The P4 system problem from hell (long)


L

Lou Grinzo

I've been building and fixing PC's for nearly 20 years, and this one has
me stumped. Let's see if anyone here can help nudge me toward a solution.

Original config (config0 from here on): Cheapo case, 450 watt Anitec PSU,
ASUS P4P800, 3.0 GHz Pentium 4, 512MB of PC3200 RAM, 2 IDE HDD, 1 IDE SONY
DVD R/RW+- drive, 1 IDE Panasonic CD ROM drive, 1 FDD, USB mouse (700-
series
Logitech wireless), PS2-attached IBM-brand keyboard, old Maxtor dual-head
board.

I built this system right after the P4P800 came out, and it ran perfectly
since
day one, until about a week ago.

I had been using it for a few hours when the system locked up solid--no
mouse cursor movement, nothing. Rebooted, and it ran fine. It did it a
couple more times over the next 2 or 3 days, same symptoms. I opened the
case, reseated the memory and all cables, and the problem disappeared for
about 4 days. Then one morning it wouldn't boot--no BIOS screen, no
speaker
beeps, no signal to the monitor at all. The PSU and CPU fans ran, and the
drives had power, but it refused to boot. Pressing RESET does nothing. I
can tell it's not booting, as there's no HDD noise after the initial power-
on head reset. (Hereafter, I'll call this state "no boot".)

After numerous attempts I did manage to get it to boot into the BIOS set
up screen about 4 different times, but each time it locked up solid after
just a few seconds.

I reseated everything I could find, "no boot".

I pulled the memory completely, "no boot".

I replaced the motherboard (put in a brand new P4P800 SE) and the power
supply (put in a brand new 350W Anitec), "no boot".

I tried a different graphics board, in both config0 and the new MOBO
and PSU, "no boot".

I went back to config0, "no boot".

I replaced the CPU with an identical 3.0 GHz P4, "no boot".

I stripped the entire system down--pulled all disk drives, the USB hub,
everything except MOBO, CPU, memory, keyboard, mouse, and graphics board.
I tried booting about 50 times, and got "no boot" in all but about 3 or 4
trials, and in those it locked up after about 10 to 30 seconds.

During this whole time I used an old Athlon system with the same monitor
I've been using on the now-broken system since day one. Tonight, after
trying the stripped-down step mentioned above, I gave up, plugged in the
Athlon, and it exhibited the "no boot" symptom(!!!) for about 5 boot tries,
then started working, and I'm using it now.

As I see it:

It's not the motherboard, the CPU, the BIOS, the power supply, the disk
drives, the memory, or the graphics board. These were all replaced with
known-good units (or simply removed) without any change in the symptoms.

I thought it might be some kind of weird grounding issue, but the problem
is so unpredictable that I don't see a pattern that would suggest that's
it.

The Athlon system not working is almost wierd beyond belief, and the only
way I could see it being connected to the failure of config0 (and all the
ensuing test configs) is if there were some sort of low-voltage situation.
My wife and I did move into a new house in 2004, about 6 months ago, but
the house is only three years old and I run all systems on a combination
UPS and surge protector. I even tried running config0 without the UPS,
with no success.

Aside from bad Bermuda Triangle and haunted house jokes, I would REALLY
appreciate any help. I'm about one step away from burying this system
in my back yard during the next full moon.



Thanks in advance,
Lou
 
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A

Alex Devlin

I've been building and fixing PC's for nearly 20 years, and this one
has me stumped. Let's see if anyone here can help nudge me toward a
solution.

Original config (config0 from here on): Cheapo case, 450 watt Anitec
PSU, ASUS P4P800, 3.0 GHz Pentium 4, 512MB of PC3200 RAM, 2 IDE HDD, 1
IDE SONY DVD R/RW+- drive, 1 IDE Panasonic CD ROM drive, 1 FDD, USB
mouse (700- series
Logitech wireless), PS2-attached IBM-brand keyboard, old Maxtor
dual-head board.

I built this system right after the P4P800 came out, and it ran
perfectly since
day one, until about a week ago.

I had been using it for a few hours when the system locked up
solid--no mouse cursor movement, nothing. Rebooted, and it ran fine.
It did it a couple more times over the next 2 or 3 days, same
symptoms. I opened the case, reseated the memory and all cables, and
the problem disappeared for about 4 days. Then one morning it
wouldn't boot--no BIOS screen, no speaker
beeps, no signal to the monitor at all. The PSU and CPU fans ran, and
the drives had power, but it refused to boot. Pressing RESET does
nothing. I can tell it's not booting, as there's no HDD noise after
the initial power- on head reset. (Hereafter, I'll call this state
"no boot".)

After numerous attempts I did manage to get it to boot into the BIOS
set up screen about 4 different times, but each time it locked up
solid after just a few seconds.

I reseated everything I could find, "no boot".

I pulled the memory completely, "no boot".

I replaced the motherboard (put in a brand new P4P800 SE) and the
power supply (put in a brand new 350W Anitec), "no boot".

I tried a different graphics board, in both config0 and the new MOBO
and PSU, "no boot".

