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Motherboards Help needed with BIOS settings

Discussion in 'Tech Support' started by ModSquid, 2 May 2011.

  1. ModSquid

    ModSquid Minimodder

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    Hi all,

    I’m currently looking to build my first completely new system, but have decided to postpone for a while (for various reasons, including waiting to see whether the SSD caching feature on the new Z68 boards is worth forking out for). So in the meantime, I am trying to get the most out of my favourite older machine as I hate to see perfectly serviceable gear go to waste. For this same reason, I want to do it with a minimum of new parts.

    The basis for this is an Acer Veriton 7700GX which has served me absolutely fine, but I’d love to be able to prolong its usefulness. I first looked at trying to speed things up with a stab at overclocking the processor (a P4 630) since I read some good comments about its potential, but the machine is built around an Acer F90M motherboard so it seems options here are limited (do proprietary boards tend to have locked BIOS utilities, or are they just not as good as those found on the usual third-party boards?). The best I could find was an option to change the memory timings or an option to change the CPU to different pre-determined frequencies – the voltage settings stayed greyed out no matter what else I amended.

    I then decided that I could perhaps benefit from upgrading the HDD to an SSD, plus I would get the chance to play around both with hot-imaging and the actual SSD, neither of which I’ve used before, so went ahead and bought a cheap(ish) Kingston drive just to muck around with (also the aggressive garbage collection on this is apparently better suited to my XP system).

    Managed to get the drive image copied across after some faffing about and the system rebooted nicely. All good. Next problem was therefore storage – my BIOS won’t recognise the additional HDD I connected via SATA to the motherboard and I’m not sure why. It doesn’t even show up in Disk Management. If I’ve managed to change the bios to recognise more IDE channels, is something else wrong?

    If I can get it recognised somehow, is it still worth getting another (old) board anyway, or just ignoring the overclock? And if I ignore the overclock, shall I just look for tips on speeding up the SSD by tweaking XP? I assume trying to run an SSD through what I believe to be a standard PCI port (915G chipset limitation?) is pointless…

    Finally, the boards I had in mind weren’t a massive upgrade but just ones I could find still knocking around with which my P4 630 would be compatible – either an Asus P5BW-LA-P965 or an Asus PTGD1-LA (-Puffer?). Can a board come with anything undesirable on it, such as BIOS malware, or do I just face the chance of it not working?

    The only other thing I could think of doing was using the processor and board in another project, such as a small server, but then I thought – if I attach my old IDE hard drive with Win 95 (!) installed, will the Acer hardware then let me play X-Wing?

    Appreciate any thoughts…
     
  2. ModSquid

    ModSquid Minimodder

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    Not sure if anyone's following this thread at all, but thought I'd just add that I checked the acer site today for sata drivers but found nothing, so it looks like the install from floppy route is out.

    Can't believe the board would be so locked out to the point where I can open up more Ide channels but then can't go any further.
     
  3. ModSquid

    ModSquid Minimodder

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    I'll try and get a BIOS screenshot attached tomorrow but not promising the quality will be up to much...
     
  4. ModSquid

    ModSquid Minimodder

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    Have some BIOS shots now, but new to forums and don't understand why it's asking me for a URL for the photos - can anyone advise best way to upload them (or if they're even allowed)?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  5. adam_bagpuss

    adam_bagpuss Have you tried turning it off/on ?

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    oh dear god where do i begin !

    P4 630 is rubbish at overclocking even if you could. The only decent ones back in the Day were a few pentium D models. The CPU is also around 7 years old and even a bargin basement E3400 is tons faster. maybe 100-200% easy.

    The propriety boards as you call them are actually OEM boards are made for large PC companies like HP, Acer, Dell, etc etc. They are almost always made as cheaply as possible only containing the bare essentials so things like a decent bios or advanced features/components are non existent and usually make overclocking impossible.

    using an SSD and XP is not recommend as you dont have trim and even a work around will still lose you performance over time. OH and make sure PAGEFILE is NOT on the SSD it will destroy the performance of the drive either assign it to a mechanical HDD or turn it off if one isnt available.

