much higher FSB speed in the process... that's the goal. I wish money grew on trees... I really do.

Sorry for the length but I tried to rule out everything I could ahead of time. Feel free to ask me things like "Is the DVI cable plugged into the monitor all the way?" but the answer is yes, and probably yes for anything equally mundane. But... yah never know!

I appreciate any help, even a response to up your post count. :p 
a c 156 V Motherboard
November 27, 2009 12:40:28 PM

Rosewill PSU's are not known for good quality control. Have you tried replacing the PSU?
November 27, 2009 6:55:35 PM

jsc said:
Rosewill PSU's are not known for good quality control. Have you tried replacing the PSU?


I have swapped power supplies with another Rosewill, both are more than capable of running all the components, and both are known to be working. The same artifacting occurs whether with the 750w or 550w PSU.

Here is what I see on my screen

POST: http://i235.photobucket.com/albums/ee208/Cariboudoodle/...
BIOS Setup: http://i235.photobucket.com/albums/ee208/Cariboudoodle/...

Thank you for the reply.
!