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post #1 of 33 Old 02-22-2013, 11:54 AM - Thread Starter
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I have been using my HTPC for a few months with no problems until recently.

Intel DH77EB mo-board w. H77 chipset
8GB g.skill ripjaws memory
seasonic PSU
Crucial SSD
Intel i3

All of a sudden I am getting blue screens. It typically allows me to fully boot but will crash within a minute or so of any actual use. I booted a virus scanner off of a CD but that crashed as well (so it's a hardware problem). I have run memtest86 from a USB stick and it passed 8 times and then locked up with no errors (screen frozen, no movement). Bios details:

- no overclocking or overvolting
- XMP NOT enabled
- No adjustments to RAM timing
- Legacy USB support IS enabled. Doing some searches it seems that this could cause problems?

I am now having problems getting BIOS to post (i.e. problem seems to be getting worse).

Question: How to I narrow the problem down at this point (PSU, motherboard, CPU, memory, ???).
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post #2 of 33 Old 02-22-2013, 12:24 PM
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If you are using more than one stick of ram try taking out a stick at a time and see if one stick is faulty. I'm not exactly sure how to trouble shoot your PSU with out swapping it for another and seeing if it solves your problems. Let me know how thing go for you.
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post #3 of 33 Old 02-22-2013, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post

I am now having problems getting BIOS to post (i.e. problem seems to be getting worse).

Question: How to I narrow the problem down at this point (PSU, motherboard, CPU, memory, ???).

The biggest two things you want to narrow out before anything else are power/heat

1) Power - double check the main 24 pin connection and 8 pin cpu connection (also cpu fan connection for next step)
2) Heat - specifically cpu. Make sure the cpu heatsink is seated

I had this issue back during the holidays with a 775 build where the stock heatsink was refusing to stay connected to the board (pushing down the fourth locking mechanism pulled out a different one)

-After those are out of the way it's time to swap psus for a "known" working psu
-same with memory

Eliminating the fault from those three things in that order narrows it down to your motherboard
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post #4 of 33 Old 02-22-2013, 12:35 PM
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I assume you have access to a computer or another device you are posting with on AVS. You did not say which operating system you are using. I would recommend booting in safe mode and reading everything that comes up on the screen to try to pin down where the computer is hanging up. Once you find where the computer is hanging up you can search the internet for a solution.

Another method is to strip the computer down to the motherboard and CPU and SSD, plug the monitor into the motherboard and start in safe mode. If that works begin adding other components one at a time and booting until you find the culprit. If it doesn't work replace the SSD with another storage device with basic software and try to boot.

Frequently lie down and put a warm rag on your head. Heavy alcohol consumption will not help.
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post #5 of 33 Old 02-22-2013, 01:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Postmoderndesign View Post

I assume you have access to a computer or another device you are posting with on AVS. You did not say which operating system you are using. I would recommend booting in safe mode and reading everything that comes up on the screen to try to pin down where the computer is hanging up..
At this point it's not getting past posting BIOS (no mods to BIOS settings though!). Maybe after letting it sit overnight it will let me back into windows for a few minutes smile.gif. I am running Win7 on the affected machine.

Thanks for all the thoughts everyone, I'll give those tips a try. I do have a functioning desktop so I can swap PSUs and memory if necessary. However, that is going to take a bit of work so I want to attack and easy solutions/tests first.
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post #6 of 33 Old 02-22-2013, 01:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post

At this point it's not getting past posting BIOS (no mods to BIOS settings though!). Maybe after letting it sit overnight it will let me back into windows for a few minutes smile.gif. I am running Win7 on the affected machine.

Thanks for all the thoughts everyone, I'll give those tips a try. I do have a functioning desktop so I can swap PSUs and memory if necessary. However, that is going to take a bit of work so I want to attack and easy solutions/tests first.

Swapping out RAM and the PSU is the easy option. If you can't get past the BIOS then the issue is not with Windows. All you need to run the BIOS is a motherboard, CPU, RAM and of course power.

