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Very serious system issue - Motherboard / BIOS I think


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#1 Leiurus

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 05:50 AM

OK, I'm going nut with this for something like a week now, so obviously I hope I will receive help.

My main issue is the complexity of my system which makes things difficult to identify. Another stressing one is the fact that I have valuable data on this computer and that I want by all mean preserve them.

 

My System:

Case: Lian Li PC-X2000F

Mobo: Asus P9X79WS

CPU: Intel i73930

CPU Cooler: Corsair H70

RAM: 8x8GB Corsair Vengeance 1866 - 64GB total

GPU 1: EVGA GTX 580 3GB

GPU 2: EVGA GTX 580 3GB

GPU 3: EVGA GTX 580 3GB

 

GPU 4: PNY Quadro 4000

 

HDDs: 4 x Hitachi 1T in RAID 1+0, total 2T

SSD: now Intel 240 GB, previoulsy OCZ Octane 256GB

PSU: Enermax Platimax 15000W

OD: 1xAsus BR reader, 1xAsus BR burner

 

Yes, it's 5500+USD machine, which is why I'm shedding blood tears...:S

 

OS: Windows 7 Professional 64 (Home Premium Upgraded through anytime upgrade with a purchased key, 100% genuine, no cracked OS there)

 

The machine is a few month old. I build it 6 month ago just before relocating to Bangkok, I was then in Hong Kong. Because I wanted to test the hardware before moving, I quickly installed the softwares to check that everything was fine, so that if a piece of hardware was defectuous I could quickly ordered some with the 0% import tax that HK offer.

 

I installed Windows, then set the sata on RAID in the BIOS, created the RAID 10 volume with the HDDs and transferred my data. OS/software are of course on the SSD. System was stable but I didn't stress it much as I was about to relocate and was living in cardboard boxes. To cut it short, everything was fine.

 

Computer arrived to BKK. A bit of stress when I plugged it of course but it booted normally. Everything was fine.

 

Now, the problem:

 

A couple of weeks ago, I was a bit bored and decided to use my 3 GTX to enjoy a bit of gaming. I'm not a gamer: the Quadro is for display and the GTX for GPGU computing. SLI must be turned off for computing, but I wanted to game, so I set them in SLI and plugged my monitor on the GTX. I played to Far Cry 3.

 

Everyting has been fine for a week. Then, last week, in the middle of a game, the screen turned black for half a second. It was so quick that I can't say if the system shut down or not. Image came back, I kept playing a few minutes but thought that the GPUs might be overheating so I stopped, turned the PC off and went to sleep.

 

Next day, the monitor display red dots. I start to worry about having fried my cards. I plug the Quadro, it also display red dots. I doubt I've been able to fry 4 cards in one shot and starts to worry.

 

I reboot. System shut down with BSOD. I try to reboot. System do not boot anymore. In the BIOS, SSD is not detected.

 

From there, I can boot only randomly, every other time the SSD is not detected and I'm asked to install an OS. I try to repair but Windows is not shown in the OS to repair. I start to think that my SSD is dead. When I can boot, system stay stable a few minutes before BSOD.

 

I scan for viruses, scan come free of viruses. I scan with MBAM. Quick scan do not show any malware. Full scan always result in BSOD.

 

I call my IT guy and ask his help. We both think that the SSD is faulty, hence the stability issue. We remove the SSD and test it, it appears corrupted.

 

At this stage, I curse OCZ and buy a new SSD, Intel 240GB,

 

We re-install Windows, but this time we have to install the Marvell driver as the BIOS is set on RAID and SSD is not detected. After the driver is installed, the SSD is detected normally and we re-install Windows.

 

The system is highly unstable, I experience BSOD again. However, I have enough operational time to perform virus scans, they come clear. I run a Chdsk /r. The check come back free of any disk error.

 

The system becomes increasingly unstable. I re-install Windows. System fails as I try to install Avast. I reboot.

 

This time I can't access the BIOS anymore. System boot on nothing. BIOS set up page appears for half a sec but no way to access it by pressing the usual key (in that case DEL). Following the boot screen, black screen with a bleeping underscore. System restart every 15mn or so, with the same result, if left turned on.

 

At this stage I'm quite in despair and start to think about a faulty Mobo and/or BIOS.

 

I give it a try by reset-ing the CMOS. I remove the GTX to leave the Quadro only, because when the problem started, the boot screen was visible on the GTX output only, the Quador was displaying after Windows start only.

 

Happy days, after reset-ing the CMOS (battery removal), the system boot again and I can access the BIOS.

 

Here is what I intend to do. ANY INPUT IS HIGHLY APPRECIATED!!! Please let me know if it make sense:

 

- Re-install Windows in normal mode (AHCI), the BIOS is now obviously back on this mode.

