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ASUS Sabertooth X79 -- can't install Windows 7 64-bit onto Crucial SSD

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June 3, 2012 3:15:06 PM

I'm attempting to install Windows 7 64-bit and keep running into problems. The main problem has been that the Windows install will complete and then reboot for the initial load. I will then get a screen saying "Windows Failed to start" due to "corrupt" files existing.

I'm attempting to install with only the SSD hooked up. I'm using the Intel SATA port.

The motherboard came with BIOS version 0906. After my first fail, I upgraded the SSD firmware to 000F and still got a failure.

I also failed with BIOS 1104 (latest version).

I can get windows to install onto a WD Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200 RPM using BIOS 0906 (I haven't tried any others).

Windows successfully installs onto the SSD with BIOS version 0709 (earliest version).

================================
Configuration
================================

Motherboard:

ASUS Sabertooth X79 LGA 2011 Intel X79 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM:

G.SKILL Ripjaws Z Series 32GB DDR3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU:

Intel Core i7-3930K Sandy Bridge-E 3.2GHz
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SSD:

Crucial M4 CT256M4SSD2BAA 2.5" 256GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
a c 270 Ĉ ASUS
a b $ Windows 7
a c 1023 V Motherboard
June 3, 2012 3:42:21 PM

Apart from getting a bad drive I can not think of any other reason that you would have a corrupt file system after install.
On second thought many years ago I had problems installing XP with a bad ram module so maybe memtest, http://www.memtest86.com/download.html
a c 207 Ĉ ASUS
a b $ Windows 7
a c 715 V Motherboard
June 3, 2012 3:57:30 PM

BIOS on Sabertooth X79 - 0906 is very stable, 1009 is crap and 1104 (tad faster performance) is good & bad (apparently bad for you).

RAM - the F3-14900CL9Q2-32GBZL could be the root of the problems @ default, I would first set the AI Overclock Tuner -> XMP and if needed both the VCCSA & CPUVTT -> 1.20v then install Windows. Some faster kits i.e. >DDR3-1600 (DDR3-1866) run like crap @ DDR3-1333 default frequency. Memtest at bare minimum 1 pass and with 32GB ~4 hours before installing the OS -- alternative to save time then use (1) stick but still run Memtest. See - http://i1013.photobucket.com/albums/af254/Jaquith/ASUS_...

Installing Windows 7, I strongly encourage you to follow my Guide and not deviate i.e. reinvent it; Guide -> http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/303873-30-wont-resume... **Though an option, I would also encourage you to Secure Erase your SSD the old and overwritten 'crap' can effect both TRIM and performance, Secure Erase puts it back to factory spec. Yeah, I know it's RAID but the only way to get the Intel RSTE properly installed is to set SATA -> RAID and afterwards set it back to AHCI or leave it. Otherwise if you EVER want a RAID i.e. RAID 1 the HDD you'll be SOL and have to re-install the OS from scratch. I've tried it both ways...

X79 Intel RSTE vs Windows default AHCI:
Related resources
June 3, 2012 4:47:09 PM

Thanks for the replies.

I previously succeeded to install with BIOS 0709 (as mentioned above). However, the Windows 7 SP1 would not install (both via Windows Update and via standalone installer). During this time I would run "sfc /scannow" and it would find all kinds of corrupted Windows files that it was not able to repair.

I am now in the process of attempting BIOS 1009. Windows installed successfully. I put all the drivers on and am now in the process of running some Windows Updates. Before I started the updates I ran "sfc /scannow" and it was 100% successful with no corruptions.

Why am I not able to install Windows with BIOS 1104 but I am with 1009 and 0709?

jaquith - If my current attempt is not successful then I will follow your steps.

June 3, 2012 4:59:40 PM

Also, I forgot to mention this before, but I when I successfully installed Windows using 0709 I then upgraded the BIOS to 1104 and was able to boot into Windows fine.

However, like I mentioned above, I ran into problems with Windows update and SP1. Could this have been due to using BIOS 1104 after the OS was installed?

Best solution

a c 207 Ĉ ASUS
a b $ Windows 7
a c 715 V Motherboard
June 3, 2012 5:04:29 PM
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Just goes to show different hardware ... for me 1009 would occasionally BSOD especially waking from Hybrid Sleep. I also have a similar setup with 8x4GB (DDR3-1600 CAS 9 ; RAM Disk & need stability), same CPU & MOBO, but different SSD and with SLI.