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post #7 of 33 Old 02-22-2013, 02:00 PM
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The last problem I had was with the windows boot loader. It was not the PSU or the hard drive both of which I reused in the rebuild. I eventually decided it was the motherboard because that was the last thing that posted on the screen was the windows boot loader before boot hung up. But I do not know what your problem is. But my system was about four years old and I just rebuilt it as an I5. It would be worthwhile to blow the case out with some canned air and reseat your boards. That would be cheap and easy.
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post #8 of 33 Old 02-22-2013, 04:24 PM
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Boot your machine up with a single stick of RAM and keep swapping the RAM sticks until you find the defective one. I just fixed a friends PC who was having an almost identical problem last month.
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post #9 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 02:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, I tried both sticks in different slots and still can't post BIOS (I can't enter the BIOS config screen). Only a keyboard, mouse, power supply, CPU, and memory are plugged in (no HDD, etc.). I tried flashing the BIOS and it completed successfully. I don't have any spare DDR3 laying around so I'm going to order a new kit (since Newegg would only RMA within 30 days anyway). Is there anything else I should try before getting new memory?

Should I stick with the G.Skill ripjaws (red) DD3-1600 memory or go with a different brand? Should I go with low voltage memory (1.35V) or the normal 1.5 stuff?
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post #10 of 33 Old 02-25-2013, 08:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post

Well, I tried both sticks in different slots and still can't post BIOS (I can't enter the BIOS config screen). Only a keyboard, mouse, power supply, CPU, and memory are plugged in (no HDD, etc.). I tried flashing the BIOS and it completed successfully. I don't have any spare DDR3 laying around so I'm going to order a new kit (since Newegg would only RMA within 30 days anyway). Is there anything else I should try before getting new memory?

Are you reaching the same point every single time?

Did you make sure that your processor heat sink was completely seated? Is there anything white/crusty around the heatsink/cpu connection? How long had it been running before issues
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post #11 of 33 Old 02-25-2013, 09:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

Are you reaching the same point every single time?

Did you make sure that your processor heat sink was completely seated? Is there anything white/crusty around the heatsink/cpu connection? How long had it been running before issues
I took off the heatsink and put it back on as well as all the PSU connections. The HTPC had been running for ~3 months with no stability issues. Nothing was done to trigger the problem (e.g. a bios update, etc.). The "pad" between the heatsink and CPU is crusty. Since I wasn't planning to overclock I just used the stock heatsink & pad (no special thermal grease, etc.).

At this point I power on and the machine locks @ the BIOS splash screen (press F2 to enter setup, etc.). On rare occasion it will register the F2 hit and the screen goes black (and sits that way).
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post #12 of 33 Old 02-25-2013, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post

I took off the heatsink and put it back on as well as all the PSU connections. The HTPC had been running for ~3 months with no stability issues. Nothing was done to trigger the problem (e.g. a bios update, etc.). The "pad" between the heatsink and CPU is crusty. Since I wasn't planning to overclock I just used the stock heatsink & pad (no special thermal grease, etc.).

At this point I power on and the machine locks @ the BIOS splash screen (press F2 to enter setup, etc.). On rare occasion it will register the F2 hit and the screen goes black (and sits that way).

I take it that you mean the 3 strips of thermal compound that comes with the cooler as "pad" like in the picture at this link http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/imageview.php?image=35163

The stock i3 cooler is sufficient with Intel's provided thermal compound (though most of us don't use it). I've seen crusty areas form when a loose corner keeps that portion of the heatsink from making contact with the motherboards cpu socket heat-spreader. It sounds like you're planning to order memory anyway, so add a $4 tube of thermal paste. No need to get the extreme high end. Use some alcohol on the existing processor and cooler to completely clean it, then reapply and make sure it's got good contact

I had the problem you're experiencing happen to me, and re-seating the cpu heatsink fixed it for me. I've had the same tube of thermal paste sitting around for a long time. It doesn't take a lot, so I cleaned the old off and applied new.
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post #13 of 33 Old 02-25-2013, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, I'll add the paste to my order.

Any thoughts on low voltage versus 1.5V DDR3? They are the same price on Newegg & my motherboard supports both.
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post #14 of 33 Old 02-25-2013, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post

Thanks, I'll add the paste to my order.