I went back to config0, "no boot".

I replaced the CPU with an identical 3.0 GHz P4, "no boot".

I stripped the entire system down--pulled all disk drives, the USB
hub, everything except MOBO, CPU, memory, keyboard, mouse, and
graphics board. I tried booting about 50 times, and got "no boot" in
all but about 3 or 4 trials, and in those it locked up after about 10
to 30 seconds.

During this whole time I used an old Athlon system with the same
monitor I've been using on the now-broken system since day one.
Tonight, after trying the stripped-down step mentioned above, I gave
up, plugged in the Athlon, and it exhibited the "no boot" symptom(!!!)
for about 5 boot tries, then started working, and I'm using it now.

As I see it:

It's not the motherboard, the CPU, the BIOS, the power supply, the
disk drives, the memory, or the graphics board. These were all
replaced with known-good units (or simply removed) without any change
in the symptoms.

I thought it might be some kind of weird grounding issue, but the
problem is so unpredictable that I don't see a pattern that would
suggest that's it.

The Athlon system not working is almost wierd beyond belief, and the
only way I could see it being connected to the failure of config0 (and
all the ensuing test configs) is if there were some sort of
low-voltage situation. My wife and I did move into a new house in
2004, about 6 months ago, but the house is only three years old and I
run all systems on a combination UPS and surge protector. I even
tried running config0 without the UPS, with no success.

Aside from bad Bermuda Triangle and haunted house jokes, I would
REALLY appreciate any help. I'm about one step away from burying this
system in my back yard during the next full moon.



Thanks in advance,
Lou
From what you wrote all I can think of to suggest is try another wall
power outlet. Maybe there is a short in the one you are using?

If you used different outlets for the broken system and the Athlon then I
would have a look at the power supply in your house.

You could have a look at the monitor too. Just to make sure nothing weird
is happening with that. If possible, take everything to another house or
office and use that power.

I'm curious as to what your solution will be.

If you do bury it under a full moon, don't forget the virgins blood...
 
J

John McCoy

Could it be dirty power at your house? Call the electric company and have
them check it. It is worth a shot anyway.

It does sound strange.

John
 
L

L David Matheny

Lou Grinzo said:
I pulled the memory completely, "no boot".
Try actually replacing it with known good memory.

I thought it might be some kind of weird grounding issue, but
the problem is so unpredictable that I don't see a pattern that
would suggest that's it.
Don't wait for a pattern; just make sure grounding is correct and
check wall socket voltage with a meter or (better) an oscilloscope.
The Athlon system not working is almost wierd beyond belief, and
the only way I could see it being connected to the failure of config0
(and all the ensuing test configs) is if there were some sort of
low-voltage situation. My wife and I did move into a new house in
2004, about 6 months ago, but the house is only three years old and
I run all systems on a combination UPS and surge protector. I even
tried running config0 without the UPS, with no success.
It does indeed seem strange that both systems would be affected.
I think most UPS's just pass power through unchanged unless they
activate due to some power problem. Specifically, I don't think a
UPS would solve any grounding problems. Since the monitor was
common to both systems, try a different monitor, as Alex suggested.
 
V

_Vanguard_

Lou Grinzo said:
...
Original config (config0 from here on): Cheapo case, 450 watt Anitec
PSU,
ASUS P4P800, 3.0 GHz Pentium 4, 512MB of PC3200 RAM, 2 IDE HDD, 1 IDE
SONY
DVD R/RW+- drive, 1 IDE Panasonic CD ROM drive, 1 FDD, USB mouse (700-
series
Logitech wireless), PS2-attached IBM-brand keyboard, old Maxtor
dual-head
board.

I built this system right after the P4P800 came out, and it ran
perfectly
since
day one, until about a week ago.

I had been using it for a few hours when the system locked up
solid--no
mouse cursor movement, nothing. Rebooted, and it ran fine. It did it
a
couple more times over the next 2 or 3 days, same symptoms. I opened
the
case, reseated the memory and all cables, and the problem disappeared
for
about 4 days. Then one morning it wouldn't boot--no BIOS screen, no
speaker
beeps, no signal to the monitor at all. The PSU and CPU fans ran, and
the
drives had power, but it refused to boot. Pressing RESET does
nothing. I
can tell it's not booting, as there's no HDD noise after the initial
power-
on head reset. (Hereafter, I'll call this state "no boot".)

After numerous attempts I did manage to get it to boot into the BIOS
set
up screen about 4 different times, but each time it locked up solid
after
just a few seconds.

I reseated everything I could find, "no boot".

I pulled the memory completely, "no boot".

I replaced the motherboard (put in a brand new P4P800 SE) and the
power
supply (put in a brand new 350W Anitec), "no boot".

I tried a different graphics board, in both config0 and the new MOBO
and PSU, "no boot".

I went back to config0, "no boot".

I replaced the CPU with an identical 3.0 GHz P4, "no boot".

