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New(ish) Build Freeze during OS Install

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March 6, 2011 8:33:28 PM

Hey all,

Finished a new computer a few weeks ago, and right away I started having all sorts of problems. First, the PSU went dead within a week, which I replaced with the same PSU. This PSU, in turn, died within a week, which I was forced to replace with a different PSU (the non-modular, Corsair I have now). Finally, with adequate power being reliably supplied to my system, I was able to boot and use the new rig for about 1.5 weeks before it started freezing erratically, to the point where I could not really use the machine at all. This in turn, I figured out to be a motherboard defect, which was causing memory problems with the system (memory wasn't appearing, even though I individually tested each stick for consistency). Thanks to ASUS customer support, I was able to get a new board relatively quickly, which I installed a few days ago. Right away, I started having CPU overheating problems, which continued to freeze the computer. Since the stock CPU fan wasn't doing its job, I went out and purchased a fancy Zalman unit, which brought the CPU temp down a solid 40 celsius, down to the range of 40-45 celsius (idling). At this point, I had hoped the computer would work. Alas, I came into my current predicament, which I cannot seem to solve...

I cannot seem to get Windows 7 (64 bit professional) to install, or boot, on this machine. At first, I still had the OS installed on the primary hard drive, which I had used on the computer before the mobo failed. I decided I would reformat the drive, just to be safe, and start from scratch, so to speak. Interestingly, the computer froze, and continued to freeze, right after the Microsoft logo materialized during the boot sequence from the disc. Then, when I tried to boot the existing partition of Windows 7, it did the exact same thing: freezing on the Microsoft logo after 5-10 seconds. Basically, I could not boot my computer into Windows, nor could I reinstall, delete, or modify the existing Windows partition.

So what did I do to try to solve it? A great many things. I first attempted to replug everything in the system back into place, checking my connections and so far. Everything got the green light, through a series of diagnostic tests I ran, such as Memtest 86+ on the memory (4 x 2gb), and HD regen on the primary drive (1 TB), where I wanted windows. Everything under the BIOS showed up as running correctly, including the frequency on the RAM/CPU, and the configuration on all SATA devices (2 optical, 2 HDs) showed up fine. Essentially, it seemed as if the computer itself was giving me a green light, but at the same time refused to operate.

I followed up attempting a boot with different RAM configurations, ranging from 1 stick, 2 stick, 3 stick, to 4 stick, in every configuration I could think of. No dice. I tried looking through the BIOS for tell-tale signs of driver conflict, and attempted disabling devices on the board such as the 1394 adapter, HD audio, and USB 3.0. Unfortunately, since I do not have a PS/2 keyboard, I could not try disabling the USB 2.0 drivers, as otherwise I could not operate the install. I tried installing from the DVD from both drives, to no avail. I tried unplugging the backup HD and using only the one DVD drive and the HD, to no luck. Everything I tried seemed to get me stuck at the Microsoft logo.

But I did make some progress. Interestingly, without ANY HDs plugged in, the disc boots correctly to the Windows setup screen (although obviously that doesn't really help me). When I set the optical drive's PIO to 4, and to UDMA 5, the disc booted correctly, but then froze on the "Setup is starting..." screen. I made myself a Windows 7 installation USB key, using a friend's computer, which correctly boots past the Microsoft logo, and even gets by the "Setup is starting" window at times, but always freezes by the next screen, where you must accept the user agreement. Besides this, I have tried seemingly endless options in the BIOS, such as setting the storage configuration to AHCI, and RAID, which got me by the Microsoft logo, 2/5 boots, but always froze by the setup screen. I have yet to reach the screen where I actually partition the disc.

I'm seriously tearing my hair out over here.

Any advice would be ungodly, and extremely appreciated.

