Machine won't boot past initial screen

So, my friend was trying to rebuild their mesh machine (AMD Dual Core, 1gig Ram, 200Gig SATA HDD, ASUS A8N-VM - Nforce 410 PCI-Express Mainboard). They used the mesh recovery cd.

They booted the machine into Windows Setup, which tried to run an auto install and failed to copy a file (on initial copying of files).
Computer was rebooted to reattempt. At setup, my friend decided to quit before starting the installation so that they could try and use a clean XP media.

When they rebooted, the machine hangs before it even reaches POST. The American Megatrends screen appears and it says at the bottom you can press DEL to setup, or F8 for the Boot options - pressing both produces an initial acknowledgement but then hangs...

On further reboots hangs in the same way.

Anybody seen this behaviour before?

Many thanks in advance :)

Who is Participating?

[Product update] Infrastructure Analysis Tool is now available with Business Accounts.Learn More

I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Check in the BIOS that all devices are being view correctly

Basic problem solving techniques could help you find out what the problem is.

Some main boards have some indicators lights attached to them. You haven't mentioned what the board is but I'll assume this isn't the case. It may sound the long way round but try removing all unessesary hardware. E.g PCI cards, extra memory, so you get to a situation where you have a really basic machine i.e small bit of memory, hard drive. This willl help you work out what it isn't.

If you have another hard drive try swapping to see how the machine behaves.

Hope this helps you narrow it down
LeuconAuthor Commented:
Hey - thanks for the post :) The motherboard is the ASUS A8N-VM NForce 410

My problem is I can't even get into the BIOS cause it hangs before this point.

I spoke to some tech support guys form Mesh who seemed to think that the computer had lost the SATA drivers some how and this was causing it - but I'm not sure how feasible this is because it should still run the POST phase i'd have thought.

I've not got him to take the case apart (mainly cause I wanted to get some considered opinions here first :)) but you're right, it's probably wise to start unplugging PCI cards etc and plug them back in till I figure out which one it is.

Thanks again :)
since he rebuilt his PC (what devices and parts?) it is possible he did not install the cpu and heatsink correctly, or connected power cables and plugs wrongly. Check these. Also, if there is a 4-pin power plug on the mobo, it must be connected to the power supply.
You can also try to boot with the minimum : mobo + cpu + 1 ram stick, video card, disk, keyb + mouse.
if still no joy, the culprit is one of the above, if not, one of the not connected devices.
Determine the Perfect Price for Your IT Services

Do you wonder if your IT business is truly profitable or if you should raise your prices? Learn how to calculate your overhead burden with our free interactive tool and use it to determine the right price for your IT services. Download your free eBook now!

LeuconAuthor Commented:
Thanks nobus :-)

I should have clarified slightly. When I say rebuilt, I mean rebuild the OS on the machine. no hardware changes have been made.

It just baffles me that it reboot into Windows Setup, and when setup was quit before it started doing anything, it rebooted itself and started to hang. Nothing had changed at this point, nothing had been attempted that hadn't previously resulted in a successful reboot. So why would it start to hang?
at what point does it hang ? reboot ? any messages?
did you use an xp sp2 cd?
LeuconAuthor Commented:
Hey Nobus,

It hangs on the inital American Megatrends Graphic that would normally flashup just before POST.

They were using a recovery CD which I am guessing isn't a straight XP SP2 CD  but does other stuff as well.

you can try clearing the cmos chip; look for a jumper next to the chip
check in your mobo manual, page1-16 for how to do it or page 26/86
LeuconAuthor Commented:

Thanks for the suggestions.

I've got them to try resetting the CMOS which had no effect. I've also got them to try unplugging the SATA drive. Unplugging the SATA drive allows them to progress into the BIOS. Plugging the SATA disk back in causes the old problem.

Any ideas why this might be or how to resolve?

So - if the sata disk is not connected, everything seems fine ?
then i think you have a bad disk - if any warranty left, ask for a warranty replacement
Youcan still try to hook it to another sata connector, if you did not try that.

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.