    When you say the drive isnt recognized is this in the bios or in windows ?

    Boards will not come with anything undesirable

    you will NOT be able to just plug in your old HDD with win95 and it work. Most likely scenario would be a BSOD

    you cant just post pictures you need to upload them to something like imageshack then provide the link
     
  6. ModSquid

    ModSquid Minimodder

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    Thanks for the reply, adam - was starting to lose hope a bit (thought nobody knew/cared!). Glad to see you're "impressed" with the project! :lol:

    I've included some links I found a while ago when I started looking at this chip's potential - they do all seem to have good things to say, which was why I decided to stick with it. What do you think to these?

    http://forum.pcmech.com/computer-hardware/140601-unbelievable-overclocking-results.html
    http://www.overclockers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=434544
    http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/showthread.php?t=60806

    I checked out some prices for the E3400 you mentioned - I guess if I need to get a new chip I might actually go for the G6950 recommended in the build specs on here as it's only a little more expensive, but I get what you mean. I was hoping not to have to go down that route (saving for the new build) - I understand your point about the board being poor, so agree I might have to do something there, though.

    Cheers also for the pagefile advice! Will turn that off once I get in, since I can't get the second drive recognised yet. On this point, it's actually not recognised in either BIOS or Windows. I know the disk is good, because if I hook it up using an external caddy, it does get recognised. Thanks for the pointer re: the pictures - will put them up tonight.

    Shame about X-Wing... :waah:
     
  7. ModSquid

    ModSquid Minimodder

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    Hi adam_bagpuss - just to let you know I appreciate you taking an interest and helping out. Many thanks.

    I have posted a response but it contained some external links to P4 overclocking articles as wanted to see what you thought and it seems to be held up in the moderator's queue (not sure how to speed this up).

    I've also got some BIOS shots but think Imageshack (thanks for the suggestion) might be down as can't upload at the moment.

    I'll try and summarise what I put in the post (as it might go through and I'd end up repeating some bits:

    • did some searching and found some sites showing overclocked P4 630s at about 4Ghz+, so thought this might be a good way to keep costs down, but did check out the E3400 as recommended
    • am a bit old-school so thought the Celerons were always a budget CPU, but may have read some stuff since that proves me wrong
    • have been looking for an Asus board with the latest/most feature-rich chipset that my CPU supports
    • understood on SSD/XP (and saw your sig!) so will remove pagefile (as HDD not recognised) and look for more tweaks
    • HDD not seen in either BIOS or Windows, but is seen if put in external caddy; think this fix is my focus at the moment, given I want to prolong the SSD's life as much as possible

    Thanks again for your help/patience...
     
  8. adam_bagpuss

    adam_bagpuss Have you tried turning it off/on ?

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    an overclocked P4 630 even if you hit 4Ghz which is not a given id say more like 3.5Ghz-3.7Ghz is more realistic from reading around is much much slower than even a stock E3400.
    While its a good idea to get the most out of your system and extend its life even the most basic modern CPU thrashes that P4.

    Since you would have to change the mobo, Cooler and maybe the case to overclock decently the p4 it is simply not worth it effort wise or performance wise. Because of the money you would need to spend to acomplish this it would be better buying a new modern CPU,mobo and RAM instead.

    celerons are budget CPUs still but because your P4 is much much older its tons slower than even celerons from 2-3 years ago.

    Is the HDD configured correctly i.e. are the jumper settings correct ? It should be on Master. Is your DVD drive IDE and connected on the same cable ?
     
  9. ModSquid

    ModSquid Minimodder

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    Hi adam_bagpuss,

    Sorry for the delayed response - have been unable to get to my machine for a while. You'll be pleased to hear I've taken your advice on board (no pun intended) and tried to fit it to my initial plan...!