Why?? Who knows, I noted that 1009 messed with some voltages i.e. +0.010~+0.015v vCore but otherwise I didn't like it and neither did (most) others since it was very quickly replaced with 1104. My 'guess' is the voltages helped stabilize your system, and I have no clue what if any changes to the BIOS you made.

IMO once 'updated' run AIDA64 Extreme with all stress options selected for at least 24 hours straight, and I'd run Memtest overnight on top of that before installing ANY applications. Validate and never assume your rig is running okay because it 'seems' it's okay.
June 3, 2012 5:14:30 PM

The only change I made to 1009 was to enable XMP.

I did the same on 1104 and that previously failed.

After I get all updates in place I will run the diagnostics tools (AIDA64 Extreme, Memtest) to see how everything looks.
a c 207 Ĉ ASUS
a b $ Windows 7
a c 715 V Motherboard
June 3, 2012 5:24:01 PM

Good Luck -- let me know. Again, if there are issues the very first place I'd look i.e. change are the VCCSA & CPUVTT -> 1.20v using XMP.
June 3, 2012 5:27:56 PM

Best answer selected by Bravo9.
June 3, 2012 8:30:12 PM

I'm in the same boat. I tried to install Linux Mint 13, LMDE, Ubuntu 12.04, Fedora 16 and 17, you name it - in some cases I managed to install and boot, only to find the system unstable and producing segmentation faults. I ran a memtest86+ on the entire memory (see specs below) and didn't find a problem. But a previous attempt trying memtester from within a booted Linux version did produce errors, though only randomly and when running on 99% of the memory.
Today I gave up with Linux and tried Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit. It installed but after the first boot I got a checksum error. I then removed the SSD and tried to install on the WD hard drive. After it completed the installation and rebooted it wouldn't come up but report a corrupted disk. The funny thing was that all Linux versions would boot from live USB stick and I could run Linux for hours and hours without a problem.
I returned the PC to the shop to have them check the hardware. Ah, I forgot, I also ran badblocks on the SSD and didn't get any errors, nor did smartctl find any problem with the SSD.

Here my hardware:

Asus Sabertooth X79
Intel i7 3930K with C2 stepping (VT-d enabled)
8x4GB G.Skill 1600MHz RAM with 9-9-9-24 (I think it's identical to yours)
Sandisk Extreme 120GB SSD
WD Green Caviar 2TB disk
PNY Quadro 600 (Nvidia) graphics card
A massive CPU cooler with dual-fan (can't remember the name)
Corsair Carbide 500R chassis
SeaSonic Gold 660W modular power supply

The disks were all connected to the Intel SATA connectors: the SSD to the 6GB/s, the DVD-RW to the Intel 3GB/s Intel SATA connector. I didn't try the Marvel connectors, though.

I updated the BIOS to 1104 (the latest). Everything at default, except CPU fan monitoring for secondary fan disabled, and the primary one set to minimum 300 RPM. I also enabled VT-d in the BIOS as I need this later on for the Xen hypervisor to enable VGA passthrough.

I haven't tweaked any BIOS settings except the ones mentioned. At one point I also restored to default. Didn't make a difference, though.
a b Ĉ ASUS
a b $ Windows 7
a c 328 V Motherboard
June 3, 2012 8:31:37 PM

This topic has been closed by Nikorr
a b Ĉ ASUS
a b $ Windows 7
a c 328 V Motherboard
June 3, 2012 8:49:46 PM

This topic has been reopen by Nikorr
a c 207 Ĉ ASUS
a b $ Windows 7
a c 715 V Motherboard
June 3, 2012 9:06:30 PM

Most of the above problems are using the RAM Defaults of DDR3-1333 vs Rated Frequencies. The 'problem' is some of these kits throw errors big-time when not running their Optimized Frequencies. Further, instead of keeping '2 sticks' happy you're (we're) dealing with maintaining 8xDIMM's with no errors or 400% more difficult.

Further, I have found NOT installing the Intel RSTE drivers as I've specified (see link above) complicates things more with increased data corruption.

I've found this out the hard way myself.

Increasing the VCCSA Voltage to 1.20v over say 1.0v or even 1.1v also helps with 8xDIMM configurations. Using XMP is fine on the Sabertooth X79, but look at manually adjusting the voltages as I've listed them.

