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Trouble booting now totally out of service

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Robert Heiling, Jun 12, 2005.

  1. System placed in service Jan 2001:
    PC-Chips M805LR motherboard with VIA KT133 chipset, Athlon 1GHz cpu,
    512MB SDRAM, AGP video It has run with a number of HD's & OS's over the
    years including Linux, Win98 & Win2K, & with LILO and NT-loader.

    I've always kept the boot sequence at Floppy-->CD-->HD and the boot
    *hangups* started occasionally about maybe about 2? years ago and would
    often come after a "Boot from A.T.A.P.I. CD" if I had left a data CD in
    the drive. Other times I have gotten the "LI" failure indication and a
    Grub error on a couple of occasions although I've never installed Grub.
    Pressing reset alone always caused a re-boot which was almost always

    Over the past several months as it was getting worse, it's been running
    a 30GB HD with vanilla Win98 on it. [Note: That HD is running fine in
    this machine now where I boot to it optionally from the Bios boot
    menu]. Boot failure always occurred! [whether I had a bootable floppy
    or CD in or not] and occurred at the point where POST had displayed a
    screenfull of all the h/w configuration. Pressing reset would repeat the
    process and it would take more & more repeats as the days went by before
    the boot went on & completed. More recently, it would give a
    semi-trashed screen as the last one before success and I started
    sometimes needing to use the front power-off button as reset had no
    effect at that point. Anyhow, it all was looking very much as though
    something was needing to warm up. Once up, it would run all day without

    During the above running period, I had reseated everything includung IDE
    cables, swapped out memory, AGP video card plus installed a new CMOS
    battery. Nothing helped with the boot hangs.

    Then one morning after running all day previously, it went the rest of
    the way. Press front power-on and no signal to monitor as it has only
    yellow led on. Both PS fan and cpu fan are running as is green power-on
    led on case front. Reset has no obvious effect although a flicker in an
    led may be quicker than I can detect. Case front power button needs to
    be held in to shut systen down.

    Do I have toast? or is it something simple that I've overlooked?

    Robert Heiling, Jun 12, 2005
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  2. Robert Heiling

    kony Guest

    Check cables, connectors, card contacts, fans, voltages, and
    examine the motherboard capacitors for venting.

    Disconnct all but the essential drive to boot from.

    Try leaving only the floppy connected and run Memtest86 on
    it for a few hours.

    Try clearing CMOS. Check the battery voltage.
    If the system power supply is similarly low-quality as the
    motherboard, you've gotten good value out of both at this
    point in time- and now both should be replaced (if none of
    the above makes any difference).
    kony, Jun 12, 2005
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  3. Reseating done over & over again already as mentioned. Both PS & cpu fan
    still run. Voltages were still in spec when I was last able to get into the
    Bios to look at them. Inside of case, MB, PS, & CPU always kept as dustfree
    as possble on a regular basis.
    Sorry. I maybe should have included it, but I had to stop somewhere and I've
    already done that along with the things mentioned above. I've basically done
    most of the fault-isolation tricks of that nature. It's that "warmup" that
    had me stumped and I keep wondering if the heat didn't close some hairline
    crack somewhere or have a similar effect.
    Hard to do when it won't even boot. :)
    Just tried that again, but no go.
    Thanks, but I'll do that once I find out what's wrong with it. I was hoping
    that the pattern of its failure would be familiar to someone here.

    Thanks for trying

    Robert Heiling, Jun 13, 2005
  4. Robert Heiling

    Pen Guest

    At this point simple problems seem out. The boot
    problems suggested mobo and/or memory troubles.
    If you have swapped out all the parts, then the mobo or CPU are
    all that is left.

    Pen, Jun 13, 2005
  5. Robert Heiling

    kony Guest

    The pattern falls under the all-encompasing "something is
    gradually getting less stable", up until the point where the
    function had degraded enough to completely prevent

    That can be caused by many parts but most commonly
    motherboard or power supply. The last attemp could be
    pulling out the board and power, plus CPU, 1 memory module
    and video, and trying this barebones combination alone on a
    desktop. Then swap in a different power supply or
    motherboard if possible.
    kony, Jun 13, 2005
  6. But doesn't anybody here know *why* I could always get into the Bios on the
    cold system, but a boot would not complete until the system had been on for
    5-10 minutes? i.e. warmed up?? I'm willing to believe that whatever it was
    that was gradually failing and getting worse & worse with time, finally went
    out. What might it have been?
    Robert Heiling, Jun 13, 2005
  7. Robert Heiling