- The purpose of re-installing Windows is to update the BIOS only. My version of the BIOS is very old, in fact so old that I cannot update it by flashing it.

-Once Windows is installed, install Asus AI Suite II and update the BIOS.

-Once the BIOS is updated, run a Memtest. I coulnd't do it before as the system was not booting at all and I couldn't even set ti to boot on the OD.

-If the Memtest comes back clear, pray for it to be a BIOS issue and set the BIOS to RAID. I guess I'll have to re-install Windows, but I'm not sure about, please enlight me.

 

My main fear is to loose the data on the HDDs volume.

 

A few weird things:

- The "no BIOS set up screen" on the Quadro

- When I could access it, the BIOS showed my RAM at 1333Mhz. When I set it manually at 1866, system fail to restart and BIOS indicate "overclock failed". 1866 is the normal clock of my RAM...

 

Am I doing it right?

 

 



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#2 Leiurus

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 10:16 PM

Update:

 

After removing the HDDs, so leaving only the SSD and the Quadro in the case, I re-installed Windows with BIOS in AHCI mode.

 

Installation took ages, the sysytem seems to be sluggish like hell (more than 45mn to intall Windows)

 

System still unstable, I had BSOD during AI suite installation (from Mobo CD).

 

However, after several failures, AI Suite has been installed and I've been able to gradually update the BIOS. BIOS is now the latest version. It seems to have help quite a bit in term of speed and stability.

 

I will now run a Memtest, I keep you posted


Edited by Leiurus, 04 May 2013 - 12:09 PM.


#3 Leiurus

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 12:38 PM

Update:

 

I've ran a 14H test with Memtest and it comes back clear of any error. My RAM seems to be 100% fine.

 

I'm actually even more puzzled...

 

- The Chkdsk /r came back clear of any disk error, so I assume that my disks are fine. I've unplugged the HDDs anyway and still experience BSOD, and I don't buy 2 defectuous SSDs, brand new, from two different manufacturer, in a row...

- The Memtest came back clear as well, so my RAM is OK

- The CPU do not present any sign of issues, I monitored it 24/7 before the problems occur and did it as well after they started and I appears to work fine (Core Temp)

- I don't think the PSU is involved as the outputs shown by BIOS are fine...

- My GPUs are fine as well, and even if there was a problem with them it wouldn't come from 3 GTX and 1 Quadro (I tried to plug them one after another and it doesn't change anything to stability issues)

 

It's also hard for me to buy an issue with my Windows copy as it a 100% genuine, purchased and registered product...Even if for a reason it get corrupted, a clean installation should have solved the issue, as they have been done from the same CD

 

My stytem have been regularly scanned and stated free of any viruses / malwares

 

Now, IMO, the last options are:

 

- Issue with BIOS

- Defectuous Mobo

 

I will try to switch the BIOS back to RAID, double-check it, and re-install Windows. Then, if I keep experiencing BOSD, beyond a Mobo issue, I don't see anything. 

 

Any inputs?

 

PS: The Mobo has been purchased in Europe and living now in Asia I can't RMA it...


Edited by Leiurus, 04 May 2013 - 12:38 PM.


#4 Leiurus

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Posted 06 May 2013 - 11:45 AM

Update:

 

OK, I'm about to shoot myself...

 

I re-installed Windows after testing the hardware as described below. After a something like 1H or so of installing AV and various software, I experience another I/O error. Exact same symptom than when the OCZ SSD failed. Chrome do not launch anymore. I've been able to run a full MBAM scan (previously any attempt to perform a full scan ended in BSOD), came back free of MW.

 

Reboot gave black screen. Had to reboot twice to start Windows.

 

I really don't know what to think...I ruled out the Windows issues as it is a genuine and fully activated copy, the same that ran properly for month before the crash.

 

As stated above, I don't buy the 2 bad SSDs in a row.

 

The only 2 possible issues IMO are PSU (how can I test it) and Mobo...Considering the price of this kind of hardware, I would really like to rule out the PSU issue before buying a new one.

 

Any inputs?


Edited by Leiurus, 06 May 2013 - 11:46 AM.


#5 Leiurus

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 07:09 AM

Update:

 

I'm basically back to day one...

 

Beyond being upset by having bought a new SSD for nothing, I'm in despair at the idea of buying a new expensive Mobo and facing the same issue again.

 

Here is a pic of the BOSD:

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/836/img0096rb.jpg/

 

 

The error message I had after re-booting:

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/405/img0097ek.jpg/

 

 

The weird thing is that sometimes Windows boot normally...The PC react like if there's no SSD at all, or a partially corrupted one, or a working one, all of that randomly...

