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Asus M4A78T-E - System very unstable - Help!

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May 7, 2010 8:08:58 AM

Back in June of 2009, I purchased a load of new parts on Newegg to use in building a completely new system, to replace an old Dell P4 that was not aging gracefully.

The system has the following components:

Motherboard: Asus M4A78T-E (BIOS Rev. 3303)
CPU: AMD Phenom II X3 720 @ 2.8 Ghz
Memory: 2x1 GB DDR3 (Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model BL2KIT12864BA1336)
Power Supply: 580W unit (Mushkin Enhanced 550250 580W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready Modular Active PFC Power Supply)
Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate x64 (Retail) (Free for being a Launch Party host)

Other part specifications available, just ask.

A CPUID Hardware Monitor screenshot detailing current environmental temps/etc can be viewed below.



This screenshot was taken after the system had been up for 1 day & 19 hours. It crashed shortly after.

The system has trouble during the Windows boot process, often freezing on the animated flag or shortly thereafter, sometimes silently, sometimes beeping sporadically or steadily. If it makes it past the flag, it may bluescreen later in the boot process before the login screen appears with various BSODs, at least 5 different ones that I've seen. Often, it takes 10 hard resets to allow the system to boot successfully.

After it boots, it is often apparently stable, but will crash with no warning anywhere from 1 to 8 days later. (I leave the system on 24x7, shutting off the monitor at night.) Often I come home to a monitor that will not wake from sleep mode when I press a key on the keyboard along with no hard drive activity, indicating a crash. Sometimes I come home to a severely distorted display, also indicating a crash.

While it is running, it has only 1 apparent abnormality - If audio is playing from an application, such as a video file, and I stop the playback or close the app, the last few milliseconds of sound will replay in a continuous loop, which sounds similar to a buzzing sound, changing pitch depending on what the audio in question is. This phenomenon does not always occur, and I cannot reproduce it at will. In all cases, starting anything that plays audio will stop the errant sound and play audio as expected.

All drivers are up to date, all updates have been applied, and Windows reports nothing out of the ordinary. The system passes its BIOS POST with no problems.

Any help would be very much appreciated.
a b B Homebuilt system
May 7, 2010 9:40:56 AM

Very strange. I would have no idea really... possibly hardware issues? For example, faulty RAM?
a b B Homebuilt system
May 7, 2010 2:04:02 PM

Test the memory with memtest86+.
Run manufacturer hard disk diagnostics.

I suspect the motherboard is about to go...
Related resources
May 7, 2010 8:50:16 PM

I ran the built-in Windows 7 memory diagnostic (found in safe mode/recovery options), but I was unable to find the results. I checked the system event log, but found nothing there.

Hard drive diagnostics have been run recently, passed.

One symptom I forgot to mention is that every now and then, when doing the hard resets to try to get the computer to boot, it will occasionally dump all BIOS settings and force me to enter the BIOS setup and re-enter all my information (Power saving, boot order, etc.) The BIOS battery is good, something else is causing all BIOS settings to be lost.

Also, how do you know when a motherboard itself is bad?
a b B Homebuilt system
May 10, 2010 2:16:34 PM

Try this:

http://www.memtest.org

If the fans and hard disks are spinning and the bios has been cleared and there is no activity on the monitor and the video card is good, it is usually a bad motherboard.
There must be no beeps from the speaker also. Best to test outside the case on a piece of cardboard.
May 10, 2010 7:10:12 PM

evongugg said:
Try this:

http://www.memtest.org

If the fans and hard disks are spinning and the bios has been cleared and there is no activity on the monitor and the video card is good, it is usually a bad motherboard.
There must be no beeps from the speaker also. Best to test outside the case on a piece of cardboard.


At the moment I have my old P4 setup to provide a working PC, and since I only have one monitor and limited space, the bad system must wait until I either get more desk space or another monitor. I'll be working on that later today.

