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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can someone please help diagnose the problem.

The computer is about 3 years old -

  • MSI K7N2G mainboard (nforce2 chipset)
  • Socket A Athlon 1800+
  • 2 x Kingston 256MB modules
  • Windows XP 2005 media center

Its been working beautifully up until today. Came home from work, turned the monitor on and found the desktop hanged. Reset it and now it won't go beyond the WinXP flash menu i.e. Press 1 for safe mode, 2 for last good config, 3 for command prompt etc.. Whichever option you choose it just causes the computer to reset and we're back to that same menu.

I've even tried to boot from the WinXP CD, but after it loads all the drivers it hangs on the part where it says "starting windows". I've gone into the BIOS and checked the health parameters e.g. fan speeds, CPU and system temp etc.. and they are all fine. I've even reset the CMOS jumper and still no joy.

C
 

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Sounds like some hardware has failed [:(] Last time this happened to me it was the CPU, could also be caused by a HD fault if it wont reinstall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I tried replacing the RAM with some sticks from work and unfortunately it hasn't made any difference.

I also took out the CPU, put some new thermal compound and reseated the heatsink (Zalman flower cooler) in case it was a thermal failure. Other failure mode steps I've taken were unplugging everything (e.g. all drives except HD 01, TV card etc..) but still the same result. What gets to me is that it resets at exactly the same point i.e as soon as you click "start windows normally" or "start in safe mode"... so if its a hardware fault, what does WinXP do at that precise point which makes the system throw a wobbly??

As I've mentioned I've also tried to reinstall windows but it hangs during set up... AGGHHHHHH!!! [8o|]
 

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Diesel isn't a dirty word
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It is sounding like it could be the hard drive that is faulty then, I suggest you go to the manufacturers web site (if you have access via another PC) and they usually have a diagnostic tool you can download (such as Maxtools for Maxtor drives) with which you can boot the PC and then run diagnostics on the drive.

Also while you are there you can check if the drive is still under warranty.

Neil
 

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Does the XP install hang in the same place each time you try and do it??

If it's at the very early stages it stinks or RAM (although you reckno that still hangs) - if it's later (during or after the HD format and once you're into GUI mode) it's possible the disk's gone a bit wonky as already suggested.

There used to be a great tool for regression testing HD's that you could boot up and run off a CD - anyone remember what it's called and where to find it?? [:)]

C
 

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Could always download the HDD manufacturer's low level disk checking utility - they all have them now, though my favourite is still IBM/HGST's... erm... too early in the morning, can't remember the name of it [:S]
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Oh dear.. I'm really starting to hate this homebuilt pile of shoot [:(]

I downloaded the Seagate Seatools and Disc-manager software. Followed the recommendations and did a zero fill (wipe) of the drive, followed by a low level format and then a ntfs format. Ran the diagnostics and its showing 5 green lights [Y] so everything is peachy... clean drive ready for install.

Reboot with Windows XP CD in drive and it does the inspection, loads the drivers but then hangs on the

"Setup Is Starting Windows"

Still imagining my HD is at fault, I dig up an old 30gig disk I had lying around, replace the original and exactly the same thing happens. To recap I've tried different memory, removed every bit of hardware, swapped drives, tried booting with Windows XP Professional and MCE 2006 etc.. The only thing left is the CPU and Motherboard.... Could it be a fried HD controller chip???

C
 

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Have you tried a bios reset to optimised defaults ?

Cleaned and reseated any add on boards ?

Also downgraded the hardware to the minimum required to load windows i.e. no network card , no sound card no usb devices etc ?

Rule out everything you can.

Good luck.
 

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Hi

Were you burning a cd/dvd at the time ? i know when mine failes burning halfway through and i reset or power off, the system hangs at the starting windows prompt till i remove the cd from the drive

Could also be a power supply issue, seen that a few times

Hafizur
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yes, I have stripped the machine to just a mainboard, CPU, stick of RAM, HD and CDROM. The sound and graphics on the nforce2 m/board are integrated.

I've already spent 2 whole days ar*sing around with it, more because of the sentimental value than because its worth anything. But looks like I'll be getting an el cheapo Dell base unit as I need something quickly to run MCE 2005.

C
 

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Can u swap out your dvd rom drive, perhaps its not reading the install media??

Try removing and then reseat all of the data cables. I hate having PC probs at home, always need a working PC to research on.

This will make u laugh...
I had the most silly prob with my new Lian li case. I bought alu bezels for my dvd drive and floppy drive. I fitted the dvd rom bezel flush to the drive, this worked a treat!! I did the same with the floppy but didn't allow for the floppy eject button to return out when a disk was put in. It sat flush against the drive (muppet!!).

The, result floppy disk could not be read (please insert disk error) - but the drive worked everytime I removed it from the case and wired it up. Bought a new floppy cable and a swapped with a other floppy drives. Everytime I put the drive in I put it flush - then I had a Eureka moment and fitted it with enough room and it worked took me 5 mins to fix!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Is the CPU temperature OK? Does the thermal interface material need renewing?
Yup, I checked that. New grease and my Zalman flower cooler running at full RPMs. With regards to flashing the BIOS the latest one for my MSI board is circa 2004 but as I've said this rig has been running flawlessly for 3 years and I didn't introduce anything new into the system which may have caused its recent demise.
 

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Oh well. My home PC has been running 6 years flawlessly but I'm tempted to change it now, need more power, and new motherboards are sooo exciting, it's like being in a sweet shop, but damn, why won't any of them build one board with all the nice features instead of 100 different boards that all overlap very slightly.
 
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