PC Not booting. Crashes when you try to save anything in the bios - and boots to a flashing cursor. HELP!

Hi

This machine, we thought had a dodgy disk. So we've got a replacement disk and we're trying to boot it.. It freezes just after the hardware summary screen on boot.

It has 1 single flashing cursor in the top left corner.. the rest of the screen is black/blank. I have tried a different AGP video card but to no avail, I know the different card worked fine.

I've tried different memory in it, of varying quantities.

When we try to go into the BIOS, it allows you to view for a small period of time... and when you try and change some options it crashes. For example, I tried changing the boot order and it crashed.

The motherboard is a GigaByte GA7ZXE - could it be a motherboard/bios type problem? Ill look around for some firmware for it but Id appreciate some help.

Pls help, Ill award points ASAP.
LVL 1
davelsAsked:
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WakeupConnect With a Mentor Specialist 1Commented:
It may also be a CPU Problem.  On AMD Processors they heat up real fast and can crash or reboot on you if it gets too hot.  Make sure your CPU fan is seated properly.  Most people swear they know what they are doing when installing them and say they've done it a million times, and then i tell them to bring it into my shop...and boom the Heatsink and fan were mounted backwards.  So make sure the lip of the heatsink is in the right spot etc...and that you dont have too much heatsink compound on the processor.  All you need is enough compound on the chip die.  And has to be flatter than a piece of paper.

If that is all fine and dandy, then it is possible it is the motherboard.
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CallandorCommented:
I would check the CMOS battery - it may need to be replaced.  It is also possible you need to reset the BIOS, or more drastically, reflash the same BIOS.
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davelsAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the reply. I've just tried a new CMOS battery and that didnt work unfortunatly.

It's not staying up long enough at the moment; Im not sure reflashing or upgrading the BIOS is going to do it any good

Any ideas?
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CallandorCommented:
If the CMOS is not staying up, you have serious problems.  The power supply has been checked?
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caffeinesharkCommented:
Try a different power supply first, since you've already done the battery route.
  Reflash the BIOS can definitely help - try the Gigabyte DOS flash utility.

http://www.giga-byte.com/Motherboard/Support/BIOS/BIOS_GA-7ZXE.htm

Check the jumpers on the motherboard for the BIOS reset - if they are in the wrong position, (although usually it won't boot at all) it could reset the whole thing like you're experiencing.



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davelsAuthor Commented:
Just going to check the power supply now... It appears to be crashing now after a similar number of seconds...

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Francois_ITCommented:
sad to say... your mobo seems to be defective!
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davelsAuthor Commented:
Tried the powersupply... to no avail.

Pls dont say its the mobo....... lets not give up to soon!
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CallandorCommented:
Ok, but you're running out of possibilities really fast!

Follow Wakeup's advice and reseat the cpu.  If that's not it, you are left with the only possibility...
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WakeupConnect With a Mentor Specialist 1Commented:
Oh and also realize, that if it was installed PROPERLY, it may still be a bad processor.  

New does not always mean good.
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Timothy KashinInfrastructure ManagerCommented:
I would have to agree with Wakeup on this one.  I have had this problem before with an Asus MB and AMD processor and it drove me crazy checking the memory, Powersupply and others.  I found out it was simply the CPU overheating.  I would recommend resetting your processor and reapplying thermal compound and heatsink.

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davelsAuthor Commented:
Right, Im going to give that a go now people.

If it works..... then.... ill be happy bunny. brb.
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davelsAuthor Commented:
OK.. update.
I've swapped over the CPU with a replacement from another machine we have... and it appears to be working fine at the moment. Temp is a bit more controlled... we also tried a different heatsink.

Ill leave it on for 10 mins or so and see if it crashes... then Ill try to isolate the problem, ie, heatsink or processor...
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davelsAuthor Commented:
Current temps are:

CPU: 54C
System: 36C

This machine has typically been left on for huge periods of time - is this likely to cause some kind of burnout on the processor or heatsink? What sort of damage could this do?

Is there some sort of cut off in the bios which says when it gets to a certain temp it will switch off?
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caffeinesharkCommented:
Still seems a little hot.  even after running for a while.  Shouldn't burn out the processor though.

Your bios usually has a cutoff in the 'hardware' settings of the bios, you can set it to power down at a certain temp, usually 85C or 95C.  I would suggest 85, unless you run some intensive graphics apps.
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CallandorCommented:
After a long period of time, perhaps the thermal paste dried out and was no longer effective?  54C seems normal to me for an AMD.
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jarichCommented:
davels,
Bios should roll the speed of the processor to lower speeds if it sees problem with heat. I leave my computers on all the time, some people shut them down every night though. If a cpu is let run too hot too long it will burnout and die.
Good Luck,
Jerry
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davelsAuthor Commented:
Right... it went up to 58C CPU and 41C System temp.

I tried exiting the bios after about 10 minutes of uptime... and then it crashed straight away. It waited for me to exit out before crashing which is very odd.... very odd indeed.

It is fitted correctly, I know they can be a pain - but it is.

Just want to say a quick thanks to everyone helping with this..... we will get this fixed... and as so many are involved I can create another Q to give the deserved points.

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davelsAuthor Commented:
Ive managed to get the BIOS update on it.. I put the machine next to the wide open window and left the wind blowing on it to keep it cool!