I stripped the entire system down--pulled all disk drives, the USB
hub,
everything except MOBO, CPU, memory, keyboard, mouse, and graphics
board.
I tried booting about 50 times, and got "no boot" in all but about 3
or 4
trials, and in those it locked up after about 10 to 30 seconds.

During this whole time I used an old Athlon system with the same
monitor
I've been using on the now-broken system since day one. Tonight,
after
trying the stripped-down step mentioned above, I gave up, plugged in
the
Athlon, and it exhibited the "no boot" symptom(!!!) for about 5 boot
tries,
then started working, and I'm using it now.

As I see it:

It's not the motherboard, the CPU, the BIOS, the power supply, the
disk
drives, the memory, or the graphics board. These were all replaced
with
known-good units (or simply removed) without any change in the
symptoms.

I thought it might be some kind of weird grounding issue, but the
problem
is so unpredictable that I don't see a pattern that would suggest
that's
it.

The Athlon system not working is almost wierd beyond belief, and the
only
way I could see it being connected to the failure of config0 (and all
the
ensuing test configs) is if there were some sort of low-voltage
situation.
My wife and I did move into a new house in 2004, about 6 months ago,
but
the house is only three years old and I run all systems on a
combination
UPS and surge protector. I even tried running config0 without the
UPS,
with no success.

Aside from bad Bermuda Triangle and haunted house jokes, I would
REALLY
appreciate any help. I'm about one step away from burying this system
in my back yard during the next full moon.

Does it work okay when assembled *outside* the case? If the setup works
outside the case, my guess is that the Asus mobo is *not* supposed to be
grounded to the chassis at all of its mounting holes, so you need to
insulate the mobo at most of the mounting holes using a fiber washer
between the lip of the metal standoff and under the screw head.
However, usually the mounting hole near the backpanel connectors should
be grounded to provide a short parh for ESD entering through the
connectors. Another Asus user had a problem getting his system running,
worked outside the case, and turned out he needed to use the above
mentioned insulation (although he used tape instead of something more
substantial and not likely to pierce over time, like a fiber washer);
see the thread starting at
(the copy at
http://groups.google.com/groups?threadm=#RlCxq4zEHA.3548@TK2MSFTNGP09.phx.gbl
is incomplete). His failed right away but maybe the real problem are
screw heads that are too fat and touch a foil overly close to the mobo
mounting hole.

My first guess would've been the PSU but you said you tried a
*different* one (presumably one that can actually put out the wattage
that it claims; otherwise, figure about two-thirds of its rated wattage
is actually available). Have you tried stripping down the system to
just the mobo, CPU, RAM (only 1 stick), video card (if not onboard), and
only one hard drive (no floppy or other drives)? Presumably you are
also using thermal paste on the CPU so it isn't a heat-related problem.
 
D

David Maynard

Lou said:
I've been building and fixing PC's for nearly 20 years, and this one has
me stumped. Let's see if anyone here can help nudge me toward a solution.

Original config (config0 from here on): Cheapo case, 450 watt Anitec PSU,
ASUS P4P800, 3.0 GHz Pentium 4, 512MB of PC3200 RAM, 2 IDE HDD, 1 IDE SONY
DVD R/RW+- drive, 1 IDE Panasonic CD ROM drive, 1 FDD, USB mouse (700-
series
Logitech wireless), PS2-attached IBM-brand keyboard, old Maxtor dual-head
board.

I built this system right after the P4P800 came out, and it ran perfectly
since
day one, until about a week ago.

I had been using it for a few hours when the system locked up solid--no
mouse cursor movement, nothing. Rebooted, and it ran fine. It did it a
couple more times over the next 2 or 3 days, same symptoms. I opened the
case, reseated the memory and all cables, and the problem disappeared for
about 4 days. Then one morning it wouldn't boot--no BIOS screen, no
speaker
beeps, no signal to the monitor at all. The PSU and CPU fans ran, and the
drives had power, but it refused to boot. Pressing RESET does nothing. I
can tell it's not booting, as there's no HDD noise after the initial power-
on head reset. (Hereafter, I'll call this state "no boot".)

After numerous attempts I did manage to get it to boot into the BIOS set
up screen about 4 different times, but each time it locked up solid after
just a few seconds.

I reseated everything I could find, "no boot".

I pulled the memory completely, "no boot".
Why would you expect it to boot with no memory?

I replaced the motherboard (put in a brand new P4P800 SE) and the power
supply (put in a brand new 350W Anitec), "no boot".

I tried a different graphics board, in both config0 and the new MOBO
and PSU, "no boot".

I went back to config0, "no boot".

I replaced the CPU with an identical 3.0 GHz P4, "no boot".

I stripped the entire system down--pulled all disk drives, the USB hub,
everything except MOBO, CPU, memory, keyboard, mouse, and graphics board.
I tried booting about 50 times, and got "no boot" in all but about 3 or 4
trials, and in those it locked up after about 10 to 30 seconds.

During this whole time I used an old Athlon system with the same monitor
I've been using on the now-broken system since day one. Tonight, after
trying the stripped-down step mentioned above, I gave up, plugged in the
Athlon, and it exhibited the "no boot" symptom(!!!) for about 5 boot tries,
then started working, and I'm using it now.

