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Gateway M-1631u Troubleshooting Help Needed

I've been trying to troubleshoot this problem here.

It seems like this may be a hardware issue.  I need help to determine the specific cause of the problem.  

In brief, the hard drive test showed no errors (results posted in other thread).  The notebook had it's hard drive wiped with the diskpart clean all command.  I installed 2 new memory sticks to no avail.  Right now, I'm trying to install the operating system again from a genuine Microsoft installation disk, but the PC crashes on the "windows is loading files" screen.  (Disk works fine elsewhere.)  It doesn't get to the initial screen on the disk, much less the options to repair or install.  If left to boot to the HD it says, "bootmgr is missing".  Memtest86+ still crashes the PC with the brand new RAM, but it gets a little father than before and crashes in test 3.  If this is a hardware issue, how do I make that determination, and how do I troubleshoot the exact cause?
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Analog_Kid
Asked:
Analog_Kid
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2 Solutions
 
John HurstBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I read the other thread. You have new memory and you know the hard drive is good.

I did not read (did I miss it) that you have tried a bootable CD at length. Start the computer with a bootable CD and with the new memory. If the computer will not run reliably this way, it probably has a bad motherboard.

.... Thinkpads_User
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Analog_KidAuthor Commented:
Does the Memtest86 CD count as a bootable CD?  I'm using a Vista installation disk and the new memory.
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John HurstBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Not really.

I would get Ultimate boot CD and let the machine run the boot operating system (Windows for UBCD) and allow the machine to exercise.

I had an XP desktop that crashed. It was time for a new Windows 7 desktop anyway, so I took it to the basement, started with a boot CD and started copying files to a USB key. The system died doing this. Ergo, the motherboard was dead.

Even the install DVD cannot really help because your machine is crashing trying to install.

... Thinkpads_User
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nobusCommented:
>>   Memtest86+ still crashes the PC with the brand new RAM,   <<  note that the error can come from the ram controller = motherboard
can you tets the ram on another system- to be sure it is ok, or not?
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Analog_KidAuthor Commented:
I'm stuck.  It looks like I need the Vista OS to be running in order to create the ultimate boot cd.   I can create the disk on another PC running XP, but will that help the Vista PC?  I think I'm missing something.  The ultimate boot cd comes with some great tools, but should I use a build made from an XP machine??  I also don't have an XP install disk.
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John HurstBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I'm stuck. It looks like I need the Vista OS to be running in order to create the ultimate boot cd

You need a running computer in order to create the Ultimate Boot CD, yes. I suggest you get a friend or work colleague to make one for you.

Also, keep the following in mind.

I think we know (other thread) that the memory is working - you get new memory.
I think we know the hard drive is OK.

So if you can boot from the DVD drive (I think you have), then there is not a lot left. The likelihood at this point is that the motherboard has a fault and therefore the computer may not be too useful at this point.

Booting from UBCD was just to confirm this.

... Thinkpads_User
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Analog_KidAuthor Commented:
I tried installing Vista again and it stops at the same place (installing updates) but this time I caught the error message before it crashed.  Can't update the registry.  Of course I can't get to the registry without an OS or at least the ability to get to a command prompt.

I got a Mandriva Linux disk that runs from the CD.  That works fine.  I think that means the motherboard and RAM are fine.

I had problems creating the ultimate boot cd.  I couldn't figure it out so I tried the Mandriva disk instead.  

I also gleaned from the Memtest86+ how-to pages that whatever causes Windows to crash will cause memtest to crash too.  In other words, just because memtest crashes doesn't mean it's the memory, if the PC was crashing before.  Since it crashes on new memory as well, I'm pretty sure this isn't memory stick problems.  If I can get Mandriva to run, I don't think it's the motherboard either.

If I had another compatible PC, I'd swap out hardware, but I don't.

Windows 7 isn't compatible with the video card.  The display is too large here in Mandriva as well, but I haven't messed with the display yet.  I just wanted to update you and let you know where I am.  In fact, I'm posting this from the problem PC.

Ideas on where to go from here?
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John HurstBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I got a Mandriva Linux disk that runs from the CD.  That works fine.  I think that means the motherboard and RAM are fine.

The test with Mandriva is fine and at this point I agree with your conclusions about the motherboard and RAM.

So now you have two possibilities:
1. The hard drive is bad even though it tested OK in the prior post.
2. The Vista install DVD is somehow bad.

I don't know where you can get a new Vista DVD. You might try a different hard drive and see where that takes you.

.... Thinkpads_User
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Analog_KidAuthor Commented:
Ha, I take that all back.  As soon as I posted the above, the PC rebooted.  Wouldn't restart either.  Subsequent attempts to restart the PC failed.  So, does this mean I could try replacing the motherboard, but that might not be it either?
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John HurstBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Based on the other post and everything here to near the end, it look to me like motherboard as I said earlier.

