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Dual Xeon build random idle issue - unusable - Haaalp?

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December 7, 2012 10:25:00 PM

Hi guys,

I've purchased all hardware online and put this thing together so pretty much anything can be wrong with it, but I am just seriously out of energy to keep troubleshooting it, as I've been trying that for almost a year now and I can't find a fix.

So : Problem : > Everything beyond the boot is slow. Installing windows? check. takes ages (way beyond the usual 30 min-1 hour). Installing say 3Ds Max 2013? Check. (it's about 8GB install) took about 1.5h last time around. Boot up max? no chance. after 15 min and 500mb ram, the load-screen freezes up. Installing updates doesn't work, current status before I lost my mind, after 3 hours on the shut-down screen, it reached 3 out of 51.

So, given the issues I described, off to the actual hardware :

MBOARD: Asus Z8PE-D12X/IKVM Socket1366 SSI EEB Dual Xeon Intel ICH10R TYLERSBURG 36D IKVM Module
PSU: Corsair HX SERIES 1050W
CPUs: Dual xeon hexacore x5650 @ 2.66 GHz
RAM: 24GB RAMKit 6x4GB DDR3 1333MHz ECC CL9 DIMM with Thermal Sensor Intel (2x12 GB generic kits from Kingston, each composed out of 3 DIMMs per 4GB) split in a 3 DIMM / CPU manner on the orange slots (one empty, one populated etc)
HDD: Verbatim SSD 128GB Sata II, and two WD Caviar drives also on Sata II
VGA: Nvidia Quadro 2000

Coolers are two Antec Kühler 920 (both require usb access on the mb, and I think this might have some part of the fault, as the OS never sees more than 1 of them at a time, and I can't control the speed or light on one of them, don't have any idea what makes it swap to the next one upon reboot)
Also, the system is in a distant corner of the room, and the only connectivity was possible through a Netgear n150 Wna1100 usb stick.

My troubleshooting included some of the following : swapping / removing all but one of the HDD's to check that it wasn't a faulty drive that was causing the slow response; removing the ram-sticks and leaving 1 or 2 of them, testing them on different slots; installing windows 7 64 bit, windows 8 64 bit; updating bios to 1302 from 1004; removing all USB devices except for keyboard, mouse, and wifi-stick. None of these had any positive effect.

My next option would be to think that some bios settings are not the best choice... using the "default" setting brings nothing.

Please, oh please, if you have any ideas, feel free to bombard me with them here, because I am going crazy with this.
Oh, and just to make sure I don't forget to mention this, before thinking it's the hardware, I am fully aware that it might be a compatibility issue caused by my knowledgeable self -_-

Thanks in advance guys.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 8, 2012 1:13:25 AM

When you installed Windows, did you have only the SSD installed (if not, you should)? You can add the HDDs later.

Also, make sure your SATA mode is set to AHCI (not IDE).
December 8, 2012 1:31:43 AM

COLGeek said:
When you installed Windows, did you have only the SSD installed (if not, you should)? You can add the HDDs later.

Also, make sure your SATA mode is set to AHCI (not IDE).


Thanks for the tip on the AHCI, was set to IDE, will give it a spin now to see if anything changed. Regarding the SSD only, I was unable to install anything on it unless it was the only drive connected (saw the error being quite common for SSD's, that's how I learned about having to remove the other drives), but fact of the matter is I had these issues even before I bought the SSD, and only had a single 1.5 TB sata drive.

it's booting atm, will post again in a bit.
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December 8, 2012 1:35:56 AM

Ok, so now after several restarts, it went into windows repair mode, and is currently "reparing harddrives" (inaccurate translation, as it's in german) but states that it might take more than an hour. Wonder if I should be multiplying the standard "more than an hour" with my benchmarked warpspeed times 5... :D 
December 8, 2012 1:41:33 AM

cblkk said:
Ok, so now after several restarts, it went into windows repair mode, and is currently "reparing harddrives" (inaccurate translation, as it's in german) but states that it might take more than an hour. Wonder if I should be multiplying the standard "more than an hour" with my benchmarked warpspeed times 5... :D 


oh joy... BSOD, 0.0003 sec, can't even get the color of that pure blue to stick to my retina, even less make out an error code. Think I remember why I used IDE in that bios area, as this was happening in AHCI when I first tried it. Might go ahead and do another clean install...
a b B Homebuilt system
December 8, 2012 1:44:06 AM

Yes, do a clean install with only the SSD connected with it set to AHCI in your BIOS. Do not connect the HDDs until you get Windows fully installed.

Viel Glück!
a b B Homebuilt system
December 8, 2012 1:49:32 AM

BTW, what version of Windows are you installing? Windows 7 Home Premium is limited to a single CPU socket. Pro and Ultimate are limited to 2 (same for Enterprise). For Windows 8, Windows 8 Core (1) and Pro (2).
December 8, 2012 1:56:23 AM

COLGeek said:
BTW, what version of Windows are you installing? Windows 7 Home Premium is limited to a single CPU socket. Pro and Ultimate are limited to 2 (same for Enterprise). For Windows 8, Windows 8 Core (1) and Pro (2).


I have both versions as PRO 64bit. Right now I found a fix for the BSOD, might have to bump it back to IDE, and enable the AHCI driver before swapping it back to AHCI
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/275898-14-ahci
a b B Homebuilt system
December 8, 2012 2:27:28 AM

Just make sure you only have the SSD installed when you try that tweak. You shouldn't have to do that with a clean install, BTW.
December 8, 2012 11:17:29 AM

COLGeek said:
Just make sure you only have the SSD installed when you try that tweak. You shouldn't have to do that with a clean install, BTW.


