View Full Version : Built My First Computer... Now I want to die...

Chocolate Kix
03-26-2003, 03:04 AM
I just built a computer. After many errors and weird wire mixups, I'd like to shoot myself. Does anyone know how to correct "CMOS memory wrong" and "CMOS setup wrong"? When I push the button to go to the Setup, I get weird gibberish in various characters. Can somebody help me :confused:

03-26-2003, 03:15 AM
Well, if a malfunctioning computer is what you REALLY want to leave as your legacy to the world, then go ahead and shoot yourself.

If you can't sort out the computer problem, and you're in a hurry to die, then maybe you could bake a nice cake and leave THAT as your legacy to the world. I'm thinking angel food cake.

Chocolate Kix
03-26-2003, 03:22 AM
lol... Fine, I'll cut the melodrama. I'm just a sleep deprived college student that's short on money and needs to finish this computer. I won't shoot myself, but if I were going to, I'd bake banana nut bread.

03-26-2003, 04:26 AM
Check the motherboard manual. There is probably a jumper that resets all the CMOS settings. Use it.

Next, disconnect all the non-essential components from the motherboard, including all the drives and all expansion cards except the video card. Make sure it works properly. Then add one component at a time, each time checking that the system still works.

03-26-2003, 04:36 AM
Sounds like an overheating CPU. Insure that any protective pad or thermal gunk has been removed from the bottom of the heatsink, apply thermal paste to the CPU core, and carefully reinstall the heatsink, making sure it is seated properly. Also insure that the fan is spinning. What are the specs of the system?

03-26-2003, 05:03 AM
Sounds to me like something wrong with your mobo. Have you tried pulling cards to see if any of them are bad? Tried yanking different RAM sticks? (Bad RAM could possibly cause this problem). Most importantly, what's your board, and what's your cpu? Anything else you have handy would be helpful too.
If it happens to be a K7 S5A, I'd recommend reading this forum thread, (http://www.hardwareanalysis.com/content/topic/1964/) and possibly also this one (http://www.hardwareanalysis.com/content/topic/3612/).

OTOH, I now crave banana loaf at 2am, and who else is going to get me some? ;)

03-26-2003, 05:49 AM
Sometimes a difficult problem has a simple solution. Try replacing the battery. This once saved me from a $2000 furnace repair bill. Who knows, maybe it'll solve a computer problem too.

03-26-2003, 06:17 AM
actually, this sounds like your using semi-virginal goats blood instead of pure, replace it and see what happens... :D

Seriously, I have never heard of that error before but it looks like you have a corrupt BIOS. Look in your motherboard manual for a "BIOS Reset" switch. Failing that, possibly remove the CMOS battery.

03-26-2003, 06:37 AM
Your thread title sounds like a really sweet blues song. :D

Built my first computer,
Now I wanna die.
Ohhh, I built my first computer,
Now I wanna die!
Damn CMOS RAM problems
Makin' me scream an' cry!

Gotta tear the thing down,
Go at it piece by piece.
Gotta tear it all down,
Attack it piece by piece!
See just what's failing
As the complexity increase!

Gotta check my mobo manual
See how the jumpers lie.
Oh, gotta break out that goddamned manual
See how them jumpers lie!
'Cause maybe it's those bastards
Making me wail and cry!

Gotta reseat the CPU's heat sink
Make sure it don't get too hot.
Gotta apply gunk to the processor
So's it don't get too hot.
'Cause if I can't fix this problem
I may well end up shot!

Built my first computer,
Now I wanna die.
Ohhh, I built my first computer,
Now I wanna die!
Damn CMOS RAM problems
Makin' me scream an' cry!

-- Dumb Terminal Derleth

03-26-2003, 06:59 AM
Bwa ha! You wouldn't be familiar with Air Farce's (http://www.airfarce.com) blues singer Blind Willy, would you? 'cause I heard his harmonica (http://www.airfarce.com/video/020222fh.rm) in my head all through that. :D

03-26-2003, 07:45 AM
Nanoda, no, I was thinking of Cheech & Chong's Blind Melon Chitlins, actually.


Chocolate Kix
03-26-2003, 08:49 AM
You people ROCK... I thought a song was appropriate...

In any case, I tried to reset the jumper thingy (I'm resorting to girly computer jargon) and that wasn't very effective. I disconnected the ram, no dice. My boards is a Socket A and I'm running an AMD Duron (1.3 Gig). There aren't any cards really connected to th motherboard because everything that's needed is pretty much on board (less the ram, of course).

As for the thermo grease thing, I greased the processor before I connected the heat sync/fan thingymabobber.

Well, I'm now in search of the BIOS reset switch and if not, I may try getting an additional li battery...