Any thoughts on low voltage versus 1.5V DDR3? They are the same price on Newegg & my motherboard supports both.

It doesn't make a difference to me when I'm selecting parts. I usually go for the cheapest. Last two times I bought memory were both frontpage slickdeals. 2x4GB Ripjaws for $30 was as cheap as I could find for anything, and about 6 months later 2x4GB Patriot Viper was $24 so I bought it as well. I actually split that one into two different builds. I've always gone cheap, never had any problems
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post #15 of 33 Old 03-03-2013, 02:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, I tried two new 2x2GB Ripjaw DIMMs in the system and there was no change. I tried 1 DIMM in each slot and the result was the same (couldn't enter BIOS). I think I'm going to try measuring the power supply output when it's on and clear the CMOS (remove the battery and replace; not "update" with the jumper).

Any other ideas?
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post #16 of 33 Old 03-04-2013, 07:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post

Well, I tried two new 2x2GB Ripjaw DIMMs in the system and there was no change. I tried 1 DIMM in each slot and the result was the same (couldn't enter BIOS). I think I'm going to try measuring the power supply output when it's on and clear the CMOS (remove the battery and replace; not "update" with the jumper).

To reiterate
  1. Power
  2. Heat

It doesn't "seem" likely to be power if you are sure that all the PSU cables are staying connected (sounds like a loose cable). If it's not a loose cable, then testing will only be an exercise in futility. Here's a good reference for testing with a case fan, but if it's powering on at all the odds are extremely low that a rail in your psu has crapped out and stopped supplying sufficient power in the past three months. Very extremely rare, but just to check use this guide and let it run a case fan LINK

If you reseated the CPU heat-sink with new thermal compound after cleaning the old compound off, you should be okay for cpu. If not, you should try re-seating the CPU heat-sink and make painstakingly sure the thing is seated. The next area to overheat and cause such issues would be the passive cooled PCH. In this image, LINK, it is the blue square near the bottom left. Be extremely careful and just visually inspect if any of it's edges wiggle when you touch it. Similar to a jeweler inspecting a diamond ring in its setting. Look very closely and apply light pressure at the corners. It its loose it should be evident

Reseating the PCH would be a next step, but I would first contact Intel support and explain the situation and troubleshooting steps you've taken.
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post #17 of 33 Old 03-04-2013, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

If you reseated the CPU heat-sink with new thermal compound after cleaning the old compound off, you should be okay for cpu. If not, you should try re-seating the CPU heat-sink and make painstakingly sure the thing is seated. The next area to overheat and cause such issues would be the passive cooled PCH. In this image, LINK, it is the blue square near the bottom left. Be extremely careful and just visually inspect if any of it's edges wiggle when you touch it. Similar to a jeweler inspecting a diamond ring in its setting. Look very closely and apply light pressure at the corners. It its loose it should be evident

Reseating the PCH would be a next step, but I would first contact Intel support and explain the situation and trouble shooting steps you've taken.
Yep, sorry I forgot to mention that I did re-do the thermal compound on the heatsink. I'll check the PCH.
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post #18 of 33 Old 03-05-2013, 11:49 AM
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Since it sounds like the problem is actually getting worse (you've gone from bluescreens to no post), I'm betting on a dying PSU instead of heat issues. I've POSTed 35W i3s without a heatsink.

After memory, PSU, and heat, some other less-likely candidates are:
--Electrical short: pull everything out of the case and wire it up on a tabletop.
--It's a video problem: plug in a keyboard and press Numlock. If the indicator light changes, try testing with a known-good video card.