A hard drive (a good used one perhaps) is a lot cheaper than a motherboard. You might try that first. Motherboards are expensive (relatively) and so a new (newer) computer might be in order if you can manage that.

.... Thinkpads_User
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Analog_KidAuthor Commented:
I updated the other post with this:

I removed the hard drive and memtest86 still crashes on something like the 3rd pass of test 3.  I ran the test without the HD, with both old and new RAM, with the same results.  Both crash at the same step.  Didn't mean to run it on the old, but it happened and now we know that too.

The PC is a little warm.  Once it cools down, it boots and runs mandriva fine again.  It's already sitting on an external cooling fan.  Normal operating conditions didn't increase the heat in the past.
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John HurstBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
This is still pointing to motherboard as far as I can see.

Possibly you could have an overheating CPU or some other component.
.... Thinkpads_User
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Analog_KidAuthor Commented:
Do you think it would be worthwhile to replace the processor before attempting to extract the motherboard?  This model is notorious for running hot.  Perhaps the processor cooked itself?
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John HurstBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
That's a tough call. Replacing a CPU is not cheap, neither is a motherboard. I don't use Gateway at all, but if the model is notorious for running hot, then replacing either is likely to lead to the same problem.

At this point, I would be looking at a new machine (even a newer used machine). This computer is a problem, it is not new, it won't run Windows 7 and Vista is dead and orphaned because of exceedingly low market penetration.

... Thinkpads_User
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nobusCommented:
i'll post my answer again :
>>   Memtest86+ still crashes the PC with the brand new RAM,   <<  note that the error can come from the ram controller = motherboard
can you test the ram on another system- to be sure it is ok, or not?
this would show if it is the mobo........
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Analog_KidAuthor Commented:
Don't have another pc that fits this RAM.  I'm not convinced it's bad RAM since the PC crashes in test 3 on the old and the new sticks.  BIOS voltage settings?  Motherboard?  Inverter?  Cooked processor?  I completely understand the need for another machine to swap out parts, but I just don't have one.  

I'm reading this on the memtest86 site:

"Memtest86 can not diagnose many types of PC failures. For example a faulty CPU that causes Windows to crash will most likely just cause Memtest86 to crash in the same way."

Test 0 [Address test, walking ones, no cache]

    Tests all address bits in all memory banks by using a walking ones address pattern.

Test 1 [Address test, own address, Sequential]

    Each address is written with its own address and then is checked for consistency. In theory previous tests should have caught any memory addressing problems. This test should catch any addressing errors that somehow were not previously detected. This test is done sequentially with each available CPU.

Test 2 [Address test, own address, Parallel]

    Same as test 1 but the testing is done in parallel using all CPUs and using overlapping addresses.

Test 3 [Moving inversions, ones&zeros, Sequential]

    This test uses the moving inversions algorithm with patterns of all ones and zeros. Cache is enabled even though it interferes to some degree with the test algorithm. With cache enabled this test does not take long and should quickly find all "hard" errors and some more subtle errors. This test is only a quick check. This test is done sequentially with each available CPU.
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nobusCommented:
AnalogKid - did you read my post?
i never said it was the ram - BUT the ram controller on the mobo!!!!
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Analog_KidAuthor Commented:
Sorry, missed the "controller" part.  So its unanimous, replace the mobo.

Are there any resources available that you know of for replacing that motherboard (mechanical specs)?  Gateway doesn't have a detailed reference, and its not all that straight forward. Something is stuck somewhere, and I cant figure out why, or how to un-stick it. I dont want to risk further damage.  An exploded view, or any details, really, on how the thing is put together would be helpful...  Any recommendations?
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John HurstBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Here is a repair guide.

http://www.laptopinventory.com/LaptopInventory.php/Gateway/M%20Series/M-1631u/Keyboard

Read down for how to replace the motherboard.

... Thinkpads_User
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John HurstBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
The original question here was for troubleshooting help which seems to have been accomplished. So if the above guide does not complete your need here, then perhaps it is time for a new question.  

... Thinkpads_User
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John HurstBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I had two links going and I should also have posted the other link. Here it is:

http://www.laptopinventory.com/LaptopInventory.php/Gateway/M%20Series/M-1631u/Motherboard

.... Thinkpads_User
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nobusCommented:
Since this model is about 5 years old - i suggest investing in a new system
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Analog_KidAuthor Commented:
I'm researching motherboards, but will replace this lemon at some point.  Thanks for all the help.
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John HurstBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
@Analog_Kid - Thank you and thanks for the update. ... Thinkpads_User
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