As far a Linux, I've only used RHEL successfully so far.
June 3, 2012 10:29:38 PM

jaquith said:
Most of the above problems are using the RAM Defaults of DDR3-1333 vs Rated Frequencies. The 'problem' is some of these kits throw errors big-time when not running their Optimized Frequencies. Further, instead of keeping '2 sticks' happy you're (we're) dealing with maintaining 8xDIMM's with no errors or 400% more difficult.

Further, I have found NOT installing the Intel RSTE drivers as I've specified (see link above) complicates things more with increased data corruption.

I've found this out the hard way myself.

Increasing the VCCSA Voltage to 1.20v over say 1.0v or even 1.1v also helps with 8xDIMM configurations. Using XMP is fine on the Sabertooth X79, but look at manually adjusting the voltages as I've listed them.

As far a Linux, I've only used RHEL successfully so far.


Thanks for your reply! I was running memtest86+ for around 3-4 hours and it didn't show any errors (I stopped somewhere in the middle of the second pass). When checking the BIOS memory settings which were in Auto (I believe) I recall that it identified the right speed of 1600. I didn't check the voltages though, and I didn't activate any other non-default settings except the ones mentioned above. What does XMP do?

I will mention your input to the tech guys at the shop as it looks like you might be on the right track. I haven't tried RHEL yet, but did you run it on this mobo?
a c 207 Ĉ ASUS
a b $ Windows 7
a c 715 V Motherboard
June 3, 2012 11:10:07 PM

Yep, it takes a very long time to run 4-passes on 32GB with Memtest. XMP ensures the RAM is running at it's Rated & optimized Frequency, CAS Timings, and Voltages; in most cases XMP will set the VCCSA correctly in addition with some kits the PLL voltages. By Default the X79 will run DDR3-1333 frequency which is fine if you have a DDR3-1333 kit, not always good for a faster kit which my cause problems.

I have been using ASUS for a many years, and I have determined it's best not to allow 'Auto' with RAM, ASUS too often misreads the the 'SPD' JEDEC information and the result is 'Overclock Failed ... press F1' errors.

Yes I do run RHEL on my Sabertooth X79, and it took sometime to install and configure. I don't 'Multi-Boot' as most folks do, instead ALL OSes are on their own dedicated SSD/HDD and to select an OS I use a BIOS Profile. The only exception is XP which is run through Windows Virtual PC (XP Mode / 32-bit) as an option to Windows 7 Professional for a couple older apps.
June 4, 2012 12:04:19 AM

I'm still on the 1090 BIOS and all Windows Updates, included SP1, successfully installed. I ran through 2 MEMTEST passes and there's no errors. I'm going to set it up for 20 passes and let it crank for the next day.
a c 207 Ĉ ASUS
a b $ Windows 7
a c 715 V Motherboard
June 4, 2012 1:13:55 AM

On 32GB each pass takes 3+ hours give or take; so in 24 hours maybe 6~8 passes. As important as Windows update, I would run Intel Driver Update utility, see -> http://downloadcenter.intel.com/default.aspx?lang=eng I cannot remember but at minimum there's a NIC update maybe more.

Running AIDA64 Extreme for at least 24 hours is also very important and it's trial period is 30 days; see - http://www.aida64.com/downloads it's much better than Prime95, safer, and tests the entire system -- great validation app.
June 4, 2012 9:27:58 AM

jaquith said:
Yep, it takes a very long time to run 4-passes on 32GB with Memtest. XMP ensures the RAM is running at it's Rated & optimized Frequency, CAS Timings, and Voltages; in most cases XMP will set the VCCSA correctly in addition with some kits the PLL voltages. By Default the X79 will run DDR3-1333 frequency which is fine if you have a DDR3-1333 kit, not always good for a faster kit which my cause problems.

I have been using ASUS for a many years, and I have determined it's best not to allow 'Auto' with RAM, ASUS too often misreads the the 'SPD' JEDEC information and the result is 'Overclock Failed ... press F1' errors.

Yes I do run RHEL on my Sabertooth X79, and it took sometime to install and configure. I don't 'Multi-Boot' as most folks do, instead ALL OSes are on their own dedicated SSD/HDD and to select an OS I use a BIOS Profile. The only exception is XP which is run through Windows Virtual PC (XP Mode / 32-bit) as an option to Windows 7 Professional for a couple older apps.


