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HP m8400f - Motherboard/BIOS gone bad?

by machupp / July 15, 2010 4:49 PM PDT

HP Pavilion m8400f
AMD Phenom 9500 Quad-Core Processor
3.00 GB RAM
nVidia GeForce 8500 GT
ECS MCP61PM-HM Motherboard
Vista 32-bit Home Basic

A couple of months ago, I began to experience periodic BSODs. I updated my drivers (Vista and nVidia don't play nice), scanned for viruses/malware (none found)--the usual culprits. Everything seemed fine for a while. Then, recently, the BSODs became recurrent, occurring almost every time I booted up (though sometimes everything would still run smoothly).

I ran multiple stress tests on the hardware and had a tech do the same. It all passed, so I figured something had corrupted the OS. I ran a complete factory reset but, after that finished, the OS wouldn't configure. It errors out with a "code purple" every time.

I spoke with a rep from HP who advised me to reset BIOS by reseating the CMOS battery. That didn't work, and either did resetting the defaults within BIOS. That rep then suggested I bring the computer into one of their authorized techs at Walmart or Office Depot to update the BIOS manually (for cheap). Techs in my area won't touch it, I guess out of liability concerns about ruining the motherboard. They'll only send it off to "central repair" for $300.

Tonight, I then spoke with another HP rep who indicated that my motherboard is actually going/has gone bad if reseating the CMOS battery didn't work. She said they need to "repair the DMI utility of the motherboard stored in the BIOS." Cost: $199, plus the cost of a new motherboard if they can't repair the old one.

So my question is, does either diagnosis sound correct? Could the recovery partition have become corrupted instead (in which case I'm at a loss)? I can follow a guide and update the BIOS myself if needed, but I don't want to waste my time and risk damaging the rest of the hardware if the board is toast. If it is, I plan on salvaging the working parts to upgrade my wife's desktop.

Sorry for the wall of text, but I wanted to make sure the case was clear. Thanks for your time.


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by samkh / July 15, 2010 11:42 PM PDT

more often than not is the result of unrecoverable memory errors which could be due to the DIMMs or the memory controller in the AMD. Have you tried reseating the DIMMs and, since you have 3GB, tried operating only with the 2GB stick? If you are close to a computer store, get a known good DIMM to verify.

Forget repair services...a generic version of the MCP61P is about $50 but the back I/O may be slightly different...and replacing the mobo yourself means dealing with Vista re-activation...not impossible but not everyone likes dealing with it. If the recovery partition is corrupted, ask HP to ship you Vista OEM (NOT recovery) CDs.

If you don't like messing with hardware, replace the PC. For value, a new PC with W7 and better CPUs than the 9500 can't be beat.

Good luck.

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Not the DIMMs
by machupp / July 17, 2010 5:58 AM PDT
In reply to: BSOD

It wasn't the DIMMs or a corruption in the partition. Looks like the mobo is the culprit after all. I'll be salvaging the rest of the parts for various upgrades on other household comps and ordering something new with Windows 7.

Thanks for the advice. Much appreciated. =)

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