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POST fails to complete sometimes

by mchainmchain / March 29, 2013 4:34 AM PDT

Gateway E-4100 mini-tower running XP Pro SP3. P4 Prescott 3.4 HT, 2 GB RAM, HDD HD5728040PLAT20 & Maxtor 6L 160P0, both refurbished to new condition. HD5728040PLAT20 is a slightly larger clone of the original WD400 40GB drive and is the boot drive. Clone was successful and is running in the system now.

Also running two DVD/RW drives, one is a SATA primary and the other is an IDE secondary master.

Video card is a nvidia 6200 agp 8x new and psu is also new: Corsair TX650. New psu replaced original Gateway 250 watt unit in early March of this year.

Motherboard is an Board: Intel Corporation D865GLC AAC28705-409 and the system model is Gateway MIDWAY 4000888.

BIOS is original: BIOS: Intel Corp. BF86510A.15A.0066.P13.0404221042 04/22/2004

Both drives are reported as healthy by DiskCheckup 3.1, except the Maxtor is reporting spin-up time is around 10 seconds to start.

With the case, open, when the POST failure occurs, a red led light will flash at the bottom of the motherboard and stay flashing. No video screen with the Gateway BIOS screen will appear; screen remains blank.

Force-shut down in this condition will take about 3-4 seconds; waiting 30 seconds and cold boot will be successful as normal. Red led light does not flash, and goes out in 1-2 seconds. Case fan will run continuously when POST fails, but will run 3-4 seconds with successful POST.

When a successful POST occurs, system shut-down is immediate.

Troubleshooting has involved replacing the original nvidia 6200 agp 8x card, and also booting without the HDD's connected. Also have run memtest, reseated all connections and cards, no change. memtest showed no errors after 7 complete passes.

With the HDD's removed, 1 out of 8 cold starts resulted in a POST failure. With the Maxtor removed, there was no change in POST failure rate. With only the boot HDD running, no change.

Still got POST failure when running HDD's, force-shut down, cold-boot then successful and system runs normally. Applications snap, no degradation of system performance noted.

Have checked capacitors, all look to be in good condition.

Reason the original psu was replaced was because the 12 volt rail was varying from 11.14-11.97 under load, even tho the load was reduced; new is 12.14-12.17 volts with all peripherals connected. Old psu was running with only one HDD and one DVD drive, and the original 6200 card.

Where to purchase a pci post card? Would using this device help track the POST issue down?

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The clue
by Jimmy Greystone / March 29, 2013 6:39 AM PDT

The clue is that flashing red light. Figure out what that is, and you'll have something to work with rather than groping around blindly hoping to stumble across the solution.

Also, if the unit shuts down within seconds after successful POST, how are you able to run memtest on it?

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Clarification and more info...
by mchainmchain / March 29, 2013 6:42 PM PDT
In reply to: The clue

Sorry not to be clear enough.

The unit shutting down immediately was under these conditions: No HDD's were attached and running & POST was successful. Gateway screen appeared, and text note about missing boot drive appeared on monitor.

If POST failed, then flashing red led light and case fan runs continuously. Force shut down would take 3-4 seconds to occur when POST stalled. Monitor would not show any display and monitor power light is yellow.

Also hear a very high pitched "whistle" sound coming from the system when POST stalls. This stops when force-quit is used.

Power-on button on computer is green when the whistle is heard.

Once I get past the first POST failure, system always boots on second cold start. Note that without the HDD's I had 7 of 8 successful starts.

So, once the system is up and running, it will restart all day long, and no blue-screens or errors pop up.

Also note that system suspend works on shutdown, but not on power-up. Power-on button on computer stays yellow when resuming from suspend state. Case fan starts then shuts down. Hibernate works on shutdown and start up, so far.

BIOS has a hdd setting where it is possible to delay detection of the drive(s) from one second to 29. I've set it to 12 seconds with no change in behavior. Reset back to default of 1 second for now.

Maybe contact Gateway forums about this flashing red led?

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Re: Red LED light
by mchainmchain / April 2, 2013 7:47 PM PDT
In reply to: The clue

Thanks for helping.

