Hardware Problem..please help if you can!

Hi to all,

Many thanks to all the people that helped me a month or so ago to decide what to buy in the way of a new computer.
This computer is to be used for ripping, burning and working in graphics programs. My old one for internet and document programs.

This is what I decided on during my visit to Canada from where I now live in Mexico…considering my budget and the advice of the knowlegable people that frequent this forum.

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-7n400-L
CPU: AMD Athlon 2800+ Barton Core
Video Card: AOpen FX-5200 128MB
DVD Burner: NEC 2500A
Memory: 2 512MB PC3200 Kingston Value Ram
Hard Drives: 2 80 GIG Western Digital Caviar 7200RPM
Case:AOpen with front USB & Audio connections

Previously purchased DVD Burner: Plextor 708A

I had to bring the computer into Mexico in parts as to avoid HUGE duties, or have the Mexican customs officials confiscate my computer at the airport.
Desktop computers are not permitted to be imported into Mexico…unless they are in parts. Go figure!!

This is the first time that I have put a computer together from parts. All went very well. I connected everything as instructed in Canada.
The Bios was already setup in Canada by the Tech at the store and I installed WinXP Pro there as well, to be sure that the computer was in working order.

After the puter had been running for awhile, and I had started to load some software…I began to experience a problem. The computer would boot while for all intensive purposes, no reason. A couple of times while playng music in winamp or running some other programs. After loading Advanced Uninstaller, I had to load the WinXP boot from CD and Repair the installation & then use a previous Restore Point.
After that, I did not have a problem last night. I ripped & burned a DVD backup of one of my movies and all went very well & fast.

This morning I installed PowerDVD and was configuring the program while watching the backup of my DVD. I changed a setting in audio and the computer booted and now it will not even go through the boot process.
I am faced with a black screen that says it is doing Recovery of BIOS. I let it run for a 1/2 or so…but continued to scroll horizontal dots row after row.
I tried booting several time with the same result. Also tried to have it boot from the CD but it will not proceed past the Recovery of BIOS screen.
I then took out the Primary Master hosting the OS & formatted it thinking I would then be able to start from the beginning again. This also has failed.

I know that there are people that read this forum that will probably know exactly how to fix this problem or what I have screwed up. Please excuse my ignorance if the problem is obvious to some of you.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide. I am at a loss for what to do. There is nobody close to where I live that can help. I am hoping that the problem is not some bad hardware, as I am 4000 miles from where it was purchased.

All the best…as usual,
HiJinx

Try holding insert when you boot up to clear cmos. Or consult your motherboard manual on how to reset cmos by changing the jumper settings. Post if you require additional clarification.

Hi Jman999,
Thanks for the quick response!
Using INSERT did not work. I do not see any reference in the Motherboard manual on how to reset cmos by changing the jumper settings, nor could I find any helpful info at Gigabyte’s website.

The message I see when I boot is:
Line 1= Scanning Bios Image in Hard Drive…
Line 2= BIOS Auto-Recovery …

If in fact the BIOS Auto-Recovery utility is looking for information on the HD, it is not there. The boot HD has been formatted.
The lines as indicated in this posting after BIOS Auto-Recovery continue until I turn the computer off.
I am knowlegable enough in computer hardware to know if there is a part gone bad or something else that may allow me to load whatever I need to in order to load the OS again.

Many thanks in advance for your help.

All the best,
HiJinx

This is one of those Gigabyte boards with their great dual bios functionality (when one doesn’t work for some reason, a spare one takes over). I really don’t know why your BIOS went corrupt since you installed PowerDVD, but I do know somethings odd’s going on here.

Well, the first thing to do is updating the BIOS to get it work again. How to do this? Visit this page for a nice PDF. The English version contains the neccessary info from PDF page 72.
Then, go here to get a new BIOS.

If everything turns out well, it’s time to test again. If you should get into troubles once again, I think it’s time to start testing for hardware problems (bad memory / PSU / heat etc etc). I wrote a small (very basic) article on hardware testing. I guess that will help quite a fair deal.

