First-time builder here. My new machine consists of brand new parts, save the hard drive - which I reused from my old laptop. The hard drive works, and is configured to dual boot with Ubuntu and Windows 7. The machine makes it to the bootloader screen, but no matter which OS I select to run (including tries with 64-bit Ubuntu and Mint from USB) the screen flickers like it's going to load normally and then the screen goes blank. The exceptions to to this rule are:
1) I can run Windows 7 Repair tool, which runs for a while, tells me there's nothing it can do, and turns off the machine.
2) I can run safe mode Ubuntu (from the hard drive only), which allows me a terminal and nothing else.
When I boot from the USB, both the try and install options lead to a blank screen in about a tenth of a second.
These results happen every time.
I understand that reusing hard drives can cause problems due to driver compatibility and whatnot (I'd be fine with wiping the disk, I just haven't gotten far enough to do so), but it seems odd to me that that would affect booting from the USB. Also, given that I can access and root around in the BIOS menu and the bootloader works fine, I don't know that it would be a problem with one of the individual components (though I did perform most of the standard troubleshooting steps -- making sure the CPU had power connected, firm connections for the RAM, didn't bend CPU pins, etc.) I'm at a loss for where to go from here so any help would be greatly appreciated.
CPU: AMD A8-3870K (quad core) CPU+GPU (AMD Radeon HD 6550D)
Motherboard: BIOSTAR TA75A+
RAM: 16GB G.SKILL RIPJAW (4x4GB)
PSU: Rosewill Green Series 430W
HDD: 160GB from old latop, SATA connection @ 3.0Gb/s (in old laptop, haven't been able to check speed in new tower), dual booting Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.10 (I think that's the version #) in ~80GB partitions
Optical Drive: none
You should back-up the contents on your hard drive and then format the drive. After that you should do your dual partitioning from scratch. If you have the money you can pick up 1 terabyte drives for relatively cheap on newegg.
Boot drives don't like being switched to a new motherboard, much less into a completely new system.
They have a few dos commands that might be able to fix it such as /FIXBOOT or /FIXMBR but because it's dual partitioned to begin with its easier to just start from scratch than to try to rebuild it.
The rest of the build looks good except for the power supply. It may be adequate for what you have now but it doesn't leave much room for upgrades with it's limited wattage. A 600 watt is the minimum I'd go with for a gaming system.
Thanks for the quick response. What I'm not understanding though is why I can't boot and reformat from the USBs. It seems to me that the USB boot would be independent from the formatting of the hard drive, especially if I'm trying to go straight into install mode (vs. trying it out first). Do you have any idea why this is the case?
You have a point booting from USB is handled on the motherboard / BIOS. Try going into the BIOS and removing the hard drive completely from the boot order. Maybe having a hard drive trying to dual boot + trying to boot from a USB drive is confusing the motherboard. Also while your there try updating to the latest BIOS.