03-26-2003, 08:59 AM
Can you boot to a DOS prompt at all? Try a basic DOS boot diskette. If you can get that far, you can flash the BIOS. I'll need your BIOS ID number and version to find you the correct file. You can get that info while booting. It should appear in the lower left corner of the screen, after the memory count, assuming you have a common AMI or Award BIOS. Hit the <Pause> key to give you time to write it down exactly. I'm thinking this is a long shot, but hey, it's worth a try.

03-26-2003, 09:35 AM
Did you try removing the BIOS battery? If it's a BIOS problem, removing the battery should reset it and hopefully correct the problem - of course, my computer knowledge is limited - but i did notice someone else also suggested removing the battery - after removing the battery.......don't forget to put it back hehe - you dont' acutally need a new one......just to take the existing one out for a .....well.....give it a minute

you didn't mention if you checked the CPU fan was connected to the power supply?

03-26-2003, 09:49 AM
Also check that you're not shorting the motherboard - it should be installed in the case chassis with the proper standoffs. If any of the electrical traces contact the case, you may run into some really odd problems like this.

Also be sure that any jumpers related to the Front Side Bus speed are set to the proper speed that is compatible with your CPU.

Sofa King
03-26-2003, 09:53 AM
I just went through this crap, again, this weekend. I'm not the most careful of technicians, so I've developed a "crisis-mode assembly" method which works wonders for me. Maybe it will help you as well, C-Kix.

First, get a good system building guide (http://arstechnica.com/guide/building/). But don't follow it right off the bat.

Second, work on the assumption that you're going to screw something up. What that means is you must build a base-system which completely checks out.

This weekend I was rebuilding an old BX system, but I doubt things have changed much. A base-line system can be assembled on a desktop, sans box. Drop the motherboard down on its own static-free bag and connect only five main items:

Processor and heatsink/fan (and make certain this is done correctly before powering up--an Athlon chip will smoke itself in seconds if not properly cooled)
Video card (if not integrated)
Power supply
The little power-switch jumper from your case (so that you have an on/off switch)

Of course, connect your monitor and keyboard as well so that you can navigate your BIOS. This gives you a bare-bones system which allows you to evaluate any jumper and BIOS settings you need to work with.

It has been my experience that most of my mistakes are some sort of base-level screw-up among these few variables. Once you get things stable and running from there, it's a piece of cake to add items. If you're really paranoid, add hardware in a specific order and test with a restart each time. In the old W98 days, I went with: floppy, restart, hard drive, restart, cd-rom, restart, cd-R/dvd, restart.

DO NOT add a sound card, or a NIC, or a modem, or any other bullshit until you get the system stable and the operating system loaded. This will save you hours of heartache, as reducing the number of things Windows can screw up on its first run is essential to a stable computer.

Anyway, hope that helps. If you want a "success" story, I managed to transplant an entire W98SE-based system to a new motherboard without wiping the hard drive, which in my opinion is nothing short of miraculous. It took about five hours and at least thirty re-starts, plus a lot of creative thinking and a registry protection program, but it only cost me fifty bucks and allows me to continue saving up for the uber-sytem I plan to build exclusively for Doom III (supposedly due out in about August).

Good luck.

Sofa King
03-26-2003, 09:58 AM
Oh, one other thing, and this is really important:

If you're planning on using Windows XP, don't do that product activation crap until every last bit of hardware is in and working. XP creates a unique identification number by reading the serial numbers of the hardware you add and running it through some funky calculation. That number changes any time you change the configuration of your system. If you activate the OS off the bat, you'll change the number and have to go through the MS interrogation to prove you didn't steal their software.

Running with Scissors
03-26-2003, 10:01 AM
Try reinserting the video card. Make sure that the top of the card is parallel with the surface of the Mobo (some cases I've used have forced the front of the cards to be slightly higher than the rear).

If all this fails, I suspect a faulty mobo.

Running with Scissors
03-26-2003, 10:03 AM
never mind, you did say everything was integrated...

Urban Ranger
03-26-2003, 10:51 AM
Don't forget to use the raisers/washers.

Chocolate Kix
03-26-2003, 03:17 PM
I reset the computer and pushed F1 for setup instead of delete (which gave me a page full of gibberish)... The menu was weird and gave me both options on different parts of the same page. I just happened to see the DEL option first because it was at the top of the page. Now I'm just having a bizatch of a time trying to get past the blank screen with the cursor at the top right that does nothing but laugh at me while I attempt to boot XP.