    kony Guest

    Typically it could be power or motherboard capacitors, poor
    solder joints (further degrading with numerous slight
    thermal cycling) or board cracks.
    kony, Jun 13, 2005
  8. But I was smart enough to figure that part out all by myself. :) I was hoping
    that the gurus would have a better answer.
    I had been secretly hoping that everything would point to the power supply
    because I would pop the $$ for one if I could be reasonably certain. But a spare
    unused power supply sitting on the shelf out in my garage because that wasn't
    the problem isn't my idea of how to spend my money. Aren't there some voltage
    test points that I could check now? The drawer on the CD drive must locked or
    something as it won't open when I press the button. [yes the power is connected]
    I don't have all those spare parts sitting around even though I'm a packrat. I'd
    have to buy them. Right now I have this PC-133 memory that I can't use anywhere
    else, a Radeon that can be used, etc. It's a slow system by modern standards,
    but my wife was happy with it, so I'd like to get it running again if it's not
    too complicated.

    Robert Heiling, Jun 13, 2005
  9. That makes a lot of sense! I believe the cracked solder would behave just like
    the symptoms. Since the problem involved trashed video as it was building up and
    it is video that is now dead, it might be a solder joint in video related
    circuitry. Any ideas on that? like near the AGP slot? Although it's unlikely to
    be visible to the naked eye. It may also be important to note that it may have
    been attempting to switch from text video to graphics video at the time of
    failure, although the video cards I tried were not failing.

    Robert Heiling, Jun 13, 2005
  10. Robert Heiling

    kony Guest

    Video won't appear if any other part of the system doesn't
    work, it would be the typical failure-to-post problem. It
    "could" be video related, but insufficient information to
    know- and we may never know, a modern board is too complex
    and small to easily test, and often not worth the time even
    if one could test it.

    I'd suspect that region to be less likely than many- because
    the soldered-on slots greatly reinforce the board to prevent
    bending. Cold solder joints could be anywhere though, no
    easy way to see under a ball-grid chip.

    That may not mean anything, switching to graphics may've
    simply been a significant increase in power usage. If you
    had a spare PCI video card lying around you could try it,
    but I won't hold a lot of hope for it working unless the
    power supply itself was just barely limping along and the
    PCI card used significantly less power than the former video
    kony, Jun 13, 2005
  11. Robert Heiling

    kony Guest

    If you had a more unique failure mode, parhaps so- but yours
    is a typical result that could have many causes.

    Unplug all non-essential parts. That should give best
    chance for posting the system. Beyond a certain point it's
    not worth the time to troubleshoot old parts.

    Without the spare parts your best bet is to roll the dice
    and see if you feel lucky.

    You could unplug the power supply from AC for a few minutes,
    open it up and examine for any visable signs of problems.
    I'm not suggesting you take voltage readings inside- rather
    that you not as that is a bit advanced and inherantly
    dangerous for anyone not already inclined to do so- but many
    failings are visually obvious, like vented capacitors, burnt
    marks, a seized fan which slow-baked everything.

    IMO, the best use of time at this point is buying a new
    power supply, then if that doesn't help, deciding whether to
    buy a compatible motherboard or to upgrade the whole
    CPU/motherboard/memory combo. Generally when none of the
    simplier tests reveals a problem, the technician then uses
    process of elimination by swapping parts, else installing a
    POST-card but that's yet another thing that would go sitting
    unused later and you still wouldn't have replaced the faulty
    part yet.
    kony, Jun 13, 2005
  12. No problem with that. I've got an old Micronta multitester here that does the job.
    My apologies. As silly as it sounds, I didn't have the training to know what was
    meant by that term when previously mentioned and what to be looking for until I got
    off my _ and looked it up. http://www.answers.com/topic/capacitor-plague discusses
    that and there are at least 6 of them on the MB that have the brown stains like the
    picture at: http://www.pbase.com/flgator/image/42397665 and others that are bulging
    at the top. I guess that would explain the whole thing and makes one wonder how it
    held up for so long.

    A new power supply would be prudent if I installed a new MB & CPU, so all I've really
    got here is a mid-tower case, but at least one with a floppy drive. :) But when I
    can buy a new system with case for around $300, it probably doesn't make much sense
    to spend the time and money on that upgrade for the type of use we make of a system.

    Many thanks for the help!

    Robert Heiling, Jun 13, 2005
  13. Robert Heiling

    kony Guest

    Yes, you have found the problem.

