Problem installing Maxtor


I'm having trouble installing a new Maxtor D740X drive: ATA-133, 81GB, 7200rpm. This is an entirely new system (read: not confirmed working) built on an MSI Ultra DDR333 motherboard (SiS 645 chipset), with 512MB RAM and an Intel 1.8Ghz processor.

The trouble is that when I attempt to boot my system from floppy, it locks up when the [unformatted] hard-disk is present. Pulling the plug on the drive allows it to boot normally from floppy. The autodetect settings look correct in the BIOS, and manually tweaking the cylinders (etc) seems to have no effect. Besides, I belive the autodetect settings are correct.

The drive is jumpered as master and placed at the end of the Ultra DMA cable (80 conductors). The blue end of the connector is inserted into the primary IDE socket on the motherboard.

When I replace the Ultra DMA cable with a standard 40-conductor cable, the system boots fine. In addition, I can format the drive (from DOS) and run the MaxBlast diagnostics on it. Now before you shoot me, I know the drive needs an Ultra DMA cable. In fact, the data sheet specifically says not to use the standard ribbon cable. The thing that raised my eyebrow was that the drive passed all the diagnostics. Can anyone think of why it shouldn't fail?

Proof that this is a bad way to go comes from the fact that after installing Win98, Scandisk continually corrects a corrupted registry, and other problems. Win2000 flat out refuses to install, reporting a cryptic error code concerning a drive failure. So all of this was mainly to prove that the drive at least works and passes the diagnostics.

So, what can I do here? Using the Ultra DMA cable causes the drive not to work at all and the system to hang during boot. This particular UDMA cable has no trouble driving my CD-Rom on the secondary IDE channel, but this is not a high speed drive and as such may not be a valid test.

I will attempt the following steps (in this order). If anyone can suggest something more to do, please leave a suggestion:

- Run motherboard diagnostics to prove IDE channels are working.
- Configure drive as Master on the secondary channel, although this is not my preferred configuration.
- Swap out the Ultra DMA cable with a new one.
- Attempt grounding pin 28 on the hard drive, as suggested in the drive manual for operation as Master on the end of a UDMA cable. The manual says to do this, but I've never had to do this on a drive before.
- Comprehensive RAM test and/or swap positions of the two 256MB memory chips.
- Find some way of telling the BIOS not to use ATA-100 and revert to ATA-33 (suggestions as to how to do this, anyone?)
- Replace the hard drive.

Thanks for your input...
4 answers Last reply
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  1. I thought I had read that the Maxtor ATA-133 drives came with a free UDMA-133 controller card in the box (I saw the 80G 7200rpm advertised that way this week by CompUSA for $190). That card might be the easiest way around the problem.

    "If it weren't for the last minute, alot of things wouldn't get done"
  2. maybe the cable is bad.

    i went to the tomshardware forums and all i got was this lousy signature.
  3. I'm also thinking if you replace the cable it may work. If everything's the same and all your doing is replacing the ribbon cable, then that kinda tells you what's causing the problem right there.

    <font color=red>People and hard drives are like bandwagon fans and sports!</font color=red>
  4. Thanks for the assistance guys.

    I was thinking it was the cable too, but it turned out all I needed to do was update the BIOS to version 1.4. Apparently the original BIOS in the board has trouble recognizing some hard drives.
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