Thank you,
Mr. Narrative

I'll list my computer specs here:

Mobo: ASUS Rampage III Gene LGA 1366 Intel X58 Micro ATX Motherboard

CPU: Intel Core i7 950 3.06GHz 8M L3 Cache LGA1366 Desktop Processor

GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX 480 1536 MB Graphics Card

RAM: Corsair DOMINATOR 8 GB PC3-10666 1333Mhz 240-Pin CAS 7 DDR3

PSU: Corsair TX950W Power Supply

CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS9900LED Ultra Quiet CPU Cooler

Case: Cooler Master ATX Fulltower Case

Best solution

March 7, 2011 9:45:12 AM

Hello NatureNerd;

Excellent choice of system components. And your troubleshooting has been excellent.
That is some horror story. All your pre-OS installation testing (Memtest 86+, HD regen & BIOS exploration) seems to confirm your hardware is ready for an OS install.
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Basically, I could not boot my computer into Windows, nor could I reinstall, delete, or modify the existing Windows partition.

I don't understand what could be going on here. But in your position I think I'd try installing a non-Windows OS.

Reset the BIOS to default. Let Ubuntu have a crack at trying to install itself as OS. Ubuntu Desktop Edition Download

If that doesn't work and if you're a bit paranoid at this point (I would be) I'd go so far as to get a small, inexpensive HDD or recycle an old HDD and use that.
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March 7, 2011 12:04:30 PM

I had the same experience on my friend's computer. XP or 7 CD's would not boot up no matter what I did. I even tried BartPE and Ultimate Boot CD and they would not boot up. I was able to boot up with a windows 95 CD and from there I was able to delete the partitions on the HD.

I then rebooted with the win95 CD again and quit setup. I just did this to get the CDROM drive installed, 98 might have worked too but XP or 7 would still not boot at all. Once on the command prompt, changed the CD with XP, went to the CD drive, then changed directory to I386 and ran winnt.exe. Afterwards I was able to upgrade to 7. Weird but it worked. Good Luck.
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March 7, 2011 2:06:56 PM

Seeing how the general consensus was to attempt booting an alternative-OS, I tried Windows XP (Home Edition, SP2), as it was the only disc available to me at the time. Interestingly, XP setup booted correctly, and I was able to wipe the partition from the (damaged?) Windows 7 installation. I attempted to install XP onto the blank partition, to see if that would work, and it successfully formatted and setup its files on the drive. However, when the machine rebooted to finish the installation, setup froze at the "Installing devices..." screen. I repeated this three times, and setup always froze at the "Installing Devices..." screen. To me, I feel like this may characterize a driver issue of some sort, but since I do not possess a PS/2 keyboard, I cannot experiment with disabling USB devices on the mobo (yet).

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Reset the BIOS to default. Let Ubuntu have a crack at trying to install itself as OS. Ubuntu Desktop Edition Download


I'll give installing Ubuntu a shot, but will a successful Ubuntu install allow me to install Windows 7 correctly? The end goal is to get Windows installed; while I am familiar with Ubuntu, and I plan on creating a later partition with it on the drive, I hope to have the main OS partition be Windows (I paid for it, I want to use it!) :D 

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I then rebooted with the win95 CD again and quit setup. I just did this to get the CDROM drive installed, 98 might have worked too but XP or 7 would still not boot at all. Once on the command prompt, changed the CD with XP, went to the CD drive, then changed directory to I386 and ran winnt.exe. Afterwards I was able to upgrade to 7. Weird but it worked. Good Luck.


I had not heard of the winnt.exe method of installation before your post, punnar. Does this method only work when upgrading from older, legacy OSes, to XP?

I'm assuming you installed Windows 7 after the winnt.exe process was complete, over the now-functional XP OS.

Thanks for the advice guys, I'll be sure to give some more methods a shot in the near future. Will update with results.
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March 7, 2011 7:04:22 PM

NatureNerd said:
I repeated this three times, and setup always froze at the "Installing Devices..." screen. To me, I feel like this may characterize a driver issue of some sort, but since I do not possess a PS/2 keyboard, I cannot experiment with disabling USB devices on the mobo (yet).
I'd think it was an issue with the XP drivers too. You might be able to find XP drivers for the individual hardware items.

