Which of these computer components is faulty?
June 6, 2008 6:37 AM   Subscribe

I bought a new motherboard and a new video card, and now my computer beeps and won't boot to Windows. Which one is to blame?

I've just combined this motherboard and this video card to build myself a new computer. When I power on I get one long beep and then three short beeps, which is code for "No video card or bad video RAM" according to BiosCentral (no beep codes in the mobo manual, thanks Asus). Ok so bad video card right? Except that after about 30 seconds the monitor does come on and it attempts to boot: POST screens come up, I can get into the BIOS, etc. If I let it continue to boot I get the "Safe Mode, Boot Normally, ..." screen, and then it bluescreens no matter which I choose. Also I was able to fully boot into an Ultimate Boot CD which contained a Windows environment. If the video card were actually bad, I wouldn't be able to do any of this right?

All this makes me think faulty motherboard. I flashed the BIOS to the newest version, and changed the setting for "default video device" from PCI to PCIe, neither of which made any difference. I don't have any spare compatible components to test anything separately, and the board has no onboard video. I'm pretty handy with computers, but this is my first time working with stuff like PCIe. Is there something obvious I'm missing? I bought through Newegg so I assume I'll be able to RMA anything I need to.
posted by Who_Am_I to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
I had to look up the beep codes to be certain I remembered them right, but 1 long and 3 short = Conventional/Extended memory failure. This is your RAM.

Now you got a new motherboard, but what type of RAM is on it? These days the pairings of RAM and motherboards are MUCH harder than in the past. You need to check brand and model number of your RAM for compatibility with your motherboard (generic RAM doesn't really cut it as much as it used to given how much they're pushing that hardware to do...the fault tolerances just aren't there any more).

If your RAM is compatible with your motherboard, your motherboard may have a bad RAM slot. It happens. Try moving your RAM to a different slot or, if all slots are filled, remove some and move it around.

And if none of that works, buy a Mac ;)
posted by arniec at 6:45 AM on June 6, 2008

Try reseating your RAM.
posted by doomtop at 6:48 AM on June 6, 2008

Response by poster: Ah, interesting. I didn't look too much into which memory I bought, just got some cheap, highly-rated stuff. I didn't consider it as a possible problem because the machine was booting at all. I'll check that out when I get home.
posted by Who_Am_I at 6:54 AM on June 6, 2008

I agree it could be a RAM problem, but did you make sure to plug in the power cord for your video card? In my experience that results in a continuous beep, but it's something easy to forget to do.
posted by demiurge at 6:58 AM on June 6, 2008

Try doing a Windows repair installation. Boot to the Windows cd, dont take the option that lets you repair using the recovery console, carry on and when it says "looking for previous installations of Windows" select your Windows directory and let the repair run. This will install the drivers for your new hardware and then you should be able to boot into Windows.
posted by kenchie at 7:16 AM on June 6, 2008

Go with what arniec suggested. It is most probably your RAM. You'd have to find out if the RAM is compatible with the new motherboard that you got. Beeps on boot up are mostly related to incompatible RAM.
posted by mrbloo at 7:38 AM on June 6, 2008

(agreeing with the chorus that RAM incompatibility is probably the issue, but just a friendly reminder to make sure that you're checking the correct manufacturer's beep codes- some manufacturers use different beep codes than others)
posted by baphomet at 7:39 AM on June 6, 2008

Some video cards beep if you don't connect the power at the rear of the card. I think most video cards have these power connections these days.
posted by robofunk at 8:10 AM on June 6, 2008

Clean the RAM edge connectors with a pencil eraser or an only just barely damp cotton cloth, blow out the RAM sockets, reseat the RAM, then run a full pass of Memtest86+ to make sure it's OK before trying to start Windows on this box.
posted by flabdablet at 9:22 AM on June 6, 2008

Second the power connector issue. Newer cards are power-hungry and require separate power connections. Disconnect video card and try on-board video, if available.
posted by catkins at 11:05 AM on June 6, 2008

Best answer: I don't know what's causing the beeps, but Windows might be blue screening for another reason.

Did you take the HD out of an old computer, with Windows already installed, and try to boot it on this one? Generally, this is a bad, bad idea. Specifically, some transitions will never work (or at least they never did in XP/2000/NT):

- Changing the boot storage controller. You can't go from one type (Parallel IDE) to another (Serial ATA).

- Changing from one core to multiple. Windows installs different files depending on if your machine has a single processor with a single core, or any other configuration (SMP, SMT, duel core, and so on).

If you haven't made any of these changes, then it might be possible to get Windows to work on your new hardware. The best way to do this is force it to run sysprep before removing it from your old machine. When you boot the first time in your new one Windows will redetect all the devices.
posted by sbutler at 11:23 AM on June 6, 2008

If you replaced the motherboard/video card without reinstalling windows, thats why you are getting the BSOD
posted by wongcorgi at 11:24 AM on June 6, 2008

I made a silly mistake like this once, so I'm just throwing it out there:

Lots of modern video cards require a power input from the PSU. If you fail to connect that input, boot will fail.
posted by TomMelee at 8:13 PM on June 6, 2008

Response by poster: This ended up being two separate problems. sbutler was right in guessing that I had changed from a single core to a quad-core processor, and reinstalling Windows fixed the blue screen. So thanks sbutler!

The beep code has not been resolved. I double checked, and the code does mean 'faulty video card.' The video card is powered by PCIe, and does not have an additional power connector. I tried lots of different memory arrangements, and they didn't make any difference. I'm convinced that this isn't a problem with the memory after all since the machine does boot, and once it does it runs beautifully.

I did discover that when I power the machine on I can wait a few seconds until it does the beep code and then just press restart and it boots normally. I'll follow up if I figure it out. Thanks everyone for the help.
posted by Who_Am_I at 11:47 AM on June 12, 2008

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