    First off, I checked the HDD but no jumper present. I can see what I assume to be the jumper pins, but that's it. Does it need to be on Master if the SSD is my OS drive now? I only intend to use the HDD for storage, you see. The DVD drive is IDE but is on its own cable, as the HDD is SATA.

    I thought about what you said regarding the ageing processor and concluded that since I'd like to give the overclocking a go, I'd use it as a sacrificial lamb :worried:. I managed to pick up a half-decent cooler, PSU and Asus P5B board for £70 the lot - this should then enable me to have a crack at overclocking, plus leave me with a board I can slot a new (cheap) processor in at a later date, as you suggest.

    The new board hasn't yet turned up - is it worth me replacing this first and seeing if the HDD problem sorts itself out, or do you think it's likely to be a wider issue?

    Thanks in advance...
     
  10. adam_bagpuss

    adam_bagpuss Have you tried turning it off/on ?

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    Ah if the HDD is SATA you dont need to mess around with jumper settings at all. how are you connecting the HDD as when i looked up your PC it states it has ONLY 1 SATA port ?

    what cooler ?
    What PSU ?
    Which ASUS P5B board exactly ?

    If you change motherboards you will have to do a re-install of windows on your SSD. The HDD if in working order should be fine with the new board.
     
  11. ModSquid

    ModSquid Minimodder

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    The HDD is connected to a spare SATA port on the motherboard (an Acer F90m), as is the SSD (but on the primary SATA port that was occupied by the HDD when it was the system drive). There are four ports on the board, but that’s not to say I know they all definitely work (can the manufacturer disable some of them for cost reasons?) although the BIOS seems to indicate several SATA channels. I will try and get those screenshots up to ImageShack…

    The cooler I got was a new Arctic Freezer Pro 2, as per the BT budget build recommendation; the PSU is a new Corsair 650W Builder Series, although can’t remember the part number off-hand; and the board was just the basic P5B (no additional suffix). I was quite looking forward to all this until you reminded me about the Windows issue! That’s to do with the licence only working on specific hardware, right?

    The OS is a genuine copy but it’s an old work machine I bought from the company (now gone bust) many moons ago, so I don’t have the disc. If I get a copy of XP Pro from ebay, can I install over the top of the SSD (ie. repair install or similar) or is it a complete wipe and re-install?
     
  12. adam_bagpuss

    adam_bagpuss Have you tried turning it off/on ?

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    Its not really a license issue its a hardware one. It like like pulling the engine out of a car and dumping it another. It wont just work. It needs to be re-built.

    Hence you need a fresh install of XP. The license should be ok if its OEM although it may fail to activate and you need to ring MS automated number and punch in some numbers. If its a VLK (volume license key) it could be de-activated and therefore its a no go.

    you just need a windows XP pro disc do any of your friends or work have one ?

    Then perform a fresh install on the SSD.
     
  13. ModSquid

    ModSquid Minimodder

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    Ah, I see - makes sense. Thanks for a clear explanation! Out of interest, why do BT say something along the lines of “if you’re a serial upgrader, you’ll need a retail copy of Windows, otherwise OEM is fine”? I assumed they meant (and I think I read elsewhere some time ago) that once the licence is activated on a combination of hardware, you can’t then change that hardware. Anyway…

    Have just checked and I can borrow an XP disc from work – assume I then have to back up everything from the SSD (obviously) before wiping it and reinstalling. Is this the only way, as I used DriveImageXML to backup the original installation and restoring that was quite convenient? I guess if I’m doing a fresh install, I’ll have to go through and copy over all data folders manually (or use ShadowCopy?).
     
  14. adam_bagpuss

    adam_bagpuss Have you tried turning it off/on ?

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    It has to be a fresh install so get your work docs etc all backed up to your external manually.

