Stuck at windows startup, partially fixed

Pylor

Limp Gawd
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Feb 9, 2012
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422
I'll start out short: I've been troubleshooting an HTPC build that's a hodgepodge of parts I had laying around, and the computer will only properly boot into windows if my graphics card is in the second pci express slot.

Current parts:
  • E6850 - 3Ghz core 2 duo
  • ECS black socket 775
  • Corsair CX430 - lots of miles
  • GTX 650ti
  • OCZ Vertex 64GB (yes, the original vertex)

This is a slightly new build (GT 430 was in before the 650ti and the vertex was a slow WD green HDD, ran fine in linux). Fresh install of windows 7, boots in perfectly fine the first time; then when the computer gets rebooted after the drivers install it stops at the "starting windows" screen with the windows all together. The strange thing is that the computer actually loads into windows, I can alt+f4 and hit enter to shut it back down. It's just the display that stops working. Here's a short list of troubleshooting things I did that actually got results:

  • 650ti in first slot GT 430 in second slot, the windows only detects the GT 430 - GTX650ti isn't even in the device manager.
  • GT 430 in first slot and GTX 650ti in second slot and it can boot into windows and display.
  • Booting into safe mode is fine, similar to the initial bootup
  • When running the card in the second PCI express slot the system will hard lock and have graphics driver restarts randomly. 20% of the time it just boots to a black screen after the STARTING WINDOWS screen.

I'm not really sure where to start; I have a p5n-e sli motherboard I switched off of long ago after months of trying to troubleshoot hard locks with that I could swap in sometime, but I'd likely just get hardlocks again I'd imagine. I'll have access to my backup PSU sometime soon incase that's the issue. The graphics card itself has been running fine in my primary pc as a backup/powering secondary monitors back before I had integrated graphics to do that. I've read about issues with pci-express backwards compatibility, but these slots are both gen 2 x16, the whole thing is slightly baffling.
 
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teh_chem

[H]ard|Gawd
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Your second bullet point seems to have resolved the issue. Why not just keep it in that configuration and move on?
 

Nenu

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Looks like it is using a display adapter without a functioning monitor.
Do as suggested above or try doing this:
Windows Key + P (then let go of the keys), then left or right arrow once or twice then press enter.

Try it when the display is working to see what that does.
It is a display switcher shortcut.

Once you have it working, you can select the default display.
It might initially be due to a BIOS setting for the preferred PCI-E display adapter.
 

Pylor

Limp Gawd
Joined
Feb 9, 2012
Messages
422
Thanks for the responses:

Your second bullet point seems to have resolved the issue. Why not just keep it in that configuration and move on?

I haven't fully tested it yet, but I have a feeling that the driver issue will still persist. I'll try it again when I get home tonight. The GT430 card was just used to try and troubleshoot whatever was happening. When the GT 430 was in the second slot the GTX650ti (first slot) didn't even show up in the device manager, swapping the two actually had the GTX650ti show up in the device manager. I didn't test much and took the GT 430 out of the first slot not thinking it would matter much. I was just happy to boot into windows. I'll edit my first post.

Looks like it is using a display adapter without a functioning monitor.
Do as suggested above or try doing this:
Windows Key + P (then let go of the keys), then left or right arrow once or twice then press enter.

Try it when the display is working to see what that does.
It is a display switcher shortcut.

Once you have it working, you can select the default display.
It might initially be due to a BIOS setting for the preferred PCI-E display adapter.

I'll give it a try but I don't think it will fix my issue, like I said above the card literally doesn't show up in device manager. I also tried hooking it up to multiple monitors with no results (using multiple outputs). Windows key + p is usually for projectors, but hey, worth a shot.

I've also toggled that bios option, it's only PCI or PCI-E, and was initially set to PCI-E. I tried PCI and there was no difference (as I expected). I'm thinking this is an issue with pci-express 3 cards not working right in the pci-express 2 motherboard, though I had a 7970 in a 1366 board for forever with only a few issues that were driver resolved. I plan on playing in the bios more tonight. I have the following equipment to swap in/out:

  • 7970
  • 270x (would prefer not to, it's a pain getting it in and out of its case)
  • CX430 and an old antec 800 watt PSU ****soon****
  • Asus P5N-E sli mobo that was known for causing issues. This one I actually got in an RMA exchange which didn't fix my issues.
 
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Nenu

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Yeah sorry, I didnt absorb what you said properly.
Ignore what I posted above.

Check the cards PCI-e connections are clean.
Look in the PCI-E slot that is causing problems and see if there is any dust/dirt or bent pins.

Failing the above, can you reset your CMOS, it might be set up badly or corrupt.
Now see if the card gets detected and is stable.
 

Pylor

Limp Gawd
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Messages
422
CMOS has been cleared a few times (I've played with the jumpers). I'll check everything else but I don't think anything will turn up; this whole thing is bizarre:

  • GTX650ti has worked fine in 2 other motherboards in the past (one was socket 1366, the second was socket 1150/Z87), and was pulled WORKING from my desktop PC where it was a secondary card
  • This motherboard has run a 8800GTX in the past with no issues, as well as multiple GT 430 cards
  • The card only stops working AFTER the initial windows install when a driver has been installed, and even then it appears to be COMPLETELY MISSING from the device manager. Safe mode displays fine. I may try remote desktoping to the PC and seeing what it says
 
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mdmcaf

Weaksauce
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Jan 23, 2011
Messages
68
If you uninstall the drivers again, does it go back to normal?

