Baffling problem with Asus M2N32-SLI based machine

Discussion in 'Asus' started by alisonnic, Apr 20, 2007.

  1. alisonnic

    alisonnic Guest

    I have a baffling problem with a computer I built about six months
    ago, based around an Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard.

    After a series of problems (see history, below), this computer ran
    fine for several weeks. Then, a couple of days ago, after several
    hours of heavy use, when I exited a game, it suddenly began to run
    extremely slowly. I patiently waited for it to work its way through
    closing programs, and then tried to reboot it, but it repeated the
    extremely slow behavior and then, when it finally got to Windows, it
    spontaneously rebooted and started the whole process again.

    I tried powering off and rebooting, I tried hitting the Reset button,
    I tried just letting it run. With minor variations, it continued to
    repeat this failure mode until finally it failed to even get to
    Windows. Finally it just displayed the Asus logo and then the screen
    went blank, with no futher activity.

    Ok, I thought, another hard drive failure (see below). Time for
    another new drive and Windows reinstall. I stuck in a new drive and
    my Windows XP Pro CD, and attempted to install Windows. This was on a
    brand new drive I'd previously partitioned and formatted while it was
    in an external SATA/USB case, but I deleted the partition, created two
    new partitions, and formatted the C: partition and attempted to
    install windows.

    A little over 50% of the way through copying files to the hard drive,
    the Windows installer (running from the CD) stopped and complained
    that the copy of a file to the hard drive had failed. I told Windows
    to to retry, and it did, but then it gave many more errors copying
    other files.

    I've tried to install again and again, using:

    1. Two different optical drives.
    2. Two different Windows XP CD's.
    3. Two different brand new hard drives.
    4. Two different IDE cables.

    No matter what the combination of hardware, I get identical behavior,
    with the only vairation being the point at which the disk copy
    failures begin. Sometimes it begins as early as 50%, other times it
    makes it to 57% before failing.

    The only logical thing I haven't changed yet is the motherboard, but I
    have a hard time understanding how the SATA controller could begin to
    fail copying files at the same point each time, no matter what optical
    drive, XP CD, hard drive, and cable I'm using.

    Does anyone have any idea what could be happening here? Should I
    replace the motherboard? What else could it be?


    --- Windows Install Error Messages ---
    first message:
    ntdll.dll
    The file Setup placed on your hard drive is not a valid Windows XP
    system image. If you are installing from a CD, there may be a problem
    with the Windows XP CD.

    If I retry on this and continue to retry on succeeding error messages,
    eventually I get this message:
    Setup cannot copy file shell32.dll.

    The file names vary but it always begins to happen within 50 to 57%
    completion of the copy of the Windows system files to the hard drive.


    --- History ---
    10/18/06 - Computer built.
    12/11/06 - System hard drive failure.
    12/13/07 - Reinstall Windows on New WD 250 SATA hard drive. Installed
    APC Back-UPS ES 550.
    01/29/07 - Installed Electronic Specialists surge surpressor upstream
    of UPS.
    02/08/07 - System hard drive failure.
    02/28/07 - rebuild computer with new Seagate SATA hard drive, new
    motherboard, new Thermaltake PSU.
    03/23/07 - unexplained failures; recovered after CHKDSK runs corrected
    bad index entries.
    04/07/07 - failure described above (slow executions, spontaneous
    reboots, blank screen).

    Please note that I've build over a dozen computer prior to this. None
    of them gave me problems anything like this.

    Also note that I've monitored the tempuratures via the Asus
    motherboard monitoring program and the nVidia control panel. The
    motherboard, CPU, and graphics card stay well below upper limits even
    when run hard by a demanding racing sim. The LAN Boy case has two 120
    mm fans and the Athlon has a large fan as well.

    Also note that I've checked the wiring for the 110v outlet the
    computer is using with a three-LED type outlet checker and it's fine.


    --- System Configuration ---

    Antec LAN Boy case
    Antec SmartPower 2.0 SP-500 ATX12V 500W; replaced on 2/28/07 by:
    Thermaltake PurePower 2.0 500W
    Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe Wireless Edition
    Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Dual-Core
    Corsair 1 GB PC2 6400 DDR2/800
    eVGA GeForce 7600GT 256 MB PCIe x16
    system disk:
    WD Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s
    replaced on 2/28/06 by:
    Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3320620AS 320GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA
    3.0Gb/s
    backup disk:
    WD Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s
    Lite-On 16X DVD+-RW+CD-R/RW
    Sony 16X DVD ROM
    on-board SoundMax
    Rosewill USB Media reader
    Windows XP Pro
    case lighting & controller
     
    alisonnic, Apr 20, 2007
    #1
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  2. alisonnic

    dave Guest

    I am very familiar with the problem of windows install locking up
    while copying files from the cdrom. My solution to that problem
    (when I was still running Windows) was to copy the entire cdrom to
    a hard disk and then install from the hard disk. I don't know what
    is causing your other problems, but I suspect malware. I know from
    personal experience that malware can corrupt the bios. After that
    happens you need to reflash the bios. I would try that and see if
    any of your problems go away.
     
    dave, Apr 20, 2007
    #2
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  3. alisonnic

    Dan Guest

    I would love to see proof of this....