Well good luck and report back :wink:

I guess that the original problem was heat from a insufficient / badly placed heat sink (no thermal paste maybe), thus the reboots while doing intensive work.

Maybe removing the battery for a while will clear cmos?

Hi Dee-ehn & Hemispasm,

Thanks to both of you for trying to help. Dee-ehn also thanks for all your help with helping me decide on my purchase of the new computer.

Dee-ehn…I have read the Manual and page 72 mentioned in your post. I am not sure which BIOS I need to flash. Is it “F1 2003/6/17 Mass Production Release” or another one on the BIOS page? There are several on this page.

Hemispasm…I believe the heatsink was placed correctly and thermal paste was used in the install.

I took out the battery & disconnected the power to the MB, but on boot still get the same BIOS Auto-Recovery screen.

Please excuse my lack of knowledge in regard to this problem. I have never had to do any of this before.

Thanks in advance to both of you for any help and advise you can provide in repairing this problem.

All the best,
HiJinx

Man, I don’t mean to be rude, but I feel sorry for you for buying that system. It spells trouble and waste of money, especially the Gigabyte mobo (which nobody except weirdos use) and FX5200 (junk card. Ti4200 kills it). How much did you pay for the system anyway?

Anyway, get your mobo manual out (or download from mobo’s website) and turn to the mobo layout page. Find out which jumper resets the CMOS. You reset the jumper by moving it from it’s original position (1&2) to the reset position (2&3). Leave it at the reset position for at least 5 minutes, then move it back to the original position.

BTW, when you said the mobo’s doing BIOS recovery, did you let it run its course or got impatient and said screw this and rebooted the system and stuck the OS CD in there? You know the the dots scrolling means its doing its job right?

Hi Stoner,
Thanks for trying to help! Perhaps I am a weirdo or maybe just someone that has not bought a new computer since '99 and not as knowlegable about what to buy as some people that have been more involved with the latest hardware available.
My old slow puter still runs well and has for the mostpart always been stable, but very slow at ripping & burning DVDs.
Why would you think that the Gigabye MB is a waste of $$. From all the independent reviews I have read before buying it, everyone seemed to be pleased with it for the price.
As far as the Video card is concerned, if I find it to be a junk card…I will replace it with something else. It is a relatively inexpensive piece of hardware, easily replaced and is not used for gaming.
I was wondering if you consider the hardware I purchased…listed below to be junk as well?
CPU: AMD Athlon 2800+ Barton Core
DVD Burners: NEC 2500A, Plextor 708A
Memory: 2 512MB PC3200 Kingston Ram

Anyway…thanks for your advise and trying to help me out.

I have searched the manual for the jumpers that reset the CMOS. I can’t seem to find them. Gigabyte’s website indicates that not all the MBs have this option. It is suggested by them, that if the MB does not…I can remove the battery to reset the CMOS. I have done this, but it did not clear it.

Dee-ehn…This MB does not seem to be a dual BIOS as some of their other boards are.

Would you suggest disconnecting all the other hardware & cables from the MB and then the battery…and finally reconnecting all & then try to flash the BIOS?
This MB supports what is called QFlash, but there are several BIOS downloads available on Gigabyte’s website for this MB, depending on the problem. I am not sure which one is the correct one. Any help in regard to this would be appreciated.

I appreciate the help everyone is taking the time to post with my problem.
If all else fails, I guess I will have to go & purchase another MB in a city a couple of hours from here.

All the best,
HiJinx

HiJinx, sorry to hear about your problem again. Didn’t mean to diss your purchase, I know you put a lot of money into it, and I applaud you for having so much patience w/ its problem. If it were me, I would return the mobo right away (not your option unfortunately), and get one that’s proven to work.

As for which BIOS to use, it’s usually best to get the lastest version. It’ll include all the fixes in previous versions, plus the new one. In this case, download version F9 for your mobo.

