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Hanging PC Nightmare

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by sinewave, Sep 14, 2004.

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  1. sinewave

    sinewave Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2004
    Messages:
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    OK I'll be brief here:
    asus p4s8x-x mother, 256MB, p4 2.8ghz, seagate 40GB drive, AGP ASUS v9180 MX440, philips cd-rw
    the problem:
    everytime i try to install windows XP the system hangs or restarts at "loading windows executive" message.
    i have tried:
    a different graphics card.
    reformatted hard drive.
    tweaking every possible BIOS setting (though usually only one at a time).
    memory test but the memtesters crash too.
    two different memory cards.
    reseating plugs and memory, different drive jumper settings (matched in the BIOS).
    upgrading BIOS.
    testing the cd-rom drive in another machine.
    polishing the XP cd.
    getting ASUS support (dream on!).

    HELP!
    A
     
  2. Tumbleweed36

    Tumbleweed36

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2004
    Messages:
    736
    Hi,

    Wow, this one could be difficult.

    Do you have two memory chips in for the 256K memory? If so remove one and try it. What brand name of memory are you using and it is on the approved ASUS list?

    What brand name and wattage of power supply are you using?

    Do you have the square 12V plug connected to the motherboard?

    What process did you use to format your hard drive and what format?

    Have you cleared CMOS and set the CMOS menu at default settings?

    If you changed any board jumpers, have you set them back to default before you tested the new setup issues that you are doing now?

    Is your hard drive set properly to master on IDE #1 and connected on the end of the 80 pin cable?

    Is your CDRom that you are using to load the OS set properly to master or slave and on the proper ribbon cable postion for master or slave as you might have it set up?

    Why not take a look at these issues then report back.
     
  3. sinewave

    sinewave Thread Starter

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    OK, here goes:
    <<Do you have two memory chips in for the 256K memory? If so remove one and try it. What brand name of memory are you using and it is on the approved ASUS list?

    I have two different 256MB cards. One is by Samsung, one by Kingmax.
    As to being on the approved ASUS list - well, the only details about this are in the manual (even the latest download of it) and are apparently old models. So i've tried to get as close as possible to these - a Kingmax 256MB DDR300 is mentioned, and a Samsung 512MB too (but not a 256MB like mine). I haven't got a response to my query at asus.com even though i'm a VIP member. I've tried one or the other or both in the first two slots (not the third because my fingers started hurting...)

    <<What brand name and wattage of power supply are you using?
    It's an ATX compatible, very quiet HEC 300LR-PT that claims to be pentium 4 ready. 300W.

    <<Do you have the square 12V plug connected to the motherboard?
    Indeed i do. And the rectangular one...

    <<What process did you use to format your hard drive and what format?
    Well, it was originally NTFS. After a disaster you can read about (if you wish) in the XP Forum, i spent days trying to save my c drive and then gave up and tried to format to FAT32 and load windows98SE which later crashed with similar symptoms to the current ones. So, yes it's a bit of a mess in there right now, but i'm not booting up the c drive at all, just the cd-rom.

    <<Have you cleared CMOS and set the CMOS menu at default settings?
    No, i've not cleared CMOS. Most of the settings are the defaults even after my cautious tweaking. I haven't tweaked any memory or cpu settings 'cos i don't know what i'm doing there. well, not well enough to risk it.

    <<If you changed any board jumpers, have you set them back to default before you tested the new setup issues that you are doing now?
    I haven't need to change any board jumpers so far. I'll need to if you recommend resetting CMOS, but otherwise the defaults match my needs.

    <<Is your hard drive set properly to master on IDE #1 and connected on the end of the 80 pin cable?
    <<Is your CDRom that you are using to load the OS set properly to master or slave and on the proper ribbon cable postion for master or slave as you might have it set up?
    Yes, the jumpers are correctly set, and the leads are connected appropriately for master and slave settings. Also tried cable select earlier, with no luck. I always check the BIOS settings correspond too. One thing:
    Do PIO or DMA settings have any effect on CD-rom operation? My BIOS lets me alter them - although i've tried them all (although perhaps not all configurations).

    That's a lot to get through - hope i've given you enough info but not too much. And thanks!
    A
     
  4. Tumbleweed36

    Tumbleweed36

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Hi,

    As for your question about PIO, etc. here is a reference that you might want to read:

    http://www.pcguide.com/ref/mbsys/bios/set/idePIO-c.html

    Make sure as you try one stick of memory in slot 1 to see if that helps.

    I have not had experiece with your motherboard, but have worked numerous ASUS (presently own two of them and have owned many more through the years) motherboards. Actually, the memory bothers me somewhat. ASUS boards are so sensitive with memory so this could be a serious problem. If the exact chip you are trying in the board is listed in your motherboard manual, then you are probably O.K., but if not, then you need to have concern in this area. Substitutions RARELY work in an ASUS board.

    Clearing CMOS is an easy step. There are two ways to clear it. 1) move the little jumper from pins 1-2 to 2-3 for a few minutes, then replace it back to where it originally was. 2) Remove the battery for a few minutes and replace it exactly like it was before you took it out.
     
