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Weird/Scary Startup

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October 1, 2009 4:13:49 PM

Hello all,

About 6 months ago, I built a system for my son from spare parts I had lying around or picked up at used PC supply stores. It has worked perfectly fine and still does for that matter but last night, something unusual happened that I had never seen before:

During startup a BSOD appeared and I unfortunately didn't take the time to read the error message codes but just immediately did a restart. During the POST the first thing I noticed was that the BIOS was mis-reading the CPU speed/type??? I entered the BIOS setup and checked every setting. All was as it should be except for sure enough, the CPU/FSB/RAM speeds were off?? No one but I know how to adjust any of those settings let alone even how to get into the BIOS setup so I know for sure nothing was tampered with.

I reset the parameters as they should, did a restart and all was back to normal. Now as I mentioned above, this is the first time this has ever happened and hopefully the last but, I'm worried that if it does happen again what the root cause is for this issue. One thing I can think of is that maybe the CMOS battery is starting to possibly go bad?

Bottom line, if there are any other ideas about this, any advice/help would be greatly appreciated.

System specs for the PC in question:

ECS SIS735 motherboard
Athlon XP 2600+ CPU
1gb PC2300 RAM
Seagate 250gb HDD
Maxtor 80gb HDD
Sapphire X850XT PE video card
Soundblaster PCI128 sound card
WinXP Pro SP2 32bit version

Thanks in advance!

More about : weird scary startup

a b B Homebuilt system
October 2, 2009 1:33:15 PM

1gb PC2300 RAM: Is that PC-3200?
Clear the bios completely and reenter the values. May have been because of corrupted values.
Do you have Cool 'n Quiet enabled?

October 2, 2009 11:08:29 PM

No, I mean PC2300. It's running at PC2100 however.

AthlonXP's don't have cool 'n Quiet capability

The values were reentered but I don't see how they could have been corrupted... that system isn't even hooked up to the internet yet so not even an outside source could have corrupted the BIOS. Also, there are many values in the BIOS (this BIOS is pretty feature rich), why was only the CPU/FSB speed altered??

Everything is working perfectly now(as it has for the last 6 months) but I'm just hoping it doesn't happen again. The solution of me reentering the values was easy... it's just weird and obviously annoying that I had to do it in the first place and most of all once again... what is the cause.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 2, 2009 11:31:06 PM

You may never know unless it happens again. I've seen some really weird stuff before but when it just as magically disappears as it appeared, there's no real way to know and you'll eventually forget it. It could be that you had a power malfunction while it was reading and it got messed up. Who knows? Just like if it had not booted at all until you reset the CMOS where after doing that it worked fine, stuff happens.
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
October 3, 2009 12:16:37 AM

Errors occur occasionally in even the finest computer.

As eluded to in the last post, using a quality power supply can avoid some of this, as well as having clean power at the wall and a correct ground.

Electronic components do wear out. You can prolong their life by supplying good power and keeping them dust free and cool.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 3, 2009 3:20:09 AM

I've found dust free to be very important. I always did it cause my dad did as SoP and good operating practice.

A friend of mine found out the hard way when his laptop started just turning off for no reason. I eventually just took a duster to it and it's been working great since. The motherboard of his desktop had dust caked on it and it had been a little flaky. After handing him a vacuum cleaner with a small brush for that sort of thing I told him to get rid of the dust (there were insane amounts everywhere in that thing) it's fine since.
October 5, 2009 3:43:34 AM

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions everyone.

As far as the power supply is concerned, it's an Antec Earthwatts 380w... which is rated very highly.

It's been running perfect since that one incident and BTW... there's not a spec of dust in any of my systems :D 

I'll just keep an eye out and hope it never happens again.

Thanks again!

Best solution

a c 113 B Homebuilt system
October 5, 2009 5:14:12 AM
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Feel free to post back if it does happen again.
October 15, 2009 3:02:34 AM

I have found the cause for the problem... albeit a strange one.

I have Sisoft Sandra 2005 on that system and decided to do a check on the "CPU/BIOS" info section.

After I reviewed the data displayed I quit out of Sandra and decided to restart the system... I don't know what motivated me to do that, but I had this feeling that I should :??: 

Sure enough, the problem happened again! I reset the BIOS and restarted one more time and this time, no problems at all. I then went back to Sandra and repeated the same steps as mentioned above. I restarted once again and the problem occurred again.

I have isolated that for some reason, Sandra 2005 - when checking the CPU/BIOS info, resets the CPU/FSB to a lower speed??? Obviously, a major bug. None of the other tests within Sandra 2005 caused any problems.

I have since uninstalled Sandra 2005 and installed Sandra 2009 and the problem is gone.

Thanks for all the feedback.
!