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Darfuria
post Jun 18 2009, 12:10 PM
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I've been having a bizarre issue with my computer that I finally have the time to try and resolve.

Rough specs:

MSI Platinum 7246 V2.1
Core 2 duo 2.66
2GB DDR6400
GeForce 8800GTX
150GB Raptor
Sound Blaster Audigy Platinum fatality blah blah
Akasa 650W PSU

The system is running XP SP3 without any problems. Originally, I encountered an issue with the Western Digital drive scanner saying that my raptor had errors, but since then those errors seem to have resolved through formatting or something (extensive drive test passes). However, Partition Magic says that the drive is bad and that I'm unable to partition it without formatting it first. XP has only been installed for a week, as I attempted to install one of the later operating systems to see if the issue was still ongoing.

If I disable ACPI I am able to install and run Ubuntu with no problems.

I can install Windows Vista from a legit retail disk. The installation completes but when I restart the computer it hangs at the loading screen. I can resolve this sometimes by booting into Safe Mode and then restarting. The same happens from a burnt ISO. I have also tried using X86 and X64 versions. However, Windows Vista does run perfectly in Virtual PC 2007 on XP.

Windows 7 freezes at "expanding files". I have downloaded the ISO multiple times, burnt it at various speeds to different kinds of disks. Also tried X86 and X64. I have not yet tried running Windows 7 on Virtual PC.

I am unable to update my BIOS, despite trying every known method. The Award BIOS flash utility just keeps flashing "Please wait!".

A few months ago I got a message saying that the graphics card wasn't receiving enough power, but I've not seen this since, and have had no issues.

I've tried installing the operating systems on different HDDs with different SATA cables - same issues.

I have replaced my optical disk drive. Since replacing this running a live disk has been much more stable.

I have run a memtest which reported no errors.

I really don't know where to go here, besides slowly replacing every component until the issue is resolved. Any suggestions would be really appreciated.

This post has been edited by Darfuria: Jun 18 2009, 07:16 PM


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Gilmore
post Jun 18 2009, 12:35 PM
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Hi

That´s a decent machine, and very simular to mine. The only thing I can think of is the Raptor, try installing another harddrive and install Vista/Win7 there. If you don´t have another HDD then format the Raptor and do a clean install.





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Rob Wilson
post Jun 18 2009, 12:39 PM
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I dont think its the HDD as he stated he tried different HDD's and cables.

It sounds to me like the motherboard as it doesnt update the BIOS. How did you resolve that issue becasue if you rebooted during a BIOS flash then that messes things up.

But as you say, removing the components one by one to pinpoint the problem may not be a bad idea

This post has been edited by Rob Wilson: Jun 18 2009, 12:44 PM


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jun 18 2009, 12:51 PM
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Might be the mobo but they are usually pretty resilient unless you put some static through them.

Another possibility is that the master boot record has been corrupted. If that's the case you'd need to run 'fixmbr' command at the recovery console.


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Darfuria
post Jun 18 2009, 12:59 PM
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I think the "Please wait!" stage of the BIOS flash is when the flash utility searches for the new version of the BIOS to update to, although I'm not sure. It certainly didn't process any files as there was no disk read after the initial load of the application. So the machine rebooted as usual.

@tonymiro - I didn't think of checking the MBR. I suppose there could be an issue with it, especially as Partition Magic is reporting the disk as "bad" and unpartitionable, even though the Western Digital utility reports no errors. I'll give that a go.


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Darfuria
post Jun 18 2009, 01:27 PM
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Oh - another thing. Windows Vista runs fine in Virtual PC 2007.


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Rob Wilson
post Jun 18 2009, 01:43 PM
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You could try partition table doctor, only thing is make sure you back up! I used it once to sort a HDD problem where it was totally unrecognizable, even plugging it into a IDE to USB converted and putting it on my PC it thought it was only 18MB or something. This program sorted it all out.

http://www.ptdd.com/


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Darfuria
post Jun 18 2009, 01:47 PM
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Thanks Rob, I'll check that out as well. Everything is all backed up anyway, as I've attempted installing operating systems about 30 times in the past few days wink.gif


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jun 18 2009, 02:02 PM
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Just going back to the graphics card bit in your op. If you have a spare psu to hand try that as I wonder if it may be starting to fail.

I once had a similar issue on a pc where the psu had started to fail and there then ensued a long saga of problems with drives and cards not starting up at boot properly. Modern graphic cards tend to pull an awful lot of juice at start up. Sometimes it can help if you put them on a few seconds delay to let all your other devices start properly. Irritating bit is you don't get POST warnings when this happens so it's not entirely obvious what's going on.


