• Welcome to Overclockers Forums! Join us to reply in threads, receive reduced ads, and to customize your site experience!

[ASUS P5B E6750] - System hangs after POST, EZ Flash dead, boot disks don't work

Overclockers is supported by our readers. When you click a link to make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn More.

Sider

Registered
Joined
Jul 18, 2010
Hi all,

I apologize in advance for the wall o'text. I'm having a major boot issue with my system that just started about a week ago. I apologize if any of it has been covered, but my search didn't turn up anything too similar to my scenario.

I've had my system for around 2 1/2 years now, and this is the first time that I've had any issue remotely like this. Here are the primary device specs:

PSU: Antec TruePower 550W (Need to check size, think 550W)
Mobo: ASUS P5B
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 2.66GHz
RAM: 3 1GB Kingston DDR2
Video Card: ATI Radeon x1650
Hard Drive: 150GB Western Digital Raptor (20gb partition for OS and system programs, 130gb for other programs, files, etc.)
OS: Windows XP Media Center Edition

My wife has a virtually identical system (all of the stuff above is the same), which I've used for reference on some things like when I should get load screens since it works perfectly fine.

Before all this happened, my system ran fine and had few (if any) problems. About a week ago, I got the Black Internet virus and tried a System Restore to get rid of it. Had little luck, but I hadn't heard of it potentially damaging anything (and still haven't). I soon tried a System Restore to go back a few days. Tried it first on the 11th, going back to the 8th. No dice; when it tried to restore and restarted, it said that it couldn't complete the operation for some reason. I tried a restore from the 6th, and when it went to restart it froze right after POST.

For the next day, I was experiencing frequent hangs on bootup. I was able to intermittently get into Windows, but only in Safe Mode. About a day later, it stopped going into Windows entirely. Next step was to try repairing/reinstalling Windows from the boot CD. No dice; it just gave me a black screen right after POST (specifically, right after selecting a boot drive with F8).

Story's basically the same since. Any attempt to boot after POST gives me a black screen. This has happened with the ASUS boot CD, Windows XP CD, a flash drive formatted as a DOS boot CD, along with the main hard drive. To make matters worse, I get the black screen when trying to load either the EZ Flash II utility or the O.C. Profile utility. From what I'm reading online, it's pretty much unheard of that EZ Flash II would fail to load entirely. I tried the CPR procedure, exactly as described in the manual, and after resetting default settings the problem was still there.

Earlier today, I DID finally have some short-term luck. I threw an old 80gb hard drive from a Dell machine that had Windows XP loaded, and after changing the IDE ATA controller to the standard one, I plugged it into the single IDE port on my P5B motherboard... and it actually worked. It immediately went through error checking on my E drive (the 130gb partition of the Raptor from my current system). Suffice to say that it pretty much fixed errors in every damn file on the drive. Once it was done, I successfully flashed my BIOS to version 2104 using the Windows-based utility from the ASUS website, and it stuck. Risky, I know, but at least it worked. Unfortunately, it didn't fix the boot issue, nor my inability to flash the BIOS in any other way.

Then, I copied everything I needed from the Raptor onto my older hard drive as a backup, and then formatted the 20gb partition of the Raptor to prep it for a new XP install. I started an advanced install where I could set the drive XP would be installed to, then the installer did its auto-restart to continue the installation.

When it restarted, BOTH of my hard drives were inaccessible for booting. Perfect.

So, as of right now, my computer will load the BIOS menu, and is completely fine up to and through POST. After POST, I can bring up the F8 menu to choose a boot drive, and anything after that results in the system hanging with a black screen. Even though it gets through POST just fine, I cannot get my system to load anything except for the BIOS screen and the boot device screen. I definitely wonder why the only success I've had has been with the one IDE hard drive from my old computer, when nothing else would boot at all. Now, I've got nothing left that it'll boot from, and I'm not anxious to potentially kill any more drives in a system where the utilities integral to the motherboard don't even work.

I also noticed that the JMicron screen (right after the F8 menu) pops on my wife's machine, but not on mine, whether I have JMicron enabled or not. I know I could check a few things by mixing devices from our two systems, but the last thing I want to do is damage her machine with whatever damaged mine.