As I see it:

It's not the motherboard, the CPU, the BIOS, the power supply, the disk
drives, the memory, or the graphics board. These were all replaced with
known-good units (or simply removed) without any change in the symptoms.

I thought it might be some kind of weird grounding issue, but the problem
is so unpredictable that I don't see a pattern that would suggest that's
it.

The Athlon system not working is almost wierd beyond belief, and the only
way I could see it being connected to the failure of config0 (and all the
ensuing test configs) is if there were some sort of low-voltage situation.
My wife and I did move into a new house in 2004, about 6 months ago, but
the house is only three years old and I run all systems on a combination
UPS and surge protector. I even tried running config0 without the UPS,
with no success.

Aside from bad Bermuda Triangle and haunted house jokes, I would REALLY
appreciate any help. I'm about one step away from burying this system
in my back yard during the next full moon.
A similar symptom with the second system suggests an AC power problem, or
some really nasty EMI generator nearby (did a neighbor just install a 10KW
radio transmitter nearby?).

Don't assume the UPS eliminates power problems. Most simply pass through AC
when AC is up.

Long story short: Long time ago I had a similar problem. 'Nothing' would
fix it so I built an entirely new system, which did the same blasted thing.
Turned out to be a 'noisy' wire connection in an AC wall socket.
 
G

Guy1

are you using ? the washers that are supplied with cases it sounds like your
motherboard is not grounding properly and making it act up , I have seen
this before an that was the problem , don't use those cardboard washers that
come with cases your problem seams to be related to electrical feed good
luck
 
R

Richard Dower

It's your PC case!


Lou Grinzo said:
I've been building and fixing PC's for nearly 20 years, and this one has
me stumped. Let's see if anyone here can help nudge me toward a solution.

Original config (config0 from here on): Cheapo case, 450 watt Anitec PSU,
ASUS P4P800, 3.0 GHz Pentium 4, 512MB of PC3200 RAM, 2 IDE HDD, 1 IDE SONY
DVD R/RW+- drive, 1 IDE Panasonic CD ROM drive, 1 FDD, USB mouse (700-
series
Logitech wireless), PS2-attached IBM-brand keyboard, old Maxtor dual-head
board.

I built this system right after the P4P800 came out, and it ran perfectly
since
day one, until about a week ago.

I had been using it for a few hours when the system locked up solid--no
mouse cursor movement, nothing. Rebooted, and it ran fine. It did it a
couple more times over the next 2 or 3 days, same symptoms. I opened the
case, reseated the memory and all cables, and the problem disappeared for
about 4 days. Then one morning it wouldn't boot--no BIOS screen, no
speaker
beeps, no signal to the monitor at all. The PSU and CPU fans ran, and the
drives had power, but it refused to boot. Pressing RESET does nothing. I
can tell it's not booting, as there's no HDD noise after the initial
power-
on head reset. (Hereafter, I'll call this state "no boot".)

After numerous attempts I did manage to get it to boot into the BIOS set
up screen about 4 different times, but each time it locked up solid after
just a few seconds.

I reseated everything I could find, "no boot".

I pulled the memory completely, "no boot".

I replaced the motherboard (put in a brand new P4P800 SE) and the power
supply (put in a brand new 350W Anitec), "no boot".

I tried a different graphics board, in both config0 and the new MOBO
and PSU, "no boot".

I went back to config0, "no boot".

I replaced the CPU with an identical 3.0 GHz P4, "no boot".

I stripped the entire system down--pulled all disk drives, the USB hub,
everything except MOBO, CPU, memory, keyboard, mouse, and graphics board.
I tried booting about 50 times, and got "no boot" in all but about 3 or 4
trials, and in those it locked up after about 10 to 30 seconds.

During this whole time I used an old Athlon system with the same monitor
I've been using on the now-broken system since day one. Tonight, after
trying the stripped-down step mentioned above, I gave up, plugged in the
Athlon, and it exhibited the "no boot" symptom(!!!) for about 5 boot
tries,
then started working, and I'm using it now.

As I see it:

It's not the motherboard, the CPU, the BIOS, the power supply, the disk
drives, the memory, or the graphics board. These were all replaced with
known-good units (or simply removed) without any change in the symptoms.

I thought it might be some kind of weird grounding issue, but the problem
is so unpredictable that I don't see a pattern that would suggest that's
it.

The Athlon system not working is almost wierd beyond belief, and the only
way I could see it being connected to the failure of config0 (and all the
ensuing test configs) is if there were some sort of low-voltage situation.
My wife and I did move into a new house in 2004, about 6 months ago, but
the house is only three years old and I run all systems on a combination
UPS and surge protector. I even tried running config0 without the UPS,
with no success.

Aside from bad Bermuda Triangle and haunted house jokes, I would REALLY
appreciate any help. I'm about one step away from burying this system
in my back yard during the next full moon.



