Want a challenge? it the hard drive, the motherboard, or the PSU?

By Schmutz
Feb 18, 2011
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  1. I have not been able to resolve a problem which has been affecting my computer for a few weeks now :eek:

    please see below for my system spec

    • hard drives are failing to show in windows (plugged in/set up)
    • computer hangs frequently on the very first boot "push x to enter bios" screen
    • "starting windows" screen while booting can take ~5 minutes
    • strange sounds from the hard drives when they are trying to load data
    I had Windows 7 (upgraded from vista) installed on my 500GB sata hard drive for about 4 years and everything has worked flawlessly. Recently it started to "choke/crawl" on a pulse (every 10 seconds the computer would stop responding for 1 minute and then work normally again)

    I decided to start fresh (for the first time in about 4 years) and installed Windows 7 64bit to my 2TB drive. It has worked flawlessly for about 4 days and now I am beginning to identify the same problems I had when the OS installation on the 500GB drive started to die (slow boot, some freezes, unable to see hard drives)
    Any of these seem possible:

    • Faulty PSU voltages
    • using too many devices without a surge protector (I have the computer, logitech Z5500 surround sound, 24" LCD monitor all plugged into the same socket, but this has worked flawlessly for years)
    • Faulty motherboard sata connections
    • corrupt bios
    Solutions I have tried
    • Using a different PSU (on my 500GB OS installation, had the same problems)
    • Trying different combinations with the cables from my PSU (modular) (when I couldn't get the 500GB sata drive to boot at all, using different sockets in the back of my PSU yielded different results (they are labelled 12V3, 12V4 etc... I'm not savvy on what it all means though)
    • Error checking tool
    • Defragmenting - no effect. Maybe I should try another defragmenter...
    • Error checking tool - nothing to report
    Remaining solutions
    • upgrade motherboard BIOS
    • try another motherboard (i would have to RMA the motherboard for this)
    • try my "faulty" sata drive in another computer (results could be interesting)
    • buy a more reliable PSU (I use a Jeantech 1000W and used a 600W arctic when trying to isolate the PSU from the equation, maybe BOTH of these are faulty/not providing enough juice to power my components (note; when I tried the 600W I booted ONLY my 500GB sata drive and an nvidia 7900GS. No 2x 6pin 275GTX, no DVD drive, no sound card - also this 600W PSU works fine with it's original computer (AMD 6000+ Dual core/2gb/7900GS two sata HDD's)
    System Spec
    Q6600 3.0GHZ
    6GB PC2 6400 800mhz (2x 2gb/2x 1gb)
    Nvidia GTX 275 896mb
    Asus Xonar DX soundcard
    Windows 7 x64
    Jeantech 1000W PSU

    Operating system is on 2TB drive
    ++ two 1TB data drives, one 500GB drive (all sata drives)

    I apologize for multiple threads! the cause of my problem has proven extremely tough to diagnose, please refer to my previous threads for more information (if necessary!)

    Hard drive is dying? (posted 19th December 2010)
    Faulty power supply affecting hard drive performance? (posted last week)

    PLEASE HELP! :D Anything else I should try? Any of my suggestions worth scrapping? (ie. buying another PSU)

    Thank you very much if you read all of this, your help will be appreciated
  2. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +116

    It could be the PSU beginning to break down, as the different results using different connectors of the power supply certainly raises questions as to the state of it.

    However, then seeing the problem persists even when using a different PSU then makes you wonder if the issue is entirely unrelated to the PSU, and in fact something entirely different.

    If it was me, and the motherboard was under warranty, my first port of call would be to RMA it, and get a replacement. I highly recommend you stick to Gigabyte, they make outstanding motherboards generally.
  3. Rancid

    Rancid TS Rookie Posts: 17

    Hi, Have you tried posting it with one stick of ram, a hard drive and PSU out of the case. and see if it has the same problem?

    Have you tested the Ram? Run memtest...