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Darfuria
post Jun 18 2009, 02:13 PM
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Yeah - I did think of doing that. Unfortunately I don't have a spare PSU to hand, and don't really fancy buying expensive new components until I have gone through all of the cheap solutions. I've also not had any issues like that since it happened - even when playing demanding video games. No blue screens, or anything else, either.

I suppose I could try removing my graphics card out of the equation and try using on-board graphics, but I'm not sure how Vista or Windows 7 would cope with that.


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Rob Wilson
post Jun 18 2009, 02:25 PM
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Vista/7 needs:

"Support for DirectX 9 graphics with:

WDDM Driver

128 MB of graphics memory (minimum)

Pixel Shader 2.0 in hardware

32 bits per pixel"



This post has been edited by Rob Wilson: Jun 18 2009, 02:26 PM


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jun 18 2009, 02:31 PM
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I didn't get any BSODs either when the psu started to fail.

Think both those OS would throw a wobbly if you tried to use the on-board graphics. 7 would probably be more tolerant though so if you could get into safe mode and turn off Aero and all the other Vista type bells and whistles it might work. I saw someone on a Win 7 Beta test forum who claimed they were using an old p4, 756mb ram and on board sound and graphics with the Win7 RC ohmy.gif .

BTW have you tried booting in to Ubuntu and using its disc survey/recovery/repair software to check your drive? Linux is usually much better at this then Windows and I think may even go down to MBR level. I'm not entirely sure as its a long time since I had any Linux distro (way back when Red Hat was at V5 rolleyes.gif ).


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Darfuria
post Jun 18 2009, 02:46 PM
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You know, I'm not even sure my motherboard has onboard graphics. I suppose the PSU might have to be my first expensive purchase, then. What's recommended for a system of this caliber? I'm beginning to think 550W might not be enough, and I should go for a 700W or something.

Despite whether the OS would run after installation, would the installation run without detecting any potential hardware issues? Assuming I have onboard graphics, the installation might run if the graphics card is unplugged. Thinking of unplugging, it could be something as silly as a faulty power cable - that's not something I've looked into. I suppose without suitable power output testing equipment it's hard to say whether the PSU is at fault.

I didn't try Ubuntu's disk utilities. I assume I can run those from a live disk. I'm not sure I feel like installing another OS for a while!


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jun 18 2009, 03:05 PM
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550 should be enough but it may be right at the limit. The amount of power for a modern pc mounts up pretty quick and is a bit scary. This list is a bit out of date but will give you a general idea. Ultimately even if you're psu has enough power they can, and do, still fail after a while.

TBH though apart from the actual wattage I think the quality of the psu makes some difference. A good psu like coolermaster etc tend to be more robust then a cheap one of equivalent wattage. Make sure you get the right sort for your mobo though as the molex connectors are not all the same.


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Darfuria
post Jun 18 2009, 07:23 PM
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Okay, I'm home from the office now, and am attempting a few of the support suggestions here - in no particular order.

I've just popped my Ubuntu live disk in (the disk I used to install the computer). The first time I booted it it hung at "setting hardware abstraction layer hald", and now it keeps hanging at loading the desktop.

Also, upon further inspection, I have an Akasa 650W PSU, which I would have bought some time around January 2007 (I think), as that is when this PC was built.

I really want to get it out of its current case (Antec P180) and into a bigger case. This one really isn't big enough for cables and components. I don't have any overheating issues though.

Next step. I booted into the XP recovery console and ran fixmbr - it said that I had a damaged or invalid MBR (or something along those lines). I fixed it and rebooted with no damage done to the OS. Partition Magic still says the raptor is bad though, which means I can't partition it. I guess I'll have to swap it out and attach a spare drive to attempt OS installation.

This post has been edited by Darfuria: Jun 18 2009, 07:24 PM
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Darfuria
post Jun 18 2009, 08:39 PM
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Okay. I chucked a spare HDD and still had the same issues with Vista hanging at the loading screen after reboot, and Windows 7 being stuck on "expanding files". One thing I do notice is that my iPhone isn't being detected for some reason - perhaps a power/motherboard issue? I'm half-tempted to just go and buy a new motherboard, case and PSU...


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kahall
post Jun 19 2009, 02:19 AM
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I did not read the thread in detail but: I have messed with systems that work fine when you install XP but will not finish a VISTA install. It has always been the RAM.


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Darfuria
post Jun 19 2009, 08:56 AM
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I thought it was likely to be the RAM too, kahall - but the fact that memtest returned no errors deterred me from that thought temporarily.


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Moon Boots
post Jun 19 2009, 10:03 AM
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If I were you I'd just buy a totally new system and start fresh.


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Darfuria
post Jun 19 2009, 10:05 AM
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Oh, the difference between you and my Jewish grandmother wink.gif


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