    Perhaps, but a new system for $300 may be a lot of
    compromises. Often the benefit of such systems is if the
    buyer didn't have the software they need yet, as careful
    shopping can come close enough to same price-points but with
    the concessions made on an individual basis, what benefits
    you personally the most. For example, many people would be
    better off with a $40 video card and higher-end hard drive,
    than the next-step-up CPU.
    kony, Jun 13, 2005
  14. Yes and no, depending on what anyone might have built given free choice. I bought this
    Compaq Presario in a hurry in December for $330 when the Athlon suddenly failed the first
    time. I had to get *something* to replace it very quickly and didn't have the option of
    building my own system to determine the packaging. The cpu & bus speed is ok with me
    although I would have liked more than 256 memory. The onboard video is probably ok for my
    purposes also although I may use one of those extra video cards now..

    What I didn't like was paying for XP Home as part of the price when Compaq's oem version
    is unusable and I now run Win2K. The CD/DVD drive would only read DVD's so I had to
    replace that drive with a DVD burner. They had a cheap card reader in front where a floppy
    drive belongs, so I installed a dual floppy from an old Pentium and my wife's HD is in the
    card reader bay for the time being. The Bios doesn't even support the 5 1/4" B: drive. .
    It's closer to what I wanted now, but those were the compromises.
    You're right about that. The Athlon had been a "build your own" from Fry's, although all I
    needed to do was install the cpu (included), fan, memory, and agp video card. The point
    being that, assuming I like the starting point, I had a free hand in what went into it. I
    could do that again, assuming I found the right killer motherboard, with the right form
    factor for that case, at the right price, and all. That may not be a good idea though, as
    I sense that the ~2.5GHz single-cpu systems are now in an inventory clearance mode for
    whatever is coming next. I might want to save my computing dollars for that, whatever it

    What might make sense, and would keep my spouse happy, is to somehow replace *only* this
    bad motherboard with something as close to identical as possible so that everything else
    would go along with it including the cpu, 640meg pc133 sdram, ati radeon. Even an unused
    M805LR motherboard would be ok at the right price. I got 4 full years out of this one, so
    I kid you not. Do you have any ideas on where I might find something like that?

    Robert Heiling, Jun 13, 2005
  15. Robert Heiling

    kony Guest

    It may be possible to do without the OEM setup of the XP
    home OS. Your OS license is valid for XP Home, if you
    installed it clean by the standard methods you might be more
    satisfied. However, I personally prefer Win2k as I don't
    care for the GUI changes nor the "user-help" dummed-down XP
    interface. I see XP vs 2K as a similar comparison of ME vs
    98Se, and do choose 98SE over ME when possible (that is,
    when the systems I've collected are licensed for it, I'd not
    pay more for an additional 98SE license when a system
    already has a ME license, rather disabling ME features till
    it more closely resembled 98SE.

    Perhaps, but new technlogy always comes at a
    price-disparity. Even existing technlogy in the market,
    such as P4 CPU, has benefits reserved for those buying
    hundreds of dollars worth of new software optimized for the
    P4, far moreso than those reusing apps they already had.
    Likewise for users of single-threaded applications, those
    that aren't multitasking to the extent that they have 100%
    utilization on a background task instead of the focused
    task- for those people dual core has lesser benefits.

    I'm sure there are some out there, problem is finding them
    as they're now old/cheap and as such, not advertised much
    except at salvage/closeout type 'sites.

    Upon relooking at a picture of your M805LR, I'm not at all
    surprised that the capacitors vented, because I've seen VERY
    many of the PCChips boards with that layout and era, have
    capacitor failure. I would avoid another of same board, and
    find you to be lucky to have used it successfully up until
    this point in time- quite a few of them didnt' last more
    than 2 years.

    Does it need be the shorter, mATX form-factor or would full
    ATX do as well? Depending on whether that is important,
    reuse of the PC133 memory is limiting- might as well get
    another KT133 (chipset based) board, preferribly from one of
    the better manufacturers such as Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, or
    Abit. For a large price difference you might consider
    lesser brands but on parts this old the price difference may
    be minimal.

    There is a KT133 and a KT133A chipset. The latter
    officially supporting 133MHz FSB, but either should be
    compatible, AFAIK.


    here's one that might work, but I"m not certain of it- I
    leave it to you to research whether you need mATX and
    whether your CPU needs a 133MHz FSB.

