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Suspected BIOS Issue
Is My Goose Cooked?
SevenCubed




msg:4157075
 7:34 pm on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

BIOS Issue?

I have what I suspect is a BIOS issue with my primary development system. I'm going to list the symptoms and some background leading up to this problem hoping someone can offer some suggestions or insight.

Basic Info...
- The PC is about 10 years old. No manufacturer brand. It was custom assembled.
- ASUS PT4-E Motherboard.
- 1.6 GHZ Intel CPU (or 1.8, can't remember for sure).
- Originally 512MB of PC800-40ns ECC Rambus RDRAM (upgraded to 1GB about 2 years ago).
- 2 Western Digital 60GB ATA HDDs (dual boot Windows XP Pro + Windows 2000 Pro kept for IE6 testing).
- Originally a 64MB video upgraded to a 256 dual display Geforce video card about 1 year ago (don't remember model).
- Replaced BIOS battery about 1 year ago.
- As best as I can remember I think I had the BIOS up-to-date.
- 350 watt ATX power supply took it's last breath about 1 month ago and replaced with same.
- Interior is dust-free and there didn't appear to be any issues with over-heating that I am aware of.

Symptoms in days leading up to this failure...
- I figured something was in the shadows because a few times in the last week after leaving the PC idle for a while it would be completely frozen when I returned to it - oddly enough the taskbar clock indicated 11:11 each time. Only a hard boot would resolve it (press and hold power button until powered off because it wouldn't respond to CTRL+ALT+DEL).
- Yesterday evening after most of the day away from it I returned to find it frozen again. Though this is no doubt just a coincidence -- clock again said 11:11. ~rant~ hehehe, of course my mind is processing this silly little detail as 111 111 111 which is binary for 7, or 7,7,7 - of course I'm thinking as a SevenCubed (7x7x7) would, I think I need fresh air more often :(
- This time pressing and holding power button wouldn't shut it down, had to pull the plug but since then it will not boot anymore.

Steps taken to resolve...
- First of all their are no POST happy sounds
- I've isolated the drives by placing only one on the IDE at a time. Neither OS will boot.
- Pressing F8 on boot-up will not get me into OS start-up menu.
- Cannot get into BIOS setup on boot-up, <delete> key on this system, I know this isn't a promising sign :(

Like some other aspects of computing, I know enough about hardware and BIOS to keep things running efficiently. I've always done all my own upgrades and fixing minor issues over the years but I know this situation is over my head and so any feedback would be welcomed. It's my main development server and would surely like to get it back up and running!

 

Frank_Rizzo




msg:4157088
 7:45 pm on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't think it would be the bios. Bioses don't usually go faulty. They can get corrupted but not usually faulty.

In no particular order of preference I would say these are faulty:

RAM - try less sticks / spare sticks
Hard disk
Mother board - capacitors may have dried out by now.

Can you boot to a diagnostic floppy, CD, or another hard disk? You need to run something like memtest.org

SevenCubed




msg:4157103
 8:04 pm on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thank you very much for the quick reply Frank. The light bulb just went on when you mentioned the possibility of the capacitors going dry.

That power supply failure and replacement I mentioned was preceeded many months by the PC not booting when it was unplugged for a while when I had to move it around with me from place to place. I remember thinking exactly that at the time -- that the capacitors were probably not holding their charge because I would have to wait about 10 minutes or so after plugging it back in for it to regain enough juice to to start up.

Assuming it may be the motherboard then, and from how you describe it sounds like a good chance, do you have any idea if I may be able to use the existing components on a new motherboard or do you think it's pretty much obsolete now?

Frank_Rizzo




msg:4157133
 8:40 pm on Jun 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

None of the recent generation of motherboards will use the cpu or ram. You may be able to pick up the same motherboard from an auction site for low $$ but you could have the same problem at some stage.

Probably a good time to get something more upto date.

lammert




msg:4157313
 3:01 am on Jun 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

... because I would have to wait about 10 minutes or so after plugging it back in for it to regain enough juice to to start up.


Doesn't sound like a capacitor problem to me. Dryed out capacitors have less capacity and charge faster than good ones. This sounds more like a crack in one of the prints--maybe the motherboard--where a print lane is interrupted but connects again if the system heats up.

In any case, 10 years is a respectable age for a computer and as it is your primary development system it may be a good time to upgrade, or at least replace the vital components like motherboard (including CPU+RAM) and disks.

J_RaD




msg:4157765
 6:08 pm on Jun 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

if you have a computer that no longer will POST the best thing to do is start ripping parts out.

disconnect your CD ROM - HD - remove video card - remove LAN if not onboard - remove ram.

insert 1 stick of ram,

no post?

insert other stick of ram

no post?

bad mother board or processor.

SevenCubed




msg:4163745
 11:49 pm on Jul 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for all the pointer folks. I've had to face reality and realized it's time for a new system. This 10 year old one has been such a workhorse and so reliable that it surprised me when it finally refused to be revived this time :(

Time for a new system. And if that wasn't bad enough, after this happened I put my backup old laptop into service, 2 days later on boot-up in the morning I got a SMART -- imminent hard drive failure message! I thought you got to be kidding! No it wasn't -- next morning on boot-up it didn't. Was able to get it back in service with a HDD swap and reformat but wow what a string of bad luck :(

Then...took my HDD's out of my old PC, dropped them into a caddy to retrieve the data from them to transfer to my laptop -- guess -- went to plug the USB cable into the only slot and a pin broke off! A few bucks later and a PCMCIA to USB adapter I finally got all my data safe and sound. What a week and half it's been :)

Once again chaos was hard at work. Dang gremlins.

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