Could it be a motherboard problem?

So here's what I know so far:

The computer was mostly fine for the last year. The only problems I had were a failed power supply (replaced) and one hard drive that wouldn't initialize on soft boot, but was always fine on hard boot (still not sure what causes that).

3 days ago, I did a windows update and upon restarting, it took about 15 min to load into windows. Every basic windows task suddenly took forever to execute. My RAM was normal around 25% usage, but my CPU was sitting at 0% most of the time with peaks of about 5% at maximum. The computer still worked but was slow as mud.

- Problem persists on clean boot/diagnostic startup.
- Problem persists in safe mode.

Finally, I took a clean HDD and installed Windows 7. Issues are still present, but not as bad as before. (Could just be that there's less in the registry/temp/startup to bog it down.)

All temps are normal, all fans operational, all voltages within tolerance from PSU. Could it be a problem with the motherboard?

Operating System
MS Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
CPU
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 2.40GHz 36 °C
Kentsfield 65nm Technology
RAM
4.0GB G.Skill Dual-Channel DDR2 @ 333MHz (5-5-5-13)
Motherboard
EVGA 122-CK-NF68 (Socket 775)
Graphics
Acer AL2216W @ 1680x1050
NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX/9800 GTX+ (EVGA)
Hard Drives
500GB Seagate (SATA)
640GB Seagate (SATA)
Optical Drives
LITE-ON DVDRW LH-20A1L
Audio
HTO STRIKER 7.1
14 answers Last reply
More about could motherboard problem
  1. So here's what I know so far:

    The computer was mostly fine for the last year. The only problems I had were a failed power supply (replaced) and one hard drive that wouldn't initialize on soft boot, but was always fine on hard boot (still not sure what causes that).

    3 days ago, I did a windows update and upon restarting, it took about 15 min to load into windows. Every basic windows task suddenly took forever to execute. My RAM was normal around 25% usage, but my CPU was sitting at 0% most of the time with peaks of about 5% at maximum. The computer still worked but was slow as mud.

    - Problem persists on clean boot/diagnostic startup.
    - Problem persists in safe mode.

    Finally, I took a clean HDD and installed Windows 7. Issues are still present, but not as bad as before. (Could just be that there's less in the registry/temp/startup to bog it down.)

    All temps are normal, all fans operational, all voltages within tolerance from PSU. Could it be a problem with the motherboard?


    Yes, it could be but I would suspect other issues first. You say you did a fresh install and it is performing somewhat better, but still not where it should be? Did you remove the old hard drive? In other words, this could be symptomatic of a virus which could still be operating if the old drive is in there.

    However, it is strange to me that your problem persists in safe mode. Simply looking at that on a fresh install, it certainly seems to indicate a hardware issue.
    Have you tested the memory or tried easter egging the ram? How about easter eggs on the rest of the hardware?

    Hardware issues can be hard to nail down which why many folks recommend uninstalling one part at a time until you find the culprit. But I've had numerous motherboards that were semi-operational and ended up being the source of the problems I was experiencing. This is why I am suggesting to eliminate other components as a process of elimination. Try removing any hardware which may be suspect such as the ram or hard drive(s).

    Also any other issues such as crashes or software problems?
  2. I suspect a hard drive problem; not necessarily with the boot drive. A failing hard drive will do a number of err recovery retries which can take a long time.

    A bit of diagnostics are in order.

    1) to test for basic motherboard and ram functionality, run memtest86+ It does not use the hard drive for the OS. You should complete at least one full pass with NO errors.

    2) Look at the S.M.A.R.T data for the hard drives. I think this data is only available if the sata mode is ahci. (not ide or raid) All the parameters should be in green.
    I do this using speedfan, but there must be simpler ways.
    Download and run the seagate hard drive diagnostic utilities which should be available from their web site.

    3) Run prime95. Use cpu-z to check the multiplier to verify that the cpu is not throttling because of heat issues. Set the option for rounding error checking. Run it long enough for the temperature to rise to it's maximum and stabilize there. You should get NO errors.
  3. Thanks for the reply.

    The original hard drive is not in the system right now. I've also tried removing my extra storage drive and it makes no difference.

    The new drive is using a new SATA cable and is also in a different SATA slot just to rule out those possibilities.

    I tested the RAM by removing one at a time and switching slots. I haven't had any memory faults or other indications of a RAM problem.

    The only other hardware I can remove at this point would be the graphics card, the sound card, and the DVD drive.
  4. Sound cards are notorious for having driver issues and other conflicts. I would uninstall it and try onboard sound.

    memtest is the gold standard for testing ram. Just one stick may not include a address that is having issues.
  5. @geofelt -

    CPU-Z didn't show any down throttling, as expected since I have that feature disabled in BIOS.
    I don't think it's a hard drive problem since the problem continues on two different drives.

