In a nutshell, as of about a week ago, this computer won't boot.  I've tried and checked several things, including changing the boot device order to make the CD/DVD drive the first boot device, and and have so far been unable to vary the symptom.

From the latest power on with a bootable diagnostic disk in the CD/DVD drive, the bios will display it's initialization messages, will show a "PCI Devices Listing", will show "Verifying DMI Pool Data", will show "Boot from CD/DVD", then very quickly after that will show "DISK BOOT FAILURE, INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER".

This "DISK BOOT FAILURE" message is also produced when the hard drive is the first boot device - and is the original reason for receiving this computer.

I've replaced the two cross fired video cards with a simple PCI video card, booted, the problem persists.

Disconnected both hard drives (one is sata, other is ide) and both (ide)  CD/DVD drives, rebooted, and the problem persists.

Connected only the one CD/DVD drive, inserted a bootable diagnostic disk, rebooted, and the problem persists.  Also tried OS install disk, same result.

Checked the Bios and it shows that can see the boot hard drive correctly.

Connected the HD sata cable to other sata ports on the motherboard, rebooted, no difference.

Reloaded fail-safe Bios defaults, saved them, rebooted, and the problem persists.  

Measured voltage of PSU at the Mainboard connector, the sata power connector at the hard drive, and the molex connector at the CD/DVD drive.  All show proper voltage.

My impression is that there is a hardware problem with the motherboard, but hoping that there is something that I may have missed checking or doing that might raise this phoenix from the ashes.

Any guidance or suggestions are very welcome!

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ChrisEddyConnect With a Mentor Author Commented:
New news: The computer is booting off the original customer hard drive.  Note that nothing was done to repair the MBR of the active disk.

These are the last things done:

a) reinstall the original customer pair of cross-fire video display cards.

b) reviewed the power distribution cables coming from the PSU, and found two 6-pin video power cables that were hidden and unused.

c) Connected each of the two 6-pin video cables to a display card (note: previously, there were two molex-to-6pin splitters, taking power from other power distribution cables which were connected to the hard drives and CD/DVD drives.  

d) Connected a molex plug on one of the other cables to a molex power jack in the back left of the motherboard.  It's a black power receptical between the last PCI slot and the bottom of the case - in a very easy to over look place.

e) Already done: the 4-pin plug that can be separated from the main motherboard power connected, was reconnected.

So one of the subtle elements of this problem was inadequate or uneven power distribution.  

ComputerTechieConnect With a Mentor Commented:

Did you try changing ide / sata cables and changing cdrom drives?
Disconnect the hard drive and change cables first.
Next try booting with a different ide cdrom drive.
Next you can try booting with a sata cdrom drive.
See if system will boot without cdrom drives connect and hard drives only.
ChrisEddyAuthor Commented:
Replaced the HD sata cable, powered on, Bios sees HD but produces the same error.

Replaced the CD/DVD drive with mine (known good), used a different IDE cable (not known good, but rarely used), powered on, inserted standalone diagnostic disk (to check the hard drive) --> And The Computer Boots!

Will report results when the HD diagnostic completes ...

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ChrisEddyAuthor Commented:
This is a big honkin' momma of a disk.  There are two partitions on it.  Testing the first one took about 8H, testing the second is estimated at 88H.  (IMHO this disk is too big, because testing it and data recovery will take an inordinate length of time to complete.)

There were 9 "cabling errors" reported by the diagnostic while testing the first partition, which is strange because it's using my cable.  However, that cable is kept in my bag of spare  parts and is not used frequently - so it isn't "known good".  Other cables can be tried and tested.  

Will stop the diagnostic, swap the customer sata cable back in and repeat the disk diagnostic, and see whether and how results vary.
ChrisEddyAuthor Commented:
New news: one problem was that the customer IDE cable was bad.  Using my CD/DVD drive and my IDE cable, the computer could boot a standalone diagnostic from this drive.  However, ejecting the diagnostic, turning off the machine, swapping in the customer original IDE cable, turn on the machine, I could not insert the standalone diagnostic disk - the drive would not spin the disk in (this is a slot load drive).  

Swapped one of my hard drives in, swapped my IDE cable back in, and successfully booted the machine from an OS install disk.  The machine has successfully rebooted from the fresh OS install onto my hard drive.  

So there were two problems:

1) The customer hard drive is not bootable state, although the disk diagnostics have proven that the disk is operational.
2) The customer IDE cable was bad, which explains why the machine could not be boot even a standalone diagnostic.    

The next thing to do is to see if the customer hard drive can be made bootable, hopefully without reinstalling the operating system.

Any suggestions on fixing the master boot record on the hard drive?

ChrisEddyAuthor Commented:
Btw: the customer sata cable was fine.  Swapping it back has not introduced a problem, and have completed an OS testing install onto my hd using it.

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