    There may be others at the same 'site, keeping in mind that
    you need KT133 or KT133A. There were some Sis chipset based
    boards that would allow reuse of the PC133 memory, but none
    that I recall in mATX form that seem any good.

    kony, Jun 14, 2005
  16. But I'd have to have the standard retail CD to do that and there's no free path to getting that
    that I know of. The way %@#& Compaq operates is that XP comes pre-installed and you have to
    burn your own XP "recovery" CD(s), all 5 of them! Then, when you want to install it, it wipes
    out the partition table and all your data in *all* partitions along with it. I found out the
    hard way on my 250gig drive. That's not a good setup for someone with a multi-boot system
    Likewise exactly!
    In XP vs 2K there is also a big performance hit per my recent experience.
    I took some rough measurements and you're right about mATX.
    That's ok as the idea is to keep cost down on this system and I'm sticking with the 1Ghz cpu
    and putting the old ATI Radeo back in.
    Thanks for the tip. I'll look around for those.
    If the "A" stands for the socket A then that's what it is. This does support 100 & 133MHz FSB,
    but when I tried cranking it up from 100 to 133 early on there was some problem and I think it
    was memory. Somehow I never got around to having the memory checked and had been running at
    100, but just recently one of the sticks was coming up with an error. That's when I bought the
    512 as I still had a system at that point.
    That one is ATX Form Factor: 34.5 cm x 24.4 cm and mine is roughly 25 X 22. Was looking good up
    until that point though.
    Micro ATX Form Factor: 19.2cm x 24.4cm. Looks good vs 22 x 25 (24.4?) as long as the mounting
    points line up.
    That's great! You've put me on the right track. I don't expect much out of that system, just a
    little more mileage and then she'll get this system when I find something else I really like.
    If the Athlon is still running then, I'll give it to a relative.

    Thanks again for the great help!

    Robert Heiling, Jun 14, 2005
  17. Robert Heiling

    kony Guest

    Borrow it from someone.
    You are legally licensed to use the OS, it matters not where
    you come upon the installation files- BUT your issued
    activation key has to work, Simply trying an XP Home Retail
    Disc may not work, nor would the license technically be
    valid for it.

    They don't even provide the QuickRestore CDs like they used
    to? If that's the case, you're putting up with a lot to
    save a few dozen dollars.

    When you make OS changes, such that windows needs some of
    the installation files, does it prompt you to insert the
    disc(s)? If it's reading those files from the HDD, you may
    have most if not all of the WIndows files there on your
    drive, which you could burn to a CD.

    No, KT133 boards were "supposed" to support 133MHz, but Via
    never got them stable at that speed for FSB. The result was
    that many boards actually had a 133MHz bios setting or
    jumper setting to enable 133MHz FSB, but the boards couldn't
    run at that speed no matter what CPU or memory was
    installed. A typical upper limit for such boards was around
    112MHz FSB, so if the memory were set to asynchronous +33
    mode, then 145MHz for the memory- although generally it was
    best to leave memory bus at synchronous speed to the FSB.

    KT133A was solution to the 133MHz FSB problem of KT133, the
    "A" simply meant it could run the 133MHz FSB. Otherwise
    (IIRC) the board itself didn't need any physical changes,
    only the chip that was soldered on, changed. There may've
    been some other refinements made too, like bus signal
    strengths, though these could be considered more of a design
    refinement than a necessity for the chip change.

    Given the choice, I'd go for the KT133A. Even if you don't
    have the CPU running at 133FSB, it's not bad to have the
    extra margin. The remaining issue I had was whether the
    southbridge remained the same- which I don't remember. At
    some point they switched from the 686B southbridge to
    another series, and if that's the case it could be a problem
    for windows to boot to the OS to plug-n-play everything
    (what little there would be to do that too, minimal things
    since for the most part the hardware would be the same).

    They should line up, that's part of the mATX standard.

    However, you might want to look at the rear of that Compaq
    case to be sure it has a standard (or removable) rear IO
    plate over the ports. I *think* your board uses a standard
    plate but if the new board didn't, it would probalby come
    with a new plate so your case would need have the removable
    plate so you could replace it- other OEMs, notibly Gateway,
    still used port holes that where stamped into the metal
    instead of being removable.