    Dan
     
    Dan, Apr 20, 2007
    #3
  4. alisonnic

    Dan Guest

    Check your RAM using Memtest86. In this case if your RAM comes out with no
    errors then your PSU is probably to blame.

    Dan
     
    Dan, Apr 20, 2007
    #4
  5. alisonnic

    Mike T. Guest

    What proof do you need? Windows programs exist to re-flash the BIOS. If it
    can run on Windows, someone can make a virus out of it. -Dave
     
    Mike T., Apr 20, 2007
    #5
  6. alisonnic

    dave Guest

    When I was running Windows on multiple computers connected to the internet,
    I found one of the computers crashed. Rebooting revealed that 4 scsi
    disk drives had been reformatted to a (to Windows) unknown format.
    So I attempted to boot the Windows install cd from the cdrom. But the
    cdrom was not listed as a known device by the boot program. A quick
    call to Dell Service resulted in a reflashed bios. At that point the
    cdrom was again recognized and I reinstalled Windows. But shortly after
    that I dumped all of my Windows OS software, all the windows apps, and
    all the Windows books. I switched to and have been running OpenBSD
    ever since. I see no possibility of ever switching back to Windows on
    any internet-connected computer.
    --
    http://RepublicBroadcasting.org - IF you can handle the truth
    http://iceagenow.com - because global warming is a SCAM

    Every U.S. citizen is by act of Congress a ward of the U.S. Government
    with no rights whatsoever other than that of living in the U.S.
     
    dave, Apr 20, 2007
    #6
  7. alisonnic

    Dan Guest

    The fact that its possible and the fact that a known virus has been found
    are two different things. I agree that flashing from Windows is a terrible
    idea, but as of yet there is no malware that takes advantage of this hole.

    Dan
     
    Dan, Apr 20, 2007
    #7
  8. alisonnic

    Dan Guest


    If the four SCSI devices had been in a RAID array and that array failed,
    then windows would not recognize the format, neither would any nix os. Just
    because a BIOS became corrupted (it does happen) does not mean it was caused
    by an outside influence such as malware. Anything from the original BIOS
    being badly written, a magnetic event, or a under/over voltage situation
    could cause those same symptoms.

    Dan
     
    Dan, Apr 20, 2007
    #8
  9. alisonnic

    dave Guest

    Au contraire. You can find it documented on the web via Google. Unfortunately
    I have forgotten the search terms I used to locate it.

    --
    http://RepublicBroadcasting.org - IF you can handle the truth
    http://iceagenow.com - because global warming is a SCAM

    Every U.S. citizen is by act of Congress a ward of the U.S. Government
    with no rights whatsoever other than that of living in the U.S.
     
    dave, Apr 20, 2007
    #9
  10. alisonnic

    dave Guest

    They weren't.
    --
    http://RepublicBroadcasting.org - IF you can handle the truth
    http://iceagenow.com - because global warming is a SCAM

    Every U.S. citizen is by act of Congress a ward of the U.S. Government
    with no rights whatsoever other than that of living in the U.S.
     
    dave, Apr 20, 2007
    #10
  11. alisonnic

    ewawrzaszek Guest

    This happened during a large file swap. This is not uncommon when
    playing large consumming graphic programs such as a game or a CAD
    application. Normally you would uninstall the application and
    reinstall it, regrettable you have swapped some components and
    reinstalled windows. No big deal but to have a good clean reinstall of
    windows I typically reccommend to zero out the hard drive. This means
    first format the hard drive then zero out the hard drive and park the
    head. Reboot then reinstall windows everything should run fine after
    that.

    Ed
     
    ewawrzaszek, Apr 21, 2007
    #11
  12. alisonnic

    Frank McCoy Guest

    Malware *can* corrupt the BIOS.
    All it takes is for the programmer to know the right instructions.