03-26-2003, 04:33 PM
Chocolate Kix, can you give us more details? Exactly what happens when you turn on the computer? Can you get into the BIOS setup? Does that look normal? Is it recognizing your memory? Until the system POSTs normally and recognizes your memory, hard drive, etc. don't even think about Windows XP.

Second of all, what are the exact specs of your system? What brand and model of motherboard? What type of memory and how much? What are the specs on your power supply, i.e. wattage and voltage limits? (Many strange computer problems are caused by faulty power supplies.) What type of video card?

Chocolate Kix
03-26-2003, 04:54 PM
When I turn on the computer, it gives me the option to setup for few seconds, and then it turns into the black screen with the cursor. When I go into setup, I really can't detect anything being awry. My memory is recognized, and it does post normally when I first turn it on.

My mother board is a Socket A, and I can't find any discernable brand name, but it does say that it is an M810D Series, V5.2A S740/November 2002. I have a 1.3 gig duron AMD processor, the video card is onboard, but I think it's about 32 meg.
Hard Drive is recognizing all the memory I installed...
The power supply is an ATX 400W Max that I believe supports P3 and P4.

03-26-2003, 04:56 PM
Is your hard drive being recognized by the BIOS? Has it been formatted? If not, you'll need to boot Windows from the CD -- the setup program should give you an option to format the hard drive and install Windows on it.

Chocolate Kix
03-26-2003, 05:00 PM
I've looked through it a few times and I haven't seen that option. I may be misreading it, though (I'm an airhead). From what I can tell, though, it does recognize the hard drive

03-26-2003, 05:07 PM
Usually, the first page of the BIOS will list what IDE devices have been recognized. Hard drives, CD-ROM drives, etc. These slots may be listed as "Auto", which means the computer will just figure out what it has as it boots. This is fine. However, the fact that your computer hangs right after it leaves the BIOS is weird. Either it doesn't know you have any drives, or some weird options have been set.

Since you can get into BIOS, there should be a command in there to reset to default values. i would do this. I would then look through the different menus and see if you can change the boot sequence. Set it so that your CD-ROM boots first, then IDE0 (hard drive). See if you can boot the computer with your Windows disc in the CD drive.

If that doesn't work, make sure your IDE cables are connected properly. Your motherboard will support two IDE cables, with two devices on each cable. All IDE devices have to have their jumpers set properly -- if you have two devices on the same cable, one has to be master, one has to be slave. If you only have device on a given IDE cable, it may have a separate jumper setting for master, no slave.

Chocolate Kix
03-26-2003, 05:51 PM
Okay, did all that... And set the computer to boot from the CD-ROM...What happened was that the Windows setup started, and then I was told it was going to start windows. Setup ran A SECOND time, and then froze entirely.

03-26-2003, 05:56 PM
If the computer started and tried to do the install, your BIOS is probably OK. I'm starting to think bad RAM here. If you can, try swapping it out with known good RAM and see if you can finish the setup of XP.

03-26-2003, 05:57 PM
Bizarre. At this point, I would blame your motherboard, power supply or memory, probably in that order. Overheating is also a likely culprit. If you can afford it, it may be easiest to just take it to your local computer shop and let them troubleshoot it -- finding the problem is much easier if you have spares of everything on hand to swap in and out.

Chocolate Kix
03-26-2003, 06:11 PM
Good idea. I'm thinking that's the only way to go at this point in order to maintain some level of sanity.

Chocolate Kix
03-26-2003, 06:11 PM
Good idea.

03-27-2003, 09:54 AM
Could be a few things. In you bios you have a NVraM setting this remembers what is installed in the computer & since you changed things, it thinks the old stuff is there. Go into the bios & choose a setting for default or fail safe booting & make sure all virus & boot sector protections are OFF or you can't load a new boot sector, which it needs to do.

03-27-2003, 10:06 AM
You might want to check the RAM with Memtest86 (http://www.memtest86.com/). It's easy and free.

Running with Scissors
03-27-2003, 10:08 AM
Originally posted by Q.E.D.
If the computer started and tried to do the install, your BIOS is probably OK. I'm starting to think bad RAM here. If you can, try swapping it out with known good RAM and see if you can finish the setup of XP.
I agree with this assessment. The bit about Windows setup freezing was the clincher.

If you don't have any spare RAM, you could try removing it and cleaning the pins (yes, I know they're not really pins) with an alcohol pad. Also use some canned air to blow out the DIMM socket; some dust would be enough to screw things up. Don't depend on the startup RAM check to ensure your RAM is good. Sometimes just removing and reinserting the RAM is enough to fix it, but since you have it out, cleaning it is probably a good idea.

03-27-2003, 10:50 AM
Sounds like your problem is XP.

Try W2K to prove the hardware is OK.


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