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at the end of my rope/IDE cable :)

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Steve Rennick, Jan 5, 2004.

  1. hi all!

    first-time poster, and really hoping i can get some help from the collective
    wisdom here. my system is very unstable. it either hard-locks (have to
    re-set or power right down, including the power switch at the back of the
    case), or it randomly reboots (the hard lock usually happens either in the
    middle of an app, or if i go away and let the computer go to "sleep"..i.e.
    shut the display off...rebooting usually happens during a game...no, no
    particular game, ANY game). before i go any further, here are my specs:

    asus a7s333 mobo
    amd xp 1600+ chip
    512mb ddr ram
    geforce 4 ti4200 vid card
    audigy 1 soundcard
    maxtor 40 gig hard drive
    liteon burnproof cdrw
    dlink network card
    daytek 95p monitor
    smc wireless router (i'm hardwired into it, as is another PC on my homelan,
    with 2 other PCs using wireless network cards)
    400 watt PS
    OS-win98se w/all the latest updates incl. directx9.0b (or whatever the
    latest is)
    BIOS-updated to the latest for my mother board...have also updated to the
    latest SIS AGP drivers for my mother board.

    things i have already done (in no particular order...it's late and i feel
    like i've been banging my head against a brick wall :) ):
    -swapped memory with another system that has same mobo.
    -ran memtest 86 on current memory and memory borrowed from other system
    -reinstalled OS (win98se)
    -fdisked and formatted hard drive (after running every imaginable maxtor
    utility i could download to verify it WASN'T a hard drive problem)
    -moved cards around in my pci slots to eliminate possible conflicts
    -checked if it was a heat problem (all monitoring programs say no...to be on
    the safe side, took out chip and cleaned and re-applied arctic silver)
    -tried changing powerbars
    -tried plugging into a different electrical outlet
    -ran the system w/o cd-rw plugged in (ya never know)
    -reinstalled video and soundcard drivers
    -uninstalled most recent windows update updates (but left IE and OE 6)
    -tried using different plug-ins off my power supply
    -tried using different IDE cables..and configurations (master/slaved
    HD/CDRW; configured both as masters in primary/secondary IDE channels; right
    now, have the HD as primary master and CDRW as secondary slave)

    that's all i can remember having done right now. the only things i can
    think it would be now are:
    1) power supply is bad
    2) mobo is bad
    3) case is bad
    4) processor is bad

    none of the things i've already done made a LICK of difference...system
    crashes many times a day, and at, because murphy rules, the most inopportune
    times. luckily, it's mostly a games machine, and not one i do much work
    on...but i do do SOME work on it...and this is driving me nuts!!!! the
    other machines on my LAN are ROCK-SOLID...so i'm, literally...at the end of
    my IDE cable. any help would be HUGE!

    thanks a million!
    steve in canada
    Steve Rennick, Jan 5, 2004
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  2. Steve Rennick

    jamotto Guest

    Might have picked up a virus somewhere.

    How old is the motherboard? What brand of Power Supply do you have?
    While you where in the case did you try and remove everything and just
    run with the bare essentials(keyboard, harddrive, video card, memory
    and monitor). Have you tried going into "safe mode"? When you
    plugged the computer into a different outlet was it on a different
    circuit than the other outlet?
    jamotto, Jan 5, 2004
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  3. just did a virus scan, so i don't think so...
    less than 2 yrs
    US-Can Switching Power Supply
    Safe mode also crashes
    different circuit than the other outlet?


    Thanks Jamotto!
    Steve Rennick, Jan 5, 2004
  4. Steve Rennick

    N. Thornton Guest

    sounds like typical symptoms of a badly overclocked system. That
    doesnt mean it is overclocked, but if its not and you now deliberately
    underclock it your woes might be over. In other words something may be
    below par frequency response wise, and slowing it would likely get it
    to work ok.

    Try that and see, either way you then know a bit more, and you may get
    a stable system.

    I would also monitor the PSU rails, check theyre within spec.
    If you have 2 sticks RAM run it with one stick, then the other - again
    if ones off you'll pick it up that way.

