Are my SATA ports fried? Or something else mobo related?

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by TtamNedlog, Nov 25, 2009.

  1. TtamNedlog

    TtamNedlog OT Supporter

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    (Kinda long, but giving all the details)

    Hardware:
    • Gigabyte P35-DS3R
    • Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 7200RPM 3Gb/s SATA
    • Intel Core2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz LGA 775
    • G.Skill 2x2GB DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
    • EVGA GeForce 8800GTS 512mb
    • Samsung 20X DVD+-R SATA
    • Corsair PSU 620HX



    The problem:

    I'm trying to install Windows 7 on my desktop. I turn the computer on, boot from CD/DVD, it prepares to run setup. I get past the first several screens where I choose a language, click "Install Now," and accept license agreements, and choose partitioning.

    When I get to this screen, the computer dies (by which I mean the screen goes black and I have to hard reboot):

    [​IMG]

    Sometimes it dies immediately when "Expanding Files" begins at 0%. Sometimes it makes it a little farther with "Expanding Files" reaching upwards of 50% or more. Sometimes it makes it all the way past that and does the 15 second countdown to reboot, but hangs (screen doesn't go off, things just freeze). Note that when this happens, I just hard reboot and am able to continue with installation (if only temporarily) instead of having to start over from the beginning.

    VERY rarely (only once in the 15 or so times I've tried to install), I completed the entire installation and made it to the Windows desktop. Interestingly, it would still black screen, seemingly randomly but only after I DID something. Like open IE. Open Control Panel. Etc.

    The common denominator in these deaths seems to be activity. More specifically, hard drive activity. It will sit, just fine, during installation until something actually starts happening. I can leave it on the language selection screen for hours for example and it sits there just fine.



    Things I've tried that had no success:

    • Removed 1 stick of RAM
    • Swapped position of RAM, and tried in different slots
    • Ran Memtest86+ for like a day, made 15 successful passes, no errors. RAM appears good.
    • Connected the monitor to the second DVI output on the video card.
    • Connected the hard drive and the DVD drive to other open SATA ports.
    Swapped out the hard drive for another one that I know to be working fine. This of course proves it to not be the hard drive's fault.
    • Removed optical drive and installed from USB drive
    • Removed HDD and tried to install from USB drive to USB HDD. Setup wouldn't allow this.
    • With a modular PSU, I moved power cables around to different ports. I also removed the dedicated PCIe power cable, and used the old fashioned 2x 4pin power cables to power the video card.



    Why I suspect the SATA ports:

    It seems to be a hard drive issue, but it's not the hard drive. The only other thing I haven't tested is the PSU and Video Card, but the times at which the problems occur don't seem to have anything to do with power or graphics. Not to mention, months ago my computer just wouldn't power on whatsoever. I took it to the Geek Squad (don't judge me, I was too busy at the time to troubleshoot myself!), and they found a short in one of my SATA ports. Connecting the hard drive to a different SATA port solved the problem.



    Conclusion:

    So maybe the remaining SATA ports are frying now? Maybe whatever caused the short in the first place has spread to cause further mobo damage elsewhere? What do you think?
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2009
  2. TtamNedlog

    TtamNedlog OT Supporter

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    Also, just to add a little more history. This never really bothered me because my computer typically stays on 24/7, but when the computer was running Vista, sometimes it would black screen after the "Starting Windows" animation screen. Again, when I presume hard drive activity would be starting.

    It happened maybe 20% of the time, but as I said I so rarely rebooted it was hardly an issue. But something has always been amiss. Now it actually affects me because I can't install W7.
     
  3. rsxm5

    rsxm5 OT Supporter

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    I had a similar issue, and it turned out to be my optical drive. Do you have another DVDRW or something you can try it with?
     
  4. TtamNedlog

    TtamNedlog OT Supporter

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    I just tried removing the DVDrom and installing from a USB drive. Got to 11% on the Expanding Files and the screen went black again.

    So the optical drive isn't the cause. But this gives me a new idea, to try installing from USB drive to a USB hard drive, bypassing SATA entirely. If that's doable.
     
  5. TtamNedlog

    TtamNedlog OT Supporter

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    That didn't work either. Setup said it doesn't support installation to USB drives. Ugh.

    Further bad news is that the screen went black about 10 seconds after it told me that. There was nothing whatsoever hooked up to the SATA ports and no HDD activity at that time.

    So having tested everything but the PSU and video card, I guess it has to be one of those. Unless it is still mobo related and simply not the SATA ports.
     
  6. TtamNedlog

    TtamNedlog OT Supporter

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    Hmm... The problem seems fixed. After flashing the BIOS, and it still failing with "Optimized Defaults" loaded, I figured I would go in and manually look at each BIOS setting.

    PCIe bus frequency was set to "Auto", with the side note that 100 is the typical setting. Why it's not set to 100 by default is beyond me. So I set that to 100 (and made a few other adjustments but I feel they were insignificant).

    Now it works. I guess it was that. Ugh.
     

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