Could this be a bad motherboard?

I've got a problem that through countless efforts of myself, ATI, and my techno-geek friends, has remained unresolved for 18 months. I'm hoping someone here might be able to think of something that I've missed.

I put together this computer early last year (2001) with the following basic components.

ASUS CUSL-2 motherboard with 815ep chipset
ATI All-in-Wonder Radeon 32MB AGP video card
SoundBlaster Live Value audio card
Netgear FA310TX ethernet adapter
Diamond Fireport 20 SCSI card
Viewsonic PF790 Monitor
MS Internet keyboard
MS Intellimouse Explorer PS/2
Windows 2000 Pro OS

From the day I built it, the display will just go black at any time without warning. Sometimes this is after many hours of use, other times it could be within 10 minutes of powering up the computer. The reason has not been detectable as sometimes it's during processing, sometimes when everything is idle. Nothing I've tried gets the display to come back on, although if I'm listening to audio or using the TV tuner, the sound would usually continue. The keyboard will typically go dead, as I won't be able to toggle numlock or capslock. I say "typically" only because I think there have been a couple times when I could still toggle the numlock and capslock after the blackout.

Here are some of the other symptoms I'm experiencing:

-Occasionally, when I'm doing a query of system resouces in the hardware device manager, the system will do a restart with no warning.
-Once in a while, I will power up the system and the display will remain black. Powering the UPS off and on will usually get everything started.
-I've taken out every component but the display, keyboard, and mouse, and the general symptoms remain.
-ATI has sent two other video cards, and the symptoms remain.
-I've replaced the VGA cable and hooked up other monitors and the symptoms remain.

The blackouts seem to be occuring with more regularity as time goes on. I wonder if I might have a bad motherboard that isn't providing the proper power to the video card or something. This doesn't really make sense, since several times I've had the TV window running when the blackout occurs, and the audio will continue. The audio is fed from the video card to the audio card.

The Hardware device manager shows no errors or conflicts with the exception that under "Other devices" there is an "unknown PCI device" using resources E800-E80F for I/O Range and IRQ 3. It says "the drivers for this device are not installed", but also says "no driver files are required...". I've "uninstalled" this device a number of times (I assume it only uninstalls the driver?) but it continues to appear in my hardware list.

Any ideas?


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  1. I can't remember what that device is, but it is something, the drivers are located somewhere on the system CD.

    Anyway, you have a few crappy components on the system that can cause problems, crappy not necessarily from the performance standpoint but from the stability standpoint. It could also be a power problem. Oh, and you might want to update your BIOS.

    <font color=blue>You're posting in a forum with class. It may be third class, but it's still class!</font color=blue>
  2. First - thanks for trying to help.

    Which are the "crappy" components? The only one that's not that mainstream is the Fireport 20. I've used each of these components in other systems I've built without problems.

    I've thoroughly searched the Win2K CD (via browsing when installing) and the Microsoft Knowledge Base. None of the drivers I've tried have satisfied what this device is looking for.

    I've updated and reset my BIOS on several occasions. Due to the "riskiness" of inconvenience involved, I've since focused in other areas.

    I keep coming back to the motherboard.


  3. The driver for the "unknown device" is on the Asus CD. And as I recall it's not easy to find. Basically you have to make certain that ALL the drivers from the CD are installed.

    I've seen people have problems with the Netgear card but have only worked on one system with that card, so I can't remember what the problems were. And the Live doesn't like sharing it's PCI IRQ with any other bus mastering devices.

    Black screen can also be caused by heat or power issues. The easiest thing seems to be to simply try another power supply and see if the problem persists.

    <font color=blue>You're posting in a forum with class. It may be third class, but it's still class!</font color=blue>
  4. I've wondered about the power supply, but maybe prematurely ruled it out because I was still getting audio during these blackouts. I can't say "always" because many times I have no audio running at the time of the blackout. Also, I haven't had a spare power supply to swap in, but if I was really suspicious of it I could certain get one.

    I guess I'm very curious whether or not the motherboard could be ruled out with the symptoms I've experienced.

    Thanks for the tip on the ASUS CD. For some reason I don't remember looking there. Better check that.

    I've had some concerns with the Live! value card, but I was greedy for the sound per dollar of the card. I doubt if that's linked to my problems, since they continue even on my base system of KVM only.

    You've already come up with some great ideas. Thanks!

  5. One thing you might want to be certain of is that the AGP slot isn't sharing an IRQ with another bus mastering device (or the Live). In fact, of the cards you list, all could cause problems if on the same slot IRQ as the AGP slot. Usually the top PCI slot is a nono, and often slot 4 or 5 is also shared with 1 and AGP.

    <font color=blue>You're posting in a forum with class. It may be third class, but it's still class!</font color=blue>
  6. The I815 has 2 PCI busses. One off of the other. You need to install the motherboard drivers from the cd. You will also need to Install the ATA 100 drivers. Either from the cd or the new ones from Intel.

    I aint signing nothing!!!
  7. Gee, I can't believe that I wouldn't have done that when I first installed it. But it's been a while so I guess I'll do it (again?) just in case. Do you think neglecting that when I first installed the board could result in the symptoms I've seen?

    Do you think it makes a difference whether I do it through the hardware device manager or "autorun" the CD?


  8. Rick, I think that was it! It took a while to get past all the fatal errors and unbootable situations. I think I ran the Repair facility on the W2K CD about 8 times, but I eventually got the Intel 815E driver files to load.

    There now is no "unknown PCI device" under "Other Devices" in the hardware device manager and the computer hasn't shown any signs of hiccups since I got everything working again.

    Time will tell for sure, but I think the 18 month old problem is history.

    Thanks a ton!

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