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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been in the process of building a new HTPC under Windows 7 64-Bit Edition and dealing with a ton of BSOD's (Blue Screens of Death) until going back to square one and starting from a bare-bones build and adding items one-by-one. I kept finding conflicting information on blue screens and their reasons, involving everything from the ATI Catalyst Suite and accompanying video drivers, to CyberLink's Blu-Ray software, to antivirus apps like AVG Free 9.0.


After dealing with this issue for a few weeks and continually reinstalling Windows to find the culprit (and finally ending up with a stable system), I thought I would write down my experience to try and clear up some of the confusion I found regarding the components I'm using in my build. And even though I have some peculiar issues due to the components I'm using, there are some general rules to follow.


1) FLASH YOUR MOTHERBOARD'S BIOS BEFORE (OR IMMEDIATELY AFTER) INSTALLING WINDOWS. (ASUS, the manufacturer of the M4A785TD-M EVO motherboard I'm using, has a pretty clear process for doing this, usually with a thumb drive containing the update obtained from the web via another PC.) Because I did this first, the BIOS was never an issue in my particular debacle. Plus, one of the benefits of flashing your BIOS with the latest version immediately is that, since you're updating the BIOS itself, it doesn't matter if you have to reinstall Windows later or format your hard drive, as the BIOS will maintain its updated integrity.


2) FLASH THE FIRMWARE OF YOUR BLU-RAY DRIVE TO THE MOST CURRENT VERSION NEXT - AFTER INSTALLING WINDOWS. (In my case, the LG GGC-H20L has been out for a while, but still was only on firmware update 1.03, easily updated by downloading the latest firmware update from the web thru Windows.) This isn't a Windows 7 compatibility issue per se, but all firmware should be updated immediately anyway. In my case, the system BIOS and optical drive firmware were the only ones for my system at this stage. Remember, the LG drive (as with most) doesn't have a separate software driver to deal with.


3) DOWNLOAD AND INSTALL ALL CRITICAL WINDOWS UPDATES. I've seen a lot of issues supposedly involving Windows 7 64-Bit compatibility issues being caused by the updates from Microsoft. Hard for me to make a blanket statement for all systems, but in my case, the critical security updates from Microsoft have caused no problem whatsoever, and in one case (an update for the ATI HD 4200 onboard graphics chip), the update was absolutely necessary.


4) IF YOU'RE EXPERIENCING BLUE SCREEN CRASHES ALREADY, RUN A MEMORY TEST APP LIKE MEMTEST TO MAKE SURE YOUR RAM IS OK. And if you're using more than one stick (say 2x2GB), try running one at a time to check each individual one.


5) DOWNLOAD THE LATEST VIDEO DRIVERS FOR YOUR CONFIGURATION. Here's one of the first real sticky areas. In my case, ASUS and AMD have a big disparity in ATI Catalyst and video driver versions. A thoughtful techie response might be either a) "Well, that's normal, a motherboard manufacturer has particular issues with each O/S version that may require sticking with a slightly older driver version." or b) "Motherboard manufacturers sometimes don't have the resources to keep up with testing the absolute latest drivers on all their motherboards." Unfortunately, I think the latter is true. I saw a lot of conflict on the web as to whether to use the drivers supplied by the motherboard manufacturer or those newer ones supplied by AMD for the ATI products. In my experience, ASUS has what looks at the outset to be a clear download sequence that ends up being somewhat disjointed and confusing in execution. Because I had such difficulty nailing down my blue screen occurrences between 3 final culprit possibilities, I decided on my last Windows reinstall to rely upon the more recent ATI Catalyst Suite and video driver set from the AMD site. I haven't had a single blue screen since.