I've tried numerous combinations of BIOS settings, none of which have really made any difference. The stuff that either isn't default or doesn't have a default is as follows:

Hardware Profile (after being in the BIOS screen for a few minutes)

CPU Temp: 111F
MB Temp: 104F
CPU Fan Speed: 2008 RPM
CPU Fan Control: Disabled
Chassis Fan 1 Speed: 1730 RPM (This is swapped with Chassis Fan 2 on wife's machine... not significant, right?)
Chassis Fan 2 Speed: N/A (Speed appears here on wife's machine)
Chassis Fan Control: Disabled
Power Fan Speed: 727 RPM (Appears in red. Wife's fan speed is around 1050 RPM. Significant?)

VCORE Voltage: 1.304V (goes between 1.304 and 1.312 on various startups. Wife's is 1.312)
3.3V Voltage: 3.184V (Wife's is 3.264V)
5V Voltage: 4.966V (Wife's is 5.120V)
12V Voltage: 12.091V (Wife's is 12.144V)

USB menu: I changed Legacy USB and Port 64/60 Emulation to Enabled to try to use USB as a DOS boot disk, but it was equally useless with these settings or the defaults. Note that it DOES recognize the USB here, and I'm able to change the emulation. Tried each option multiple times.

HD Audio Controller: Enabled (Tried disabling, no effect)
Onboard PCIE LAN: Enabled
JMicron SATA/PATA Controller: Enabled (Tried disabling once, didn't do anything to help)
JMicron SATA Controller Mode: IDE (haven't messed with this)

I've tried every possible boot device configuration. I've also selected each one from the after-POST boot menu. Nothing works.

If anyone needs more info to help me diagnose, I'm more than willing to provide it. I've been banging my head against this problem for days, and while I've learned a bit about the guts of my computer in the process, I'm still clueless as to the actual issue. Right now, my somewhat uneducated guess would be either the motherboard or power supply, or both.

A virtual cookie factory (and a drink the next time you're in New York) to anyone who can help me diagnose this thing. Thanks!
 

cyberkost

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2010
Location
New York, USA
When you were checking Raptor and finding errors -- were those hardware failures or just software corruption? I'd suggest hooking up both disks to a Linux box (so as to avoid any kind of virus complications), checking S.M.A.R.T. (sudo apt-get install smartcontrolmon; sudo smartctl -a /dev/sdX) and bad blocks (sudo badblocks /dev/sdX). You can but from Ubuntu LiveCD on your wife's machine if there are no Linux boxes readily available.
Assuming there are no issues found, go back to your P5B computer, attach your older IDE HDD (check jumpers, and ACHI/IDE settings in BIOS). See if you can boot / install an OS (I'd recommend starting with Ubuntu, and following with Windows if Ubuntu installation works). If there's something in the MBR of each of your drives, there are methods to have it cleaned (and it will be overwritten in Ubuntu install if you put GRUB onto MBR).
 
OP
S

Sider

Registered
Joined
Jul 18, 2010
When you were checking Raptor and finding errors -- were those hardware failures or just software corruption? I'd suggest hooking up both disks to a Linux box (so as to avoid any kind of virus complications), checking S.M.A.R.T. (sudo apt-get install smartcontrolmon; sudo smartctl -a /dev/sdX) and bad blocks (sudo badblocks /dev/sdX). You can but from Ubuntu LiveCD on your wife's machine if there are no Linux boxes readily available.
Assuming there are no issues found, go back to your P5B computer, attach your older IDE HDD (check jumpers, and ACHI/IDE settings in BIOS). See if you can boot / install an OS (I'd recommend starting with Ubuntu, and following with Windows if Ubuntu installation works). If there's something in the MBR of each of your drives, there are methods to have it cleaned (and it will be overwritten in Ubuntu install if you put GRUB onto MBR).

Thanks for the response; first one I've gotten in a couple of days of trying. I'm kind of a nublet in this kind of stuff, but after a couple of searches I think I'm following you somewhat. Anyway, to answer your questions:

The Raptor had a ton of index $130 errors. I'm getting mixed signals in other threads about whether that constitutes a hardware problem or not, but it seemed like nearly every file on the drive had an error.

If the SMART you refer to is the same one that comes up in POST where it says "SMART Info: Good", then take from that what you will.