I did a clean install after all, because the system was still slugish as hell. After the install which took about 38 minutes (quite ok). The system is snappy, but windows update doesn't do anything for minutes on end, and it has to download about 550 mb in updates... So right now, I'm having the speed and logic issue only with the windows update. Will attempt installing 3Ds Max to see if it cracks down again in the meanwhile. I tried the "reset windows update and register components" option and it did nothing for the functionality... any further ideas ?
December 8, 2012 11:21:49 AM

Also, the dual Antec CC Kuehler 920 are still only controlable 1 at a time, although both are being seen as two identical, but separate devices in the hardware manager. I disabled both, installed the driver from the supplied cd for each one of them, and it automatically enabled them, but the Antec CC software doesn't control both... also, I'm having trouble to find any other build based on two such coolers, and now I'm wondering if it's not actually these two components that are causing some sort of strange conflict due to their mb usb connectivity.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 8, 2012 12:22:03 PM

In Control Panel/Device Manager, do you have any devices indicating a problem, like missing drivers?
December 8, 2012 1:54:56 PM

COLGeek said:
In Control Panel/Device Manager, do you have any devices indicating a problem, like missing drivers?

Initially both antec coolers show up with the yellow "!" but after disabling and installing the driver for each of them this issue is gone.
I went ahead and bought a rj45 cable to replace the usb stick thinking it might have been the cause for slow response & un-uptatablility, but I do not see a change atm.
December 8, 2012 2:56:11 PM

And we're back to the same sluggishness. I am not getting random freezes anymore, but I suspect that's just because I haven't gotten to installing anything yet. Any install takes ages, now downloads are instant (as they should be with my current isp ) and windows update still sticks to 0% no matter what fix I attempt (turning off wuauserv and back on, restart, whatnot)
a b B Homebuilt system
December 8, 2012 3:20:23 PM

Are you using a downloaded ISO/image burned to disk or a commercial disk? Also are you using Win 7 or Win 8 at this point? Last, for now, did you install the motherboard chipset drivers from the supplied disk or via downloaded files (usually more current)?
December 8, 2012 3:26:33 PM

COLGeek said:
Are you using a downloaded ISO/image burned to disk or a commercial disk? Also are you using Win 7 or Win 8 at this point? Last, for now, did you install the motherboard chipset drivers from the supplied disk or via downloaded files (usually more current)?


I am using a commercial disc, it is the student version however, and I also installed it on another machine which doesn't present the same issues, although it's also running as a 64 bit system (it's an older dual-core laptop). Right now, the installed one is win 7. I also installed the motherboard chipset drivers, will look for an updated version online right now...
December 8, 2012 4:43:16 PM

I am somehow starting to think this is not all that unusual after all. Just did a quick "windows 7 64 bit slow" search and the results pretty much cover everything I have, from update issues up down to windows install or any other program install for that matter. However, short of disabling the floppy drive in bios (non-existent hardware), and updating the bios, I can't find any further usable advice... and the major difference from the other cases is the fact that my build doesn't display any sort of spikes either under CPU or RAM... but minor activity every now and then.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 8, 2012 11:12:28 PM

Your system should be screaming fast, especially with the OS installed to a SSD. I have a Xeon rig (using it right now) and yours should even be faster. Did you, by chance, disable the on-board video adapter in the BIOS? If not, you should try it.
December 9, 2012 8:45:19 AM

COLGeek said:
Your system should be screaming fast, especially with the OS installed to a SSD. I have a Xeon rig (using it right now) and yours should even be faster. Did you, by chance, disable the on-board video adapter in the BIOS? If not, you should try it.


I know right? :D 

First thing I did when building it, was to disable the onboard vga from the bios, fearing conflicts. I also double-checked, and it's indeed disabled.
I'm actually wondering if it's not some deeper processor related issue within the bios, as there are quite a few "options" I have no idea what they should be set to, regarding Northbridge and Southbridge... Crystalbeach and other stuffs. Think you could help me out with those if I enumerate them after writing down all options etc? That would be amazing.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 9, 2012 2:54:47 PM

Try this. Remove your SSD and install a single HDD. Install any distro of Linux, I suggest Ubuntu or OpenSuse:

http://www.opensuse.org/
http://www.ubuntu.com/

Just do a basic install to the HDD. See if any issues pop up. If so, then you have a likely HW problem.

Regarding your options, you could disable your on-board sounds, parallel and serial ports, and any other non-essential devices to isolate a potential problem.
December 9, 2012 6:34:40 PM

Thanks for the tip, right before reading this I had removed the SSD and did another clean install of the win8 build on one of the hdd's, and I think the SSD is somewhat broken. Everything, including update, and installs work, and the whole build is working as I was expecting it to... I might upgrade to a ssd only when I get to upgrade the motherboard to a sata3 enabled device.

All other non-essential devices are limited to serial ports and parallel ones, sound is not available built-in the asus board. I was thinking it's either the ram, ram configuration, or hard drive issue, but now it works perfectly, so that puts the ssd on the winner spot.

Thanks for all your help Sir. :) 
April 19, 2013 4:00:17 PM

sorry for necroing an old post but if you are checking this you should try replacing your bios battery you can get 10 for a dollar on ebay. I repair computers for a living and let me say i have seen this and had a hell of a time troubleshooting it probably spen 4 days trying to fix the damn thing before i switched out the bios battery then voila computer boots almost instantaneously lightning fast in comparison hope this helps if you havent had any luck.
!