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PC keeps restarting even before POST (a tale of woe)


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#1
Borodin

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Hello! Where to start? Sorry about the length of the backstory but i've always had problems/made stupid decisions with this comp so I'm trying to give as much info as possible because I've got no idea where one problem actually (if it did) ended and another began!

About 6 months ago I built a system for my dad as a birthday gift (only the second system id built) with the following specs:

Q6600 @ stock,
Asus Striker Extreme II (+included sound card),
WD 150g Raptor hdd,
Akasa fan controller,
Radeon x1950,
Belkin wireless g+ pci network card,
Tagan 700w psu,
4x1 gig sticks of Corsair Dominator Ram (i cant remember what frequency:S)
Copy of windows professional x64

The first problem was that my dad wasn't happy with the level of driver support for 64-bit windows and demanded an "immediate" fix that would leave his important data intact. I, in my infinite wisdom, and because I was tetchy having warmed him [bleep] well about 64 bit support in the first place, decided the easiest thing (for me) was simply to buy an additional drive, install 32-bit windows on that, give the new drive higher boot priority and then just pull across whatever was needed from the original hd. (Im mentioning this to illustrate the various rookie errors im capable of making)

At first all seemed good but soon my creations reign of Terror would begin. The first problems were the occasional blue-screens (it's been so long now that my records of the stop codes have gone) increasing in frequency until it basically became unuseable (as my dad uses it for his accounts etc, this = bad news).

I tracked this first problem down to what I figured was faulty ram on the graphics card (the stop codes seemed to indicate a ram issue but memtest found no problem with the corsair system ram) furthermore, replacing the card with a nvidia 9600gt "fixed" "this" problem. I've yet to send the card back to the manufacturer to have this confirmed however.

Again, for a while (days MAYBE a week) things were ok but it was still occasionally blue-screening/freezing and this time the stop codes seemed to point to driver issues (the IRQL_NOT_LESS.. yadda yadda came up a bit i seem to recall). Blue-screens *could* occur when opening outlook express, or connecting a usb device (problems were also reported via bluescreen with usb.sys and tcpip.sys).

Occasionally the computer would simply not "power up" (having never seen this occur I can only recount my dad's story and he is fast and loose with his language) which I take to mean once the power button was pressed, no input was sent to the monitor.

ANYWAY, cutting a long story short, I assumed (lazily - because I was already getting tired of stressing over this thing) based on these symptoms whatever was wrong was basically limited to a software screw-up and the hardware was at least working as it should. This changed last week when the computer began the main offensive of it's reign of terror. This time I actually saw the computer not booting up: Press the power-button, fans spin up, hd SOUNDS like its spinning up but nothings output on to the monitor and worse, 1 time out of 10 it would show the bios splash screen but quickly display a message along the lines of "BIOS ROM checksum error - no keyboard detected" (sometimes without the keyboard bit, and just the checksum error)

I did some research and it looked like the only thing that would cause this message to come up was if the bios rom chip was damaged and therefore, the best/quickest solution would be to replace the mobo, which I did because again, this is essentially a work machine with important data on.

The replacement board I bought was a gigabyte s775 p35 (cheap, but Im hoping i was right about the asus being borked and getting it repaired). I reinstalled all the components and started it up: It booted into windows first time (HOORAY!) but it wanted windows authenticating because of the mobo change and for whatever reason the online activation failed (i did it by phone later - bear with me, i AM getting to a point!) - Sooo I changed the hard drive priority back to the drive with x64 installed on it (knowing for a fact I havnt messed around with that product key so I shouldnt have a problem) sure enough the x64 authenticated fine but straight away it became obvious it wasnt at all stable - it froze...a lot. I wasnt phased by this because I assumed it again it was software and as all it contained was redundant data I decided to reinstall windows x64 on that drive just to see whether the hardware was working. (the relevance of this will become clear later)

At this point I wondered if the online activation system was sufficiently seperate from the phone activation to be worth trying, it was, so i activated 32 bit and considered my job done. Next morning my dad informs me that the computer wouldnt work at all. I start crying.