I have zero experience working with Linux/Ubuntu, and I don't know anyone with a system I could hook into to check, but I could probably figure them out if they're fairly intuitive. Do I need to install Ubuntu onto a dedicated drive to avoid conflicts? Also, keep in mind that I haven't been able to get my system to load up a new OS since this all started... do you think Ubuntu is more likely to stick? (I realize I may be missing a vital point in there, feel free to dumb it down if I am :eek: )

While all of this is definitely helpful, I'm also trying to figure out if I need to RMA anything. I'm still in warranty on both the motherboard and the PSU, so those are easy to get replaced. And, well, the fact that the flash program integral to the P5B board itself refuses to load seems like a pretty bad sign.

Anxiously awaiting your response. I'll be jumping back on this when I get home from work tomorrow afternoon. Might try ASUS tech support to see what they think; are they any good?
 

cyberkost

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2010
Location
New York, USA
in POST where it says "SMART Info: Good"
-- it might keep saying good till it's too late. You need to look at detailed SMART info (like reallocated sectors, hardware errors, etc.)

On Ubuntu -- you don't need to install it. Just get a live CD here and boot your wife's computer from it (or yours, if it will -- just a test, remove all HDDs first). It will boot an OS from a CD (can you imagine that?!) ... then you'll need to install 'smartcontrolmon' package (into memory, not on any disk), will need internet connection for that. Then you can check the health of your HDDs and go from there.

Edit to add: important thing -- don't panic, use common sense. It's not like demons took over your computer.
 
OP
S

Sider

Registered
Joined
Jul 18, 2010
Wow, a CD-driven OS? Guess that answers my question, then. I will definitely it a whirl later.

-- it might keep saying good till it's too late. You need to look at detailed SMART info (like reallocated sectors, hardware errors, etc.)

Am I looking for anything specifically, or basically just anything that could be causing the problems? Is this article an accurate description of how to approach the generated data?

Edit to add: important thing -- don't panic, use common sense. It's not like demons took over your computer.

Haha, it can sure seem like it if I don't know what I'm dealing with. But you're right, and I'll try to remember that.
 

cyberkost

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2010
Location
New York, USA
If your drive is going south you'll know that from doing 'smartctl -a /dev/sdX' ("X" is 'a', 'b', 'c', etc. depending on how many drives is detected and which one you want to inspect. The output should look smth. like this (click for larger version):
. Wikipedia articles are generally good (both in terms of content and level of understandability).

As for don't panic -- just make sure to backup everything that's possible and do drastic steps only when there's nothing to lose or no other option is available. For all we know it could be some messed up BIOS setting, poorly attached cable, jumpers, etc.
 
OP
S

Sider

Registered
Joined
Jul 18, 2010
Screenshots rock my world; I have a good idea of what to look for now. Can't wait to get home and try it out. I made an Ubuntu boot CD and I'll be ready to roll it out.

Sampling of the file repair on the Raptor
POST screen with Quick Boot disabled, 3 seconds before plunging into oblivion.
Hardware monitoring for my system
Hardware monitoring for wife's system
Cat staring at me disapprovingly

Side note: Talked to another friend and we're suspecting the PSU might be on the fritz. Right now I'm using the Antec TruePower 550, and he suggested getting a Corsair 650 or 750. Any thoughts on oversizing the PSU like that?
 
OP
S

Sider

Registered
Joined
Jul 18, 2010
Good news: Ubuntu loaded up first try on my P5B, and I was able to boot it again with my hard drives installed. I scanned them just as you recommended and they both passed with no errors. I'm currently installing Ubuntu to my Raptor, giving it 4 GB of the 21 GB partition that was previously designated for Windows. Here's hoping it sticks; so far it's looking solid.

Next question: Whether this installs correctly or not, I presumably still have a BIOS flash utility that blackscreens on installation. What can I do to check the integrity of the motherboard, BIOS chip, RAM, etc.?
 

cyberkost

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2010
Location
New York, USA
The OP was indeed a bit intense in terms of the amount of text ;) ... but I remember you wanted to compound the issue with some virus and something else ;) (what were you referring to by saying "flash program integral to the P5B board itself refuses to load"?) ... May I suggest slowing things down a bit?

1. Did you successfully install Ubuntu on the HDD? [ no, I want ask you to keep it, but you might like it ;) ]
2. Were you able to boot from that HDD?
If it's yes & yes I suggest trying to install Windows over the entire drive to see if it sticks (i.e. if computer boots afterwards). I silently presume that all valuable data is backed up at this point and the backup is verified.
 
OP
S

Sider

Registered
Joined
Jul 18, 2010
Yeeeeeah, let's go ahead and ignore my earlier state of panic. I think the last week of training has shown me how silly it really got :) FYI, the program I was talking about in the OP was EZ Flash II, the flash utility that's integral to the BIOS chip on the P5B. I was thinking that if that was messing up, something must be royally screwed.