    BT say that as OEM isnt supposed to be changed between hardware and your right it is locked while retail is not.

    this is why your activation will likely fail because your changing the mobo and thus it thinks its a completely new PC. Ringing the automated freephone number though and punching in your phone code it will display for you they will provide you with an activation license.

    since all your changing is really just the mobo and your not changing it repeatedly it will be fine. reactivating windows repeatedly would most likely get the OEM key banned so serial upgraders are recommended to have a retail copy.
     
  15. ModSquid

    ModSquid Minimodder

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    Hi again, adam_bagpuss,

    The Asus board has finally turned up so I'm going to have a pop at installing it and rebuilding the machine this weekend. I've re-read your advice and think the way to go is therefore this:

    Backup SSD to external drive
    Reformat SSD
    Swap out motherboards
    Reinstall XP
    Reactivate XP if required - I have an idea this is a volume licence, so am expecting problems
    Copy folders back over to SSD
    Enable storage HDD in BIOS

    I also managed to get the BIOS shots uploaded to ImageShack:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Do these give any clues as to where I went wrong in the first place?
     
  16. ModSquid

    ModSquid Minimodder

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    Hey adam,

    Since I've put this on hold for a few weeks, I'm hoping you might still be monitoring this thread (and thank you for your input so far!).

    I've been trying to plan the build/conversion on paper so that the next chance I get to have a crack at it, I've got a bit of a logical set of steps to follow.

    One thing I thought of though - if I pull the original Acer board and replace it with the Asus one, then re-validate Windows but something goes wrong, can I replace the Acer one and things will work again to give me another shot?
     
  17. ModSquid

    ModSquid Minimodder

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    Oh, also - have +1 rep.

    Meant to do it before...
     
  18. adam_bagpuss

    adam_bagpuss Have you tried turning it off/on ?

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    if it fails to activate on the ASUS it wont work at all.

    I think you could put the Acer board back in and pass activation but im unsure on that ive never tried it.
     
  19. ModSquid

    ModSquid Minimodder

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    Hey Adam - hopefully you're still monitoring this thread as I have some updates!

    I ended up deviating from my original plan a small step at a time until I've finished up about as far away from it as possible. Bought a P5B board and a QX9700 quad-core CPU from ebay, then decided to get some new RAM and a Frio to go with it all, so have virtually rebuilt the entire system anyway...

    Not all bad, though, as my Dad's PC was an old single-core Athlon running DDR memory, so I've found a home for my old kit whilst at the same time learning a great deal about my first build and the associated issues.

    Have installed the P4 and board for my Dad so now his setup is faster, plus have installed my new parts and seemed to get everything to load up fine - good stuff! Have a slight issue with the front panel leads now being too short but have ordered some extension parts to counter this, otherwise I think I might be onto a winner (touch wood). Next step will be to try my hand at overclocking the quad-core.

    Unbelievably, I think I may have found the solution to my original problem by accident... When I put the new parts together, I still couldn't see that additional HDD either in my new Asus BIOS or disk management, which really peed me off. Tried swapping almost everything I could think of, then as a last resort, changed the SATA cable and it bloody worked! This was annoying for two reasons - obviously it was a massively basic error, but also the leads I had been using were two brand new Startech cables that were ordered for this project. I just didn't think that both cables could possibly be DOA but they were. Won't be using those again...

    Have been ironing out the upgrade issues with my dad's machine over the last few days and am now stumped on this one: his external HDD keeps failing to initialise with the message that "The specified I/O operation on \device\harddisk6\dr22 was not completed before time-out period expired". We know the disk is good as it works on another machine, so just wondered if you had any idea what might be causing this?

    We've reinstalled the USB drivers and I can't find anything conclusive on the web that doesn't point to a hardware issue (which it obviously isn't).

    Any clues?
     
  20. adam_bagpuss

    adam_bagpuss Have you tried turning it off/on ?

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    have you tried installing the latest motherboard drivers ?
     

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