  4. Schmutz

    Schmutz TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 126

    I tried different RAM combinations, didn't have any luck though

    memtest is on my to do list, will I need to create a bootable DVD to run it? I saw an option to use a USB key, that would be ideal. If there is any way to test the memory while in windows I would like to try that first as well

    I will likely stick with Gigabyte (the same board if possible) I am in the process of testing my supposedly faulty 500GB hard drive on the other machine, no problems to report yet (if I do not experience ANY problems, then I can be confident it is the motherboards Sata ports, or the PSU)

    The reason I have not factored out the PSU is because there is a small chance my 600W psu may have been put under extra stress when powering my 4 RAM modules and a quad core processor (it only had one available 4 pin connection to the motherboard. I have seen that 8 pin connections are more appropriate with quad cores and my Q6600 does run at 3.0GHZ)

    I will now be putting the 500GB under more stress (running games, moving files, running disk check) on my secondary computer. If I do not experience any problems then I will RMA the motherboard ASAP (hopefully get a replacement)
  5. Schmutz

    Schmutz TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 126

    Just to report, I tried the 500GB hard drive in my fully functional secondary computer and experienced the same stalls, freezes and disconnections

    this means we can confidently say that hard drive is faulty*

    Now, I wonder if my PSU is somehow "frying" the hard drives? Is that possible? It would explain things (and it's more likely than several hard drives dying/showing symptoms over the course of a few weeks after many years of zero problems)


    maybe a program/windows update I am installing to my OS drive is causing the error... it's a longshot but won't a corrupt file be able to drag down a hard drives performance? Only way I'll know for sure is to format the 500GB drive but I'm still extracting my precious files from it at the moment

    I wonder! I'm still considering the motherboard RMA, will see how it goes over the next few days.
  6. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +116

    I would order a replacement hard disk, and then try that with a clean install of your chosen OS first.

    That will eliminate any potential corruptions, malware, Viruses or the like immediately. Its possible this is your issue.

    To be honest I thought it was likely to be either your SATA connectors (or associated motherboard wiring), or the hard disk.

    Its also possible your PSU is faulty, and is supplying too much power to your devices. I really don't know how good a brand your PSU is, but if its a more budget/cheap component I would seriously consider getting something better made to replace it.
  7. Schmutz

    Schmutz TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 126

    thanks for the support. I mentioned I did a new Windows 7 install on my 2TB drive. Unfortunately I continued to experience stalls, slowdowns and extremely long boot times (bios screen, starting windows screen taking much longer than usual)

    For reasons unknown, these problems have not occured for two days now. I am still hearing some subtle clicking noises across my hard drives when starting up which is causing concern (a common one is ~four "ticks" on the starting windows screen before it starts loading correctly (the animation does not freeze at any point though))

    As for the PSU, I have never had peace of mind with it. It cost £100 from PC world about a year ago so it wasn't cheap at all, but the store has terrible prices and a terrible product range (I had to buy it to replace my broken Corsair PSU when I had some very important coursework to finish:suspiciou) If you look for reviews for "Jeantech 1000W Absolute Modular" you'll notice it does not seem to have a good reputation at all.

    Would you be able to suggest a replacement PSU that could power my currect computer and whatever I buy next? I suppose it will not hurt investing in a new one now. I'll be upgrading my computer this summer when the next wave of hardware hits and it will be a major upgrade possibly with multiple GPU's since I am a hardcore gamer :grinthumb I'm happy to budget £60-100 toward a solid PSU, more if necessary
  8. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +116

    Personally, I wouldn't use anything other than Corsair. I use a Corsair HX750 PSU, which is modular, 750W, and comes with a 7 year warranty - outstanding for the most overlooked component in a computer in my opinion.

    In reality, anything from Corsair, OCZ, Coolermaster or Antec (true power) and Enermax I believe are all good.

    A 750W PSU will power the very latest chipset and CPU, multiple GB's of RAM, multiple hard disks and optical drives, and upto two HD6870/GTX460's all overclocked with room to spare.

    So in reality it depends what your aiming for really, as to whether you need this much power. I really don't right now, but in time I will.

    Last time I looked OCUK were selling the Corsair HX750 for around the £120 mark. You could fetch a OCZ ModXtreme Pro 700W modular for £70 ish though. I've also got one of these, but much prefer the build quality of the modular HX750 Corsair unit though.

    PC World is the last place to get ANY serious computer components - unfortunately most UK people need to learn this before discovering places (Like Scan, eBuyer, OCUK) which are much more suitable.

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