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Toshiba Laptop - freezes on BIOS


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#1 jhsmurray

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 10:14 AM

symptom:
---------
no longer loads after BIOS splash. Cant get into BIOS settings either.
Initially, would turn itself off every day a couple of times (nothing in the logs) - specifically, all lights
would be on but screen is black. I dont think the CMOS is inovolved as the machine would not 'lose' time.
After a while, the issue increased to everytime, within 1/2 hour of bootup Now Bios flash freezes. Can no longer get into the BIOS.
Although it uses Vista home premium as the installed OS, now cant even boot into *nix live cds - CD spins for a minute but then stops as everything freezes.

attempted (all with no luck in solving or hinting at the source of the problem):
---------
While it could boot at all, made sure the computer doesn’t reboot on a blue screen (even though I havent seen any) Also checked for tempurature spikes with speedfan, but the
unit has limited thermal probes, so all I got was HDD temp (which was ok)
made sure its not a backlight/display issue. held flashlight to blackened screen but no evidence that the
backlight simply died. Also, installed vnc server while I had the chance, running as a service. When screen went black, tried to VNC into it with no luck. Cant ping it either.

tried booting with battery removed and no mains power, then the opposite.

opened up case, cleaned any dust out, reseated cooling unit with fresh thermal compound. installed replacement fan as well. can hear it running.

While I was in there I didnt see any visual evidence of a problem on the mobo or any of the components, however it (like laptops in general, I assume) doesnt use capacitors that can be visually inspected anyways.

swapped out RAM sticks. tried with one at a time, then with none.

started up with hardrive removed and a Ubunutu LiveCD as a bootup option.

Let the thing sit without battery and mains power to attempt to release any stored static electricity.


my laptop:
---------
Toshiba A135-S4427 (no longer under warranty)
3 Gig Ram
Vista Home Premium

Thankfully I can access the data and have backups to work with. But unfortunately this is starting to sound like the mobo is toast - which in turn means I have a portable doorstop. Its odd that it was a gradual degradation, as though maybe a buildup of static in it? Anyone know how to discharge static on this thing or have any alternative ideas at all? Maybe I missed something obvious...

Thanks for the help.

Edited by jhsmurray, 14 June 2010 - 10:15 AM.


Acer Aspire 5732z
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate
Processor: Intel Pentium III Xeon, 2200 MHz
RAM: 3 GB
Display: Mobile Intel GMA 4500M

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#2 keller

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 03:23 PM

It's just giving you the BIOS splash screen and then nothing?

What keystrokes does it say to use to enter the BIOS settings on that machine?

What BIOS software is it running?

Edited by keller, 14 June 2010 - 03:24 PM.


#3 jhsmurray

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Posted 15 June 2010 - 12:40 AM

The splash page has F2 to enter setup, and F12 to enter boot device. According to the splash its a Phoenix 1.9. If I time F2 fast enough I can get into the config, where I disabled 'quiet mode' so that I can see the text diagnostic and it is reportedly a 'IAKAA BIOS Version 1.9'.

It gets as far as initializing the mouse (touchpad?), then >poof< no screen or expected followup drive activity.

Acer Aspire 5732z
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate
Processor: Intel Pentium III Xeon, 2200 MHz
RAM: 3 GB
Display: Mobile Intel GMA 4500M

#4 keller

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Posted 15 June 2010 - 01:23 AM

Try to enter BIOS setup again with F2 and look through all the screens there. There may be some hardware monitoring in there that will give you a CPU temperature. Generally, I'd say it sounds like you had/have some sort of overheating issue. Since you've swapped out RAM it may be your CPU or a bus that has overheated. If either of those chips was damaged then I'm afraid your system might be a doorstop as you say, but at this point that would just be speculation. When the system was still booting and only giving intermittent problems did you notice any slowing of performance before it would go to a blank screen?

#5 jhsmurray

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Posted 15 June 2010 - 02:23 AM

Unfortunately temp monitoring isn't an option in the BIOS. I agree that it's possible that overheating caused damage before the fan replacement.

Performance was fine up until the system died (but still registered power).

Your suggestion inspired me to noodle the BIOS a bit more: I disabled multi-core processing and it booted up. Not sure what that implies, but I'll try to get it to break while in that mode.

Also, I see that I may have a corrupt CMOS or BIOS:
http://web.telia.com/~u43311424/crisis-recovery-disk/
Using the Fn+B combo successfully gets me into Crisis Recovery Mode (fan blaring away, lights alighting etc etc)
With the Phoenix Crisis Recovery Disk method all may not be lost. Now to get my hands on a USB Floppy...

Thanks keller for your input thus far and for any more you can think of. I'll post updates with any success.

[edit]
broke while in use after a couple of minutes. trying again in safe mode...

Edited by jhsmurray, 15 June 2010 - 02:37 AM.


Acer Aspire 5732z
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate
Processor: Intel Pentium III Xeon, 2200 MHz
RAM: 3 GB
Display: Mobile Intel GMA 4500M

#6 keller

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Posted 15 June 2010 - 02:47 AM

Hmm. Were you doing anything in particular when it crashed this time or was the system sitting idle?

#7 jhsmurray

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Posted 15 June 2010 - 04:59 AM

I was moving the cursor with the touchpad, but only just for a second. I confirmed that the touchbad ribbon is installed correctly. It didnt crash after testing for 20 minutes in safe mode (after which I was called away), which implies that there is a driver problem - but that is likely a red herring as the BIOS doesn't complete in dual core mode. Could be southbridge chipset I guess.

If I can flash BIOS and install chipset drivers in safe mode I suppose I'll start with that and see what happens.

[edit]

OK flashed the BIOS (1.9 is still the latest) and the latest chipset drivers from within safemode. Comp now boots in normal, and had had an uptime for 5 minutes and counting. No apparent conflicts in device manager, but runs really slow in single core.

Now I've switched back to dual core in the BIOS and booted to windows normal mode, although its started it still runs 'choppy'/slow... :flowers:
S'pose I should run a memtest at this point.

wow really weird set of circumstances. Hopefully it'll stay alive at least... :thumbsup:

Edited by jhsmurray, 15 June 2010 - 06:56 AM.


Acer Aspire 5732z
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate
Processor: Intel Pentium III Xeon, 2200 MHz
RAM: 3 GB
Display: Mobile Intel GMA 4500M

#8 keller

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Posted 15 June 2010 - 09:09 AM

Indeed very odd, I would run a RAM test and do some CPU benchmarking if you can. Any bus or CPU cache problems would likely make themselves apparent almost immediately.

#9 jhsmurray

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 02:30 AM

After reseating the memory again it runs perfectly normal. That is, until I hold the laptop the wrong way, then >poof<. There's a short in the mobo somewhere I'm sure of it. Too bad a replacement mobo is so costly. I'll just nail the laptop to the table and all should be well. :thumbsup:

Acer Aspire 5732z
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate
Processor: Intel Pentium III Xeon, 2200 MHz
RAM: 3 GB
Display: Mobile Intel GMA 4500M




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