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Automatic Reboots - What Else Can I Try?

Posted on 2006-11-02
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Last Modified: 2010-04-12
I am working with an Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard, AMD Athlon 64 3500+ CPU, Hiper HPU-48580-MS 580-watt power supply, 1 stick of 1 GB Kingston KVR400X64C3A/1G RAM in slot B0, a pair of Western Digital WD-1600-JS SATA hard drives set up on SATA-1 and SATA-2 in RAID 0, and an EVGA Nvidia GeForce 7900 GT CO running on Windows XP Pro SP2.

The computer is protected with AVG Free, and is scanned regularly with Spybot and Adaware SE Personal. The user doesn't engage in any high-risk activities with the PC. It's behind a hardware firewall.

The computer worked flawlessly from 6/2006 until just a couple of weeks ago. The problem started when the PC was turned on and during the Windows splash screen, it flashed a blue screen of death (BSOD) and immediately rebooted, which it would do endlessly.

It will not boot into 'Last known good configuration' or any of the Safe Mode options. Unfortunately, I think this PC is still set to the default 'reboot on errors' and I have never been able to catch a glimpse of the BSOD.

I tried booting from the Windows CD, but it hangs when loading the 'ACPI Embedded controller driver'.

I ran Western Digital's hard drive diagnostics from DOS, and the drives tested good. The RAID driver reports the array is 'healthy'.

I ran Memtest86+ and got about 600 errors. I RMA'd the RAM stick since I had no others to swap, and the new RAM also tested bad. (The machine still did the same automatic reboot at the splash screen, too.)

A third RAM stick was without errors, but the reboot problem persisted. I tried the RAM in B1 slot with no change.

I got an identical, brand new motherboard and swapped them out, thinking the memory controller on the board might be bad. The new motherboard intermittently produced one long and three short beeps and wouldn't post, which with the installed AMI Bios apparently means there is a memory failure above 64k. I was worried about the new post beeps, but went ahead and swapped out the CPU with a new one. The original rebooting problem persisted unchanged and I had the added joy of the occasional failure to post with the same beep pattern.

The only other thing I could think of was that the video card could be bad. I contacted EVGA and was told there were some memory issues with the version of the 7900 GT in this machine, so I got another video card, a brand new EVGA 7300 GT, and tried it. No change.

Still concerned about the post beeps, I swapped back in the original motherboard with the (third) new RAM stick, the new CPU, and the new video card. Now I don't have the memory failure post beeps, but I still get the automatic reboot/BSOD problem I started with.

I am at a loss here. I am still thinking hardware problem, but I must be missing something.

Since I can't get the machine to boot from the Windows CD, I haven't figured out a way to change the registry setting for automatic reboot on errors to get a glimpse of the BSOD in case it would help.

I will welcome any ideas.
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Question by:jay_s5
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by:jay_s5
ID: 17863875
I just re-ran Memtest86+ with the original motherboard, new CPU, new RAM, and new video card and went through a number of iterations without any errors.

I'm still getting the BSOD and reboot at the Windows splash screen, and can't start in any mode...
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garycase earned 300 total points
ID: 17864516
FWIW, Slot B1 is where a single memory module should be installed (per the Asus manual)

Try to boot with a Bart's PE CD and see if it boots okay => if so, the hardware is probably fine.

Also, will it boot to a Windows 98 boot floppy? (if you have a floppy drive)
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by:nobus
ID: 17864975
first, disconnect all devices, and boot with the minimum :
mobo + cpu +1 ram stick, video card, keyb + mouse.
can you get into the bios? check the
-cpu : recognised ok?
-ram : recognised ok?
-cpu temperature
-clock the ram speed down if possible

disable all the onboard cards : lan, sound, etc...
reconnect the disk, and reboot.
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by:DanCh99
DanCh99 earned 100 total points
ID: 17865500
Any chance of trying a different psu?  The Hiper looks like good kit, but everything fails sometime...