Thanks in advance,
Lou
 
P

Paul

Lou Grinzo said:
I've been building and fixing PC's for nearly 20 years, and this one has
me stumped. Let's see if anyone here can help nudge me toward a solution.
During this whole time I used an old Athlon system with the same monitor
I've been using on the now-broken system since day one. Tonight, after
trying the stripped-down step mentioned above, I gave up, plugged in the
Athlon, and it exhibited the "no boot" symptom(!!!) for about 5 boot tries,
then started working, and I'm using it now.

As I see it:

It's not the motherboard, the CPU, the BIOS, the power supply, the disk
drives, the memory, or the graphics board. These were all replaced with
known-good units (or simply removed) without any change in the symptoms.

I thought it might be some kind of weird grounding issue, but the problem
is so unpredictable that I don't see a pattern that would suggest that's
it.

The Athlon system not working is almost wierd beyond belief, and the only
way I could see it being connected to the failure of config0 (and all the
ensuing test configs) is if there were some sort of low-voltage situation.
My wife and I did move into a new house in 2004, about 6 months ago, but
the house is only three years old and I run all systems on a combination
UPS and surge protector. I even tried running config0 without the UPS,
with no success.

Aside from bad Bermuda Triangle and haunted house jokes, I would REALLY
appreciate any help. I'm about one step away from burying this system
in my back yard during the next full moon.

Thanks in advance,
Lou
Examine your AC supply, from house entry point to the computer.
I've seen a bad neutral once, and the computer would run on the
reduced voltage, but a CRT would blink every two seconds when it
didn't get enough power.

It could be the transformer feeding the house, it could be a bad
breaker in the panel, or some kind of ground fault.

Since most UPS are actually SPS (standby power supply), a cheap
UPS is a "straight wire" from the wall to the load, until the
UPS detects a low enough voltage and switches over to the
battery. If your UPS can handle the load of your system well,
you might consider unplugging the UPS, and booting the computer
while the UPS runs on battery. (Before pulling the plug, make
sure the ATX PSU is already plugged in, and the switch on the
back of the computer is in the "ON" position, as that reduces
large transient loads to the UPS while it is on battery.
Similarly, if the monitor is a CRT type, you don't want the
degauss coil to run while the UPS is on battery.)

A better test method than torturing your UPS, is to find
a multimeter, put it on AC voltage, set to a good
high scale, and plug the probe tips into the wall socket.
Try wall sockets through the house, so you'll have a chance to
sample both phases of the power coming into the house. The
readings should be similar for both phases.

Other symptoms of a bad neutral would be incandescent light bulbs
that strangely burn out sooner than other bulbs in the house,
or other appliances or equipment that runs hot, or equipment
that has suffered a premature failure in your new house.

HTH,
Paul
 
T

Tim

I did not see much mention of Memory in your essay... you pulled it out and
put it back in & that seems about all. Of course, it would not be much of a
story if it were the ram. Best of Luck :)

- Tim
 
M

Martin G.1.0

David Maynard said:
A similar symptom with the second system suggests an AC power problem, or
some really nasty EMI generator nearby (did a neighbor just install a 10KW
radio transmitter nearby?).
I wish I had a 10KW amp, I'd key up on 11 meters. lol
 
C

Clark

If you say the old computer did the same thing the newer one was doing, the
only things you seem to have in common are the monitor and house power. Try
changing them. Possibly when the board boots and does its power check, it
doesn't see what it wants and shuts down. If there is anything else in
common, like a keyboard or mouse, you might try changing those.

If it wasn't for the other computer messing up, I would have guessed the
memory, since you had the same symptoms with and without it installed and
you did not replace it.

When you strip everything down, you might try leaving the FDD in.

If you get to the boot page can you change the bios to reflect to not stop
on errors?

Clark
 
D

David Maynard

Martin said:
I wish I had a 10KW amp, I'd key up on 11 meters. lol
Hehe. I'm sure you would.

It just seemed like such a 'fun' number to illustrate the 'idea' ;)
 
T

Tony Clark

Wow, now that's one strange problem you've got there.

I did have an old ASUS P2B Mobo that went south on me after years of good
service. The problems were not as severe as yours but perhaps similar. I
would get crashes which would result in scandisk indicating a problem with
the disk. I replaced the disk, rebuilt the OS only to have the problem
continue. Apparently it was something on the Mobo having to do with the
address/data lines. I suspect it was possibly one of the interface chips to
the processor. It was odd because the system would run sometimes and then
suddenly crash.

Have you checked or replaced the cabling? When all else fails, start with
Mobo and graphics card only, no HD, no CD, floppy or anything. If you get
that far add a component. And if you find the root cause let us all know!

Good luck

TC
 
M

Mikey

?Tried:
Extension cord and an electrical outlet on a different breaker/fuse and NO
ups AND NO surge protector as they go bad.
Suggest 110v. accessory outlet on kitchen stove as a valid one as it's one
side of the 220v. with nothing else in line from the "master house box".
It's the best one in the house!
Mikey
Lou Grinzo said:
I've been building and fixing PC's for nearly 20 years, and this one has
me stumped. Let's see if anyone here can help nudge me toward a solution.