Now - instead of crashing and stopping - it reboots at similar points
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caffeinesharkCommented:
did you find the hardware settings on the temps in the BIOS?  Sounds like it's rebooting like it should when it gets too hot.  You might need to up the temps to 85C or 95C until you get a better cooling solution on the CPU.  

58C right after startup is high, I rarely hit that on my AMD even after long periods of time.  
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AnirasCommented:
Just to make sure, you are using thermal grease, correct? And not too much? It's strange that it would get that hot with two different processors and heatsinks, especially next to a wide open window. Did you clean off the die and bottom of the heatsink before reapplying?
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davelsAuthor Commented:
Thermal Grease?? Never heard of it.... so no, sorry. Hate to sound like an idiot but, not a clue.

On the top of the processer there is the little square AMD sticker with some white gummy stuff around it.. a small amount.. On the back of the heatsink there is some white sticky stuff, very thin and not lots of it

What do I need to do here?
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CallandorCommented:
Is that AMD a paper label?  It's possible that you have a sticker between your heatsink and cpu.  If it's paper, and not a thermal pad, it should be removed and something like Artic Silver applied (thermal grease).
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davelsAuthor Commented:
Its a thermal pad - not a piece of paper

Thanks
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CallandorCommented:
Is this a stock heatsink that came with the processor?  You may need a more efficient one, like a Thermaltake brand: http://www.thermaltake.com/
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jarichCommented:
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AnirasCommented:
You don't need a more efficient one, but you definitely need to get the rest of that thermal pad off! They are only good for one use. After that, you must use thermal grease to fill the gaps between the heatsink and the processor. It's getting so hot because the contact between the processor and the heatsink is not good.

Get some Artic Silver 3 from just about any computer parts seller, clean off the thermal pad, and put a thin layer on top of the core.

Should solve all your problems!
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AnirasCommented:
I think the "little square AMD sticker" you speak of is actually the processor core. This is what gets so hot and what the heatsink needs to contact! Be very careful around it. The "white gummy stuff" is actually the remains of the thermal pad. Those are what need to go.

The page jarich posted will help with the application of the Artic Silver when you get it.
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donvintonCommented:
It's possible you have a hardware conflict. Remove all your add-on cards and see.
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danperCommented:
Check for temperature issue: check if your cpu cooler is running. Unplug (power and data cavles) of all IDE devices (hd, cdrom) and floppy and see if your computer freezes at boot. If it keep freezing, try a CMOS clear. Check you motherboard manual on doing this.
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Darren_T8082Commented:
okie, heres one for you,
i've found some really weird problems in my time like this, and a lot of them are to do with the reset / power button and shorting out.

I would unplug absolutly everything, USB cables mouse keyboard (unless you know it works100%) all IDE drives (CD, DVD, Floppy HDD) remove the mothboard from your case, place it on a cardboard box, dont stick it on a anti static mat since they have this habbet of burning. unplug the rest button and power button (making a note of where you took them from) remove ALL PCI cards and front USB, firewire, sound headers.

So basicly you have a moby sitting on a box with a CPU and heatsink (making sure you listen to the guys above regarding thermal paste) 1 stick of memory, your PSU (you might need to remove it from the case as well) and a graphics card (ideally one that you know is 100% ok) and perhaps a keyboard but again only if you know its 100%.
plug in your monitor and put a metel screwdriver across the power button pins (only those 2) and see what happens
its a good idea to perhaps flash the CMOS at this point

at this point you either have a working PC or not,

if so than start adding one thing at a time back to the board, the last step placing the board back in to the casewhen ever it stops working you know you thats teh problem

if not then you need to try replace one bit at time, i would surgest starting with the PSU ,its very easy to have a dodgy PSU thats buggering up everything new you stick in it, doesnt need to be big as long as it works, next try swaping the memory about (ie stick your memory in another PCor at the very least placing it in different slots), then followed by the graphics card and finally the CPU if all those changes failed then its a new moby, might have some damaged trackes or perhaps the south bridge got hit.

Of course thats doing the above has its own dangers and should really only be done as a last resort, you MUST take anti static measures and more importantly, take you time dont rush, if you have to undo all the drives and cables to get to your memory than do it, dont mess about bending around corners.

hope you have some luck!

Darren
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AnirasCommented:
Before you do any of that, make sure you've tried reseating the heat sink with proper thermal grease like I suggested. I'd give you about a 98% that's the problem - the contact is horrible if you try to reuse a heatsink without removing the thermal pad. Naturally, the result is a quick overheat and crash.
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Darren_T8082Commented:
quite right, only attempt what i said as an absolute last resort, its dangerious and things can easily go wrong even for those of us that know what we're doing! heat is a problem for PC's now, but i would expect it to crash more frequently the long it has been on, if it is totally random then its probably somthing else memory and graphics issues are usually quite common.

ah somthing just came to me!
is there a jumper to set the correct FSB? i believe your board is 100Mhz / 133Mhz FSB
usually nowadays thats all setup in the BIOS but i have had a number of boards refuse to work right if the jumper is on the wrong setting. It shouldn't matter if its set to jumperless but its created a lot of problems with my customers.
if your BIOS says its running at 133, make sure the jumper is set to that as well,
in the intrest of heat, you could drop it down to 100 in the BIOS and the jumper on the board, that will make your CPU run quite a bit slower and cooler.
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davelsAuthor Commented:
Thanks for everyones help on this - it turned out to the be the motherboard as suggested :)

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