 

I would sincerely appreciate any feedback or advice on this subject matter as buying a new Motherboard is not a cheap option...



#6 anyrepli

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 07:58 AM

Update:

 

After removing the HDDs, so leaving only the SSD and the Quadro in the case, I re-installed Windows with BIOS in AHCI mode.

 

Installation took ages, the sysytem seems to be sluggish like hell (more than 45mn to intall Windows)

 

System still unstable, I had BSOD during AI suite installation (from Mobo CD).

 

However, after several failures, AI Suite has been installed and I've been able to gradually update the BIOS. BIOS is now the latest version. It seems to have help quite a bit in term of speed and stability.

 

I will now run a Memtest, I keep you posted

Installation should not take ages so I'm just wondering... did you delete all existing partitions during the installation process, and, if so, did you end up with a 100MB system partition and the remainder allocated to your OS drive? If not, and you attempted to reuse existing partitions, that could (possibly) impact your SSD alignment which could cause a myriad of problems.


Edited by anyrepli, 07 May 2013 - 07:59 AM.


#7 Leiurus

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 11:36 AM

Thanks for your interest Anyrepli

 

Yes, I did that everytime, deleted all partitions. I don't have any interest in partitioning the SSD as I have my data on the HDDs, so it's no partition for the SSD.

 

Installation was roughly OK the last time in term of time, but still longer than normal.

 

These symptoms indicate a hardware failure IMO, but I might be wrong:

 

-the brutal shutdown when the problems started (even though it lasted half a sec, it was still still a system shut down)

-the fact that I have BSOD even in safe mode

-my copy of Windows is genuine and up to date, never had an issue before, so I don't think it's OS related

-the I/O error with 2 new SSD from 2 different brands

 

Please let me know if you think I miss something or if I am mislead.

 

Of course, I thought about the SATA cable but tested a new one and it doesn't make a difference.

 

From my point of view, but once again I might be wrong and I'm craving for inputs, it's a Mobo or PSU issue. But if it was a PSU issue, wouldn't the Mobo regulate / prevent it? Is there a way to thouroughly test a PSU? I never had a PSU issue so I never had to do it...

 

If it's a Mobo issue, then it's out of my skill range and I have no clue...Which is quite annoying as I would really like to understand what happened...And how can I test a Mobo? AFAIK there's no bench test I could run to identify the problem. I'm not that keen on buying a 300USD Mobo to realize that it's a PSU issue and buying a new 200USD one, this computer costed me enough...



#8 anyrepli

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 03:41 PM

Things to try (if you still have that minimum configuration arrangement of 1 SSD and the 1 graphics' card):

 

1.Set you bios to default values. If you have a safe defaults, try that first. If you have an optimum defaults setting, try that if stable. 

Note: Your comment about 1866 RAM is inaccurate. You don't manually set the RAM to run at the advertised level. The system will select the appropriate speed based on the total configuration, and since your CPU is not designed to "normally" work with memory running at 1866MHz, it will (most likely) be down-clocked to run at 1333MHz. See Intel CPU specs here: http://ark.intel.com/products/63697

 

2. Update your bios if necessary. You mentioned your bios is very old. So, did you download/install the ASUS bios converter utility and update it to the latest version? See here: http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/P9X79_WS/#support_Download_30

 

Good luck.



#9 Leiurus

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 10:24 PM

Thanks for the feedback.

 

1. Yes, I checked this out a few days ago, I didn't know that past a certain amount of sticks, the Mobo would set the clock by itself at a value independent of the sticks clock...I didn't know that, if I had know I wouldn't have spent the extra cash on these 1866...So nothing abnormal here.

 

2. As mentioned in my earlier posts, I've been able to update the BIOS, it's one of the first thing I did when I started to suspect a Mobo / BIOS issue. The Mobo now got the latest BIOS to date. It feels that it improved stability a bit but I can't really confirm it, the crashes are quite random, so it might be a pure question of luck.

 

Symptoms wise, the system react exactly like if the SSD was randomly: accessible, partially accessible, not accessible at all...I booted a few times, and I had:

 

- BOSD on start up, last half a second then restart automatically

- Start without destop (black background, no icons)

- Starts with Eplorer.exe crashing, loop (crash, restart, crash, restart, repeat)

- Starts with various applications loop crashing: Skype (Skype then send I/O error message), Chrome, IE, etc...

- Sometimes after crash, Windows restart and proceed with a Chkdsk, no error found

- Do not start at all (I mean BIOS only boot, SSD is not detected)

 

Here is what I will try before killing myself:

 

- changing SSD SATA cable port, in case port is defectuous

- changing SSD slot in case (I got 2 free left), in case slot connectors are defectuous

- changing SATA cable (I laready did but who knows...)