I did successfully install Ubuntu, I am currently very much booted from it, and I definitely like it. I'm planning to keep it for now, at least. I made an extra partition during setup that left me with enough room to install Windows ; hopefully I can set up dual-boot without any problems. I'm guessing Ubuntu picks up a lot of users by saving their lives :p

Anyway, I see a pattern in the problems now. I tried to execute memtest86+, and when it restarted I blackscreened and had to manually reset. Then something clicked: I can't load any application that has an OS-independent UI, with the sole exception of the BIOS settings menu. Anything else freezes the system... EZ Flash II, OC Profile, memtest86+, and I assume the Windows installation & selection windows that I could never get to come up.

So right now, I'm gonna try to check my graphic drivers to make sure that's not the problem. If you have another idea, I'd be happy to hear it.
 

cyberkost

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2010
Location
New York, USA
Um-m ... graphics drivers have nothing to do with this (they're loaded by the OS and you can't seem to load the OS). Your video card works, as you have installed Ubuntu (I presume you did not do it in blind mode). You never reported on 'sudo smartctl -a /dev/sda' output (Applications->Accessories->Terminal, then type the command) .. you wrote that you scanned the HDDs -- did you do 'sudo badblocks /dev/sda'?... and the click you heard (reported in the post immediately above) maybe something (not very good) in the HDD ...
 
OP
S

Sider

Registered
Joined
Jul 18, 2010
Bad choice of words... the click was in my head, as in I made a connection, not a literal click in the machine. I suppose I knew 'drivers' was the wrong term... what exactly renders the screen when the system boots a command line application?

The sudo smartctl -a/dev/sda reported no problems; everything was similar to the image you posted above. I'll post the results if you like. I hadn't run badblocks until you mentioned it just now, but it's running very slowly and not generating any visible output (though it's clearly running). I hope that's normal.
 

cyberkost

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2010
Location
New York, USA
I guess till the OS takes over (first with some rudimentary/generic/standardized drivers and the with full-blown 3D accelerated stuff) it is VGA BIOS that determines how the screen is rendered. If you see POST than it's ok and the system really hangs where it tries to boot off the HDD. Normal behavior would be (if there's no bootable disk) to tell you so and offer to enter BIOS setup .. but your system does not do that (btw, do you see HDD LED turn on, right before screen goes black?). If the system does not tell you that, perhaps reading the bootable disk (MBR) puts it in a weird state (could be b/c the virus damaged the MBR). Ubuntu install may not have overwritten MBR (it detects the presence of other OS on the disk and tries to be gentle, something Windows does not do), unless you remember telling/letting it to.

'badblocks /dev/sda/' not producing any output is a good sign (it would be spitting out bad sector numbers if it found any).

Perhaps it's time to try putting Windows back on and booting it. BTW, are SATA HDDs configured as ACHI? If so, and you see black screen -- try changing that option to IDE.
 
OP
S

Sider

Registered
Joined
Jul 18, 2010
SATA HDDs are configured as IDE. And with regard to Ubuntu being gentle, it may be, but I wasn't. I formatted that entire partition in Windows from my other HDD a couple of days ago when I was trying to install a fresh copy of XP to it.

I think that the HDD has taken no part in the standalone programs being unable to run. At various points, I had all of my HDDs disconnected in an attempt to force the Windows CD to boot, and even for the USB formatted as a DOS boot disk. Never worked, and I still ran into the same problems every time I tried to run a standalone program like EZFlash or OC Profile.

The typical process was: Boot screen, then POST screen where it says DEL for BIOS Setup, ALT+F2 for System Recovery (aka EZ Flash II), or F8 to choose a boot drive. If If I hit DEL, the BIOS setup comes up and I can edit that just fine. If I hit ALT+F2, it's an instant black screen and freeze. If I hit F8, it lets me select a boot drive, which caused a black screen and freeze in every situation except (1) when I first connected the older HDD loaded with Windows, and (2) since I loaded Ubuntu.

