The motherboard on my main work system started to take a dive about a week ago. A few minor weirdnesses came up, this and that, nothing really… and then the onboard sound started to act up. It is a decent motherboard (ASUS P4S8X) and I have run it for maybe two years without issues, so I figured that maybe my speakers were acting up, maybe a bad cable… something.
Well, after testing with some other speakers and whatnot, I figured that yup, the motherboard was having issues. So time to get a new one. Lucky for me my current system is a CPU type that is still supported by new boards, and not a slouch speed either (2.4gig… not huge fast but not bad). Off I got to pick up an ASUS P4P800 SE from my local supplier. I chose that one because I also use it on a video system I have, and I like the board as it has a good 1 gig network card on board, FSB up to 800mhz, and both IDE and SATA drive support – plus I can continue to use my existing AGP video card on it. A relatively cheap $120 canadian or so to get the new board, I come back home and do the swap. Pretty painless to install, I had to change the back plate and move some of the mounting pegs, but pretty much bing bang boom, and the new board is in place and all the toys hooked up. Nice.
Cool, power it up, and it won’t boot. Windows loads to a point and the system resets automatically, always in the same place.
Turns out that the previous board’s drivers for this and that and even the board itself are conflicting and really screwing something out. Won’t even boot in safe mode, and there is no longer a step by step mode to eliminate the problem deal (use to be that you could step through the boot one item at a time and say yes or no, which made it easy to find out what is fucking you up. Not any more!). Anyway, the only solution was a repair style reinstall of windows. So a simple board swap turns into a couple of hours of trouble shooting, tracking down drivers, and generally making sure everything on my system works again. Total pain in the ass.
On the plus side, my system is certainly faster. I am more convinced now that mobo issues were dragging on my system, and obviously a windows reset certainly doesn’t hurt either to get rid of useless boot items and minor conflicts. The sound is great, and the network actually is a little bit quicker too.
I guess I have a suggestion for Microsoft: If a system fails to boot and recycles, either find a way to put a log where it can be accessed with little or no actual operating system, or give some way to step through the boot to figure out what is going wrong. Having a system that won’t boot and with no easy method to diagnose the problem, I could see people just doing a complete new install and losing tons of data and installed programs. I am a little more persistant, but many people are nowhere near as interested in doing the hard but right thing.
So now I get to go back to work 🙂