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Ok, this one is weird. Lots of moving parts here so I'll just list them off and maybe someone can flag one of them as a cause.

I built a new system, ASUS EVO/USB3 MB, AMD 6-core, 8GB DDR3, SATA II HD. Everything was fine for a month or two.

Couple days ago I added 2 things: a GTX 460 graphics card, and a shiny new copper heatsink. After doing this and plugging the HD and DVD drive back in it wouldn't boot. It was saying something about No bootable drive found or something. If I hit F8 I could specifically choose the SATA HD and it would boot ok. But I didn't want to do this every time. So I moved the sata plug around on the motherboard - there were 5 plugs all right next to each other - this didn't seem to help. I went into BIOS and changed the boot order around, and now it does boot without F8 or any other intervention.

But the boot is CRAZY slow. The ASUS POST screen will sit there for like 15 sec, when it was 2 sec before. Then the windows 7 logo comes up, and then black screen for like 30-45 sec.Then windows comes up most things run fine but certain programs just hang.

  1. Games load in normal times and run fine
  2. Most programs load ok and respond well, some randomly freeze
  3. HD fragmentation is around 8%, no problem copying/moving files
  4. Heat levels via SpeedFan are good, idling at 35C, peaking at 45C
  5. GPU heat is good, idling at 30C, peaking at 53C, games run smooth
  6. No viruses that I can find

So did I screw up the SATA plug? Did I screw up something in BIOS? I thought maybe it was a windows 7 thing, but how would that account for the slow POST? Could it possibly be one of the cores of the CPU gone bad? If so, how would I check that?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

EDIT: What really confuses me is the 5 SATA connections on the MB. Are some of them SATA 3.0Gb vs 6.0 Gb? If so, is one of the the 'primary' or 'master' plug? I have 1 SATA 6.0 HD, 1 IDE DVD Burner, and 1 External USB 2.0 HD.

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Whats the wattage on your power supply? –  Kyle Apr 28 '11 at 13:55
    
Antec Earthwatts 650W –  LoveMeSomeCode Apr 28 '11 at 14:00
    
Yeah that power supply should be more than enough... Do you have multimeter? It might worth testing for any variances in voltage/wattage. Also just as a test take EVERYTHING out of your PC that you don't need. Leave one stick of RAM, take out the video card, any extra hard drives etc.. and try booting. –  Kyle Apr 28 '11 at 14:03

3 Answers 3

This sounds like a motherboard issue to me - you should try a minimal boot.

Remove expansion cards (except video, if there is no on-board video), disconnect power and data cables from all drives except for the BOOT hard drive. Unplug everything from the machine (USB, Firewire [IEEE1394], eSATA) including all external drives, USB hubs, cameras, etc, except the mouse and keyboard.

Make sure the BIOS setting "Plug n Play OS" is set to 'Yes' or 'Enabled' and try booting again. If it is still slow, reset CMOS settings (jumper CMOS battery to reset RTC data), or use the BIOS CMOS setup program to reset to defaults. Reseat the RAM (cleaning the contacts and using compressed air on the slots), then reseat/remount the CPU, using the proper amount of thermal grease. Once you've done this, go back into CMOS setup program and set up your CPU speeds, voltages, other parameters, and RAM timings to manufacture specs. Try to boot now.

If you can boot okay, try adding one piece of hardware at a time and see what breaks the boot.

If you can't do a good minimal boot, you may have either a corrupt OS (reinstall), failing CPU/motherboard/RAM/power supply/HDD. You can run diagnostics on each of these:

In the worst case, reinstall Windows and see if the minimal boot works then. If not, you have a hardware issue, and you will need to swap parts and eventually RMA something.

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Thanks for the info and the utilities. I'll give em a try tonight and let you know. –  LoveMeSomeCode Apr 29 '11 at 12:40

Can't imagine the Hard drive is causing the slowness when the BIOS boots. Might be worth trying to use a different SATA plug first, as a failsafe.

Flashing the BIOS is quite an easy task in Windows but I would consider that a last resort.

You can see core activity in Task Manager, should show you all the cores and their load. I doubt one has gone bad though.

Maybe check to see if your RAM hasn't been knocked loose or something while fiddling or if there is not something touching the motherboard that shouldn't be.

May be post back with some findings and can diag from there?

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Thanks for the ideas. One thing you said about something touching the board, the new heatsink has a backplate that fastens to underside of the motherboard, maybe I screwed that up. Its not any cooler or much quieter than the stock fan, so I'll switch back. –  LoveMeSomeCode Apr 28 '11 at 14:01

As Kyle is mentioning in the comments, you might be having a power supply issue: PSU might not be able to handle the load. Most people will give you redonkulus 1000Watt requirements etc, which is almost always over the top wrong, but there is a minimum requirement based upon your specific hardware installed. The quick test it to remove things which draw power from the psu (usb devices included) and see if it boots again. the biggest poer draw will be the video card. Maybe remove it temporarily to see if the problem resolves

Alternatively, the hard drive is failing: the time at start up may be the BIOS seeking the drive, getting {something} but the drive isn't fully online. This could also be caused by a power issue above...

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I'll try removing the graphics card and see if that helps. Also, speaking of USB, my external USB HD no longer seems to be recognized. –  LoveMeSomeCode Apr 28 '11 at 14:28
    
I suppose that also points to the possibility of a low power condition, since USB3 provides 5voltwith about 900mAmps max –  horatio Apr 28 '11 at 15:45
    
Sorry, I should amend that. It's a USB 2.0 500GB MyBook. It's been working fine up until I played around with the sata connections for the internal HD and the BIOS settings for boot devices. –  LoveMeSomeCode Apr 28 '11 at 16:44

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