If you can, test each component with other known-good components separately.
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post #19 of 33 Old 03-05-2013, 12:03 PM
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Since it sounds like the problem is actually getting worse (you've gone from bluescreens to no post), I'm betting on a dying PSU instead of heat issues. I've POSTed 35W i3s without a heatsink.
To each their own I suppose. We only know i3, and with an mATX rather than ITX it's probably one of the 65W. I had a 65W core2 shutoff mid-post with a "loose" heatsink. I had a lot of similar problems in the past with a EVGA 790i motherboard that I finally fixed by replacing the south bridge heatsink
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--It's a video problem: plug in a keyboard and press Numlock. If the indicator light changes, try testing with a known-good video card.
Since OP is using integrated, I'd just say I've not yet heard of an i3 working for months and then crapping out. However, this is a great troubleshooting tip for that
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post #20 of 33 Old 03-06-2013, 09:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks folks. It's an i3-3225 Ivy Bridge core & I'm using the integrated graphics. I installed the new PSU and am getting the same behavior.

PCH was seated firmly with no wiggle. I also tried removing the battery for an hour and re-booting as well as flashing to an older BIOS and then back to the latest BIOS. Reading more online, it looks like this model of motherboard has had BIOS flashing issues. I'm wondering now if my original flashing of the BIOS is causing the no-post problem (and hiding the original instability issue which -could- be attributed to CPU heat... the system was dying after ~2-3 minutes).

I contacted Intel and got an RMA... thanks everyone for their help. Hopefully the new board will function correctly...
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post #21 of 33 Old 04-29-2013, 09:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Intel claimed that a pin was bent on the RMA so I had to pay to get a replacement/fix. I got the RMA's board and it immediately started boot-looping again (with known working memory). mad.gif

Is it time to start thinking the processor is faulty?
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post #22 of 33 Old 04-30-2013, 09:26 AM
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Have you reinstalled on the new board? What is the error it crashes with?

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post #23 of 33 Old 05-01-2013, 11:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Have you reinstalled on the new board? What is the error it crashes wIith?
I'm getting the exact same result with the new board that I got with the old (RMA'd) board. I've tried two PSUs and 4 different sticks of RAM (try each single DIMM in each slot, e.g. 16 boot attempts).
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post #24 of 33 Old 05-02-2013, 08:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post

I'm getting the exact same result with the new board that I got with the old (RMA'd) board. I've tried two PSUs and 4 different sticks of RAM (try each single DIMM in each slot, e.g. 16 boot attempts).

Yes but what is the exact message on the bugcheck? Or alternatively load up the dump in c:\windows\memory.dmp and poke around

Also why do you think this is a HW issue?

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post #25 of 33 Old 05-02-2013, 01:36 PM - Thread Starter
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How could I get the message when I'm not even able to post bios? This is what's happening (no drives connected!) -->

1) press power button
2) bios flash screen appears
3) computer immediately powers down and restarts
4) Resetting the BIOS does not affect anything
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post #26 of 33 Old 05-03-2013, 08:54 AM
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Sorry - I thought the machine was blue-screening. What do you mean by "bios flash screen"?

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When you first turn on the PC, the default behavior of most BiOS is to show you a splash screen instead of the detailed BiOS screen. The detailed screen scares most consumers. wink.gif The splash screen would be something like a mostly black screen with a huge INTEL INSIDE logo on it - displayed during the brief time the BiOS is figuring out the hardware in use. In the old days you could see it for many seconds, now it is there for under a second.
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post #28 of 33 Old 05-03-2013, 11:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cybrsage View Post

When you first turn on the PC, the default behavior of most BiOS is to show you a splash screen instead of the detailed BiOS screen. The detailed screen scares most consumers. wink.gif The splash screen would be something like a mostly black screen with a huge INTEL INSIDE logo on it - displayed during the brief time the BiOS is figuring out the hardware in use. In the old days you could see it for many seconds, now it is there for under a second.

I'm familiar with the BIOS. When the OP said "flash screen" I thought he meant flash as in flash update. Now that you mention it, I suppose he could have meant splash. OP - please clarify what you see.

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post #29 of 33 Old 05-03-2013, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm seeing the splash screen. I would love to view the detailed screen but because I can't post bios I am unable to change the default behavior.

Going through RMA #2. Hopefully no more "bent pin" BS...
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post #30 of 33 Old 05-03-2013, 05:28 PM
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Intel boards sometimes have a jumper for something like factory mode vs normal mode - make sure it's in the right position

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