    Remove anything non essential and run, see if it crashes again. Again
    youre diving and conquering. All you need run for this is mobo, psu,
    cpu, ram, vid card, monitor, floppy. Remove everything else, HDD,
    other cards, etc. Boot in DOS and see if it runs or crashes.
    - maybe, probably the most likely.
    - case doesnt normally affect anything.
    - least likely.

    Theres never a guarantee youll fix it, but the more you can narrow
    things down the better.

    Regards, NT
    N. Thornton, Jan 5, 2004
  5. sounds like typical symptoms of a badly overclocked system. That
    so, after swapping out my 400w psu for a 300w psu in another system in my
    homeLAN that is stable Iwhen i took it out of this other machine, i was
    amazed at how much stuff i have plugged into that 750mhz duron system [3hds
    for example], that i should probably have the 400 in it:), i was still
    getting reboots (the game i'm using to make it crash right now is diablo 2).
    what typically happens is right after i start the game (as soon as i load up
    a character and start running, within about 30 seconds) the computer
    reboots. and it happened even after swapping out my PSU. so one your
    advice, i went into the bios after the system had rebooted, and throttled
    back my cpu from 1400 mhz to 1050 (which knocked by FSB from 133 down to
    100). now, usually, when it reboots, and i try to go back in and play
    diablo2, it'll just keep rebooting until i power every thing down (including
    switching off the PSU itself), and leave the machine off for awhile. BUT
    NOT THIS TIME!?! i'm gonna leave the computer on overnight, and see if it's
    still running in the morning. good night... :)

    i've tried this, with ram from another machine that i know is good...still
    have yet to do this, but it sounds like a weekend project :)

    thanks NT...will keep you posted...
    Steve Rennick, Jan 6, 2004
  6. Steve Rennick

    jamotto Guest

    I would remove all devices you don't need. What I posted before is all
    you need to start the computer(if you need it you can add the floppy
    drive but it will run without it). See if it run's ok. N. Thornton
    brought up a good point are you overclocking this computer?

    What I'm thinking is either a overheating computer/underperforming
    powersupply or resource confilicts.

    At two years hold the motherboard could be failing. When my
    motherboard started to fail it would often not want to reboot(would
    not post).
    jamotto, Jan 6, 2004
  7. I would remove all devices you don't need. What I posted before is all
    haven't done this yet...but probably will on the weekend.
    no...but when i clocked it down to 1050/100fsb (from 1400/133fsb, which amd
    says this chip is supposed to run at), i thought, briefly, i had some
    stability...for reasons given in an earlier post (i could actually do
    something post rebooting that i couldn't before). so i left the pc on
    overnight...but, by morning, it had crashed again :(
    both motherboard monitor and asusprobe tell me all my components are
    operating well with acceptable heat ranges...i swapped out the current 400w
    ps for a 300w ps i have in another stable machine (which, when i took the
    other machine apart, given all the stuff i had plugged into it, SHOULD'VE
    had the 400 in IT!), but it still crashed.
    i'm beginning to wonder...either that or the chip...not what i wanted to
    hear, but if it'll fix it...
    Steve Rennick, Jan 6, 2004
  8. Steve Rennick

    jamotto Guest

    While your in the case check all the CAPS on the motherboard for
    damage. These cylindrical parts that tend to be silver colored. See
    if any of are ruptured and leaking electrolyte and double check all
    your connections again.

    One more question did your problems start out of the blue or did you
    install any new hardware and/or software and then the problems began?
    jamotto, Jan 6, 2004
  9. Steve Rennick

    ray Guest

    jst a thought.... u said ur using win98, try installing a diff OS
    win98 has allot of issues try 2k with the latest service packs, also
    if u want to use 98 for some odd ball reason in particular then try
    diff flavors(builds) of it...!!