Original config (config0 from here on): Cheapo case, 450 watt Anitec PSU,
ASUS P4P800, 3.0 GHz Pentium 4, 512MB of PC3200 RAM, 2 IDE HDD, 1 IDE SONY
DVD R/RW+- drive, 1 IDE Panasonic CD ROM drive, 1 FDD, USB mouse (700-
series
Logitech wireless), PS2-attached IBM-brand keyboard, old Maxtor dual-head
board.

I built this system right after the P4P800 came out, and it ran perfectly
since
day one, until about a week ago.

I had been using it for a few hours when the system locked up solid--no
mouse cursor movement, nothing. Rebooted, and it ran fine. It did it a
couple more times over the next 2 or 3 days, same symptoms. I opened the
case, reseated the memory and all cables, and the problem disappeared for
about 4 days. Then one morning it wouldn't boot--no BIOS screen, no
speaker
beeps, no signal to the monitor at all. The PSU and CPU fans ran, and the
drives had power, but it refused to boot. Pressing RESET does nothing. I
can tell it's not booting, as there's no HDD noise after the initial
power-
on head reset. (Hereafter, I'll call this state "no boot".)

After numerous attempts I did manage to get it to boot into the BIOS set
up screen about 4 different times, but each time it locked up solid after
just a few seconds.

I reseated everything I could find, "no boot".

I pulled the memory completely, "no boot".

I replaced the motherboard (put in a brand new P4P800 SE) and the power
supply (put in a brand new 350W Anitec), "no boot".

I tried a different graphics board, in both config0 and the new MOBO
and PSU, "no boot".

I went back to config0, "no boot".

I replaced the CPU with an identical 3.0 GHz P4, "no boot".

I stripped the entire system down--pulled all disk drives, the USB hub,
everything except MOBO, CPU, memory, keyboard, mouse, and graphics board.
I tried booting about 50 times, and got "no boot" in all but about 3 or 4
trials, and in those it locked up after about 10 to 30 seconds.

During this whole time I used an old Athlon system with the same monitor.
I gave up, plugged in the
Athlon, and it exhibited the "no boot" symptom(!!!) for about 5 boot
tries,
then started working, and I'm using it now.

As I see it:

It's not the motherboard, the CPU, the BIOS, the power supply, the disk
drives, the memory, or the graphics board.

?Weird grounding issue, but
I don't see a pattern that would suggest that's
it.

The Athlon system not working is wierd.
Some sort of low-voltage situation.
Did move into a new house in 2004, about 6 months ago.
I run all systems on a combination
UPS and surge protector.
I even tried running config0 without the UPS.
 
E

ElJerid

Lou Grinzo said:
I've been building and fixing PC's for nearly 20 years, and this one has
me stumped. Let's see if anyone here can help nudge me toward a solution.

Original config (config0 from here on): Cheapo case, 450 watt Anitec PSU,
ASUS P4P800, 3.0 GHz Pentium 4, 512MB of PC3200 RAM, 2 IDE HDD, 1 IDE SONY
DVD R/RW+- drive, 1 IDE Panasonic CD ROM drive, 1 FDD, USB mouse (700-
series
Logitech wireless), PS2-attached IBM-brand keyboard, old Maxtor dual-head
board.

I built this system right after the P4P800 came out, and it ran perfectly
since
day one, until about a week ago.

I had been using it for a few hours when the system locked up solid--no
mouse cursor movement, nothing. Rebooted, and it ran fine. It did it a
couple more times over the next 2 or 3 days, same symptoms. I opened the
case, reseated the memory and all cables, and the problem disappeared for
about 4 days. Then one morning it wouldn't boot--no BIOS screen, no
speaker
beeps, no signal to the monitor at all. The PSU and CPU fans ran, and the
drives had power, but it refused to boot. Pressing RESET does nothing. I
can tell it's not booting, as there's no HDD noise after the initial power-
on head reset. (Hereafter, I'll call this state "no boot".)

After numerous attempts I did manage to get it to boot into the BIOS set
up screen about 4 different times, but each time it locked up solid after
just a few seconds.

I reseated everything I could find, "no boot".

I pulled the memory completely, "no boot".

I replaced the motherboard (put in a brand new P4P800 SE) and the power
supply (put in a brand new 350W Anitec), "no boot".

I tried a different graphics board, in both config0 and the new MOBO
and PSU, "no boot".

I went back to config0, "no boot".

I replaced the CPU with an identical 3.0 GHz P4, "no boot".

I stripped the entire system down--pulled all disk drives, the USB hub,
everything except MOBO, CPU, memory, keyboard, mouse, and graphics board.
I tried booting about 50 times, and got "no boot" in all but about 3 or 4
trials, and in those it locked up after about 10 to 30 seconds.

During this whole time I used an old Athlon system with the same monitor
I've been using on the now-broken system since day one. Tonight, after
trying the stripped-down step mentioned above, I gave up, plugged in the
Athlon, and it exhibited the "no boot" symptom(!!!) for about 5 boot tries,
then started working, and I'm using it now.