Thanks for the explanations. Up to now I always built my PCs from components, but never faced problems as I do now - it's probably the price one pays for going bleeding edge (though none of the vendors mention any bleeding edge problems).

I found on another forum that the possible culprit are the SATA controllers. It is suggested to try the 1st 3GB/s Intel SATA connector for the boot disk (SSD), and connect the DVD to the 6th 3GB/s Intel SATA connector. Some suggest to disable the other (Marvel) controller. Yet my shop's tech guy said he usually prefers the Marvel over the Intel controller. Any thoughts on these suggestions?

I'm not sure I can afford disabling one controller. Once i get a working system with SSD boot disk and a 2TB data drive, I'm going to move another 5 HD to this rig, and I plan to add another 2TB drive as these fill up real fast.

What bothers me about the memory settings (XMP etc.) is that booting Linux from a live USB stick was absolutely perfect. I ran the PC sometimes for a day or two, and did some 100% CPU stress tests running for an hour and more without the slightest issue during and after the test. The PC/CPU would hardly warm up, so I guess cooling (including bad heat sink installation) is also not an issue.
a c 207 Ĉ ASUS
a b $ Windows 7
a c 715 V Motherboard
June 4, 2012 11:27:03 AM

I haven't had any problems with either Intel SATA port, and I do not prefer the Marvell SATA ports over Intel. Non-native SATA ports share x1 or x2 PCIe 2.0 bandwidth and often are for data i.e. non-bootable.

Beyond that the installation method in my Guide has a very proven track record for both reliability and flexibility.

You 'could' potentially have a bad component or it could be a bad install image from the source i.e. Windows.

Stress the CPU @ 100% even with stock can warm up the 135W TDP SB-E CPU...
June 4, 2012 11:48:46 AM

I checked MEMTEST this morning and it here's what I found:



This, to me, appears like it could be a display error or logic bug with the MEMTEST application itself -- it's not actually indicating error, correct?

The tests appear to still be running (behind these characters) and I can't see any red parts on the screen (which, from what I know about MEMTEST would be test result lines with errors in them).

Is this a problem with MEMTEST itself and not my RAM?
a c 207 Ĉ ASUS
a b $ Windows 7
a c 715 V Motherboard
June 4, 2012 4:02:33 PM

I've seen similar types of odd characters it's because you're not using the latest version.

Create a new version and at least 4 hours, if no problems then more than likely it's okay.

My installation method also eliminates other known ODD issues.
June 7, 2012 9:28:48 AM

Just an update. I checked with my PC shop and they ran a stress test on the XMP enabled board. The test revealed memory errors. They are now testing each DIMM individually which will take a long time.

According to the tech guy, XMP reads the memory settings correctly and he also managed to install and boot Win 7 Pro 64bit successfully. However, since the stress test revealed memory errors they need to see if there's a problem with the sticks. He does not believe that manual adjustment of voltages is necessary, and argued that this could cause more problems.

I'm no expert in this but reading plenty of web sites about this and similar problems led me to believe that the motherboard in combination with a fully populated 8 DIMM 32GB memory may require fine tuning of voltages and BIOS settings to work stable.

Unfortunately I haven't found much documentation on the many BIOS settings and how they work together. The tech guy at the PC shop mentioned that for example the Rampage Extreme comes equipped with its own 12V connector for the DIMM to ensure sufficient power for fully populated RAM slots.

The Sabertooth X79 BIOS has voltage tuning options specifically for boot up, which may or may not affect the boot behavior or success when using them. Unfortunately I haven't found much on that. In general, BIOS settings are documented very poorly.

Does anyone have more information on this board and its BIOS settings, what they do, and suggestions to set it up right?

Otherwise, different BIOS releases also seem to play differently well with the system. I'm not very keen in rolling back the BIOS release since, for example, the very old BIOS release for that board doesn't include VT-d support, which I need. I'm also afraid that older BIOSes may cause problems with other hardware compatibility (flash disks, etc.) and I really don't want to see more surprises. Any thoughts?
a b Ĉ ASUS
a b $ Windows 7
a c 328 V Motherboard
June 8, 2012 3:37:15 AM

This topic has been closed by Nikorr
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