I was thinking you could use Ubuntu to work on your partitions during the Ubuntu install and that would fix what ever problems is preventing Win7 from installing.
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March 7, 2011 7:08:05 PM

Definitely install Ubuntu on a smaller partition. A 20~50GB partition would be plenty.
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March 8, 2011 12:32:21 PM

winnt can be executed in DOS mode and winnt32 is normally executed while you have GUI interface.

I've also ran into issues where the keyboard was bad and it kept the OS from booting. Which brings me to ask if tried booting up without any peripherals connect via USB. My apologies if you already tried or is someone already made this suggestion.
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March 8, 2011 12:56:09 PM

Alright guys, I've tried a couple things since my last post, to no avail:

A) Tried installing Ubuntu onto the drive, via a USB stick I created using Ubuntu's USB installer program, and the .iso I took from the official website. Could not install Ubuntu, installation kept getting stuck about 5-8 seconds in, although it seemed to boot correctly (got the Ubuntu options menu and everything). Installation always gave me an error along the lines of "chipset is incompatible with this installation, error". So no freezing here, just something is preventing Ubuntu from finishing its install properly.

B) Tried a brand-new, out of the box HD I bought just to test the OS install (WD Caviar Black 500gb 64mb cache 7200 RPM). No luck; got the exact same freeze as every other time. So that rules out the old hard drives are bad (WD 640gb 7200 RPM 32mb cache, and SB 1.0 TB 7200 RPM 32 mb, 4 and 2 years old, respectively). My hard drives are the only part I didn't buy new for the new rig, so was considering if that was the issue?

Quote:
I've also ran into issues where the keyboard was bad and it kept the OS from booting. Which brings me to ask if tried booting up without any peripherals connect via USB. My apologies if you already tried or is someone already made this suggestion.


This is something I have not tried yet; interestingly enough, a 3-month old logitech USB keyboard I had seemed to short out and die on my desktop, before I switched out the first bad mobo. The keyboard I'm using currently is a slightly older, larger model of the newer keyboard which shorted out (G11 Logitech), and maybe 1/4 boots it doesn't respond to inputs. Really starting to seem like USB ports are glitchy or something. I'll try to get my hands on a PS/2 keyboard so I can try that diagnostic step.

Today I am also going to swap in a different GPU, then PSU, to see if that shows any improvement. I read in another topic here that someone with my exact PSU model was having a similar problem, and that swapping it out allowed the installation to continue. I have no idea why a PSU would cause this issue, but I might as well try it.

Thanks for the help so far,
Me
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March 9, 2011 12:33:59 PM

Finally solved the problem, after I tried 9-10 additional times to get a read on it.

Turns out, it was the PSU. No idea why, or how, a PSU (with the correct Wattage and rail sizes) would disallow me to install an OS, but it did. When I swapped out the 950W Corsair with a friend's 875W OCZ, it booted up right away, and installed to the end with no delays, like nothing was ever wrong.

Looks like I'll be returning that POS to Newegg, and ordering myself a new PSU.

Case closed.

Thanks all!
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March 9, 2011 12:53:10 PM

Did you only swap PSU? You also mentioned new GPU.
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March 9, 2011 1:10:09 PM

Well, I swapped the GPU first (480 GTX for 275 GTX), with the Corsair PSU intact, which did nothing.

Then I swapped the PSU out for the OCZ 875W, and it worked fine.

Then I swapped the 480 GTX graphics card back in, and it still worked fine.

From that I concluded it was the PSU that was causing the issue.
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March 9, 2011 1:18:05 PM

Thanks for posting the update.
It's been a while since I noticed anything quite this strange.
I guess this one gets tossed into the weird file.
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March 16, 2011 2:27:11 PM

Best answer selected by NatureNerd.
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