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Serious Stability Issues


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#1 of 20 Bill Griffith

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Posted July 05 2005 - 11:49 PM

Wondering if anyone can help with this.

I just assembled the new computer:

AMD 64 3800
ASUS A8N SLI Motherboard
2 Gb Ram (1 x 1 Gb DDR 400)
2 x GeForce 6800 GT, ASUS 256 Mb Video Cards
2 x SATA 160 Gb HD (Not in Raid)
Sound Blaster Audigy 2 (Value, the cheap one)
Running Windows XP Home Edition, with auto update on so I should have all the SP and updates.

I have it setup to run the Dual Graphics cards through the BIOS.

So here are the problems I am having with it.

1. At what appears to be random moments the comp flickers to a blue screen with almost ineligable writting, stays there for about 1 to 2 seconds than procedes to restart itself. This happens when I'm surfing the net, installing a program, loading a program, etc... it doesn't seem to have any rhyme or reason to when it is happening. It almost sounds like its tripping out on somthing since I hear a slight click from inside the Case when it happens. I have 1 big 120 fan in the back and two medium 92 fans in the front, not to mention 2 fans on the PSU one fan over the Chip, the two graphics cards fams and another tiny fan on the motherboard. I haven't even gotten into a game to test out the new graphics cards, I've been trying to stabilize the system.

2. It doesn't recognize the sound card. Is the SB Audigy 2 (Value) not compatible with this system or something. I've plugged it into 2 of the 3 slots thinking maybe something weird was wrong but still it does not recognize the card as being installed. When I go to install the drivers it says it can't find the product in my computer for the drivers to work on.

I'm pretty much out of ideas, I've been screwing with this since saturday and this morning I downloaded some graphics drivers from NVidia and then I restarted the comp, and on boot-up I got a Fatal-Error Blue screen saying it couldn't load.

Also any idea why it keeps showing my 2 SATA drives as removable hardware, like they were some sort of USB plug-in device?

#2 of 20 Bill Griffith

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Posted July 05 2005 - 11:49 PM

I appreciate any help anyone can give.

#3 of 20 Kimmo Jaskari

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Posted July 06 2005 - 02:48 AM

Instability problems like this with new gear is usually actually an existing problem, rather than misconfiguration, I'd say. Meaning, you probably do have something that is broken.

You could try to alter memory tunings down a bit, maybe raise memory voltage a tad, to see if that has an effect.

Try to run the rig on just one of those memory chips at a time. If one works and the other causes instability you will have tracked down your problem.

As for SATA - well, SATA drives are in fact hotpluggable so you can connect and disconnect those drives on the fly, so that is probably not erroneous. Posted Image

You need to find a forum where the real gamer nuts hang out I think to get help with a SLI rig... not many here live that far out on the bleeding edge of PC gaming, I think.

Best of luck.
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"Normal procedure, Lieutenant, is to jump 200 feet in the air and scatter oneself over a wide area." -- "BlackAdder 4"

#4 of 20 Bill Griffith

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Posted July 06 2005 - 04:19 AM

Thanks for the info, will try to find a forum geared toward this, I don't really live there either but I try.

Was going to try going with just a single graphics board than swapping them and see if that is the issue, if both work well singly but I have stability issues with them together running in dul mode than maybe I haven't found the right driver yet to help me out

#5 of 20 Tom Rags

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Posted July 06 2005 - 09:13 AM

Bill-
I'm no expert by any means, but I would first take Kimmo's advice and try with one stick of memory at a time. Sounds like it could be a bad stick of RAM (I've had similar problems before and that was my problem).

If that doesn't work, go to the website of the Mobo (to the faq section) and make sure that your BIOS is configured correctly. Occasionally there can be something unintutive that is set incorrectly that will cause everything to go haywire (i.e. on my MSI board, your bios can be configured in "legacy" or "Native" modes. I had no idea that one was for systems running XP and the other for 2000!). I've only built a few rigs, but it seems like it's always these things that trip me up.