The situation at the moment is that you can turn the computer on, get to the desktop ok, and after a short but uncertain amount of time the computer will restart, or at least it will ATTEMPT to restart, it will just cycle the power on and off and never even post, nothing on the monitor etc, this continues untill you hard power-off (either by holding the power button down or hitting the rocker-switch on the psu). The only other thing of note is that unless you wait about 20 minutes, when you try and turn it back on it will jump straight into cycling the power on and off and not booting/posting.

P.S. one last thing I just remembered! for some reason the gfx card since the mobo change no longer sits as snugly as I feel it should. There is perhaps a 2-3 mm height difference at one end than the other where its not completely flush with the case I/O ports. I have read that an incorrectly seated add-in card could result in the kind of restarting issues I'm having. Thoughts? I am completely baffled (replace that with a long string of expletives) why the card will no longer fit in properly btw.

Right, again im really really sorry thats soo long and windy but I want this sorted once and for all so i thought i should mention everything relevant.

My thinking at the moment is that:
The mobo change fixed the last problem with the striker (obviously): no more bios checksum error and the computer is actually capable of booting
The x64 drive, allthough unstable, did NOT present the current problem: i.e. it didn't result in power-cycling
However, if the small (tiny, really) amount the graphics card is "unseated" by is sufficient to cause the problem, i might just have been lucky with its positioning at the time of trying out the x64 driver


So, any help? :/ My dad is breathing down my neck and at the moment I'm tempted to set fire to it and claim the psu exploded!

Any help MUCH appreciated!
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#2
jt1990

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If the grapics card is unseated, then that would cause problems. My thinking is that if the problem were the graphics card, however, it wouldn't even give you any video to start with...hmm... Have you tried booting it without the Wireless PCI card? Sometimes faulty cards like that will do weird things... The only other thing I can think of right off the top of my head is that there could be a problem with the CPU.
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#3
Borodin

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Hmmm, before you replied I went back to the x64 drive to see if it was still working a-ok, it worked fine for 30 minutes + so to make sure it was that making the difference I switched back to the 32 bit drive and since I did that it hasn't displayed the power cycling problem AT ALL :)

Is it possible a lose wire or something was shorting the comp out? so when I messed around with the drives again I got lucky and stopped whatever was loose from shorting?

So far (fingers crossed) it seeeeeems absolutely fine :S so I'm not sure it's possible for it to be the cpu? If there were a problem with that wouldnt it be slightly more consistent?
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#4
jt1990

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That's weird. I suppose the 32-bit drive could be faulty, in which case it very well could mess stuff up...tho that doesn't (in my experience) affect the BIOS POST.... :)
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#5
Borodin

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Humph, when I left it last night it had successfully been running prime for a few hours, no problems whatsoever (this with the 32 bit drive) so I tentatively let my dad know he could give it a try in the morning.

Whaddyaknow this morning it's not been working. I tried when I woke up and the computer got to the windows logo and then blue-screened with the following stopcode 0x0000007E (0x0000005, 0x8054510C, 0xBA50FC7C, 0xBA50F978) and before the memory dump could complete it had restarted itself and gone into the power-cycling, on, off, on, off, on, off (with a 3 maybe 4 seconds between) untill powered off.

Any thoughts? :)
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#6
jt1990

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Hmm... None right off the top of my head... :) If I think of anything I'll let you know, tho...
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#7
jt1990

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Heh, 'nother thought... Try reseating the mobo on the standoffs on the case... If something wasn't quite right there that could well cause a short on the mobo... Since you've already replaced the board and are having problems with the new one as well, that leads me to think that there could be a short somewhere.
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#8
Borodin

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Not a bad plan! I'll give it a go and report back
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#9
jt1990

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Let us know how it goes!
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#10
Borodin

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*sigh* I tried reseating the motherboard, no change :/. While I was at it I also swapped out the psu AND case just to rule out a problem with the power supply and also to finally properly seat the 3d card.

Neither did anything :) If anything it might have actually made things worse because once or twice since making the changes its powered on but sent nothing to the monitor, so its not posting or anything but its not restarting constantly either. Thats a symptom ive had before from a dead mobo :)

Soooo, unless the replacement mobo I bought was faulty off-the-shelf (the odds of which seem...small) either the cpu really IS borked or God hates me.

I wish i had more spare components lying around so I could narrow it down :/ Any ideas?
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