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Can't work out what's broken


OSNN Junior Addict
..but something definitely is.

Right.. my old system, of 2 years, looked like this:

ASUS P4C800 mobo
3GHz P4 800MHz FSB
1GB Corsair TwinX RAM
ASUS 256MB Radeon 9800XT
80GB IDE HD (primary)
DVD drive
CD-RW drive
Antec 480W PSU

running (a legal copy of) XP Home.

This ran with no problems.

About 3 weeks ago, I replaced the CPU, mobo and graphics card with:

ABit KN8 Ultra mobo
AMD 64 X2 4400+
PowerColor 512MB Radeon X1900XT
Zalman CNPS9500 CPU fan
Antec NeoHE 500W PSU

keeping all the rest.

Thats when things went awry...

At first, everything was fine, except when I tried to run a very graphically intensive game, like HL2:Lost Coast, when it would freeze completely after a few seconds and I'd have to reboot. It would also sometimes when I booted it, make healthy POST beeps, but no picture would appear on the screen (I have a CRT using a DVI-VGA converter). Other times it would get to the Windows loading splash screen, but no further.

I had a UV striplight in the case which was only lit halfway along, so I though that my PSU wasn't powerful enough. After a bit of research I found that the NeoHEs were a bit of a blot on Antec's otherwise spotless record, so I got an Enermax Liberty 500W instead.

No difference.

After this I discovered that it was actually one of my drives that was causing one of the booting problems. If I have my 120GB SATA's data cable plugged in then the PC boots fine, goes through the POST and gets as far as the 'Windows XP Loading' screen but no further. The green bar contiunues to move, but nothing loads. No drives are whirring during this time. I've left it for half an hour before, but nothing.
This drive hasn't got any system or OS files on it, its just data. And its only this drive, none of the others do it, even when I switch around the SATA channels they are plugged into. If I plug it in once Windows has loaded, it is recognised and I can use it as normal.

Recently, (ie, it didn't do this at first) if I boot the PC with something plugged into the USB ports on the front of the case, then none of my USB devices work. No mouse, no modem, no printer. If I wait till Windows has loaded, I can plug things in there and use it as normal.

The 3D problem still occurs if I try to run very graphically intensive games. There are no artefacts or anything, it just freezes after a few seconds.

Its not a cooling problem. I have 4 intake fans - two 80mm fans in the front at the bottom, and two 40mm fans in a 5.25" bay - and 4 exhaust fans - one in the top, one in the back, the PSU fan and the OTES on my graphics card. None of the air coming out of these feels particularly warm (except the OTES). All my cables inside are round (no flat IDE cables) and tucked away. The airflow inside is free to move around and over everything.

Its not the PSU, as I changed it, seeing no difference.

I don't think its the CPU. I've had it up to 100% many times with no problems. I run folding@home which regularly keeps if occupied for hours, showing no signs of trouble. I've also run that SuperPI thing with no trouble.

I made sure to regularly earth myself on the metal bath taps while I was putting it all together.

I have reinstalled all my graphics drivers and have DirectX up to date, and I installed all the drivers for my motherboard.

This leaves the mobo broken, or the card. Which do you think it is? Or have I missed something?

Please help, this stuff was *really* expensive..:cry:
Download Sisoft Sandra. Run the burn in module for each item, one item at a time, for at least 30 minutes each. (both CPU, then cache/memory, then HD, then optical, etc). Use 3dmark for the video tests. Run it 2 or 3 times to get the 30 minutes.

See which burn in modules crash the machine. You can rule out items one at a time this way. Pay attention while the video benchmark runs to see where it crashes (cpu, video, sound).

If no single test causes a crash it is either:
-power problem (it could be the wall power, not your PSU),

-the MB (no way to confirm this, do some web searches on ABIT KN8 problems, ABIT isn't the best MB out there but it is using a good chipset, check for bios updates, correct driver versions, etc.),

-or the software install (I hate recommending a reformat and reinstall but...)

The Neo is not Antec's better line and the early Antec "2" series had problems, but it is unlikely the enermax is bad also. You could have the house circuit your system is plugged into overloaded. There are limits to how much clean power you can pump through one breaker, especially in older houses and apartments. Run the tests when no one else in the place is using appliances, computers, TV's etc. If you can confirm it's the power a UPS could help.

Last try - Take all the junk out of your system (lights, extra fans etc.). Go back to basics: CPU, memory, MB, video, boot drive. No printers, webcams, etc on the USB and see if it is stable.

