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POST stops at AMI BIOS Code 94 (Set memory size)

Posted on 2004-08-03
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Last Modified: 2008-01-09
Here is the software/hardware config:
- Win ME
- 1.10 GHz AMD Athlon CPU
- MicroStar MS-6330 2.1 Main Circuit Board
- Gateway 4000711 System Model
- AMI BIOS 09/12/2000
- 128 MB RAM
- Master HDD (Drive 0): ST320413A 20 GB
  C: Drive 20.01 GB (18.60 GB free)
- Slave HDD Drive 1): Western Digital WD84AA 120 GB (only first 8.4 used)
  D: Drive 5.98 GB (4.60 GB free)
  E: Drive 2.41 GB (2.41 GB free)

I'm using a PCI POST Card to read BIOS codes. System will not get past POST Code 94. This system was working earlier today, thanks to an answer to my previous post.

I have made the following changes to this system, since the last successful session:
- installed a Powmax 120mm 2500 RPM fan
- installed 128 MB MICRON RAM (bringing total RAM to 256 MB)

The system started freezing at AMI POST 94 and will not get past it. I did the following to try to correct it:
- removed the Linksys Etherfast 10/100 PCI card
- removed the Gateway V.90 Combo modem PCI card
- swapped out both RAM sticks, one at a time
- removed the video card (it gave lots of beeps, but still POST code of 94)

For reference, check out my previous question regarding this system:
"Computer freezes; rebooting gets it further along the POST; then when system finally comes up, freezes again.", posted on 7/30/2004.

I don't know what else to test. Please assist. Thanks.
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Question by:coderlen
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Expert Comment

by:Callandor
ID: 11715090
Hi coderlen,

So the previous problem http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Desktops/Q_21077652.html was solved by removing a faulty sound card, but that doesn't solve the problem anymore?

Unable to boot:
- faulty power supply or inadequate power supply
- faulty video card
- motherboard shorting on case
- IDE controller dead
- bad drive connected to IDE controller
- hard disk can't be read
- CMOS lost settings
- bad RAM
- bad motherboard/faulty capacitors

Strip down the pc to the bare essentials: install one stick of RAM, the cpu, and the video card, and reset the BIOS after installing the cpu.  Do not include hard disks, other PCI cards, or other peripherals.  As you get successful boots, add more components back.
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by:coderlen
ID: 11721750
Callandor,

I did not know what you meant by 'installing the cpu'. I could have actually pulled the CPU out and put it back in, but I don't think that is what you meant.

I did cut the computer back to the basics, that is, no drives of any kind, and just the cpu, video card, and 1 stck of RAM. I reset the CMOS, like you said. By this I mean that I made sure that the Hard Drives were not selected or recognized, and that the floppy was disabled. But it still freezes at POST code of 94.

I tried booting with Option 5, 'Step-by-step confirmation'. It went through everything, until the end, when it tried loading 'msmouse.vxd'. After it tried loading that one, it froze again. POST code 94. This may not necessarily point to a problem with that file, as I think that is simply the last driver it loads before loading windows. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Then I tried attaching just the floppy drive, so that I could use a Win 98 Startup Disk. I reset the CMOS to recognize the floppy drive. When I rebooted, the light on the floppy drive came on, but it still froze, and didn't load from the Startup Disk. POST code 94.

I'm thinking at this point that there are some other issues going on. I initially tried swapping the power supply, and that helped quite a bit. I wonder if the old PSU fried the motherboard. I hope not, because this computer is for a client who needs it tomorrow.

CMOS settings seem OK. Date and time are correct, so I think the CMOS battery is good, and that it's not losing its other settings.

It scares me that even when the computer is cut back to almost nothing, I still get POST code 94. This has only been happening since yesterday, just after I got the system working perfectly again. Bummer!

I have tried swapping between both 128 MB RAM sticks. One is the one orignally installed on the system, and the other is a 128 MB MICRON stick I ordered for the customer. You would think that if it's RAM, one or the other would cause the 94 code, but not with both sticks. Yesterday I first tried both sticks in together, and things were going along swimmingly, until I started getting the POST code 94s.

The only thing I can think is that I did go on the Internet for about an hour, over the dial-up modem. At the time, I was using the HDD which had WIN ME installed, and there was no virus protection. But now I'm using a WIN 98 SE HDD which has the latest updates of AVG installed, and I'm still getting the POST code 94. Probably hardware, not a virus.

What do you think? I'm out of ideas and getting very desperate. I'm up against a wall, with a deadline of tomorrow. Help! Thanks.

Coderlen
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Callandor earned 500 total points
ID: 11722618
This is beginning to sound more and more like a motherboard problem.  When a power supply goes bad, there is a chance that everything it is connected to can be zapped.  This sounds like what happened in this case.  The only thing I can ask is if the hard drives and the cables were physically disconnected, not just undetected in the BIOS.  A bad drive (it was connected to the bad power supply also, right?) can mess up the boot process just by being connected.
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Author Comment

by:coderlen
ID: 11723072
The client started having problems before she gave it to me. It would not boot for her, either. I have determined for sure that the PSU was bad.

By the way, remember the "bad" sound card from yesterday? Well, I installed it on another computer, and it's working fine. What's that tell you? Sounds like stuff that's connected to the MOBO malfunctions.

I think you're right, maybe it is the motherboard after all.

In answer to your question about the hard drives and cables. Of course, the hard drive and cables were connected to the hard drive when this problem first occurred. She had only one HDD. So, yes, the PSU probably fired the MOBO, I'm sorry to say.

I'll have to call the client ahd see if she'll accept a loaner PC until I can get the MOBO issue fixed. Too bad, because now we're approaching what I like to call the PC Threshhold, $300. Nobody should upgrade an old PC and spend more than $300. Now she's looking at getting a new PC.

I don't think the drive that was connected on the client's PC is bad. But, maybe you're right. I'll keep an eye on it through all this. I do have a brand new 60 GB HDD I ordered for her, so I'll just install Windows on that one when I'm ready to test.

Well, thanks for the help. I appreciate the timely responses. Your comment about it sounding more and more like a MOBO confirms my gut feel about this whole thing. I can get a MOBO/CPU combo for this PC for around $150. Should do the trick, that is, if the client wants to go that route.

OK, add another 500 points to your basket. Good job, Callandor!
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Expert Comment

by:Callandor
ID: 11727053
Glad I could help!

The sound card issue was peculiar - as I remember, you removed it and everything worked.  But since the motherboard has shown itself bad, it may have been the cause all along, and removing the sound card let it go a little further.
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