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Problems w/ A7N266-VM, Athlon 1800(Thoroughbred) & 256Mb MICRON PC2100 RAM

Posted on 2003-12-11
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Last Modified: 2010-04-26
Okay this is the situation right from the start. I picked up an ASUS A7N266-VM motherboard (onboard video & sound) and an Athlon XP 1800+ (Thoroughbred 1.5 GHz) and a 256 MB stick of Micron PC2100 RAM CAS 2.5.
Now I’ve installed all of this equipment into a brand new case along with the hard drive from the old computer. Boot everything up, start installing the operating system (Windows 98 SE) and all the relevant drivers. I’m almost finished with this process when I decide to update the BIOS to the newest version. This is where all the problems started. Something screwed up during the BIOS update, I’m not sure what but I think it had to do with the computer screwing up while restarting. You remember how Windows 98 wouldn’t always shut down correctly, same thing here. I had updated the BIOS through the ASUS update utility in Windows. (I’ve used this same utility for my computer and never had any trouble).
Now the computer restarts and the display is corrupted in MS-DOS through the POST screen and into the loading of Windows. There are colors blocks through out the top half of the screen. Of course Windows doesn’t load and instead kicks out with a general production error and your computer needs to be restarted. I’m not sure what the exact wording of the error was but it popped up immediately after the Windows 98 splash screen.
I’m still calm at this time, so I reboot with a boot disk and re-flash the BIOS in DOS back to the original version. The computer loads up fine, everything is working perfectly. Then I get cocky thinking I know what screwed up last time I can do it right this time. I again re-flash the BIOS except this time in DOS using the boot disk. As soon as the computer re-boots the same display corruption is present.
Now I panic, I again re-boot and again re-flash the BIOS back to the original version. This doesn’t work also and the display is still corrupted. Now I really panic, I start flashing the BIOS to every version that board ever supported, including versions earlier than the version the board was shipped with. Nothing works, at this point I concede defeat and call ASUS to get and RMA request.
I ship the board back to ASUS and in 2-weeks I get the board back with an all clear from their tech support guys. I plug everything back in and still the same problem is there the display is corrupt and Windows will not load.
By this time I’m pretty miffed and I again call ASUS and ask for a replacement instead of a repair. I verify this by recording the serial numbers off the old board, again ship it back to ASUS and wait for the replacement. The replacement comes in and I’ve verified this by checking the serial numbers.
I hook everything up again and guess what? Same problem. Now I’m starting to think that other components are to blame. So I got to the local computer store and buy a new power supply. Tried it and the same problem.
Now I’m kind of at the end of my sanity. I’m going to be trying different memory and processor tonight, taken from my other computer. But I fear this isn’t going to work and I’m trying to get as many ideas together as possible. I have of course tried some other things but they are too numerous to mention and I’ll only bring them up if the suggestion is offered again.
I thank everyone in advance for any help you can offer in this situation.
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Question by:FreeLancer
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12 Comments
 
LVL 69

Expert Comment

by:Callandor
ID: 9922507
Since your display is the first thing you notice that is messed up, have you tried a different video card?  It seems pretty sure that your motherboard was not the culprit, judging from the RMA you did and your check.
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Author Comment

by:FreeLancer
ID: 9922849
Sorry I should have been more specific. This particular board has integrated video, and that's what I'm using. I would add another video card, but its not my computer. I was helping someone upgrade theirs and for what they used the computer for a motherboard with integrated video was fine, but you still do present a good idea. I think I have an old video card kicking around, I'll try that and see what happens. Now assuming the computer works fine it doesn't help me. I need this board to work with the integrated video.
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LVL 69

Expert Comment

by:Callandor
ID: 9922931
I think you are fortunate that your board still works at all, given the problem flashing the BIOS.  If the old video card works, try reflashing the BIOS with that video card in place.  There's not a lot more you can do if that got messed up and if it doesn't accept further flashing - you can only hope that a version takes.
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Author Comment

by:FreeLancer
ID: 9923018
Of course the board works I've already 'returned' and 'replaced' it.(See bottom of original message) My problem I think is with the other components. But I'm a pessimist at heart and I'm just trying to get some other ideas. I'm going to try the other video card tonight, and try some different memory and a different proccessor tommorrow. But keep the idea's coming.
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LVL 69

Accepted Solution

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Callandor earned 300 total points
ID: 9923104
You're right - I forgot you completely changed the motherboard (I was switching to someone else's problems).  The other thing is what you already determined to do - swap the RAM.
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Author Comment

by:FreeLancer
ID: 9923195
No problem, it was a long winded question really. I have to honestly admit I'm afraid to swap out the RAM. The reason being because if this doesn't work I'm not sure what to do. But I'm curious about the video card too. Being that the board does have integrated video I'm wondering if it will work. On another note assuming the RAM swap works, has that ever been heard of. I mean flashing the BIOS damaging the RAM?
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LVL 69

Expert Comment

by:Callandor
ID: 9923344
> I mean flashing the BIOS damaging the RAM?
Too many uncontrolled things may have happened during the flashing of the BIOS - a static discharge at any point could have damaged memory, or memory could have been marginal and at that point failed.  In a controlled environment (keeping your hands grounded before handling), there should be no connection.
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Expert Comment

by:AlbertaBeef
ID: 9925389
OK, as you have onboard video, and this is the THIRD board, it's obviously not an issue with the onboard video.  With the problems you're experiencing, I would find it likely the problem is #1- RAM or #2- Processor.

Is the display corrupted during boot, or just in windows?  If it's just in Windows, it's more likely a RAM issue.

Also, have you tried an O/S reinstall since you received the latest board?
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Author Comment

by:FreeLancer
ID: 9928175
The display is corrupted during boot, and Windows will not load. I keep getting and error right after the Windows splash screen saying I need to restart the computer. I've tried installing the operating system 2-3 times and I get one of 2 different errors. Either it kicks out of the install process after the Scandisk and right after it say's windows in analysing your registry. (This was also done on a freshly partitioned and formated hard drive) Or if I clear the CMOS I can get the install process to about 90%-98% and then it kicks out again. Also when I clear the CMOS and reboot the display is fine. Then after the install kicks out at the 90%-98% mark the display is corrupted again.
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LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:buckeyes33
ID: 9930960
How old is the hard drive that you are using?  Could this be a cable issue?  Sounds like there is a possibility if you swapped RAM and it did the same thing.    Are you using an ATA 33 Hard drive with an ATA66/100/133 cable?   You should use an ATA33 cable if your drive is ATA33.  Also have you tried a different hard drive cable.
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:AlbertaBeef
ID: 9932254
FreeLancer, try the system with no cards plugged in.  No devices (drivess) connected.  The only things running should be the video (onboard), RAM and cpu.  

If it still does it, it's not possible for it to be anything at this point except RAM or CPU.

You really need to try known-good RAM, and if that doesn't fix it, then you need to look at swapping the cpu.
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Author Comment

by:FreeLancer
ID: 9956554
I just want to thank every one for contributing to this question. It did turn out to be the RAM after all.
I became so convinced it was the motherboard because all the problems started after I flashed the BIOS. I swapped some of my good RAM for the RAM in the system. Started up just fine, and even allowed me to finish my last install of Windows.
My own damn fault, too short sited. I just taught my self a very good leson, one that I had actually been taught before, but that I forgot. Try everything first, don't fixate on one thing. If I had of done that before I shipped it back the last time, I would have save some money, time and grief. I'll never make that mistake again.
Well as to the points, I have to give them to Callandor as he was the first one to mention the solution. Thanks again.
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