So, upon receiving a new Asus G53SW-XN1 laptop, I promptly put in a smallish SSD to serve as a Windows/common apps drive, moving the HDD to the other hard drive slot.
Fresh install of Windows 7, etc. At the moment, Windows will not boot up - no splash screen, no opportunity for Safe Mode, etc. But Windows is perfectly happy to run - if I boot off a CD, then hit 'Restart', everything starts up fine. The Repair Windows Installation option on the CD sees the Windows installation okay, and when asked to repair says 'no problems are found', and happily reboots. Some sort of MBR/partition issue that the Repair doesn't detect? Any ideas as to where I should be looking?
I haven't yet tried that - it's a laptop and there's a fair amount of tiny screws and ribbons and such to move around and put back, so I haven't tried the sensible physical things like isolating the drives. It may come to that, though.
In a bit of a further effort, just going to the BIOS and hitting 'Save & Exit' to restart that way is apparently enough for it, no Windows required. Now it'll be more difficult to justify the time to open the thing up, as that takes a couple seconds instead of the minute or two of booting Windows from DVD.