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System upgrade won't start Windows XP

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July 15, 2010 4:09:15 AM

I'm hoping for some help from all you folks with your exceptional knowledge and experience.

GOAL
The goal is to increase operating speed so that everyday usage isn't mind-numbingly slow WITHOUT having to change the existing OS or require the user (my elderly mother) to re-learn her computer when all she wants is to read her email without having to wait forever (she is aging after all). I am using the old hard drive (WD 400 Caviar, early 40 GB) which is about 1/2 full. (My thought for her also is Netflix movies online, maybe HD movies later.)

SPECS
I am upgrading an older computer from a 2001 vintage Pentium 4 (with Rambus memory, remember those?) to the following:

Asus VH226H monitor
MSI 870A-G54 MB, using onboard audio to externally powered speakers
AMD II X3 440 Rana CPU (using OEM cooler, no OCing)
Adata gaming series (2 X 2GB) DDR3 SDRAM DDR# 1600 RAM
Apex AL-D500 EXP 500 watt PSU
Asus EN9500GT video

I'm using the old case as it was a top of the line Gateway unit (full tower) when new. I did add a 120mm case fan to it and the new PSU, but it's stock from there. Includes the FDD (necessary for some old software) a DVD player and a CD burner. No PC speaker.

PROBLEM
Start-up, the system seems to get through POST OK, it counts all of the RAM (although it hesitates at the 3 GB point before continuing) then gets me to the "Windows did not start successfully ..." screen. At that point, none of the options will get me further. The "Start Windows normally" option does flash a BSOD but it's gone before I can focus my eyes on it much less read it. Before I turned it off in the BIOS, the splash screen for the video card would display OK (lots of orange) and it is currently working the same with my HP monitor.

I'm assuming that the Windows environment is crashing due to the hardware changes being so dramatic, but I have another problem. The MB only has one IDE connector (my oversight), so I got a PCI- IDE add-in card for the optical drives to connect to. The BIOS doesn't seem to recognize the card, so at least one drive has to be left off for the time being. Unfortunately, whenever I connect the unused portion of the IDE cable that the hard drive is on to the CD drive, the BIOS ceases to recognize the hard drive. The hard drive checks out OK in another machine and the new systems' BIOS accurately ID's it (as a slave without being jumpered for it), Windows just doesn't get far enough for me to do anything with it. It's possible the jumper on the drive needs to be changed, but I don't have any documentation on it and don't want to mess it up by experimenting blindly.

I have tried setting the BIOS to "Optimum defaults" and "Failsafe defaults", I have tried manually changing the settings for the boot sequence etc. I have NOT tried booting from disk due to the aforementioned problems with the CD drive.

Other details, I did have to customize the front panel connectors as the old ones had an odd 16 pin plug rather than the 10 pin or the multiple 2 pin. I'm pretty certain I got that part right as it turns on and off properly and the LED (single diode dual color) blinks when it's supposed to. I also spliced in an extension on the power cable for the hard drive as it was a few inches short, but I don't think that's a problem as the hard drive still gets recognized. Also, the splice is upstream from the CD drive and I could get it to open and close OK, and I metered it and got appropriate readings.

If the proper solution is to boot from disk, any suggestions on getting the hard drive and the cd to play nice? Also recommendations to prevent the need for a new install (Windows)? Again, the priority is to prevent my mom from having to re-learn her computer. She's fairly savvy and willing, but it'd be easier to just turn it on and have everything be where it was before. Long term, I'll clone her a fast SATA drive and her machine will be about 5 years ahead of mine. Boy is THAT sad.

Thanks everyone for the help.
a b B Homebuilt system
July 15, 2010 5:27:33 AM

have you tried only using 2GB of RAM?

Also have you tried booting into Safe Mode?
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July 15, 2010 5:51:45 AM

I haven't tried with only one stick of RAM, but I have tried every option of the Windows start-up; (from the "Windows did not start successfully..." screen) safe mode, safe mode with networking, last known good configuration, something with command prompt and start normally. Except for getting a momentary BSOD from 'normally', all do the same thing, choke and repeat.

I didn't think RAM was an issue since in POST it reads it all OK and the BIOS ID's it OK. I'll try pulling one stick and seeing if it makes any difference. That'll be tomorrow, though.

Thanks for the input.
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a c 122 B Homebuilt system
July 15, 2010 6:55:31 AM

Did you reinstall Windows after you upgraded the motherboard? If not, that may be the problem. And if you are going to do that, you may as well buy another hard drive (SATA) and use the IDE hard drive as a secondary drive until you get the data ported over.

Modern motherboards only have one IDE connector. You're supposed to use SATA now. A SATA DVD R/W drive is only about $25 today.
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July 15, 2010 7:10:51 AM

You wont even close to the goal.

First of all you will need to wipe the hardrive and reinstall windows since you have a new motherboard.

Second that hard drive is so slow it will be a huge bottle neck, drop $50 on a decent sata drive. The old ide drives are slow as hell you could put it on a i7 rig and it would run like ***.
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 15, 2010 2:20:32 PM

+1 for above two posts.

Your windows XP is loaded with incorrect drivers, ie Chipset, HDD, audio, ect. as pointed out you will have to reload operating system. Just built my wife a system, She's 65 and HATES change, But I did her a favour, loaded windows 7. For what she does it will not be a big change. One problem area is win 7 does not come with a email program and you will need to install - I put vista Windows mail in Win 7 and it is very simular to Outlook express. To install Win XP, you will need to download the "F6" drivers for the HDD, and then once XP is installed you would need to install all other drivers. Win 7 comes with all needed drivers to get up and runing, MB updated drivers will improve preformance. And Daship recommendation, new HDD, is outstanding.

Added:
Your windows XP installation disk should be with SP 2. Service pack 1 and earlier installation disk have a problem sometimes with newer systems.
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July 18, 2010 8:04:12 AM

I solved the problems! I got the old hard drive and the CD drive to work on the single IDE connection (I needed to experiment with the jumpers and cables and such, but it worked) and following some advice on the Windows XP support forum, ran the XP setup procedure from the CD. I repaired the existing installation and saved all the existing settings, programs etc. The desktop looks unchanged and everything seems to run fine.

So I was able to meet my goals. I will upgrade to a SATA drive for speed (I was planning to long term anyway) but now it will be a simple clone process instead of trying to reinstall a lot of Legacy software and apps. I still have to do some update work, but I knew I would regardless.

In hindsight, there weren't any hardware problems or incompatibilities just settings, adjustments and Windows set-up.
Thanks for the feedback. It didn't directly help, but it did get me to think outside my 'box'.
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July 18, 2010 7:41:16 PM

Best answer selected by Watcher.
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