- setting BIOS settings to default (I think they are now but I'll double check)

- Clean erase SSD and re-install firmware

- Re-install Windows (I'm at my 7th or 8th installation, I can go through another one...)

 

If after all this I still experience these issues, I don't see anything else than changing the Mobo, please advise if you think it makes sense or if I have any way to check Mobo / PSU proper functioning.

 

Cheers



#10 anyrepli

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 06:33 AM

Wait! Before you go through all that again, please confirm your partition allocations and sizes via disk management. Now, if you have a 100MB system partition and the remaining space allocated to your OS, then you have a Legacy bios installation. However, I noticed that you motherboard is also UEFI capable, so if you are going to do another reinstall, then I would recommend trying a UEFI installation (without secure boot enabled). I have seen instances where a UEFI installation has cured many random problems with a Legacy installation. AND. after you are done, DO NOT INSTALL all the drivers on your motherboard CD immediately. Just try a boot and see how it works and report back.

#11 Leiurus

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 06:42 AM

Many thanks

 

Indeed, my Mobo is UEFI capable. Will report back the Legacy installation soon, I'm 99% sure I have one, but will double check when home in a couple of hours.

 

Cheers

 

Update:

 

I confirm the Legacy partition:

 

100 MB NTFS Sysytem Reserved

C: 223.47 GB NTFS 

 

Both are tagged Healthy, go figure...


Edited by Leiurus, 08 May 2013 - 08:28 AM.


#12 Leiurus

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 06:53 AM

Noob question: will a UEFI installation be an issue with the RAID mode I need to access my HHDs?



#13 anyrepli

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 09:40 AM

Noob question: will a UEFI installation be an issue with the RAID mode I need to access my HHDs?

Ok, thanks for that. Now, as far as having two healthy partitions, that does not mean that everything is OK with your hardware (or the ability to interface with same). Now, I am definitely no expert on UEFI but I can tell you that UEFI is capable of everything a standard bios can offer and more! Plus it offers better interfacing with the hardware in general. A specific case in point, I had a printer that I could not get to remain stable when installed under a Legacy installation. Now, this was an older printer but it did have Win 8 drivers (for my OS); however, it kept going offline and creating  a duplicate (but unrecognized printing device). So, after 3 Legacy reinstalls, I decided to go UEFI and it has worked perfectly ever since (for months). So, if you decide to try the UEFI route, and you get the installation right (eg, delete all existing partitions as part of the process), I'm sure you will be no worse off than you are now. I'd go for it!


Edited by anyrepli, 08 May 2013 - 09:43 AM.


#14 anyrepli

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:07 AM

REMINDER: If you do go UEFI, do not use the ASUS CD/DVD to install anything until you have booted and tested your PC to see if it is now stable. If OK, then I would like you to do two things, first check for unknown (or inoperable) devices in device manager. If none, then great; however, some of these unknowns (Intel ME and SBA junk) can be cured by simply turning off the device/process in the bios (rather than installing something you don't really need... or want). Next, I would like you to install the latest chipset drivers (and other pertinent drivers) directly from Intel to ensure you are getting the latest versions; however, let's wait and see how you make out with the installation and stability issues before we even go there. Now, in theory, we should be able to get you up and running smoothly without the need for the ASUS CD/DVD.

Edited by anyrepli, 08 May 2013 - 10:08 AM.


#15 Leiurus

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:13 PM

OK, for reason I haven't sorted out yet, I cannot make a UEFI installation. Let me clarify:

 

- when I insert the Win 7 CD, the BIOS boot menu propose to boot from SSD, from CD, from CD in UEFI. Everything normal there.

- I then of course boot from CD in UEFI, and got this:

 

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/801/img0102rk.jpg/

 

The the sytem refuse to boot from Win CD in UEFI...It then switch to normal CD boot and I got the usual Win Legacy installation...The disk is 100% unalocated. I tried several times, no way to obtain the 3 UEFI partitions, it just boot only in normal mode and propose the Legacy 2 partitions only.

 

I tried to force boot it in UEFI by disabling all booting devices except CD in UEFI, the resilt being that it simply chain restart after displaying the screen attached above.

 

I don't know where the problem comes from. My Windows is Home Premium 64bits, so it should be able to be installed in UEFI. I don't think it's a SSD firmware issue as the problem happens before I've been able to select any disk for installation.

 

I browsed the web regarding this issue, but I've found only issues with booting in UEFI after installation, not installation issue like the one I'm facing now...

 

I'll dig it further but would of course highly appreciate any input in the time being.

 

Cheers






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