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K8N Neo 2.0 - Interesting Corrupt BIOS Problem

SP Goodman
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      08-21-2006, 10:50 AM
Hi Folks,

I thought I'd help out an electrician whose machine was totally pranged by
an ex-friend of his who didn't even know how to put a machine together -
bent pins and an unfixed CPU fan amongst other atrocities! - and so he
brought the poor box to me to see what I could do.

The 1GB of memory was fine, but I ended up having to replace the power
supply, CPU/fan and motherboard. I chose an MSI K8N Neo series 2.0 as a
cost-efficient replacement and slight upgrade, but when the MB arrived and
it was installed there was nothing past the POST bootup "beep". Fan ran, no
error beeps unless I removed the RAM or graphics card - as it should be -
but one never got a hint of cursor.

Having a few spare components round here (having recently built a pair of
replacement machines) I swapped out the few components installed including
the power supply but still no cursor. Hoping that I'd not pranged my spare
video card - ATI Radeon 9550 AGP - I rummaged round until I found an old XFX
AGP 1.0 card and plugged THAT in. Behold, I not only got cursor but the
floppy initialized - not the hard drive, which does indeed have a bootable
XP Pro partition on it - and I was shown the dreaded message "BIOS ROM
checksum error". Subsequent attempts to use a bootable floppy to try to
flash the BIOS back to health have failed, because the system doesn't even
boot enough of itself to be able to read a floppy disk, just request it.

Obviously this puppy is being sent back RMA-wise, and a replacement will be
forthcoming - after all, the poor guy has a laptop, and has not had the use
of the big machine EVER, so it's not THAT time-sensitive - but my memory of
BIOS stuff was stimulated by the nature of this failure.

I remembered when the transition to on-chip BIOS settings was made from the
old dipswitch block method, and what a pain THAT was when a Phoenix BIOS on
occasion would error out, as it couldn't recognize the floppy disk it was
supposed to get initialization from. We all breathed a sigh of relief in
the PC-building biz when on-chip setups became the standard, frankly - but
this error on the new motherboard was a real throwback of sorts. It gave
the impression that BIOS initialization has two levels of handling a
graphics card, one being an older method that handles PCI and early AGP
cards, and a later-introduced level accommodating newer AGP (and probably
PCI-E) cards. The BIOS-in-question was so corrupted that it only recognized
and initialized an early AGP card, which was able to show me the BIOS ROM
checksum error message.

A bit like sweeping the area in one's garden to find bones from ages ago
beginning to appear through the topsoil, frankly! Thoughts on this?

Stephen Goodman
* Cartoons about DVDs and Stuff
* The Loop Of The Week since 1996!

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