The fans spin. The hard drives spin. There is normal BIOS POST activity on the monitor with every single boot attempt. All POST tests are normal. As an example, I have the BIOS settings set up so that the full-screen green Asus logo does not appear, and the system case fans are set to run at a low RPM controlled by the motherboard (Q-Fan enabled and set to 'Performance'). When the BIOS dumps its settings, I know right away as the full-screen green Asus logo appears and the case fans crank up to maximum speed. 2 120mm fans are VERY audible at max RPM. It sounds like my system is going to go airborne. I then get an error that the time/date was lost/reset, F1 to run setup, F2 to continue.

The speaker beeps as normal during the POST sequence, once at system power on/reset, and once after I press Esc at the "Press <ESC> to boot.. 9..8 [etc]" (I wish I could kill that prompt!)

I wonder - Why don't MB manufacturers include a memory testing app like MEMTEST/86 in the BIOS? It seems like a great place for such a utility. They could put it under an 'Extended Diagnostics' menu.

Yesterday I spent over half an hour trying to get the system to boot. It crashed repeatedly either at the Windows animated boot flag or after with numerous different BSODs. Some named random drivers. Some showed only a alphanumeric stop error. Some just said the system had been halted due to a problem. It dumped it BIOS settings twice. Twice, it made it to the Windows login screen, at the wrong resolution. It crashed within seconds.

I checked the system fans (including the processor fan), they're all spinning as normal.

I tried booting into safe/recovery mode, and I also tried booting from my Win 7 USB key with the DVD install files on it. Both crashed in the same way, so I think I can safely rule out a corrupted Windows install.

Last, you made a reference to my video card. I do not run with a dedicated graphics card - I use the on-board ATI Radeon HD3300 graphics. (Side note, it performs much better than I would expect, 4.7 desktop Aero score, 5.9 3D gaming graphics score! - I have it set to use 128 MB of system RAM as well as its built-in 128 MB of RAM)

Thanks..
May 22, 2010 9:18:23 PM

Apologies for the long delay, I finally got another monitor and had to let the system sit and run MemTest86+ for a while.

A similar MemTest86+ freeze occured just as it does in Windows (see response #6) - Does this indicate a fauly motherboard or processor? How do I rule them out with no replacement components to substitute for testing? All parts are still under manufacturer warranty I believe.

evongugg said:
Check this list:

"New build won't boot" checklist

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/261145-31-build-post-...


1) Yes.
2) Yes.
3) Yes.
4) Does not apply. Using onboard ATI Radeon HD300 video.
5) Does not apply. Not needed.
6) No. Explanation - MemTest86+ ran for 36+ hours, on 2 1GB sticks of RAM, no errors. The next morning, the system was unresponsive, no video output signal, just as would sometimes happen in Windows.
7) Yes.
8) Yes.
9) Yes.
10) Yes.
11) Does not apply, partially. Using stock CPU heatsink/fan. Thermal paste was carefully applied in build process, only a small amount was used. It's only where it should be.
12) Yes.
13) Yes. The cooler is/was free of foreign material and is properly attached. See system temp screenshot at top of this post for verification.
14) No. The only wire connected beyond the standard MB connectors is a single black PSU grounding wire, which has a grounding lug on it, and the PSU manual specifically said to attach it to a motherboard mounting screw. It is installed on top of the motherboard, and a motherboard screw holds it on. PS - System issues still present with previous PSU which did not use a grounding wire attached to the motherboard.
15) Yes. Scrupulously.
16) Yes. The BIOS POST passes normally 100% of the time, only erroring out if it happens to dump all of its settings, and then only to complain that all settings are at default and to run setup. The beeping sounds I sometimes hear during Windows startup are sometimes continuous, sometimes sporadic. They do not match any known BIOS error beeps I know of, nor do I expect them to.
17) Yes. Notably, the POWER ON LED connector was left disconnected, as a personal choice. I try to minimize glowing LED lights that serve no real purpose, as the system is in my bedroom.
18) Yes.
19) Yes.
20) Yes.
21) Does not apply. I only have the on-board video. I do not have a PCI-E video card to test with.
!