6) IF YOU'RE USING BLU-RAY/ETC SOFTWARE BUNDLED WITH YOUR OPTICAL DRIVE, DON'T RELY ON ANYTHING THAT DOESN'T HAVE A SPECIFIC WINDOWS 7 64-BIT COMPATIBLE VERSION AVAILABLE. In my case, I truly believe that this was the major problem. Although the LG GGC-H20L drive (and other similar units) are still being sold at some retail and online sources, the CyberLink PowerDVD playback software and select other software products in their family of bundled product versions are NOT completey Windows 7 compatible (much less 64-Bit). (Remember, these drives and others with similar CyberLink software bundles have been out for a while, well before the original release of Windows 7 and shouldn't be expected to be automatically Windows 7 compatible.) When I installed the CyberLink Hi-Def Suite bundled with my LG GGC-H20L drive, the PowerDVD component successfully played back every Blu-Ray and HD-DVD disk I threw at it, but lo and behold, those Blue Screens started to appear when the PC was at rest. And an assortment of them, not just one in particular.


7) HOLD OFF ON INSTALLING ANY ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE THAT YOU'RE NOT ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN IS WINDOWS 7 64-BIT COMPATIBLE UNTIL YOUR SYSTEM IS DEEMED STABLE UNDER A PARTICULAR CONFIG FOR SEVERAL DAYS OF OPERATION. I'm still concerned that AVG Free 9.0 has some issues with Windows 7 64-Bit (weird error messages over and above the blue screens, so am leaving it off until I get a Blu-Ray playback software version running that I'm comfortable with.


Obviously, there are other compatibility issues that may arise with other components, but in the case of my particular config, I now have a stable, fully functioning system, which I chalk up to 3 particular reasons: 1) Following the above sequence; 2) Using AMD's drivers and not the older ones from ASUS; and 3) Not using the Cyberlink software bundled with my LG drive anymore. (I'm still evaluating higher-version alternatives from CyberLink [OEM customer can upgrade for a discount] as well as freeware and for-pay options from other sources.) I HAVE installed the latest versions of the Adobe Flash Player and Reader apps, with no discernable issues, and certainly, no blue screens from these apps. And these apps have a numerous amount of compatibility-issue posts online. Quite frankly, I think those users have other system components causing their blue screens. At minimum, I wanted to post my individual experience, because there seems to be a lot of confusion out there regarding Windows 7 64-Bit compatibility. As I add software and hardware to this config, I'll post any additional successes and failures.


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Enclosure: Antec Fusion Black w/LCD

Motherboard: ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO

CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 630 2.80GHz

VIDEO: ATI Radeon HD 4200 (Integrated)

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL

CPU FAN: Scythe Ninja Mini Rev 1.0

HD: Western Digital 1TB Caviar Green WD10EADS

OPTICAL DRIVE: LG GGC-H20L Blu-Ray

KEYBOARD/MOUSE: Logitech diNovo Edge Bluetooth

DISPLAY: Vizio SV320XVT 1080p TV/Monitor via HDMI (Currently-will change)
 

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I have a VERY similar setup to yours and I was having the same problems. It took me a bit to figure it out but what ended up being the problem(s) was the integrated 4200 as well as my antivirus. The 785G chipset is great on paper, but loaded with problems IMO. It runs any AM3 CPU to perfection but when it comes to the graphics, FUHGETTABOUTIT! My supposed ATI problems went away once I upgraded to a 5670.


I used Iolo Personal Mechanic Pro with XP and brought it over to my new install, and the antivirus/firewall software bundled with it is crap in Win7 64bit, well pretty much all of it was crap in Win7. Once I uninstalled that, and replaced it with the MS Security Essentials, which is free by the way, the rest of my problems disappeared. Now I need to find some new software that will help me cleanup computer gunk and ghost files left behind from driver installs/uninstalls.


Just adding my 2cents.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbizzlefosho /forum/post/18162134


I have a VERY similar setup to yours and I was having the same problems. It took me a bit to figure it out but what ended up being the problem(s) was the integrated 4200 as well as my antivirus. The 785G chipset is great on paper, but loaded with problems IMO. It runs any AM3 CPU to perfection but when it comes to the graphics, FUHGETTABOUTIT! My supposed ATI problems went away once I upgraded to a 5670.


I used Iolo Personal Mechanic Pro with XP and brought it over to my new install, and the antivirus/firewall software bundled with it is crap in Win7 64bit, well pretty much all of it was crap in Win7. Once I uninstalled that, and replaced it with the MS Security Essentials, which is free by the way, the rest of my problems disappeared. Now I need to find some new software that will help me cleanup computer gunk and ghost files left behind from driver installs/uninstalls.