I would do like Nenu suggested and check the PCI-e connections to make sure they're clean and there are no bent pins. I would also check the cards themselves and make sure that a bent pin didn't scratch the surface of the contacts on the card.

This is a funny problem because it sounds like a hardware problem, but it only pops up when the drivers are installed; but the fact that the problem only pops up once the drivers are installed doesn't necessarily rule out a hardware problem.

What if you were to boot into a Linux Live CD/USB? If the same problems pop up that would definitely point to hardware, and if they don't then you've got yourself a driver problem which could potentially be solved with different drivers.
 

Pylor

Limp Gawd
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Messages
422
Thanks for all the replies guys, it's nice to get feedback and get ideas. I checked pins, they're all fine on both the cards and the motherboard. I'm chalking this up to a motherboard incompatibility (I've opened a ticket with ECS but I'd be amazed if they cared at all) between this board and PCI-express 3 cards. I probably could have confirmed it but it wasn't worth my time as I've put 2-3 nights into this already. Here's a few things I did tonight which really reinforces my thoughts:

  • I took the GTX650ti and put it in a new system I just built for my parents with a B85i and an i3 4330 in it, it booted up fine with drivers installed, I even ran a quick 3dmark benchmark on it and rebooted it 5 times just to enjoy windows actually booting on the card
  • Put the card back in the problem computer, and just incase it was the power supply, I took a 6 pin from the working computer's PSU and plugged it into the card with both systems running. "Starting windows" stays on the screen well past the system being fully booted, not working still
  • I bit the bullet and put the crappy old P5N-e sli in and moved all the components to it, installed windows again, installed drivers, it starts up flawlessly, and I even ran 3dmark again just because I could

Very annoying that it's a motherboard issue but I guess it's to be expected. Just seems odd that an old 2006 nvidia chipset works better than the p45 chipset from 2008. What bothers me is that the north bridge on the p5n-e gets HOT, I remember it crashing constantly, and it's only pci express 1.1. It's x16, but that's still just PCI-Express 2.0 x8/PCI-express 3.0 x4
 
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Nenu

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To help with the working board, fit a heatsink to the p5n-e northbridge chip, use heatsink paste (not arctic silver).
Blow a quiet fan at it if it needs more help.
I've kept a few old machines going in this way.
 

Pylor

Limp Gawd
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Messages
422
To help with the working board, fit a heatsink to the p5n-e northbridge chip, use heatsink paste (not arctic silver).
Blow a quiet fan at it if it needs more help.
I've kept a few old machines going in this way.

The sad thing is that it already has a giant aluminum heatsink on it, which has halfway decent airflow getting pulled across it from an old arctic cooler 7 pro rev. 2 I put on the cpu + fresh air from case fans.

p5n-e_sli_top.jpg


I'm assuming it's being held on there not just by the push pins (or w/e those things) are but by a thermal pad too that's akin to cement at this point. I actually put a decently size ~60mm fan or so on it a long time ago to try to cool it more and see if that helped at all (it didn't stop the freezing) and I have a small heatsink on the south bridge with a thermal pad between.

The board was just cheap in 2007. If nothing else I'll use this (when it does eventually freeze) as an excuse for a new i5/z87/ddr3 setup. It's just too bad there's no deals (to my knowledge) like I had when I bought my 4770k from newegg + mobo and got $110 off or so.
 

Nenu

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Oh well, good luck with what you end up doing :)


edit
actually.....
Are you sure the CMOS was reset?
I've had boards that had to be left overnight without being plugged into the mains and with the CMOS battery removed before it would reset.
 

chibe

[H]ard|Gawd
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What you can do to make sure it resets is take out the cmos battery and ground the battery connections together.
 

Nenu

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I think its the memory itself retaining its contents for a long time when there is no power to it.
It is capacitive and relies on leakage for it to lose data from the memory cells.
In some chips the leakage is very low so at least some of the data is held for a long time.
Even normal system ram can do this, especially if frozen quickly after being powered down.

Give it a try without the battery and without it plugged into the wall socket, overnight.
 

Pylor

Limp Gawd
Joined
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Messages
422
It was reset, I took the battery out and unplugged it, then plugged everything back in and cleared it with the CMOS clear jumper. It booted back up with no time, all default settings. CMOS clears wouldn't do much for that board imo, its bios options (aside from the OC section) are barely better than a dell prebuilt would have. There's virtually nothing display wise I can set except PCI-E or pci for primary boot display device.

Board is just weird/faulty, when I put the gt430 in the lower slot and the gtx650ti in the upper slot it would boot to the gt430. When the gt430 was in the upper slot it would still boot to it as primary.

I'm pretty sure the p5n-e board has already frozen on me, I went in this morning after queueing up 160 windows updates last night and it was off, apparently it had a "power event" sometime around 5am.
 
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