PS Read my sig. I had a **** load of trouble with ATI and drivers. I'm pretty sure it is just their AIW stuff but purge the drivers (use ccleaner.exe) and load the latest ones anyway. And if you are using an add in sound card pull the sound card and use the MB sound. ATI told me they were having problems with soundblaster, especially the Audigy line (again this was AIW related and should not be an issue for you, but if all else fails try it).
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OSNN Junior Addict
The plot thickens....

I noticed today that the freezing seems more than usual, so I ran 3DMark2006 again, and it froze on the 'Assault on Procyon' test, at the bit where the big metal tank comes off the wall. This is reproducible, and happens at the same point each time I run it.

After this I tried the CPU tests, which it passed flawlessly.

When I first set the system up, it would get through all the 3DMark06 tests without any problems.
Today the room isn't any warmer that it usually is. I haven't added or changed any hardware either.

Also, for some reason, that drive has started working again - Windows loads fine if its plugged in. (3DMark06 is on this drive - I had it plugged in back when I could run all the tests with with no problems.)


OSNN Senior Addict
i agree with dragon. if i were you i would backup all your stuff and reformat. it is likly to take you more time tryiing to find the problem then it would be to just reformat. even if you reformat and the problem is still there it probably would still speed ypur system way up because i am assuming you havent reformated since you bought the system.


OSNN Junior Addict
But it would mean reinstalling everything.... :(

Is there any way of saving the registry etc of the things I want to keep and putting it back once I've reformatted?


Penguin Rancher
and I installed all the drivers for my motherboard.

Let me see if I get this straight.

You changed the motherboard, but not the hard drive?

You have USB issues, I'm assuming these are connected directly to the motherboard and not a card-based implementation.

You have thoroughly tested the PSU?

Your system locks up when using your video card under intense circumstances.

Did you happen to remove your old chipset (motherboard) specific drivers from your system hard drive? These often include drivers for onboard USB, like USB2.0, video subsystem drivers, and an assortment of other things that may have been specific to your old motherboard. An example of this would be the Via (Hyperion) chipset drivers from viaarena.

If the problem is not power, this may be the issue. Make sure your old chipset drivers have been removed and you update those drivers to reflect your new motherboard.

Admiral Michael

Michaelsoft Systems CEO
My recommendation is also to format, expecially after a motherboard change. There's alot of drivers installed for a motherboard.

If you repaired XP after the motherboard change then that should've been a temp fix in order to backup important files.
CrashGate3 said:
But it would mean reinstalling everything.... :(

Is there any way of saving the registry etc of the things I want to keep and putting it back once I've reformatted?
No. What reformatting is mainly doing is getting rid of the registry. That is where the problems creep in. The regsitry is pointing at multiple or wrong program files. You can have dozens of different drivers loaded on your hard disk but as long as the registry doesn't point at them they are harmless.

You don't need to reformat. A windows reinstall is usually good enough if the problem is just driver corruption. Reformating is usually reserved for when you might have virus files that an AV can't find or remove.

There is one step before reformatting. That is a complete removal of all drivers (video and MB) from the system and then reloading them. This will leave your installed programs intact. The draw back is that it is not 100% guaranteed to clear up a driver conflict.

BACKUP YOUR DATA FIRST. You turn off system restore. Download a copy of ccleaner.exe and remove the drivers for your video card, the old MB and the new MB. Then go into Device manager and delete the video card and each selection under System Devices. Then reboot.

Windows will find all your hardware and go through the new hardware process. If you don't turn off system restore windows will try and grab drivers out of the places it stashes backup copies and may install the same corrupt setup again. You will need the correct USB 2, SATA, AGP, PCI, Sound and LAN drivers for your new MB.

BTW From what you are saying on symptoms it's looking like the video card may have a problem. If you do the complete driver replacement or a reinstall and the problem is still there I'd start thinking video card.
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OSNN Junior Addict
LeeJend said:
You will need the correct USB 2, SATA, AGP, PCI, Sound and LAN drivers for your new MB.
There seems to be a lot more there than is on the CD that came with my MB. Having a quick look there are:

nforce chipdet driver
Realtek Audio driver
Cool n Quiet Driver
USB2 driver (although if you click this, it says that this is included with Windows SP1, so I'm guesing it uses Windows default ones)

I see sound and USB 2 drivers (I think Cool n Quiet is some kind of CPU fan control) are the others incorporated into the chipset driver?


Beware the G-Man
Political User
I would seriously look at the HDD. Also, you said nothing about having to re activate XP. Now if you changed that much hardware then XP is gonna have shiit fits and get out the "activate windows" message.

