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Starting and restarting issues - an impossible challenge!

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November 25, 2009 9:02:02 AM

Hi all,

about 6 months ago i built a system as follows:

E8400 Core Duo
Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3 Motherboard
ASUS Radeon 4870HD 1gb
4gb ddr2 RAM
standard optical drive, hdd, and run-of-the-mill PSU 650W.
Using xp, all drivers fully updated.

I've had plenty of issues, the two main ones being:
1. The computer will take a varied amount of time to start. Turning it on results in a series of beeps, about 5 seconds apart, before the computer turns off and then starts again. it does this for a varying amount of time - sometimes 5 minutes, sometimes half an hour. Pressing restart does nothing, nor does pressing the power button again. And sometime in the next 30 minutes, the computer will beep and then start normally. also the time it takes to start up seems to be very gradually increasing - 5 months ago it would only take a minute or two everytime.

2. Some games will force the computer to shut down, every so often i actually see a BSOD, but mainly the sound jars, the monitor switches off immediately with no warning and the computer needs to be restarted.

In an effort to fix this i have replaced, in order:
*an optical drive (it was originally set as a slave to the hdd's master, but now a new optical drive runs off SATA - HDD is still running off IDE)
*the PSU (to a Thermaltake 750W QFAN - problem 2 was thought to be related to not enough power. made no difference)
*the CPU Cooler (the stock intel one was running at stress at nearly 100 degrees celsius - the computer SEEMED to restart more often in hot weather, so i replaced with a Zalman quiet fan and it now runs at a much lower temp [max around 60 degrees celsius], but made no difference)

after putting in the cooler, the computer has decided to not recognise directx for some games (war3 and supreme commander forged alliance are the only two so far) while playing others perfectly. and if i restart i can play them, but not if i have selected another game where the resolution is different.


soooo.. an impossible task i think for anyone to diagnose? my last two thoughts are: i knocked something when putting it together originally, and it is now completely ruined - OR i have a faulty motherboard? has anyone had any experience with this kind of thing before?

oh and before i installed the new cooler, the Prime95 stress test ran for 15 minutes before identifying a 'hardware error' - it now runs for exactly ONE SECOND before giving me the same error. i may have installed the cooler wrong as it is quite finicky? but i dont think so.

please someone help me because it would be a shame to have to buy an entirely new pc.. in fact i cant afford to!

cheers
a b B Homebuilt system
November 25, 2009 3:47:13 PM

How many beeps when it doesn't boot? The beep codes listed by Gigabyte go:

1 short: System boots successfully
2 short: CMOS setting error
1 long, 1 short: Memory or motherboard error
1 long, 2 short: Monitor or graphics card error
1 long, 3 short: Keyboard error
1 long, 9 short: BIOS ROM error
Continuous long beeps: Graphics card not inserted properly
Continuous short beeps: Power error

If that doesn't help identify the problem any more clearly, then yeah, you're probably better off testing out your components one by one like jsc said, because from what you've described, it could be any number of possible causes.

One last thing to consider before you take the machine completely apart: What kind of RAM do you have? And is it 4x1GB (all four slots) or 2x2GB? It's just a wild guess, but RAM issues seem to be responsible for a LOT of booting/crashing/freezing problems, and it's probably the most painless component to troubleshoot. So if the RAM does happen to be faulty or incorrectly set up, that could save you a lot of trouble.

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a b B Homebuilt system
November 25, 2009 3:51:24 PM
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capt_taco said:
One last thing to consider before you take the machine completely apart: What kind of RAM do you have? And is it 4x1GB (all four slots) or 2x2GB? It's just a wild guess, but RAM issues seem to be responsible for a LOT of booting/crashing/freezing problems, and it's probably the most painless component to troubleshoot. So if the RAM does happen to be faulty or incorrectly set up, that could save you a lot of trouble.

+1

I completely agree. We need to know more about your RAM. What brand is it? What model #? Did you manually set the RAM speed/timings/voltage to the recommended specs in the BIOS? Have you run Memtest86+ to test for RAM errors? I would focus on the RAM.
November 26, 2009 3:10:29 AM

Cheers for helping out so far.

i think the closest to what i have (beep-wise) is the continuous short beeps.. but im assuming that doesnt include the computer turning off, then restarting again on its own? i definitely dont get the long ones.. and sometimes randomly in the middle of trying to boot up it will have short beeps really rapidly e.g. every half second instead of every few seconds. but that doesnt always happen and it seems to have no other effect.

my RAM is 2 sticks of kingston 2g-UDIMM in dual channel, but i havent manually set the RAM speed/timings/voltage to recommended specs - didnt occur to me. ill try it by tomorrow.
i ran memtest86+ and i wasnt totally sure what i should be looking for.. but it came back with 17 errors over several passes which im guessin isnt normal?

i can get my hands on some RAM so ill try it with that too.

cheers
December 3, 2009 12:02:30 AM

i figured it out!!

well, you guys did...

turns out that BOTH sticks of RAM i bought were faulty.. talk about unlucky.. i took one out and still got some problems but seemed less frequent, switched them and had lots of problems again.. grabbed one stick of RAM off a mate but that was about the same, and finally got two new sticks and everything is back on track again.

not sure how likely that is but thanks for the help!
!