As I see it:

It's not the motherboard, the CPU, the BIOS, the power supply, the disk
drives, the memory, or the graphics board. These were all replaced with
known-good units (or simply removed) without any change in the symptoms.

I thought it might be some kind of weird grounding issue, but the problem
is so unpredictable that I don't see a pattern that would suggest that's
it.

The Athlon system not working is almost wierd beyond belief, and the only
way I could see it being connected to the failure of config0 (and all the
ensuing test configs) is if there were some sort of low-voltage situation.
My wife and I did move into a new house in 2004, about 6 months ago, but
the house is only three years old and I run all systems on a combination
UPS and surge protector. I even tried running config0 without the UPS,
with no success.

Aside from bad Bermuda Triangle and haunted house jokes, I would REALLY
appreciate any help. I'm about one step away from burying this system
in my back yard during the next full moon.
Let' s have a logical approach to your problem. Assuming that after 20 years
of experience, you should be perfectly capable to correctly assemble a
system, that you wrote you changed all vital components, and that you tried
to run the system with UPS protection, there is not a lot of room over for
explanation.
Next is still possible:
1. two (or more) components have a problem at the same time (you changed one
at a time?).
2. the case or case fans have a problem (intermittent shortcut?)
3. the case switches have a problem (I' ve seen this before).
4. because the problems started after a long usage time, there could be
contact oxydation at the VGA or RAM sockets or both (use a good contact
cleaner spray)
5. there is a ghost in your house. Pray :)
 
P

Paul

Lou Grinzo said:
I've been building and fixing PC's for nearly 20 years, and this one has
me stumped. Let's see if anyone here can help nudge me toward a solution.

Original config (config0 from here on): Cheapo case, 450 watt Anitec PSU,
ASUS P4P800, 3.0 GHz Pentium 4, 512MB of PC3200 RAM, 2 IDE HDD, 1 IDE SONY
DVD R/RW+- drive, 1 IDE Panasonic CD ROM drive, 1 FDD, USB mouse (700-
series
Logitech wireless), PS2-attached IBM-brand keyboard, old Maxtor dual-head
board.

I built this system right after the P4P800 came out, and it ran perfectly
since
day one, until about a week ago.

I had been using it for a few hours when the system locked up solid--no
mouse cursor movement, nothing. Rebooted, and it ran fine. It did it a
couple more times over the next 2 or 3 days, same symptoms. I opened the
case, reseated the memory and all cables, and the problem disappeared for
about 4 days. Then one morning it wouldn't boot--no BIOS screen, no
speaker
beeps, no signal to the monitor at all. The PSU and CPU fans ran, and the
drives had power, but it refused to boot. Pressing RESET does nothing. I
can tell it's not booting, as there's no HDD noise after the initial power-
on head reset. (Hereafter, I'll call this state "no boot".)

After numerous attempts I did manage to get it to boot into the BIOS set
up screen about 4 different times, but each time it locked up solid after
just a few seconds.

I reseated everything I could find, "no boot".

I pulled the memory completely, "no boot".

I replaced the motherboard (put in a brand new P4P800 SE) and the power
supply (put in a brand new 350W Anitec), "no boot".

I tried a different graphics board, in both config0 and the new MOBO
and PSU, "no boot".

I went back to config0, "no boot".

I replaced the CPU with an identical 3.0 GHz P4, "no boot".

I stripped the entire system down--pulled all disk drives, the USB hub,
everything except MOBO, CPU, memory, keyboard, mouse, and graphics board.
I tried booting about 50 times, and got "no boot" in all but about 3 or 4
trials, and in those it locked up after about 10 to 30 seconds.

During this whole time I used an old Athlon system with the same monitor
I've been using on the now-broken system since day one. Tonight, after
trying the stripped-down step mentioned above, I gave up, plugged in the
Athlon, and it exhibited the "no boot" symptom(!!!) for about 5 boot tries,
then started working, and I'm using it now.

As I see it:

It's not the motherboard, the CPU, the BIOS, the power supply, the disk
drives, the memory, or the graphics board. These were all replaced with
known-good units (or simply removed) without any change in the symptoms.

I thought it might be some kind of weird grounding issue, but the problem
is so unpredictable that I don't see a pattern that would suggest that's
it.

The Athlon system not working is almost wierd beyond belief, and the only
way I could see it being connected to the failure of config0 (and all the
ensuing test configs) is if there were some sort of low-voltage situation.
My wife and I did move into a new house in 2004, about 6 months ago, but
the house is only three years old and I run all systems on a combination
UPS and surge protector. I even tried running config0 without the UPS,
with no success.

Aside from bad Bermuda Triangle and haunted house jokes, I would REALLY
appreciate any help. I'm about one step away from burying this system
in my back yard during the next full moon.

Thanks in advance,
Lou
You could check the house wiring. With a two phase house wiring,
if there is a problem with the neutral, then one phase ends up
with a higher than normal voltage, and the other with a lower
than normal voltage. You would have to run around the house with
a voltmeter (set to a high enough AC voltage range), to check
to see whether all the outlets read in the same vicinity. If the
line drops below maybe 95VAC, that might be enough to "brown
out" a computer.