To clear the CMOS, I’d put all the battery, unplug everything from the mobo, then leave it out over night. Connect only components necessary (CPU, 1 stick of RAM, floppy drive, video card), put a bootdisk in the floppy drive (WinME version from bootdisk.com), boot up the system to DOS, flash BIOS to latest version.

And yes, this is the single BIOS lineup. Not ALL Gigabyte mobos have the DualBIOS, only highend models. I still don’t get what the big deal is w/ the feature. I mean how often do people get corrupted and fried BIOS?

No dual bios? Hmm I must have misread… I explicitly looked that up last night.

Anyhow, try to do as Stoner says. I hope this will solve your issues. If not, feel free to ask for more assistance.

the dual BIOS is easy to spot on the MB, as there are 2 chips marked “BIOS”.

I agree that the rebooting issue is very suspicious for CPU heat or bad PSU, but a video card can cause the same type of trouble too (not POSTing).

Replacing the CMOS battery is a good step too. Since it was in pieces for some time, it could have worn out.

Hi,
First of…I want to thank everyone who tried to help me out with this problem.
You have all been very generous with your knowledge & time.

After disconnecting everything inside the computer including the battery and leaving the battery out for more than 24 hours I still had a negative result, meaning the CMOS still would not clear. I decided to take the 1 1/2 trip to a city near where I live. In Puerto Vallarta, which is a good size city, I went to a computer store that is owned by a Canadian. We concluded…after installing another Motherboard, that the Gigabyte motherboard was defective.

When I bought & we installed the Gigabyte GA-7N 400L at the store in Canada, the first GA-7N 400L we installed was defective. We switched it for another one. I should have known right then, but one board does not mean that all of them are bad.
Oh well…as we say here “¡Así es la vida!” (such is life!).

The Motherboard at the store here in Mexico we tested with…will not do the job for me seeing as it will only obtain 133mhz bus. It is a low grade board, but useful to find the problem.
I need 666mhz for my AthlonXP2800. No point having a 2800 that will only be a 2100 at 133mhz.

Anyway…That was the only MB he had that would work with my AMD CPU.
I went to 3 other computer stores in Puerto Vallarta only to find that not one of these stores had ANY motherboards. I mean NONE! Hard to believe…HUH!! They will gladly order one for you, but have nothing in stock and will not say how long it will take for them to get it.
I love living in Mexico, except when I need to buy something electronic. This is very painful at times. I don’t know how these people do business.

In the store where we determined that the MB was NFG the owner said he would email me with the boards that were available through his distributor located in Guadalajara. He sent me an email last night. I spent a couple of hours researching reviews on the boards & concluded that one of them seems to be well liked & has an excellent rating. Especially according to all the websites that have tested overclocked this MB.

Speaking of which. Can I expect to gain much by overclocking my AthlonXP 2800? It is now rated at 2.08GIG stock. I know that the 2500 & 2600 overclock quite a bit.
This motherboard made a gain from 1.9GIG to 2.45 and was very stable or as the reviewer/tester said “without a hiccup” on one of the websites that tested this MB.
Will I need to cool it differently to overclock my chip?

I would appreciate if you can give me your opinions on a particular motherboard.

The Motherboard in question is from a company that seems relatively new on the scene.

The MB is an Albatron KX 18D Pro 11

I would appreciate some opinions before I decide. I choice here is slim & almost none. This is because there are many distributors here that are a nightmare if you have to RMA anything. They want your $$…but don’t expect any help afterwords. Living in paradise is trying sometimes…LOL!

The other MBs that are available here within a couple of days are:
Abit VA-10
DFI LanpartyII
Albatron KX-600

The overclockers that tested the Albatron KX 18D Pro 11, had a complaint about there not being extra holes in the board to mount another cooler.
There was a couple of other small complaints that are not major. As an example…there are 6 slots available…but the one next to the video card slot was too close if you had a very wide video card. Basically, making the 6th slot useless. As most of us…I won’t ever be using that many cards.