Good luck,
Tom

#6 of 20 Harris_C

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Posted July 06 2005 - 10:24 AM

Also, if it comes down to it. You can remove most the cards such as the sound card, all USB devices, uninstall unnecessary drivers, reset bios to defaults and basically run with a little possible to see if the problem resurfaces. If it does at least you know were the problem is not(i.e specific devices), and if it does not then simply add card/devices back in until one of them causes the issue. Then address it accordingly.
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#7 of 20 SethH

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Posted July 06 2005 - 10:36 AM

That first problem you list sounds like it could be the PSU. Have you run the numbers to make sure your PSU can handle everything you've got running in there?

Also, if you can keep it running long enough, try to update the BIOS on the motherboard.

#8 of 20 Mike Fassler

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Posted July 06 2005 - 03:24 PM

sounds like a powersupply issue to me as well. make sure you have a quality psu such as Antec,pc power and cooling or the like.

#9 of 20 Matt Wright

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Posted July 06 2005 - 05:19 PM

Indeed it does, what PSU did you end up going with?

Quote:
Also any idea why it keeps showing my 2 SATA drives as removable hardware, like they were some sort of USB plug-in device?
As mentioned earlier SATA drives are considered hot-swappable so (somewhat annoyingly) Windows typically lists the drive(s) as removeable.

#10 of 20 Bill Griffith

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Posted July 07 2005 - 12:03 AM

The PSU should be plenty, I'm using Antecs Truepower II 550W unit.

http://www.newegg.co....W Power Supply

I went into the Bios and switched the SLI to just 1 board to see if that did anything. It was definatly more stable. So I went through and was loading on all the drivers again, as I had some issues loading them on last time. Things were going pretty well. Than I got to Nvidias graphics drivers and an odd thing happened.

I would be loading on the utilities and drivers and than I would get the Blue screen and automatically restart. Or if it downloaded the driver fine 50% of the time on the manual restart it wouldn't boot properly the first time. the comp would lock up on a Fatal Loading error message (on a blue screen) than I would have to force a restart and it would load fine the second time.

Lats night the only time I got the blue screen was when I was loading on the graphics drivers.

I found a website that goes into reflashing the Bios with an update from ASUS, it would appear there seems to be an issue with the BIOS it comes with, something about it causing instability and/or just not allowing the system to operate properly. Its a long process and has many areas that I can screw it up, plus you got to burn info on a disk and I have no floppy drive on this machine, only CD and DVD burner drives. So it ought to be fun.

Figure I'll try that later. I'm looking at getting some new memory sticks, initially I went the cheap route and bought a package from newegg, the mother board with 2 x 1Gb stick of DDR400 ram made by Rosemount or something like that. I'm begining to wonder if it might be that the memory is just bad so I will try that next. than if that doesn't work I guess I'll tackle reflashing the BIOS.

On another note
I installed as many fans as I could in this thing, the 2 x 92mm fans in the front don't seem to be running, do these normally cycle on and off or should they be running straight from the start up? I'm thinking I plugged them in wrong, they came with a 3 prong fan connector that branched/Y out into a 3 prong fan connector and big 4 prong power connector. I took the Y off and just plugged in the fan connector, my thinking was that the other fans only plug in with the fan connector they don't have power connectors, thinking that wasn't a wise choice as they haven't started running yet. So last night I figured the other fans don't have power connectors becasue they get there power form the board or component they are attached to.

#11 of 20 Matt Wright

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Posted July 07 2005 - 01:21 AM

The Fan Only connectors do indeed have power but they are special connectors that has its' voltage controlled by the same fan control circuit as the Antec TrueControl's fan in the PSU.

I need to know the case you are using (and spots in the case you have mounted fans and how they are connected to power) to better understand what is going on with your fans.

Also what CPU cooler are you using? and what brand of RAM are you running now?

EDIT: Can you provide a link to the ASUS video card issues you mentioned?