Normally faults here wouldn't show a BSOD, it'd just reboot, but it may be worth a go.  
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by:jay_s5
ID: 17868282
Garycase, I mis-spoke, I normally run the RAM in B1, and tried it in B2 with no change.

I will work on the other suggestions and post my results.

Thanks very much for the replies.
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by:garycase
ID: 17868382
Trying another power supply is a good idea.  A marginal power rail could easily explain this issue.
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by:nobus
ID: 17868408
am i typing in white letters again ? no response on my post . . .
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by:garycase
ID: 17868431
nobus => I thought "... I will work on the other suggestions and post my results. " was a pretty clear indication that the author had read the other posts [including yours :-) ]
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by:nobus
ID: 17868512
then it seems i'm not so good in english as i thought - overlooked it as usual
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by:jay_s5
ID: 17878387
I created a BartPE CD and an Ultimate Boot CD for Windows (UBCD4Win) hoping that one would allow me to edit the registry and turn off the automatic reboot on error key so that I can get a glimpse of the BSOD.

Both BartPE and UBCD4Win run fine and have shown no problems, but I haven't been able to access the NTFS Nvidia RAID array to edit the registry with either BartPE or UBCD4Win. Both can see the drive, but say it is either "corrupt or unavailable". It think this is because the Nvidia RAID drivers aren't loading, although I thought UBCD4Win included them.

I have been able to see the RAID array and browse the files from some DOS environments with NTFS capability, so I don't know if this is a red herring or not.

I would REALLY like a look at the BSOD! Any thoughts along those lines will be appreciated.

The RAM and CPU are recognized correctly. The CPU is running nice and cool (39C).

I think I have covered the minimum boot and disabled onboard devices by swapping MB's haven't I?

I haven't gotten to the power supply issue yet, but would  the fact that it runs fine in BartPE and UBCD4Win eliminate the PS as a potential cause?
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by:garycase
garycase earned 300 total points
ID: 17878778
"... would  the fact that it runs fine in BartPE and UBCD4Win eliminate the PS as a potential cause? " ==> Not entirely, but it certainly makes it less likely.  What's perplexing is that you can't boot to Safe Mode.   That tends to indicate some corruption in a standard driver that's occuring early in the boot process ... OR a power rail issue that's causing that.   I'd still try another (and heftier, if possible) power supply, just to eliminate that as the cause.
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by:nobus
ID: 17879400
BartPe let's you edit the registry :
http://windowsxp.mvps.org/peboot.htm
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by:jay_s5
ID: 17883473
The problem I was having with BartPE and UBCD4Win was that neither would (initially) recognize my nVidia RAID array, even with the drivers added to BartPE; they're included with UBCD4Win.

I did get the Windows Recovery Console in UBCD4Win to work. I could never get the Windows XP Pro CD to get past the loading 'ACPI embedded controller driver' stage. Once I got to recovery console I ran chkdsk--without any flags so it should have just verified the disk--and since then, I have been able to access the RAID array using UBCD4Win.

I immediately used the registry editor to turn off automatic reboot so I could see the BSOD. I rebooted, and was able to boot into safe mode and even start Windows normally.

I figure I had a bad memory controller in the CPU and perhaps some corrupted sectors on the RAID array as a result, but I don't know how it was fixed with just a plain chkdsk.

I am currently running chkdsk /r to find and fix any errors. I'll update as I learn more.
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by:jay_s5
ID: 17885309
This crazy machine is working now.

Booting into UBCD4Win and running chkdsk from the command prompt without any parameters was the only thing I did before it started working again. After that, I could boot into safe mode and start windows normally.

I have run chkdsk again and found no errors on the drives.

After starting Windows normally, AVG scan, Spybot and AdAware found nothing significant. The machine has been working fine for a couple of hours. Bizarre.
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by:nobus
nobus earned 100 total points
ID: 17887348
i had a similar experience, without an exact answer; look here  :
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Q_21901860.html
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