If I overclock can I use a better heatsink than the stock one that came with the chip, seeing as there does not seem to be a place to mount another cooler & am pretty sure that the quality of the stock heatsink will not be the best…hehe
If so…what Brand & Model of heatsink would you recommend?

All the best…as usual
HiJinx

Glad you found the culprit. Damn DOA components are never pleasant.

Yes, if you’re still using the stock heatsink fan combo that came w/ the CPU and plan on overclock (who isn’t), then you’ll definitely need to get a different heatsink fan combo. What are the choices in Mexico as far as heatsink fans concern? Can you get Thermalright or Zalman brand HSFs? The Thermalright gives you the best cooling w/ a good fan. Notice it doesn’t come w/ a fan, you have to purchase separately, so the total’s really expensive. Zalman on the other hand has an integrated fan w/ speed control. Excellent HSF with little noise.

The Albatron “KX18D Pro” nForce2 Ultra 400 Chipset Motherboard looks like a great mobo. Lots of positive feedbacks.

Hi Stoner,
Thanks for the quick reply!

Suprisingly I only need to pay $115.00USD here in Mexico for this board. Usually computer stuff is about 40-50% more.
Actually the Motherboard I can buy is an Albatron “KX18D PROII” nForce2 Ultra 400 Chipset Motherboard, not the Albatron “KX18D Pro” nForce2 Ultra 400 Chipset Motherboard. It is about more than 1/3 more expensive, but has some more options that I may take advantage of in the future.

Specs & prices below courtesy of Newegg.com

  • indicates differences.
    ** indicates extra options.

Albatron “KX18D PROII” nForce2 Ultra 400 Chipset Motherboard. $97.00 (***** star rating)

  • Specifications -
    Supported CPU: AMD Athlon/Athlon XP/Duron CPU
    *Chipset: NVIDIA nForce2 Ultra 400 + MCP-T
    FSB: 400/333/266/200MHz
    *RAM: 3x DIMM for DDR400/333/266(Non-ECC) Max 3GB(Single Channel),Max 2GB(Dual Channel)
    IDE: 2x UltraDMA 133 up to 4 Devices
    Slots: 1x AGP 8X/4X, 6x PCI
    Ports: 2xPS2,1xLPT,1xCOM,1xLAN,6xUSB2.0(Rear 2),1xGAME,Audio Ports
    Onboard Audio: Realtek ALC650 6-Channel Codec
    Onboard LAN: 10/100Mbps
    **Onboard SATA/RAID: 2x Serial ATA, RAID 0/1 by Silicon Image® Sil3112A
    **Onboard 1394: T.I. Controller, 2 Ports
    Form Factor: ATX

Albatron “KX18D Pro” nForce2 Ultra 400 Chipset Motherboard. $60.00
(**** star rating)

  • Specifications -
    Supported CPU: AMD Barton/Athlon XP/Athlon /Duron Processor
    *Chipset: nForce2 Ultra 400 + MCP, Winbond W83627HF(I/O Chip)
    FSB: 200/266/333/400MHz
    *RAM: 3x DIMM DDR400/333/266 up to 3GB(Single Channel), up to 2GB(Dual Channel)
    IDE: 2x UDMA 133 up to 4 Devices
    Slots: 1x AGP 8X, 6x PCI
    Ports: 2xPS/2,1xLPT,1xCOM,1xLAN,6xUSB2.0(Rear 2),1xGAME,Audio Ports
    Onboard Audio: Realtek ALC650 6 Channel Audio Codec
    Onboard LAN: nFORCE 2 MCP + ICS1893AF 10/100Mbps Ethernet
    Form Factor: ATX

Stoner…also thanks for the advice on cooling. I will not OC until I have done enough reading to completely understand how to do this with confidence.
By that time I can have a friend bring me a heatsink that will do the job.

All the best,
HiJinx

unplug the mobo battery, move cmos pins from 1-2 2-3 let power down for atleast 30 seconds and retry, may need to work from the base cmos and reconfig.