A typical reason for a bad neutral, could be a bad line transformer
on the pole outside your house. I suppose a voltage problem
could also be caused by a bad breaker, but by now, something like
that would have burned, if the output was dropping that low.
(I.e. The first time a heavy load is placed on a circuit with a
large voltage drop, the thing causing the voltage drop is going
to get hot.)

Something else you can try, is unplug the monitor from the computer
you plan on booting. Boot the computer, and when you think it
is waiting for the password prompt, plug the monitor back in.
If it boots easier with the monitor disconnected, it could be
there is some kind of problem with the DDC interface on the
monitor. DDC is a serial clock and data interface, used by the
video card to extract resolution info from the monitor. If a
monitor doesn't have such an interface, everything works fine,
as the computer should be able to handle what it will think
is an "ancient" monitor. But, if the DDC clock or the DDC data
pin is grounded, I have no idea how upset the computer will get.
By disconnecting the monitor from the computer, I am
trying to stop the computer getting stuck talking to the
monitor. After the computer is booted, it won't have a good
reason to talk to that interface on the monitor - at least
that is my guess. By then, it should have concluded that
the monitor is an old one, without a DDC/EDID interface.

HTH,
Paul
 
L

Larry Weak

Lou Grinzo said:
I've been building and fixing PC's for nearly 20 years, and this one has
me stumped. Let's see if anyone here can help nudge me toward a solution.

Original config (config0 from here on): Cheapo case, 450 watt Anitec PSU,
ASUS P4P800, 3.0 GHz Pentium 4, 512MB of PC3200 RAM, 2 IDE HDD, 1 IDE SONY
DVD R/RW+- drive, 1 IDE Panasonic CD ROM drive, 1 FDD, USB mouse (700-
series
Logitech wireless), PS2-attached IBM-brand keyboard, old Maxtor dual-head
board.

I built this system right after the P4P800 came out, and it ran perfectly
since
day one, until about a week ago.

I had been using it for a few hours when the system locked up solid--no
mouse cursor movement, nothing. Rebooted, and it ran fine. It did it a
couple more times over the next 2 or 3 days, same symptoms. I opened the
case, reseated the memory and all cables, and the problem disappeared for
about 4 days. Then one morning it wouldn't boot--no BIOS screen, no
speaker
beeps, no signal to the monitor at all. The PSU and CPU fans ran, and the
drives had power, but it refused to boot. Pressing RESET does nothing. I
can tell it's not booting, as there's no HDD noise after the initial
power-
on head reset. (Hereafter, I'll call this state "no boot".)

After numerous attempts I did manage to get it to boot into the BIOS set
up screen about 4 different times, but each time it locked up solid after
just a few seconds.

I reseated everything I could find, "no boot".

I pulled the memory completely, "no boot".

I replaced the motherboard (put in a brand new P4P800 SE) and the power
supply (put in a brand new 350W Anitec), "no boot".

I tried a different graphics board, in both config0 and the new MOBO
and PSU, "no boot".

I went back to config0, "no boot".

I replaced the CPU with an identical 3.0 GHz P4, "no boot".

I stripped the entire system down--pulled all disk drives, the USB hub,
everything except MOBO, CPU, memory, keyboard, mouse, and graphics board.
I tried booting about 50 times, and got "no boot" in all but about 3 or 4
trials, and in those it locked up after about 10 to 30 seconds.

During this whole time I used an old Athlon system with the same monitor
I've been using on the now-broken system since day one. Tonight, after
trying the stripped-down step mentioned above, I gave up, plugged in the
Athlon, and it exhibited the "no boot" symptom(!!!) for about 5 boot
tries,
then started working, and I'm using it now.

As I see it:

It's not the motherboard, the CPU, the BIOS, the power supply, the disk
drives, the memory, or the graphics board. These were all replaced with
known-good units (or simply removed) without any change in the symptoms.

I thought it might be some kind of weird grounding issue, but the problem
is so unpredictable that I don't see a pattern that would suggest that's
it.

The Athlon system not working is almost wierd beyond belief, and the only
way I could see it being connected to the failure of config0 (and all the
ensuing test configs) is if there were some sort of low-voltage situation.
My wife and I did move into a new house in 2004, about 6 months ago, but
the house is only three years old and I run all systems on a combination
UPS and surge protector. I even tried running config0 without the UPS,
with no success.

Aside from bad Bermuda Triangle and haunted house jokes, I would REALLY
appreciate any help. I'm about one step away from burying this system
in my back yard during the next full moon.



Thanks in advance,
Lou
Lou,

Had some of the same symptoms here that you discribed. Started with onle
machine and spread to others later. Final Solution jor me was to have power
company come out and inspect for dirty power. Thier finding was a loose
nuetral connection in the meter head on the side of my house. Once they
tightened it everything went back to normal. As a side note everthing else
in house was working fine with the connection as it was except for computers
and sometimes monitors.

Larry
 
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