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Computer not booting from HDD or CD

Hi, I turned on my brothers computer the other day to be greeted with the wonderful BIOS screen. On the right hand side in big red font, it said that the CPU had been re-installed. I thought nothing of it, thinking perhaps someone had reset the bios, so I hit exit without saving changes and tried to load windows. It goes past the first screen where it checks the hard drive, the cd-roms, and the memory. Then on the next screen it freezes indefinitely. After leaving it running overnight, there was no error message. At that point I reset the bios to default settings, and tried it again - Same thing. I guessed maybe the windows install had become corrupted or something, so I popped in my XP disc, and it got to the same screen it freezes at. At the bottom, the message "Press any key to boot from CD" as usual. I pressed spacebar, and saw the standard "setup is inspecting your hardware..." There, it froze again. I left it for a few hours and no luck again.

Just to be sure the 2 month old HD wasn't failing, I popped it in my computer, copied about 2 gigs to it, and it seemed to work fine.

At this point I'm not sure whats up with it. My only thought is that
A) CPU is damaged in someway, maybe it overheated?(New desk so it doesn't have the same air circulation it had before)
B) Something wrong with the motherboard, maybe a virus or just something worn out.

Not sure what exactly is wrong, but any ideas would make it a lot less painful(and expensive) in figuring it out.

Its a fairly old custom-built computer,

Socket 372 Celeron
Im not sure of the motherboard unfortuneatly, but it is asus with via chipset
512mb SD Ram
ATI Radeon 8500 Pro 128mb (AGP 4X)
Soundblaster PCI card - again, not sure specifics
250 gig maxtor hard drive (less than 3 months old)
Lite On 16X DVD Burner
HP 4X CD Re-writer

If any other info is needed I can get it

Thanks in advance,

Matthew

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Usually when it boots right into

In reply to: Computer not booting from HDD or CD

the BIOS it means that the memory speed or FSB or such is above the CPU's capability. It put you into the BIOS to save the CPU and give you an opportunity to correct the apparent overclocking.

Can you boot up and get into the BIOS?

Sounds, now, as if there is a hardware item that is defective [the system can't install the BIOS from NVRAM for it].

Maybe, while observing ESD caution, try reconnecting things.

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Remember that when one overclocks

In reply to: Computer not booting from HDD or CD

the other bus speeds increase proportionately and that can cause any PCI card, video card, et al to not function at the higher speed.

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Thanks

In reply to: Remember that when one overclocks

Yes, I cant get into the bios without a problem - I also forget to mention that the cpu speed is 1ghz - its not over clocked either. I tried lowering the speed to 666mhz but still wont boot HDD or CD.
I gave the case a good cleaning with compressed air, and removed the cpu -then reinstalled it. Still unfortunately it wont boot.

Thanks again

Matt

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Something else to check

In reply to: Computer not booting from HDD or CD

IDE cables have a tendency to go bad randomly and more often than you'd think. You might try replacing the cable used for your HDD with a known good cable.

I've also had it happen where if I had a drive that previously had Linux on it, and thus partition types that Windows didn't recognize, the Windows setup would stall while trying to read the HDD. This is easily fixed by using a bootable CD that comes with a HDD, or any program that can change the partitions to FAT or NTFS. If by chance your drive has some small degree of corruption, it could throw off the installer which is quite fragile.

The other possibility, is that the IDE controller on your system has started to fail... In which case, a new motherboard is the only solution.

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Hmmm

In reply to: Something else to check

The IDE controller going bad would explain a lot...I said the hard drive is <2 months old, but we have replaced it 4 times in the last year...I thought I was just having bad luck but I guess not. BTW using the new cables that come with the drive each time too. I also forgot to mention that windows was installed on the computer, it just wouldn't boot one day.

Thanks again - Ill look into new motherboards.

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