Very strange intermittent booting issue

Hello all!

Figured this would be a good place to ask seeing how the people roaming these forums rock and all. lol

Anywho, I've got a very weird issue that is driving me nuts that I cannot seem to pin on any one piece of hardware that is causing my computer to not boot up about 30% of the time with the PCI-E video card having full function. Here is a look at my specs that are relevant

Motherboard: EVGA 730i - PCI-E Gen 2 - onboard 9300 (that works just fine)
Video Card(s): EVGA 9800GTX+ and a BFG 8800GTX OC2
PSU: Antec 680 Watt

The exact problem is when it boots up WITH the problem, there is video and I can see my desktop just fine but it is in the native VGA resolution you would see in safe mode and the right-click context menu for the Nvidia control panel is no longer there. lastly, the device manager sees that there is in fact something on the PCI-E bus, but it has that stupid yellow warning triangle on it showing some sort of exception error occurred with no useful data to know what happened (thanks Micro$oft).

Now when this happens, 9 times out of 10 just one simple reboot will correct this issue and its all good again until the next time it happens on boot and other times it takes 2 or more. It's never stayed that way after a few reboots but its just plain annoying as heck trying to use this thing.

What I have done so far to try to correct this issue is:

RMAed the mobo thinking it could be a bad controller or power issue to the slot - problem still persist even after 2 motherboards
RMAed the 8800 and tried a 9800 thinking the card had some issues but 3 different physical cards and 2 types had the same issue
checked a secondary power supply connector and also tried using a good old molex adapter thinking it could be a power issue from the PSU
tried 3 different clean installs of windows using XP, Vista and the shiny new 7
Updated drivers to the latest, "downgraded" to some known stable ones and tried 3rd party drivers not from Nvidia (bad idea by the way on the last one lol)
pulled my hair out and cursed a lot, then prayed to the computer gods; followed by a good ol'kick to the side of the case hoping that would fix it like those old tvs.

So here I am in my final attempt to fix this annoying problem and hoping some random guy passing by might have had a similar issue or maybe even an idea of what to check next.

Help me Tom's are my only hope.
7 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. You need to logically trouble shoot the issue, it takes time unless you luck onto the correct problem first time.
    So when you say the onboard is fine does that mean that as long as you dont install the graphics card the machine is fine ? if so then its the card that is the issue, that or the install of said card. As far as im aware the Triangle is indicating a Driver issue.
    Just noticed you are listing teh cards as this EVGA 9800GTX+ and a BFG 8800GTX OC2. You are not trying to run them both at the same time in SLI are you ? as far as i know this wont work as they need to be the same chips for that to work.
    Im not familiar with your motherboard but its safe to assume that its compatable with your card/s ? Sometimes a Bios update is needed for full compatability. Check the manufacturers website for details.
    We will stop there for now.

  2. Though mac has some good points and you'v tried so many things, wow i cant believe the first step has not been done - disable onboard graphics in bios!

    Im hoping you did this, as all them rma's and troubleshooting...
  3. lol, sorry for the lack of description.

    the onboard video works fine when I have a monitor plugged into it and its being used over the PCI-E and has no issues at all.

    When I have a PCI-E card in there I always favor that one in the BIOS (there is no way to turn it off completely, just tell it to use the PCI-E as a first choice)

    As for SLI goes, I'm just using one card at a time. I've used 2 different physical cards of the 8800 and one 9800 with the same issue which leads me to believe its not the card.

    One GPU going bad is plausible, 2 is very unlikely and having all 3 cards; 2 of which being brand new is the point where I stop suspecting the video card.

    and like you said Mactronix, the BIOS update was a very good idea and I've had a bunch of issues getting it to actually update without issues. I'm gonna go work on that now actually now that I have had the board RMAed and see if that fixes anything.

    One more thing I wanted to note that I dont THINK is related but you never know is when I do a clean install of windows with this computer I ALWAYS get "no disk drive found" and "no CD drive found" errors during the windows installer setup.

    It only got those errors when I used a quick format, or split the HDD partition into 2 or more.

    The only way I can get around this (and not doing a full format) is by slip-streaming all the drivers from EVGA into my windows disc. While that fixes the issue with that, I'm curious if it's related at all.

    I've been building computers for a good 5 years and never once encountered this many strange, unexplained issues from one box.

    thanks for you input guys!
  4. Best answer
    As i said im not familiar with that Motherboard but it sounds like you are at the place where i would personally try a differant motherboard. I know some boards have issues with AHCI and NCQ Functions but if these needed a seperate driver disc then it would say in the Motherboard manual.
    Keep us posted

  5. There is always an option to turn off the oboard vga. Just checked your manual:

    Advanced Chipset Features>Onboard GPU

    You should have two options, enable if no Ext GPU and always enable, select the first one: Enable if no Ext GPU

    Also, leave the Init First Display to: PCIe

    Reg the windows issue, either thats your hard drive, ram or copy of windows.

    Use memtest to check the ram

    Use hdtune to check the hard drive, as well as its manufactureres site software.

    Is it a legit copy of windows?
  6. yeah those options are there for sure and are already selected. Just more used to the traditional "disable" option. lol I guess its as good, but make it a tad more difficult to pin point my issue if for some reason its booting up with the onboard card.

    Then again, I can just make it simple and keep the monitor unplugged from the mobo. lol

    and yeah, its a legit copy on all 3 and all the hardware is tested and good. Just odd that it works perfectly under the right circumstances such as full format or slip streaming the drivers
  7. Well, after switching out motherboards the problem SEEMS to have been resolved. Funny thing is though I'm now using it as my HTPC and the problem is gone there too. I'm guessing the hardware I am using did not like the mobo for some reason.

    I guess just swapping the motherboards around made it all happy again. lol The funny thing is, my HTPCs parts are not all that different from my main setup. *shrug*

    thanks all for the help!
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