    hope it helps..!!
    ray, Jan 7, 2004
  10. hey ray,
    yeah, i've tried winxp...have the same problems, but thanks :)
    Steve Rennick, Jan 7, 2004
  11. While your in the case check all the CAPS on the motherboard for
    hey jamotto :)
    i'll check the caps next time i'm in there :)
    was "in there" before seeing your message tonight. what basically happened
    was i left the computer running in safe mode this morning after the
    unsuccessful attempts with a different PS and also throttling back the chip
    to 1050/100fsb. but got home, and, you guessed it, hardlocked at a the
    desktop with no mouse or keyboard functionality. hit reset, got back into
    windows, had a few windows open, clicked on the newsgroup to get the latest
    messages, and BLAM reboot. as it was rebooting, i shut it down, and swapped
    out my xp1600+ for a duron 1.2 in another machine with the same mobo that's
    rock-solid stable by comparison (my son's...it's OK, he's in bed :), and
    will leave the computer on overnight, to check again in the AM if it's
    crashed on me :) guy at the local computer shop (who i trust) thinks it's
    likely the chip...given there was a bit more stability when i
    underclocked...either that or the mobo. oh yeah...my problems started when
    me, the wife, our 2 boys and the bun in the oven moved to a new house (that
    was in july). but it could go back as far as january...the only new thing
    in the box this year is a asus geforce 4 ti4200 128 meg vid card...but i
    guess i'll find overnight, cuz if it still crashes, it ain't the chip :) i
    initially suspected a bad outlet in the new house, but have tried the
    computer on others (including those the other PC's use...of course without
    those machines plugged in :) ) but still had the rebooting problem. funny
    thing, i don't know what chip damage looks like, but when i flipped over my
    1600+ there were these little silver marks (almost like carbon-scoring on a
    star wars ship) in the central area where there aren't any prongs.
    dunno...guess i'll find out in the am...
    thanks again...you've been great!
    Steve Rennick, Jan 7, 2004
  12. Steve Rennick

    jamotto Guest

    hmm, could be the processor though they tend to be either work or not
    work, but not both. You might try and run the computer in the BIOS
    setup screen just leave it idle there this would remove any chance of
    the O/S being the problem. If it crashes in the BIOS setup screen it
    is hardware problem.

    It also allows you to view the voltage, temp, fan readings using the
    hardware monitor option in the BIOS.

    As for motherboards failing the ASUS card comes with a utility called
    smartdoctor. When my motherboard was failing the voltage reading on
    the graphics card would drop from 3.3V to <1.5V and back again. It
    would give odd temp reading for the memory and GPU too(never knew
    memory could reach 650F deg):)

    Just some side thoughts. Make sure you have the Assign IRQ For VGA
    enabled in the bios. Also did you disenable the on-board sound?
    jamotto, Jan 7, 2004
  13. Steve Rennick

    ratched Guest


    These other guys seem to be pretty well on the case. But I seem to
    remember that the SIS chipset has some incompatibility issues with
    certain graphics card chipsets. Unfortunately I can't recall which
    ones. It may be that SIS have corrected these issues in their latest
    drivers anyway. Have you tried another graphics card with a different
    chipset, e.g. Radeon? Just a thought.

    ratched, Jan 7, 2004
  14. well it would seem the processor's the culprit...i left the computer on over
    night, and, for the first time in a long-time, the PC was still running when
    i woke up this morning. at least i've got my first concrete proof of what
    it is. as for bios settings, yes, i do have an IRQ assigned to VGA...yes,
    the on-board sound is disabled...and i also took a look at my caps last
    night, and they all seem to be OK...i'll run smartdoctor as well and post
    the results back here.
    Steve Rennick, Jan 7, 2004
  15. Steve Rennick

    ratched Guest

    The fact that your PC usually locks up or reboots during a game
    suggests that the issue is probably related to the graphics card or
    the sound card. Especially since the graphics card is the only new
    addition. Is the AA and vsync off? I know you installed the latest
    nVidia drivers for your card, but are they specific to the card's
    manufacturer? Also have you updated your Audigy drivers?

    This guy is having a similar problem:
    Apparently you <I>have</I> to buy decent RAM for this board. It
    really has to be 2700. If you reset all the memory timings in the
    BIOS to the slowest (highest) number you might have some luck. While
    you're in there, try disabling your fast writes and changing the
    graphics aperture size to as high as it'll go (probably 256mb).

    NT and jamotto have the right idea about running the system with the
    bare minimum of components, adding gradually until you identify the
    problem. If you remove the soundcard and the problem goes away, you
    could try putting the soundcard in a PCI slot further away from your
    AGP slot to eliminate noise. If you put the soundcard (or modem) in
    PCI slot #2, I think you're 'sharing' the slot with the onboard sound,
    so PCI slots #3 & #4 are better options. Probably a good idea to
    check whether onboard sound is still active in the BIOS as well.

