K7T266 Pro 2 RU (MS-6380) Hangs after booting

I have a K7T266 Pro2 RU (MS-6380) that served me well for years. Recently I put it back into service again as a general purpose internet computer with Ubuntu as its OS.

It has a very heavy duty PS (Silenx) and an AMD Athlon 2100+ along with 1.6GB memory installed. I had a spare 80GB Seagate PATA drive and one CDR and one DVD drive that I put in the case.

After running fine initially I noticed an odor of overheating pcb (or parts) in the case. It wasn't overpowering at all, but enough that I took notice. In addition to the above I had installed an ATI 4x AGP video card, a PCI firewire card, a PCI ethernet card, and a PCI esata card. This motherboard has more than enough PCI slots for them.

The smell seemed like it might be coming from the AGP video card, but as I felt around the card there were no extreme hot spots, which made me wonder if it was CPU related or maybe some electrolytic caps that were bad.

The smell seemed to dissipate and the system continued to be used (yahoo, you tube, etc.) though some video trouble started occurring. Sometimes the screen would begin to fade to gray as if Ubuntu was going to hibernate. Some mouse/keyboard activity brought the display back to normal, though there were other hints such as You Tube videos having difficulty playing smoothly.

This continued until the computer would freeze after about 10-15 minutes of use. Its typically occurred while watching videos, but it did happen while just looking at a text web page. A hard reset would get things working again, but not much longer after that the freezes would occur regularly.

At a certain point Ubuntu (9.10) would boot into its "safe mode" screen and ask which version to boot into. After selecting normal boot and getting Ubuntu (after a hard reset) to load, even this stopped. Normal bootup would just stop at a blinking cursor in the upper left of the screen (the screen is a 21" LCD TV with VGA input).

At that point I decided to check if heat were a problem but the system was not very hot. The PS intake may have been blocked (since the case I used has a strange arrangement where the PS sits at the front of the case). I also blew any dust out of the case and off components with a powerful blowing vac.

I then left the case lid off (its a "home theatre" style case) so there was no question about simple overheating. The system behaved the same.

I then replaced the video card with another AGP card (known good) which is fanless. I also removed all the above PCI cards and the results were the same freezing with a blinking cursor.

I then tried booting the Ubuntu install disk and re-installing but as the drive was being repartitioned the system froze again. To rule out the HD I disconnected it and tried to run Ubuntu off the CD. I also tried a new CD drive (known good) to ensure the above two drives (CD & DVD) weren't the problem. When I booted to CD Ubuntu would start up and ask for a language to choose. After selecting English, the same freeze-up would occur - just a blinking cursor on a blank screen!!

Something is freezing the system after the initial boot up process. It seems like its more of a hardware issue which is why I'm asking here. I could try to install Windows to see what happens, but if the system freezes while trying to run the live Ubuntu CD it will likely do the same for Windows.

My guess is that something may have overheated and is now damaged, though there is no obvious overheating. I have a massive copper/aluminum heat sink on the CPU and its only warm to touch.

I did notice a little of that overheating pcb smell in the original CD drive. The flat IDE cables were folded several times, but the new CD ran the same way.

I hope this is not a damaged motherboard.

Thank you for any help you can offer.

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  1. an update -

    i replaced the flat PATA cables which were kinked with new round cables and was able to re-install ubuntu.

    with a known good agp graphics card, empty pci slots and the new cables i was able to install 9.10 and 8.04 ubuntu. the freezing up continued in 9.10 so i switched to 8.04 and the freeze-ups continue.

    this makes me think its a hardware issue of either memory or the motherboard itself. i took out and re-seated the three memory sticks but the freezes continued. sometimes i'd have to hard reboot twice to get the system going again.

    i ran tests on the memory (mem86?) and that froze also.
  2. any suggestions? i can't figure this one out!
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