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Real nightmare of a problem.

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Right, where to begin...

A friend bought a PC, and was running happily until they downloaded something (an old PC game) off of Ares. When he opened it, it all went wrong.

Firstly, the monitor boots, but only when it feels like it. It stays dead, but sometimes will power up.

Then when it does work, I can change bios settings, but the monitor still dies. If I change any setting (monitor related or not) it wont reboot until 20 or so attempts.

If I can get past that, it hangs just before the windows XP boot screen.

I've tried numerous solutions, including booting from the XP cd (which leads to either a crash, reboot of the machine, or if I manage to get it to boot from the CD, it loads up till it syas starting windows, then gives me a blue screen error with a code that looks like a memory error). I've tried dos, which again, either freezes, crashes, or if I can get to the dos prompt will not access the C drive, even though the bios screen detects it.

I've tried a new GPU, new PSU, new ram, another HD, clean builds, cmos emptying, lots of different tools, all of which crash. The only thing I haven't tried yet is the HD in another machine, which I would prefer not to atm, as if it is a virus, I don't want to risk infecting my own machine.

Any ideas what could cause this? I'm thinking a mobo problem, but as it started through windows, and works to a degree, I'm not 100%.

The specs are...

Mobo is a PC chips m848a rev 2.1
AMD xp 1800
Geforce 2 Ti
256mb DDR ram
80 gig Maxtor HD.

I'm at a loss. Everything I try just crashes, reboots or freezes the PC.

In bios, I can change the boot order, but when I try to without going bios first (F8 I believe) it hangs there. I've tried booting without a HD, it just crashes while looking.

Any info you might need just ask for, and thanks a lot in advance if anyone can think of a solution.
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Good grief, you've got a [bleep] of a problem there!

Firstly, consider the parts that you haven't already swapped out. ie CPU & drive cables, optical drives.

I assume that when you swapped out the parts, you removed the original component completely? In other words, when you put a different hard drive in, you removed the old drive during that time? If so, then good.

I must admit, my initial thoughts were that it would be the RAM, hard drive or possibly the graphics card but if all have been replaced, then its probably not them.

I suggest you strip the system right down - remove mobo & place on non-conductive surface (stack of paper or card is good).

Leave only one stick of RAM, CPU + hsf, graphics, psu & ps2 keyboard connected. (Use the known good components where possible). Remove everything else incl drive cabling etc.
Clear the CMOS again & reboot. If you have the same problems, move the RAM module to a different socket & try again.

Let me know what happens, but if no luck, then I would suspect the mobo or the CPU. If you are able to get the system to boot from a DOS boot disk (remember to reconnect the floppy drive first!!), then there are utilities that will run diagnostics tests over the mobo & CPU etc to help eliminate the problem.
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