Just adding my 2cents.

Ugh on the gunk, I feel your pain from past circumstance. Only reason why it wasn't an issue this time was constant reformatting, which obviously wouldn't be a good option with a more mature system. Interesting about Microsoft Security Essentials, saw others resorting to that as well. Probably going to join you on that one.
 

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jmark its not really resorting to MSE its that its actually probably the best AV out right now. You can check out http://www.av-comparatives.org/ Best site hands down for this stuff. They dont like linking to their tests but you can check them out. MSE is as lightweight as it gets and very nonintrusive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Grew tired of determining the best paid upgrade in the CyberLink series to go for, so opted for ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 3 Platinum. So far so good: nice feature set, no problems with Windows 7 64-Bit, nice clean playback of both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. ArcSoft's site pages and program make no mention of HD-DVD, but the BBC version of Planet Earth in HD-DVD played just fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Had one interesting blue screen 19/bad pool header crash this morning upon power-up that the Windows debugger indentified as tied to msmpeng.exe, a component of both Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender (which is disabled when MSE is installed). Subsequent restarts and power-ups have not been able to repeat it, so assuming until I see repeats that this may have just been the first instance of MSE taking over the executable from Windows Defender. Weird.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Have been still getting sporadic BSOD's, mostly on cold boot. After looking at the minidump files in the Windows debugger, was beginning to think there was a lingering problem with the RAM. However, wasn't getting anything definitive out of running Memtest, so spoke directly to G.Skill. Turns out there are a LOT of BIOS config changes that need to be made from the defaults for this motherboard/RAM combo. My problem with this is that there would be no way that one would know this without speaking directly with a G.Skill support rep, as neither G.Skill nor ASUS have these config specs posted anywhere. (Remember, I'm not doing any overclocking with this setup.) In any event, when I get a chance, I will post the specific BIOS config changes that need to be made, as I know this has become a popular motherboard/RAM combo, and am assuming there are a lot of other builders out there who have been frustrated by this issue. There IS a lingering issue with certain G.Skill RAM memory products with other ASUS motherboards where BSOD's appear primarily upon cold boot, and this issue has been detailed on G.Skill's own forum. Seems to be a timing problem when deploying pairs of G.Skill sticks (doesn't seem to occur when running one stick at a time), and G.Skill has apparently had success when replacing these pairs for those users. Since most of my lingering BSOD's have been appearing on cold boot (of course, BIOS config issues would normally appear immediately too), and I DID have a great deal of success running one stick at a time, I'm holding out judgement on this until my system cools off sufficiently from power down overnight to perform an effective cold boot. However, for now, these BIOS config changes seem to have done the trick.
 

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all memory has specific timings, speed and voltage that it runs best at but most of the time you can just get away with the default bios settings or if you are lucky those settings match what the memory likes. a lot of the time it has to do with gaming memory that runs at higher speeds and thus needs more voltage but not always some runs at lower voltage which is strange and can vary with brand.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
OK, 2 straight days of cold boots with no blue screens, so seems stable now. For the following product combo:


Motherboard: ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO

Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL


The G.Skill rep suggested the following settings:


BIOS Setup Utility>Advanced Tab>JumperFree Configuration>


Memory Timing and Voltage:

Memory Clock Mode: Manual

Memclock Value: 800MHz

DRAM Timing Mode: Both

TCL: 9 CLK

TRCD: 9 CLK

TRP: 9 CLK

TRAS: 24 CLK

Memory OverVoltage: 1.50000


All other memory settings on this BIOS page should be left as "Auto"


Save and Exit


These specific numbers seem obvious due to the stock settings for this particular G. Skill set, but I was wrongly assuming that "Auto" traits for the particular settings would work.


If you're overclocking this setup (even just the memory to 1600MHz from the default 1333), then you will have to obviously adjust other settings in your config. I am overclocking neither. If in doubt, speak by phone with G.Skill Tech Support (or ASUS if necessary). This is a non-gaming HTPC-specific setup and thus far, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD playback has been flawless. Hope these settings help other system builders caught in BSOD purgatory!
 
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