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I've just added some hard drives to my PC and it's having strange results.

I'm running an Asus P5N-E SLI motherboard with an Intel Quad Q6600 chip and 4x2GB Corsair XMS2 6400 RAM. For power usage reference I am also running two Radeon X1950 Pro Sapphire graphics cards linked by Crossfire, an Asus Xonar DX2 sound card and an additional two USB ports. The whole thing is wrapped in an Antec 1200 case with the Antec Modular CP-850 PSU.

For the last nine months or so I have been running the following drives:

Motherboard IDE Primary Master: 80 GB (Windows) / Motherboard IDE Primary Slave: 500 GB / Motherboard IDE Secondary Master: DVD Reader / Motherboard IDE Secondary Slave: DVD Writer / Motherboard SATA1: 320 GB / Motherboard SATA2: 320 GB

with an additional Ultra Medley PCI RAID card, linked to:

RAID0: IDE 320 GB / RAID1: IDE 320 GB / RAID2: IDE 320 GB / RAID3: IDE 320 GB

with no problems.

I finally got the funds for the final step of my dream machine and splashed out on 4x 2 TB SATA drives. The plan was to remove the two existing SATA 320 GB drives, giving me 12 drives.

However, it ain't happening.

BIOS sees all 12 drives on bootup, but as soon as it reaches the Windows loading screen it slows to a crawl, literally taking 5-10 minutes to boot up. After much persevering, I've narrowed it down to two options. I can either have:

Motherboard IDE Primary Master: 80 GB (Windows) / Motherboard IDE Primary Slave: 500 GB / Motherboard IDE Secondary Master: DVD Reader / Motherboard IDE Secondary Slave: DVD Writer / Motherboard SATA1: 2 TB / Motherboard SATA2: 2 TB / Motherboard SATA3: 2 TB / Motherboard SATA4: 2 TB

or

Motherboard IDE Primary Master: 80 GB (Windows) / Motherboard IDE Primary Slave: 500 GB / Motherboard IDE Secondary Master: DVD Reader / Motherboard IDE Secondary Slave: DVD Writer / RAID0: IDE 320 GB / RAID1: IDE 320 GB / RAID2: IDE 320 GB / RAID3: IDE 320 GB

IE; all of the onboard drives or all of the IDE drives. All drives and cables operate perfectly when tested individually. I have updated the motherboard BIOS to the latest version 1406. I am using Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit. I reinstalled it just on the offchance of a glitch, but no change.

Current theory is that there is a conflict between the onboard RAID controller and the PCI card RAID controller. My second bootup screen is entitled Sil 0680/133 Medley RAID Controller. It lists the four 320GB IDE drives with the option of hitting F3. Under F3 I get:

F1 Delete RAID set / F2 Create RAID set / F3 Create spare drive / F4 resolve conflicts / F5 config last HDD

Now, if I enable the onboard RAID and four subsequent SATA drives, then physically disconnect the drives on the PCI RAID card, my bootup screens change. The first screen no longer lists the four SATA drives and the second screen gives me a new option: F10.

Under F10 I have a split screen, like a Nero or FTP drag and drop layout. The left side lists all four SATA 2TB drives, the right is empty. The left half is entitled RAID Mode. It has the following available options:

Mirroring / Striping / Stripe Mirroring / Spanning / RAID 5

The right half is entitled Striping Block. It has the following available options:

4K / 8K / 16K / 32K / 64K / 128K / Optimal

That's all a bit beyond my level of expertise, so I am cautious of getting it wrong. I have already learned the hard way that "Clear Disk Data" does NOT mean undo.

I had planned on writing off the two 320 GB SATA drives as a part of the upgrade, the thought of writing off the four 320 GB IDE drives as well is a very bitter pill. This upgrade was the gameplan all along, and the reason I bought the Antec 1200 case and PSU in the first place.

Does anybody have any ideas, please? Sorry about the information overload!


EDIT: Additional information.

Thank you very much for your responses. I've done a few more tests, which seem to make things even more confusing...

First up, disconnecting the second Grpahics Card made no difference at all. Nice idea though, it hadn't occurred to me.

If I connect everything at once, all 12 drives, 2 graphics cards, RAID and sound cards, then this is what happens;

Boot screen 1: displays all 8 onboard drives / Boot screen 2: displays all 4 PCI RAID drives / Blinking cursor: this lasts roughly 30-40 seconds and does not normally appear / Starting Windows screen: this takes roughly ten minutes. Normally it's 30 seconds. The animated Windows logo crawls up pixel by pixel. It is painful to watch / When Windows finally loads, all I have are the four onboard IDE drives, four PCI RAID IDE 320GB drives and two of the 2TB SATA drives.

If I disconnect two of the PCI RAID card drives, it still takes forever to boot. If I disconnect all four it springs back to life. If I disconnect two of the SATA drives instead it gets weird - I get all 8 IDE drives but there is no sign of the 2 connected SATA drives, even in Disk Management.

Worth pointing out that, with everything connected, if I go to into BIOS and open up the boot drive menu, or if I select the F8 quick boot device screen, there are only ever 10 of the 12 drives listed. The PCI RAID drives 2 and 3 are alway missing, even though they are visible on the loading screens.

Just for clarification, all four of the 320 GB IDE drives on the PCI RAID card are matching Maxtor drives. The four 2TB SATAs are also a matching set of Samsung drives. I reinstalled Windows again this morning after tesing a brand new RAID card. It made no difference at all.

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well... if it is too many drives for windows to process... imagine for us! :) - I heard some (long) time ago that there could be incompatibilities between type (or brands) of HDs. Not sure if this is true or still true and anyways I think it was for HDs on the same controller but I thought any info can be valuable in your case which I think is not very standard. tbh I would like to see this machine working!!! lol –  laurent Aug 3 '10 at 14:03
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3 Answers

I think there are two main branches to troubleshoot: Software conflict or hardware issues.

Software conflict because the machine is able to start loading windows before you notice issues.

Hardware issues because the machine runs fine with 2 fewer drives. (If I understood it correctly).

In order to narrow it down you can try a few things: (Do these with all drives attached)

  • Boot from a linux live cd, (like knoppix, ubuntu) and check if the machine boots fine and is able to locate your drives. This eliminates windows/driver issues as a potential source.

  • Remove one of the graphics cards. If that solves it, you probably need a more powerful PSU.

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Thanks for your responses, I have edited my first post to include additional test results. The PSU is a modular 850 Watt, the largest I could find. It was purchased at Christmas. –  Jim Aug 3 '10 at 22:41
    
I'm starting to doubt power issues as an explanation considering your updates but still, have a look at the PSU calculator here: extreme.outervision.com/PSUEngine. If you are overclocking or have a few fans running you might be reaching the limits of that 850w. –  Console Aug 4 '10 at 7:56
    
Thanks for that. I think I was fairly accurate - came out at 512 W –  Jim Aug 4 '10 at 8:33
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You shouldn't take out a hard drive when it's already configured with RAID. That will get rid of quite a lot of required data and seriously mess things up.

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I've splashed out on a new motherboard - The Asus P5Q.

Happy to report that all my drives are now present and correct.

Thanks for all your help, everyone!

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