  5. sinewave

    sinewave Thread Starter

    Joined:
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    cheers, that was an interesting link.

    About the memory - what on earth do I do if I can't find the exact model numbers on the market anywhere? The ones listed, as i mentioned, are apparently old and now discontinued...and ASUS aren't answering my tech queries.

    I myself have been trying to persuade myself that it's not the memory, I suppose - the thought of buying another five or so useless memory modules does not set me at ease!

    Mind you, isn't it unusual for bad memory to produce such predictable crash behaviour - I thought the unpredictability was a symptom in itself?
    A
     
  6. Tumbleweed36

    Tumbleweed36

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Hi,

    Memory can be unpredictable. However, if you try only one chip at a time of both sticks that you have, I doubt if you would get the same result from both. Therefore, maybe we need to keep looking for another answer and put that on the shelf for a little bit and revisit it after looking at other options. The newer ASUS boards (I don't know your board so don't know how old it is) are more sensitive to memory than the older ones. I would bet that you might get the best result from the Samsung, but only a guess.

    Are you certain that your OS CD is good. Sometimes they just fail to operate at times. Even CD's can die or get corrupted through usage.

    Are you able to get into BIOS setup menu O.K.?

    Need to get going and will take a look later on this problem.
     
  7. sinewave

    sinewave Thread Starter

    Joined:
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    The OS cd - I'm getting another pretty soon, so I'll be able to test that in the next couple of days, I hope.

    No problems with using BIOS setup whatsoever...

    The ASUS board is from late 2002, early 2003 i think. Latest BIOS drivers are from autumn 2003. There's a beta BIOS available, but I'd thought i'd stick to the latest official version.

    One thing i haven't tested as thoroughly as i might have is the IRQ distribution. I've never seen IRQ conflicts in action but i understand they can produce similar behaviour to what i'm getting. (The reason i haven't tested it thoroughly is because i didn't notice the scroll control on the BIOS page until yesterday - the IRQ page was hiding off the screen!). I'm working on it now.

    I think it's time for me to accept that there'll be no instant solution this time. It's going to take a while...thanks again.
    A
     
  8. Tumbleweed36

    Tumbleweed36

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Hi,

    Just stopped back for a minute and saw your post. Make sure in BIOS setup menu that PnP is Disabled if you are using XP. We always enable it for Win98.

    That motherboard is not old. Check to make sure you hard drive options in the setup menu are enabled. Also if using XP, then you would be wise to stick to the NTFS format and not Fat32.

    Also, if you get a chance, download the manufacturer's utility for your hard drive and test it to make sure things are O.K. with it. Seagate has a good one, but I don't know the name right now. If it is something with the disk, it will spot it and it is a free download. I don't remember, but they might also have a utility in there for reformat your drive again to NTFS.

    Some times if it is all messed up in there (your words), it is wise to use Fdisk with a startup disk (bootdisk.com would be the source if you don't have one) to remove all partitions and start over. If you wish to use the FAt32, make sure you erase all partitions, then create the partition (large disk support), then shut down, reboot, use Fdisk to format the disk...shut down, then start up with CDRom support, then type setup and away you go with XP on a Fat32 partition.....or when it comes up, change it to the NTFS.

    Keep me posted and I will get back later today and take a look where you are with this.
     
  9. sinewave

    sinewave Thread Starter

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    I will tidy up the hard drive. In the meantime, i swapped it for an old 4gig and got the same results. I've swapped it back now to the 40gig, here are the auto detected settings in BIOS
    Name: ST340014A
    Cylinders: 1024
    Head: 255
    Sectors: 63
    CHS capacity 8422MB
    Size: 40020MB
    Multi-sector Transfers: maximum
    SMART Monitoring is disabled
    PIO: 4
    UDMA Mode: 5

    Swapped to an old CDRom just to make sure too, got same results. Here's the BIOS auto settings:
    PIO 4
    UDMA: disabled

    Cheers
    A
     
  10. sinewave

    sinewave Thread Starter

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2004
    Messages:
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    hi again. i've wiped the c drive (using the Custom XP Bootdisk from bootdisk.com). Specifically, i did a aefdisk /delall and then filled the disk with 0s (the wipe program). no change in the situation. don't see what else it can be other than a dodgy cd - will hopefully get that sorted tomorrow...
    A
     
  11. sinewave

    sinewave Thread Starter

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Thought i'd let everyone know about this. You can read the whole thread but to sum up - if your pc hangs during the XP or 98 installation process at the same point each time (usually at the "loading xp executive" notification), then the cause may be wrong memory speed settings. This applies to my ASUS p4s8x-x m/b but it may be the same on other systems too. The thing is BIOS defaults to auto-speed setting. For some reason, it auto-sets to something that isn't the right setting. In my case for DDR333 256MB it just required setting to 133MHZ.

    May help somebody out there avoid the month of tech-hell i've had! Thanks for all your suggestions at TSG,
    A
     
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