    However, usually most viruses and Trojans that *do* crap on the BIOS,
    out-and-out *trash* the BIOS memory; so the usual solution is to just
    reset the bios and reboot ... It no longer recognizes your hard-drive or
    other things.

    *IF* perchance you suspect something like this has happened, and you can
    get into the BIOS at all, then simply load power-on-defaults, and see if
    things work. Whether or not that works though; you'll then have to go
    through and select better operating modes than default. Some computers
    work just fine with "Optimized Defaults" but usually a little tweaking
    will give *much* better results. Watch out for overclocking though:
    many an experimenter, trying to get the computer to run faster, trashed
    the BIOS when trying to run too fast. (I know ... I'm one of those.)

    If you CAN'T get the BIOS to power up; then try resetting it by turning
    the power off (unplugging the PSU) and shifting the BIOS reset-pin from
    one side to the other, waiting ten seconds or so, then returning it to
    "normal" position. Consult your motherboard manual for resetting the
    BIOS.

    If your actual BIOS EPROM gets trashed (like mine did) then you get a
    catch-22 situation: In order to rewrite the BIOS, the BIOS has to be
    working. ;-{
    I've got *two* otherwise good motherboards downstairs; either of which
    would greatly outperform the one I'm presently using ... If the BIOS
    chips on both weren't trashed by my mistakenly setting too fast a
    clock-speed.
     
    Frank McCoy, Apr 21, 2007
    #12
  13. alisonnic

    KCB Guest

    Have you cleared the CMOS before you start, using the most basic
    configuration? Do you have the latest BIOS installed? Does this board
    have a different SATA controller or a PATA controller that you can try
    to install through? Have you tried swapping out your SATA cables? It
    sounds to me like something is corrupting your data, something related
    to the SATA controller.
     
    KCB, Apr 21, 2007
    #13
  14. alisonnic

    Stephen Guest

    File copy errors while installing XP can be caused by memory errors.

    Slowing down can be caused by the cpu overheating.

    Stephen
    --
     
    Stephen, Apr 21, 2007
    #14
  15. alisonnic

    lkboop Guest

    Well, Dan down the list a ways is the only guy that can stick to the
    subject and think.

    He is absolutely correct in saying run memtest, preferably overnight and
    if no errors occur you need to look at the motherboard for swollen
    and/or leaky capacitors. If all appears OK the power supply is almost
    certainly the culprit. The real problem is that it's almost impossible
    to properly diagnose the problem with out the remove and replace procedure.
    You really need a scope, however; most people don't have one. The
    problem is the power supply starts generating noise (electrical noise)
    long before it fails completely ( maybe a year) and causes all sorts of
    weird problems in the inter rum period.
     
    lkboop, Apr 21, 2007
    #15
  16. Also take into consideration that quite a few people neglect to use a
    separate partition or physical drive for the OS.

    Nothing beats getting a nice tuned install of XP backed up and imaged.



    --

    Rev. G.G. Willikers
    (Founder, Custodian & Janitor of the Shrine of HOoMSJ)


    "Sir, I am unaware of any such activity or operation - nor would
    I be disposed to discuss such an operation if it did in
    fact exist, sir."
     
    Rev. G.G. Willikers, Apr 21, 2007
    #16
  17. I have had this happen more than once.
    I could be a failed stick, or a failing mobo slot.

    --

    Rev. G.G. Willikers
    (Founder, Custodian & Janitor of the Shrine of HOoMSJ)


    "Sir, I am unaware of any such activity or operation - nor would
    I be disposed to discuss such an operation if it did in
    fact exist, sir."
     
    Rev. G.G. Willikers, Apr 21, 2007
    #17
  18. alisonnic

    CBFalconer Guest

    To the OP: Do you have ECC memory?
     
    CBFalconer, Apr 21, 2007
    #18
  19. alisonnic

    alisonnic Guest

    The memory is Corsair xtreme performance DDR2. Here are the numbers
    on the back:

    CM2X512A-6400
    XMS6405v3.1
    5-5-5-12
    800MHz
    512MB
    XMS2-6400
     
    alisonnic, Apr 22, 2007
    #19
  20. alisonnic

    alisonnic Guest


    After Memtest86+ generated several million errors in one pass, I
    swapped both sticks of memory into the second bank of slots. No
    change; still a zillion errors. I removed one stick and ran Memtest
    again. No change.

    Then I removed the other stick and put the first one back in. Zero
    errors.

    Then I moved the good stick back to the first of the four slots.
    Still good.

    So I'm pretty sure it's one bad stick, not a bad slot. But thanks for
    pointing this out as a potential problem.
     
    alisonnic, Apr 22, 2007
    #20
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