But I would seriously look at your primary drive, that 80 GB IDE. I had a simalar thing but without the upgrades. I had loaded a new game, played it through to the end over the course of a couple of weeks. I then didn't play it again for about a month. Replayed game on different level and it started locking up. It got to the point of crashing the system and I would have to reboot. Then it got that it was not always bootin up.

The short of this is that a bunch of bad sectors started to grow on my drive. I finally had to install a new HDD and ghost everything over onto it. I barely caught it in time. I would (when it boots correctly) do a scan disk. Or set it to scan when booting. If it finds any bad clusters. replace before it gets worse.

Reinstalling XP is a waste of time if the problem is hardware related. Plus the pain of reinstalling everything.

But also check that memory. Is it compatable with your new MoBo? Is it seated correctly?


OSNN Junior Addict
I'll give the drive a scan, but I don't think it'll find much. I've a lot of things on that and nothing's gone wrong when I've tried to access it.
Plus its not just one game, its anything that taxes the graphics card too much.

I've checked the RAM and there seems to be nothing wrong with it in all the benchmarks I've used. It is supported by my mobo.


F@H - Is it in you?
Staff member
Political User
Are the bulk of your freezing issues during 3d intensive apps?

It sure sounds that way.

You might have issues with other items in your config, possibly, but the PSU is still up there as a culprit if this is the case.

Your gpu will draw more power as it is stressed and eventually will draw enough to cause instability.

Once you've exhausted the other options you are working on, take a lot at the psu again.

The only psu I would trust with your setup in the wattage range your current psu is the PC Power and Cooling 510W jobbie.
yeah. i don't know ANYONE that just reinstalls Windows (i'm assuming by that you meant the Repair Install). honestly, it's the same exact thing as a reformat and reinstall.... minus the important file backups. either way, you'd still pretty much have to reinstall everything, since once you reinstall windows, none of your previously installed applications are recognized, nor do they have registry entries, and are just taking up space on your hard drive.

CrashGate: i'd still say reformatting and reinstalling would be your best bet, plus it would knock off one HUGE possibility as to what the problem might be..... that being driver related issues from your previous motherboard. just back up the files that you absolutely need, or that you don't want to lose, and reinstall windows. Unless someone else can convince me otherwise as to why reformatting would be a bad idea....... i'm stickin to it.
CrashGate3 said:
nforce chipdet driver
Realtek Audio driver
Cool n Quiet Driver
USB2 driver (although if you click this, it says that this is included with Windows SP1, so I'm guesing it uses Windows default ones)
That should cover it. The LAN AND AGP driver are probably in the nforce chipset driver.
The Antec
+3.3V@23A, +5V@17A, +12V1@17A, +12V2@17A, +12V3@17A, -12V@0.8A, +5VSB@2.5A

The Enermax
+3.3V@28A, +5V@30A, +12V1@22A, +12V2@22A, -12V@0.6A, +5VSB@3A

Granted the Antec Neo is wimpy on the 3.3V and 5V rails but the Enermax should not have a problem with the 4400 X2 / 1900XT setup. 22A on the 12V rails is well above recommended minimums.

Disconnecting the SATA 180, the DVD and CD/RW for a test should rule out a power supply issue. Run video benchmarks with this config if it still crashes I'd suspect the video card or MB. The MB could have a bad voltage regulator on it.

Check the PS voltage readings with sandra while running the following to rule out the PSU: See if the voltages are close to what they should be while running the program ATItool.exe . It is an overclocking tool but we aren't going to use it for that. It runs a 3D stability check in a window which heats up the video card nicely when you select scan for artifacts. Do a big file transfer on the HD at the same time the scan is running.

1) ATItool is not an ATI program so don't assume ATI is encouraging overclocking.
2) When you get the computer running right do not be tempted to use that ATItool to overclock. Overclocking is not worth the risk with a premium borad like the 1900XT.


OSNN Junior Addict
I've formatted my primary HD, and things seem better. It will get through the whole of 3DMark 06 without a crash now - I'm having to reinstall all my Steam games so we'll see what Lost Coast does to it this evening.

Thanks for those steps, LeeJend - I'll try that tonight.


OSNN Junior Addict
It seems to be working fine now

It must have been drivers not uninstalling properly (or I missed one) as I've not had a crash yet and have been playing HL2 for an hour or so.

I feel a bit of a tit for not reformatting in the first place, but hey-ho - its a learning curve.

Big thanks to everyone who helped point me in the right direction

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