I've gone over to tom's hardware and posted in the motherboard section a few days ago. Unlike here, there has been no response, so am grateful that you and Kees responded.

System is completely stable, and will reboot with no problem. Cold starting is the problem.

Kees is likely right, it is a motherboard issue. Something changes when the board warms a little bit as it is energized.

Do you or Kees know of a hardware forum that would at least be able to guide me to the answer as to what the red light is for, and why it sometimes indicates a problem and others times, not?

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Re: boot failure
by Kees_B Forum moderator / March 29, 2013 7:20 AM PDT

Seems like some motherboard error.

I wonder if this rather old PC deserves a replacement motherboard. Maybe it's time to replace it.


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Motherboard error
by mchainmchain / March 29, 2013 6:45 PM PDT
In reply to: Re: boot failure

Would I go to Intel to get the board or to Gateway? Would the needed motherboard drivers come with the new board? (CD?)

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Re: motherboard
by Kees_B Forum moderator / March 30, 2013 1:01 AM PDT
In reply to: Motherboard error

Although a new motherboard does come with drivers, you'll probably need a new CPU and new RAM also.
Any model you like and that physically fits will do.

Since your OEM version of Windows is tied to your motherboard, you'll need a new Windows XP license also. Buying a new PC might be a much better idea, if it really is a motherboard issue.


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by mchainmchain / April 5, 2013 7:22 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: motherboard

Noticed when I ran memtest overnight, (11 passes w/o error) that the memory speed was stated to be 319 MHz, and not the 333 specified in system properties. Have DDR333 sticks installed as dual-channel (4).

Is this correct?

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Kees, please reply
by mchainmchain / April 14, 2013 6:32 PM PDT
In reply to: Re: motherboard

I discovered my floppy drive was not energizing and working any more during POST.

Disabled the floppy controller and drive itself in BIOS screen, now system starts everytime. Hibernate works, Standby works, every time.

Does POST check for the floppy drive? It seems it does.

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Good job.
by Kees_B Forum moderator / April 14, 2013 7:48 PM PDT
In reply to: Kees, please reply

Just leave it like that. Nobody uses a floppy anymore.


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Thank you
by mchainmchain / April 15, 2013 4:31 AM PDT
In reply to: Good job.

Either the floppy drive broke or the motherboard is broken at that point. I could test for that by replacing the floppy drive with a new one and re-enabling the BIOS settings by setting to defaults. But, no need. Happy

Could be the floppy drive cable is mounted wrong or power connection is backwards (I doubt that) as I replaced the psu after this issue first came up?

To think I was considering using the Gateway BIOS upgrade .zip file that runs via windows desktop but requires the floppy drive to complete on reboot, I am glad I did not do that. As the only upgrade I could find for this motherboard was version .P13, at the Gateway site, same as the original, I did not see the point.

Want to get the same exact motherboard Gateway 4000888 in order to extend the useful life, good reputable links to provide? I've checked and have found one for $79.00. One of the links I found had four versions of 4000887, 4000884, etc., and with the XP license tied to the exact same motherboard, I do not think another Gateway motherboard version other than 4000888 would work. Also looking to get a reputable seller for XP Pro SP3 retail installation disk (preferably in original box) and links for that?

I know I could install a new mini-ATX board using an Intel i5 processor, with no problem, and thus upgrade using the original case as it was designed to run the P4 3.2 HT processor (runs much hotter than standard processors made today, 60 degrees C.) so proper cooling is not an issue. It is just that the new motherboard would require new memory sticks and other drivers, and with this old machine, I'd rather not go down that path. Then there is the problem of getting a new retail version of Win 7 or 8, so...

if nothing else, it would be useful for running Ubuntu when support for XP ends in April 2014. I've had this machine for five years and would hate to see it go...

Learned much here, so thanks for the help.

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I don't need support for XP?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 15, 2013 5:11 AM PDT
In reply to: Thank you

When this comes up, since XP is running fine and I haven't asked for XP support in over a decade why is there any concern about this?

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