    I guess you've already checked the seating of both video and
    soundcards to see that they're firmly screwed in and that there is no
    dust in the slots. Also if you moved house there is the [small]
    possibility that the mobo has shifted and is intermittently coming
    into contact with the plate. If this is the case, make sure the board
    is well insulated and that you use plenty of well placed risers when
    you reassemble.

    Also, check your CPU. Might be that all it needs is a quick clean and
    some Arctic Silver paste.

    Please post your results and I'll see if I can help any further.


    ratched, Jan 7, 2004
  16. also jamotto...i couldn't find smartdoctor on the asus website...but i did
    download asus probe. the following are my voltage readings, upon startup
    (w/the 1.2 duron installed):
    vcore 1.792
    +3.3v 3.296
    +5v 4.892
    +12v 11.712
    are those normal? will leave asus probe running all day as well, and see
    what's happening when i get home! thanks again for all your help...and
    Steve Rennick, Jan 7, 2004
  17. Steve Rennick

    N. Thornton Guest

    Hehe. Well they say the latest computers are pretty hot - maybe they are?

    Regards, NT
    N. Thornton, Jan 7, 2004
  18. hi again jamotto!
    posting from work now...and i've found smartdoctor..looks like it's a
    vidcard monitoring utility, and, since i have an ASUS vid card, will
    download it tonight and run it. i phoned the local computer shop
    here, and priced out a new chip...looks like the lowest end they have
    is an amd 2000 pro or a 2500 barton...at 119 and 149
    respectively...but i'd like to make sure it's not the mobo. correct
    me if i'm wrong, but it could still be the mobo couldn't it...that
    just given the fact it can run a chip with a lower clock speed doesn't
    necessarily means it's OK, does it...and running smartdoctor to check
    the voltages going to the vidcard is one way of ascertaining that,
    thanks again,
    Steve Rennick, Jan 7, 2004
  19. Steve Rennick

    jamotto Guest

    The Voltages should be within +-5% which at that time they where.

    Good to hear that it is showing some stability. If you can't replace
    the old processor(read cash flow problems:-() you might try to
    disenable the L1 cache and/or L2 cach. It will run slowwwwwwly but it
    chould bypass the affected part of the processor and your son can have
    his processor back:). You might also check out and see if the
    processor is still covered by a warranty. It's a long shot but you
    never know.

    things are sounding on the up and up.
    jamotto, Jan 7, 2004
  20. so a couple of questions, jamotto my friend :)
    first off, downloaded smartdoctor...only way i could get it running was by
    uninstalling my nvidia drivers, installing the asus ones...but it would seem
    i don't have full functionality with smartdoctor. what it mean is when i
    run it, i have very limited setup options, and no way to access the voltage
    and smart-cooling features. i'm assuming it's either because of my OS
    (win98, therefore can't run smartdoctor 4.0) or my vidcard (it's a vanilla
    asus geforce 4 ti4200). the reason i REALLY want to run it now, is cuz i
    came home from work today, and the computer had crashed again! looks like
    it tried to reboot, but hung at a flashing prompt (no c...just a cursor).
    now, i'd left asusprobe running all day. so i started asusprobe
    again...went upstairs for supper...and the computer had rebooted (got all
    the way to the desktop this time tho :). now, i'm thinking it more likely
    had something to do with asusprobe, but i want to be able to rule out mobo
    entirely...and was hoping to get smartdoctor to monitor the voltage to the
    GPU like you did. i'm running asusprobe again right now...voltages all look
    good tho...like nothing freaky that would signify any problems going to the
    mobo...but i guess i need to see what the mobo's giving to my parts.
    anway..any suggestions with smartdoctor? are there other utilities to
    monitor videocard voltages?
    thanks again!
    ps no warranty for my processor...local computer shop only does a year, and
    i've had it a year and a bit. lowest end new cpu i can get is a 2000+, for
    either 109 at the shop i vowed never to frequent again :) or 119 at the
    other one. and you hit it right on the head on the money-issue..my wife's
    off on maternity leave right now, and we're pretty broke...so i may be stuck
    with a borderline system for a while now <sigh>
    Steve Rennick, Jan 8, 2004
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