    The system is fast enough and well enough endowed to be
    quite suitable for general purpose use.... unlike prior
    eras, the systems from the last 6 years or so will proably
    be retired due to failures rather than lack of usefullness,
    even if their present owners give them to someone with
    lesser needs.
    kony, Jun 14, 2005
  18. No CD's. You have to burn your own and they call those "Recovery CD's". The Fry's salesman said
    there was a CD inside when I asked, but there wasn't one in the box when I opened it. If I hadn't
    been trapped by the time constraints I mentioned, I would have returned the system when I learned
    about that situation. Since I was really just interested in the h/w and not the OS, I let the whole
    thing go.
    Sure, they had to be there in order to burn the CD's, but that was several iterations ago. I see
    what you're suggesting about custom-building my own installation CD and the files should also all be
    there on the 5 CD's, but I'm too committed by now with all my software installations to change back,
    plus I didn't even like XP. I have a "dead" XP installation still sitting there on drive 2 from the
    last installation. It was booting fine until I added it to boot.ini along with Win2K & Linux and it
    has never booted since, even from the Bios like it had been.
    That must have been the reason it wouldn't run at 133 then. I don't see 133A on anything including
    the manual (They actually included a good manual back then!).
    Ok. There are only square holes in the sheet metal behind the mb with metal clips coming through. I
    guess that some of those are just the standoffs? and I see about 5 philips head screws on the cpu
    side to hold the mb in?
    There is definitely a rectangular plate there and not just the sheet metal.
    That's the way I look at it! That first site was out of stock and I found a similar board that
    might do the trick, but it's a refurb and I don't think I want anybody's old capacitors. The biggest
    hangup is needing mATX as there are a fair number of ATX boards available all over including EBay.
    I'll just keep on looking.


    Robert Heiling, Jun 15, 2005
  19. Robert Heiling

    kony Guest

    Yes, some boards may use +-1 of those standoffs so when you
    go to mount a different board you simply have to take note
    of whether "all" holes match up- and move or remove a
    standoff. It's a quicker way for them to mount boards than
    using screw-in studs but in practice it makes no difference.
    The majority of the holes are the same- it's mostly whether
    the board has the 3rd column of holes due to being
    extra-wide. If your present board isnt' that wide but the
    new one is, AND if you dont' have any spare standoff clips,
    one solution to that is picking up a few nylon friction-grip
    type of standoff-insert, that merely holds the board away
    from the case tray at that edge, as the remaining
    screw-downs are sufficient to hold the board in place well

    I figured there would be, most if not all of the Compaqs
    I've seen from that era (except the slimline desktop types)
    do have the removable IO shield.

    Newegg often has "refurbs" that are in good shape- customers
    buy without realizing what they bought, perhaps that it used
    PC133 memory instead of DDR. Others might be manufacturers
    getting rid of stock held back to fulfill past-sales
    warranty replacement programs, but now the warranty is over
    for those. Others may not have worked due to user error and
    are 100% fine and new boards. Others may have some defect
    or damage though, but with newegg's great return policy it's
    only a minor expense to return-ship the board.

    Other sellers I can't vouch for, as I only buy refurbs from
    Newegg. I do recall at least one place that sells stuff
    that looked like it'd been kicked around in someone's
    basement for a few years, though I hesitate to mention
    their name.

    There is an alternate way of finding older boards, go to the
    manufacturer's website, like Gigabyte, Abit, MSI, Gigabyte,
    Asus, and look through their support or product sections to
    pick up the model names for the mATX KT133/133A based
    boards, then you can Froogle ( http://www.google.com/frghp?
    ) or Pricewatch ( http://www.pricewatch.com/ ) search for
    those specific model-names.
    kony, Jun 15, 2005
  20. Many thanks for those installation tips and other good info.

    I've located something that is in stock and looks to me to be very comparable with what I've got now. A
    couple of possible concerns are the manufacturer and the vendor. I don't see them on your list and don't
    know if that's conclusive. :) I hope I can pick your brains a little more about this.

    The one I found is the Biostar M7VKE Socket A at:
    <http://www.gearxs.com/gearxs/product_info.php?products_id=3624m> Since the board I'm replacing is a
    Chips & Technologies M805LR with VIA KT133 chipset, AMD Duron and Athlon Socket A, PC133 SDRAM up to 1
    GB, and AGP 4X (AGP2.0), the specs are very close.

    But possible concerns are:
    They only mention the VIA VT8365 chipset which is also used in the KT133, but that is only the
    Northbridge portion of the whole set per <http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/chipsets/legacy/km133/> and
    I wonder what they use for the Southbridge portion and if the omission is hiding something.

    "Supports up to 1024 MB SDRAM"; "Two 168-pin DIMM sockets" which is all correct, but I wonder why they
    don't mention PC100/133 like everyone else has?

    They just mention AGP slot without mentioning any specs.

    Condition "PULLS", whatever definition they give to that term.

    7 day return window, $8.95 for a 1 year warrantee. Guess it's really a $39.95 mb. :) 7 days is too
    close for my taste given that there are other unknowns with this system in getting it up & running.

    All in all, they are sort of loose and lack the type of precision in describing their products that most
    of the other websites I've seen have. They don't even give the board dimensions except to say mATX.

    Maybe I'm too cautious.

    Robert Heiling, Jun 15, 2005
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