The reason I suspect it has to be the standalone programs causing this is that my only successful boot attempts were when I went straight from the boot screen to the OS startup. If Windows messes up, it brings up a screen prior to loading that asks if you want to boot in safe mode, restore settings, etc. Both drives stopped booting nearly immediately after I tried to start a repair install on them, which is when that screen would have come up. Match that with the fact that the system hangs on memtest, EZ Flash, and OC Profile, which are all standalone applications. I can't figure out why the BIOS setup itself would be okay when the rest screws up. Seems weird to me, and I just want to make sure that I have a stable base system to boot an OS from.

Badblocks has been running for a while now and has turned up nothing, so I strongly suspect the drive is okay. I'm gonna keep looking for anything I can find about this standalone program issue. (Edit: It finished and I'm clean.)
 

cyberkost

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2010
Location
New York, USA
Well, if memtest freezes -- that's not a good sign (mad memory, bad mobo [specifically north bridge], or simply bad BIOS settings). test memory in wife's computer, then make sure your BIOS as configured 1:1 as your wifes. If memtest still freezes, RMA the mobo and have a couple of beers to reward yourself for the effort.

On a side note: if MBR is screwed up formatting partitions is not going to help. You really need to wipe the drive and/or just overwrite MBR with some good stuff (like linux bootloader)
 
OP
S

Sider

Registered
Joined
Jul 18, 2010
Well, memtest doesn't even get as far as doing the test. It goes blackscreen just like every other application I try to activate outside of an OS. That's why I'm not so sure it's even loading at all. I did use "memtester" which locks down and tests most of your memory, leaving just enough to run the OS. In 30 minutes of that it came up error free. May not mean much, since it didn't hit the whole memory, but still.

For the MBR, I have GRUB coming up when I boot, if that makes a difference. Does that overwrite whatever was there?
 

cyberkost

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2010
Location
New York, USA
Well, memtest doesn't even get as far as doing the test. It goes blackscreen just like every other application I try to activate outside of an OS. That's why I'm not so sure it's even loading at all. I did use "memtester" which locks down and tests most of your memory, leaving just enough to run the OS. In 30 minutes of that it came up error free. May not mean much, since it didn't hit the whole memory, but still.
Do you see the initial blue background screen of memtest86+ and then it goes black/blank after a short while? I would not call that freezing and I've never seen anything like that ... freezing typically freezes whatever was on the screen (usually some meaningful image).

For the MBR, I have GRUB coming up when I boot, if that makes a difference. Does that overwrite whatever was there?
That's the thing -- GRUB could have been installed into MBR or somewhere else. The former would have been preferential -- Ubuntu may have given you a choice during install -- what did you choose?
 
OP
S

Sider

Registered
Joined
Jul 18, 2010
Do you see the initial blue background screen of memtest86+ and then it goes black/blank after a short while? I would not call that freezing and I've never seen anything like that ... freezing typically freezes whatever was on the screen (usually some meaningful image).

The blue background never came up at all, which is what confused me so much. But I figured it out, and I feel remarkably stupid for it now. My monitor is no longer rendering those screens properly. I turned monitor off and on when I hit the spot where it always hangs, and the blank image was replaced with gray horizontal lines flashing on the screen about once per second. Then I connected my wife's monitor instead and, lo and behold, the screens magically appeared. Basically, that part of it was a case of "It hurts when I poke here, and here, and here, and here." "Of course it does, you have a broken finger."

I was able to conduct the memory test and it went through five full cycles over ~4 hours without any errors. I'm fairly sure at this point that the mobo is fine, though the low power supply fan speed still worries me a tad.

That's the thing -- GRUB could have been installed into MBR or somewhere else. The former would have been preferential -- Ubuntu may have given you a choice during install -- what did you choose?

I think it installed into the MBR by default. From the installation guide: "By default, grub will be installed into the Master Boot Record (MBR), where it will take over complete control of the boot process. If you prefer, you can install it elsewhere."

Assuming the MBR is clean now, is it possible for me to now install XP alongside Ubuntu? I have a dedicated 16gb partition set up for Windows, but I was reading that XP overwrites the MBR and leaves Ubuntu unusable. Does LILO have anything to do with that? (I've downloaded it but not installed it yet.)
 

cyberkost

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2010
Location
New York, USA
Ha, good to hear that you've figured the problem out.

Once you install WinXP it'll overwrote the MBR and XP will boot without giving you a choice. There are many ways of fixing that, one is to just re-install Ubuntu (and then GRUB will give you a choice of whether to boot Windows or Linux). Another one is to boot from Live CD and try "repair installation" ... it's been a while since I had dual boot. Forget about LILO, GRUB is its replacement.