    I'm running memtest86+ right now and I'll take out the sound card next if no faults are found.

    @buzznut -

    No other software issues or crashes. Just everything loading extremely slow. Oddly, it seems that once something is loaded into memory, it runs a little better until it has to load something new. I.E. when launching firefox, it takes quite a while for initial loading, but cached websites load quickly whereas websites I haven't visited take significantly longer.


    UPDATE: memtest86+ had no errors after 1 full pass. Removing the sound card made no difference with the problem either.
  6. Just an update for anyone who cares:

    I've replaced or removed all of the following components so far:

    Motherboard, Hard Drive, Video Card, Sound Card, DVD-ROM

    I checked voltages on the PSU and I ran Memtest86+ on my RAM. Everything seems fine with the hardware.

    I'm going to try another CPU as soon as I can get one. I've never heard of a CPU going bad after 2 years of consistent performance, but it's the only thing left to try at this point.
  7. New CPU shows same results. Any ideas? I'm going to run memtest86+ for an extended period and see if it comes up with anything. I'll have to look around and see if I can beg, borrow, or purchase some RAM just to further rule out that component.

    Edit: Running brand new motherboard, CPU, and hard drive. Still using original RAM, video card, sound card, PSU, and DVD-ROM.

    This has to be the most frustrating problem I've ever dealt with.
  8. Well, that definitely is a stubborn problem. I'm not sure what's left at this point. I still suspect some software issue, most likely a virus that is quite tenacious and has exploited your drives and ram. I had a friend with a virus that was still there after changing components, and stripping the system down to nothing and reformatting all drives. He claims the virus got into his router and would reinfect his PC every time he scrubbed his PC clean of the thing. He's been paranoid about security ever since!!

    One thing I am unsure of, have you replaced the power supply?

    Here's another thought, the other day I was having trouble with system responsiveness which is really unusual, I have a fast PC and an SSD; it always responds quickly. It was a head scratcher for a few minutes, tried rebooting and shutdown for 30secs to clear memory, etc. Then I saw the drive I had in my external Blakx enclosure was being pinged by the OS (no reason this should be happening, I wasn't trying to access the drive, just the dvd drives). I yanked out the external drive, which was quite warm to the touch and my system was back to normal. BTW, that hard drive I suspect is bad, at any rate it should be blank as I formatted it last week.

    Again no reason it should be constantly scanned, but it was definitely in a spin up cycle for many hours. Remove drive=problem solved.
  9. The power supply is a Corsair 850W non-modular. I bought it to replace a failed OCZ brand PSU so it's less than a year old and the voltages I can see in the bios are all normal. I really don't think it's the PSU since there's no signs of low or missing voltages on either motherboard.

    I also have my router hooked up to 2 other computers without any issues. I'm 99% sure it isn't a software problem. As I said before, I'm only running one hard drive right now and it's not the one that I had been using when the problem started.

    I'm pretty much left at just the RAM as the source of the problem, even though I was passing every run in memtest86+ with no errors. It doesn't make much sense to me.
  10. Did you try to easter egg the ram?
  11. I assume you mean taking out one stick at a time. Yes I tried that.
  12. Azoren said:

    I also have my router hooked up to 2 other computers without any issues. I'm 99% sure it isn't a software problem. As I said before, I'm only running one hard drive right now and it's not the one that I had been using when the problem started.


    My friend also had two other PC's on the router with no issues. Just an FYI. One of the issues he had was the HD format did not erase some low level stuff so the virus was able to hide in the boot sector or something like that. Anyway its within the realm of possibility.
  13. Checked voltages on PSU via molex and SATA connectors (but not directly at mobo connector) using my multimeter. All rails are in tolerance with no fluctuation during boot.

    Downloaded newest memtest86 software just to make sure there were still no errors. Yep, no errors.

    Disconnected my box from the router and performed low level format on my new HDD just in case. Windows 7 install still taking ages to load.

    I'll be trying out new RAM just for the heck of it, but I'm starting to run out of options here. :(
  14. Ok. This is a bit weird but my problem is solved. I tried another hard drive on a whim, and amazingly the thing started right up and is running just fine now. I guess the other 2 hard drives (including the brand new one) were both somehow bad. Now that I can get into windows, I'll be recovering what I can from the bad drive and then ripping that waste of metal apart.

    It does still make me a bit uneasy that a brand new drive out of the box was just bad. Coincidence? I might do some more tests before I return it just to make sure.
    Thanks for all the replies. I'll definitely be back to this community in the future.
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