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Boot-up issues - Can't figure this one out

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December 7, 2009 1:29:45 PM

I'll make a long story short here. When I boot up my system will post, flash the boot utilities window as it normally does and then nothing. The monitor power LED will blink on & off for the length of time that it takes for the PC to go into sleep mode when it then turns yellow. Once it turns yellow I can move the mouse & then the login screen comes on as normal.

At first I thought it was my video card because I was having some issues, mainly while gaming, where the video would just lock up and I was getting a lot of graphics issues where ribbons of graphics would be projecting into infinity. Using the ATI tool I saw that I was getting a lot of fragmentation so I replaced my video card. Now, the game no longer freezes up, but I'm still getting a low FPS & sometimes getting the ribbons as well only not nearly as bad. Now, though the boot-up problem is much, much worse. I've also tried switching out the RAM and updating my BIOS which changed nothing. In addition, I've also had a couple of system crashes since where I get the dreaded blue screen o' death.

So, my best guess is that this is a motherboard or hard drive issue, possibly just a software issue. But I hate to keep just replacing parts, nor can I afford to, just to try to figure out which one has gone bad. I have yet to try to reformat either because I can't get it to go into the BIOS setup so that I can reset the boot order(bad move setting it not to, I know) So I'm asking the experts here to hopefully give me some better clues as to what to look for. :( 

Here is the machine I am running:

PSU
Coolmax CX-500B 500W Silent Switching Power Supply w/120mm Silent Fan

Motherboard
GIGABYTE GA-965P-DS3 LGA 775 Intel P965 Express ATX Intel Motherboard

Processor
Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 Conroe 2.13GHz 2M shared L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor

Memory
Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)

Video Card
eVGA 512-P2-N570-AX Geforce 7900GTX 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Ex16

Hard Drive
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB Serial ATA II 7200RPM Hard Drive w/16MB Buffer

More about : boot issues figure

a b B Homebuilt system
December 7, 2009 3:22:17 PM

First guess is a RAM issue. That's responsible for more random freezing and crashing than I care to think about.

It looks like that Crucial DDR2 is a non-standard voltage, which raises another red falg. Your RAM takes 2.0V, whereas the "standard" voltage for DDR2 is 1.8V, so that's what most motherboards will provide by default. Setting that to 2.0V manually might fix your problem, but of course, you have to go into the BIOS to change that, and if you can't right now, that could be a problem.

If you can't get into the BIOS, try doing a CMOS clear -- unplug the machine, remove the battery on the motherboard, and wait 15 minutes or so (on some motherboards, you may also have to move a jumper -- check your manual). That will reset the BIOS, and the boot order along with it.

I also wonder if the video problem at startup is being caused by a) the right drivers for the card not being installed, or b) the motherboard first trying to send the signal out through its onboard VGA port for some reason, then overriding that and switching to the video card once it realizes one is installed. Do you get any video when you plug the monitor into the motherboard's VGA slot? If so, you may have onboard graphics set to "enabled" in the BIOS and should turn them off. Most boards will just fail to recognize the video card if you have onboard graphics set to on, but I have seen older machines where it will override it.




December 7, 2009 3:35:25 PM

capt_taco said:
First guess is a RAM issue. That's responsible for more random freezing and crashing than I care to think about.

It looks like that Crucial DDR2 is a non-standard voltage, which raises another red falg. Your RAM takes 2.0V, whereas the "standard" voltage for DDR2 is 1.8V, so that's what most motherboards will provide by default. Setting that to 2.0V manually might fix your problem, but of course, you have to go into the BIOS to change that, and if you can't right now, that could be a problem.

If you can't get into the BIOS, try doing a CMOS clear -- unplug the machine, remove the battery on the motherboard, and wait 15 minutes or so (on some motherboards, you may also have to move a jumper -- check your manual). That will reset the BIOS, and the boot order along with it.

I also wonder if the video problem at startup is being caused by a) the right drivers for the card not being installed, or b) the motherboard first trying to send the signal out through its onboard VGA port for some reason, then overriding that and switching to the video card once it realizes one is installed. Do you get any video when you plug the monitor into the motherboard's VGA slot? If so, you may have onboard graphics set to "enabled" in the BIOS and should turn them off. Most boards will just fail to recognize the video card if you have onboard graphics set to on, but I have seen older machines where it will override it.


I actually switched out the RAM to see if that might be an issue. I currently have in it a GeIL GX22GB5300LDC 2GB Kit DDR2-667 PC2-5300 DDR 2 Series Dual Channel Memory, which is my old RAM set. Both ran fine before with no issues at all. I also installed the lated drivers for the video card when I installed the newer one. My old one was an MSI 7900 GT. Again, the issue began without any driver updates being done with my 7900 GT card in. I did update the drivers to see if it would fix the problem to no avail.

As for the onboard VGA, that MB doesn't have onboard video.

Thanks for the help so far, I will try to do the CMOS clear tonight & do a reformat if I can.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 7, 2009 3:56:30 PM

Yeah, the old RAM looks like 1.8V, which ought to have run fine. You may be dealing with two separate problems: A video card issue with the original build, plus a freezing/crashing issue when the new RAM is installed.

Have you tested the cards out in another system playing the same games? If they work, that obviously would rule them out as a problem, and may point to something like the PCIe slot itself going bad.

Also, what games are you trying to play? Is it only certain ones that give you issues? If I read your post right, the old card was a 7900GT and the new one is a 7900GTX. Both of those are fairly old, so if you're playing something intense, I wonder if they just can't keep up.



December 7, 2009 4:09:46 PM

The 7900 GTX card came from a friend who just upgraded his system, so there shouldn't be any issues there. I'm going to put the newer RAM back in tonight, so if it starts freezing again I'll know that's one of the issues.

The only game I play right now is Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Playing both online & single player since the game came out in 2007 & had no issues until this year. I also have Oblivion, but haven't played it in a long time & never reinstalled it the last time I reformatted. Those two games are pretty much all I really have that may push the system, but the current setup still exceeds the recommended requirements for both.
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