Mobo, hard drive, hardware wizard woes

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Thread Starter
Sep 12, 2003
My (all new) setup is:

Epox 8RDA3+
Athlon XP2800
MSI GeForce5200
Windows 98
1GB Crucial 3200 memory
Aspire SuperAlien case w/ a 500W power supply and 6 case fans

Memory and processor were correctly identified at startup. So, I assumed the mobo, processor, and RAM were good.

When I went to install the hard drive, I started having problems. At first, the BIOS wouldn't recognize it, no matter how I jumpered or cabled it. Piggy backed it onto the 40GB master in my other computer, formatted and copied it. Back in the new comp, the BIOS recognizes it, but hangs and freezes at boot.
Round 4: Put 40GB drive in new comp. BIOS insists it's a slave drive, no matter the configuration. Won't recognize 80GB drive--again. (BTW, even back in the other comp, the 40GB drive won't work unless it's set to slave, now)
Round 5: Attach 80GB IDE to Promise card, reformat and install W98.

Computer boots up now, but it takes FOREVER. On top of that, the stupid windows hardware wizard keeps adding multiple copies of hardware. i.e., device manager shows ACPI IRQ Holder for PCI IRQ Steering in there 26 times. When I start to install the drivers from the Epox CD, (i.e., nVidia nForce2 Memory Controller) the stupid wizard pops up during the install and I have to keep hitting cancel. If I try to install them via the wizard, it says "windows was unable to find...," eventhough I've pointed it to them on the CD.

When I go into safe mode and remove the multiple copies, windows reinstalls them again when I reboot.

:confused: Either I have a bad mobo, processor, hard drive, psu, or some combination of the above. All I know is that I'm ready to pull my hair out. I have NEVER had this much trouble setting up a new computer. Please, please, please, please HELP!!!
Feb 23, 2003
Right off the bat you will have problems with 98 over 512 of ram if it even starts at all.
Jan 30, 2001
In addition to the memory If you are running the hard drive from a promise card you should turn off the IDE controllers on the motherboard. You may also want to set the bios to default for now.


Retired Moderator
Oct 19, 2002
I haven't had any issues with the Promise embedded controller and the normal IDE channels on my motherboard. I use them both, the Promise for hard disks, and the MB ones for optical drives and a Zip drive.

You can get around the issues with W98 and larger memory sizes by setting the VCACHE limit, but you may want to boot with 512mb or less to get it initially running.

If you want to attack this logically, here's what I would suggest.

Remove anything that isn't essential to installing Windows, and disable the Promise controller.

Reset the BIOS to factory defaults.

Using the 80 conductor cable, jumper the 80 gig drive for Cable Select, and put it on the end of the cable. Don't install any other drives.

Put the CD on the secondary IDE controller, also as Cable Select on the end of another 80 pin cable.

Boot the W98 CD and start the installation process.
Aug 19, 2003
hmmm....,I'd remove the Promise card and use it later when you are installing additional IDE devices,but go straight to the board for the initial installations.

Well,I'd say that you are probably so frutrated that you are also forgetting to double check your jumper choices when you are plugging these things back in.

My first guess,is that your ROM drive is set to Master (or cable select) on the same IDE channel you have been attaching the HDD.So it is being forced to be a Slave,each and every time.If you have been using 'cable select',I'd stop right there and actually set the jumpers so that the ROM is Master and the HDD is slave and be done with that channel.(this goes for both units you have there)
Secondly,when you are partioning and formatting,are you setting the HDD up as a 'system' drive? If not,that may be why your boot is hanging up.
I would start over with the 80 in place,jumpered as a slave to the ROM master.Forget what your BIOS looks like on this and subsequent boots until after you have repartitioned and reformatted the HDD.
Get the floppy in and ready to repartition and reformat the HDD.
Leave the floppy in until you are into the OS installation.It will tell you when to remove it...
For partitioning and formatting,you do not need CD support,but you will for installing the OS.

At the A:> prompt...type:FDISK (press enter)
1st...Delete all existing partitions on C: (or disk #1)
2nd...choose: Create Primary DOS Partition sure to set this partition as the 'Active' one
4th...if you want to create more partitions,do it now as 'Extended'
5th...REBOOT! (Ctrl+Alt+Delete)

Back in to formatting the drive
1st...At the A:> prompt...type:FORMAT C: /S (press enter)
Now the C: partition will be recognised as a system disk
Do not use the '/S' portion of the "format" command on any other partition that you format.

Back to reinstalling the OS (with the CD in the drive)
1st...At the A:> prompt...type:SETUP (press enter)
You should now be installing the OS on your system disk C:

Now...,after you have the OS installed,reboot and check your BIOS.I'll bet you will see the HDD right where it should be(Primary IDE:Slave),and your OS "should" load up just fine.
Of course,if you want to change the Master and Slave around,you should be able to do that with no problem now.Just be sure that you have the Boot List set up for floppy first,CD second,IDE 0 third.

I'm sure you have done all this a hundred times,so have I,but we all forget or miss steps.If you are like me,the more frustrated I get,the more likely I am to make simple errors.
patience...,patience...,you'll get there.



Thread Starter
Sep 12, 2003

:) I took out one stick of RAM, and the promise controller. Set the hd and CD rom to cable select on seperate IDE channels.

Eventhough Gwiz's explanation was good, I still had to visit a few websites to get the fdisk sequence down; my poor drive had to suffer through a half a dozen fdisks before I got it set the way I wanted. (What can I say, I don't do DOS).

The results: 4GB DOS partition, 33.5GB partition for the D drive. The rest of it I left unformatted, since I plan to put Windows 2000 there.

Lots of coffee breaks later, I seem to have gotten all the bugs worked out of the OS. Now, I have an entire CD of windows updates to put in.

IMHO: Life is so much easier when you download the updates and put them on CD, rather than going through "Windows Update." With the Esker active x plug-in, you can even do it through netscape or mozilla.

I still have to add the drivers and software for the vid card. If that goes ok, I'll add the rest of the hardware one at a time. I still have questions, but that will be another thread.

Thanks everyone for all your help and for taking the time to post an answer!!!!!(y) :)
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