#12 of 20 Bill Griffith

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Posted July 07 2005 - 05:07 AM

RAM is Rosewill 400DDR

http://www.newegg.co....82E16820223032

Using Antec Titan550 Case with the 550W power supply

http://www.antec.com...hp?ProdID=91550

Link to ASUS BIOS Issue

http://ht.hardwarean...nt/topic/38623/


All the main fans in the case seem to be working fine, its just the 2 mounted in the fr0nt face of the case that I don't have hooked to power, there 3 pin connectors are connected to Chassis 1 and 2 fan connectors on the MB, If I remember correctly.

#13 of 20 Matt Wright

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Posted July 07 2005 - 10:34 AM

The BIOS on ASUS mobo has some smart fan settings It may be that it is set to only turn on when a certain case temperature is reached.

Ohh something about your post made me think you were talking about a video card BIOS. You are talking about updating the motherboard's BIOS. That is a very common activity. You will absolutely want to make sure you are running ver. 1007 or newer. You can check what version you are running currently with any number of utilites. Everest Home Edition is a nice one:
http://www.lavalys.c....?pid=1&lang=en

#14 of 20 Bill Griffith

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Posted July 07 2005 - 11:30 AM

I downlaoded the program and found the following information

1. under the benchmark tests it says under Memory that I have PC2100, I know I bought PC3200, see the link above and thats what it says

2. The BIOS is revision 1008 according to the program, I checked out the ASUS websight and I think they are up to 1011 (non-beta)

also during the startup of the computer, the very first screen that comes up (You can hit F4 or F1 or F8, I can't remember, and go into setup) it says Memory Testing and has a value for 2+ Gb which is to be expected, but then below that it says MEMORY INFORMATION and then says 266 DDR Dual Channel 128 Bit.

So whats up with that. shouldn't it say DDR400 184 Bit??

Maybe this is what is causing all my problems. Hell in the last 1 hr I've gotten the blue screen and automatically restarted 10 times. I'm getting pretty annoyed.

#15 of 20 Matt Wright

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Posted July 07 2005 - 12:20 PM

Well you have another issue then, you have either misconfigured a setting which is very odd (as the BIOS should autodetect everything) or you have junk RAM that is really PC2100 or at least is malfunctioning and the BIOS detects it as PC2100 (either way you may want to ditch that cheapo RAM). In the BIOS the memory should be set to "SPD" or "Auto" depending on the BIOS the board uses. If the module is made correctly it should be advertising 400Mhz as the top speed, etc. Can you snap a picture of a DIMM? I wonder what the memory chips on the module are marked (if at all).

Things are really pointing to bad RAM

FYI: No it shoulnd't say "184 bit" you are confusing the physical form-factor (184-pin DIMM) with memory bandwidth (128-bit, technically 2x64bit).

#16 of 20 Bill Griffith

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Posted July 08 2005 - 12:04 AM

Yeah I figured that out last night after hours of screwing around with th is thing. There is a option when going through the BIOS to set the Memory to 266 300 333 400 and so on, so I set it to 400 MHz. Than I change a few other thing based on that websight I mentioned above.

Than I tried to restart the computer, the load process would make it as far as the Black Windows XP loading screen, than would freeze go to a blue screen with writting saying it couldn't access something and has terminated to save my components form being damaged than went to restart automatically, It did this three times in a row. So stopped it and reset the BIOS back to the original settings, and it still did the same thing.

So completely pissed know I picked up the CPU and through it through my TV.

Not really, but I felt like doing that

Anyway broke out the Windows XP cd and proceded to format the drive and start over. Well that didn't work as well as I'd hoped. I tried loading it on to the hard drive a total of 5 times last night. Each time during the main install it would stop loading and saying it wasn't able to load some DLL file or some other file "would you like to retry" I say yes and it continues on, I assume after loading those files. On one attempted install (The thrid one I believe) it did this 8 times. Than it restarts and bring up windows and starts installing more programs. During this part I got the blue screen a few times and had to start this portion of the install over. The one time I got it completely loaded on I am in windows and everythgin that I do brings up an error message "File does not exists, cannot run, run a chkdsk" and so on. So the I re format and install again. This last time It made it all the way through with just having to retry loading on 1 file than when its finished dooing the final windows loading process it restarts, which is normal, than starts the second windows install phase again, after it had just completed doing it. So at this point I shut off the computer and went to bed.

So I'm figuring its either the MB, the Cheapo RAM, or the XP disk, or a wierd combination of all three.

Is there anythgin I can definatly rule out. I mean the hards drives are ok they can't be causing this problem, the CPU can't be causing this problem, can it?, power source is adaquit so it can be ruled out.

I guess this weekend what I will try doing is putting in 1 hard drive, 1 CD/DVD rom Drive, the MB, 1 stick of Memory and 1 Graphics card, and see if I can get that up and running.

I wish there were a way I could pin point which component was screwing evrything up.

#17 of 20 Matt Wright

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Posted July 08 2005 - 03:25 AM

Well WinXP CDs have been known to be defective... but really everything you said before this points strongly to defective RAM.

What optical drive did you end up using? there is also a less likely (given the symptoms) possibility your DVD or CD-ROM drive corrupted your first Windows install and it is now only getting worse.

The problem here is I have seen all 3 of these possibilities happen to various PCs in my 10 years of working with PCs... and they can sometimes cause very similar symptoms.


I would do this....
1. As you already planned, strip the PC down to the bare minimum. 1 HDD, 1 video card, 1 stick of RAM 1 optical drive (if you had more the one installed, perhaps use the 2nd drive - the one that you didn't try to install XP with).

2. Get the MemTest86 ISO http://www.memtest86.com/
Burn it to a CD and boot from it. Let it run to check the RAM. If it passes. Swap out the DIMM for the 2nd DIMM and repeat.

3. While you are twiddling your thumbs check the underside of your Windows XP CD for any bad looking scratches, marks, or odd coloration.

4. Not much you can do to check the optical drive, but inspect the cable you used to connect it very carefully.

Are there any splits or tears in the cable you used (they are usualy very small)? If so, toss that cable in the trash right now.
If you used a UDMA rated cable (the 80-wire style) it can be folded and keep its shape easily for routing cables more efficiently so look carefully as it can be suseptable to small folds in the cable when you manhandle it, those aren't tares or splits.

#18 of 20 Bill Griffith

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Posted July 08 2005 - 03:51 AM

Last night when going through this I checked all the cables, unplugged them and replugged them back in and I checked the CD to verify no visible blemishes, everything seem good.

I spokoe with someone here and he thinks it might be the hard drive or the memory. I think the MB is being ruled out as it seems to tell me everythgin is there, runs CMOS well and I can make changes to the BIOS without any issues, but he did say maybe my SATA controller on the MB might be bad.

So if I try each Hard drive and get the same problems with them and I go out and by a 512 stick of CRucial or some other good quality memory and it still has issues than Maybe I will look at changing out the MB.

#19 of 20 Bill Griffith

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Posted July 08 2005 - 11:46 PM

Well I didn't do anythgin different last night I just figured I would give it one more try, so I reloaded everythgin on, the same way I always had, no changes.

I haven't had the blue screen yet and the comps been on running in dual graphics card mode for nearly 14 Hours straight.

I loaded up EQ2 and ran it at extreme quality settings and it held stable for 2 hours before I stopped running it, today I'll try UT2004, but so far all the drivers are on and everything is performing perfectly.

I have no idea why!!!

Thanks for all the help Matt, I really appreciate it.

#20 of 20 Bill Griffith

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Posted July 16 2005 - 12:46 AM

It was the memory.

I could not change, in the BIOS, the memory settings to anythgin above 266 MHz. It would crash the system everytime. So I installed 2 Gb of Crucial last night and ran several programs that would typically crash the last setup all at 400 MHz and its still holding this morning.

So I learned my lesson, stay away from cheap memory.