Intractable Windows 7 Installation Problem with Packard Bell desktop

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
Hi all,

I've been banging my head against the wall for days with a problem on my PC, and wanted to talk over some ideas with more experienced folk. I'm not sure if this is a system, software, motherboard or windows issue, but lets give this a go.

I have a working but increasingly unreliable Packard-Bell iPower X9800 desktop (spec below) and wanted to remove Windows Vista 64 and do a clean installation of Windows 7 64. The installation won't complete - it re-starts and gets to "completing installation", then it dies. Windows will then start normally, but it dies during loading. If I start in safe mode, it says it has to be in normal mode to complete installation. I can't install Win XP either, but I can boot from UBCD4Win or Hiren's boot disc and access all the drives (so the HW looks OK).

So I can't go forwards and I can't go backwards. It sounds like a windows problem, but I think there's more to it than that. On the Microsoft support forums there are lots of people with the same problem, and there's no single solution. I've progressively removed everything from the system, leaving just the MoBo, HDD, DVD, mouse, keyboard & monitor, and that makes no difference. I have two XP CDs and two Win 7 DVDs, and each behaves the same. I've cleaned the discs, removed and refitted every connector, and PSU voltages appear to be normal.

I suspect the core problem is that I deleted the original Packard Bell system files, I can't recover them or download them, and I don't have back-ups. I believe Packard Bell use proprietary drivers, but their support site doesn't recognise the PC model No any more. There are lots of ways of finding chipset and HDD drivers etc, but each and every one of them requires me to download driver utilities that won't run in bootdisc windows (I've tried all of them - and Windows won't start of course). It seems like the mobo was a good one in its day, but is now an unsupportable liability.

So what should I do - sell the PC for parts - throw it at a repair shop - throw it in the bin - get a new one? My most likely course of action is to keep the parts but get a properly supportable Socket 775 SLI ATX motherboard from one of the mainstream manufacturers like ASUS, MSI, XFX, eVGA or ASRock, something equivalent to what I have, like an ASUS P5N-E.

Does that sound like a sensible way forwards, or does anyone have some better ideas?

Thanks, Nick

System: Packard Bell iPower X9800 (64 bit)
MoBo: Packard Bell VG300 V1.2
BIOS: American Megatrends PBVG300.P0K
Chipset: nVidia nForce 750i
CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 2500MHz
Socket 775 LGA
RAM: 6144MB DDR2 SDRAM PC2-5300 333 MHz
HDD: 2 x Seagate 500GB 7200rpm 3500820AS
GPU: 2 x nVidia GeForce 9800GT 512MB DDR3 / SLI
 
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eNxy

Novice Member
I am assuming your Windows CD's are just upgrade CD's? So they require one or the other to already be installed before fully finishing the next installation?

I would've said if your recovery partition has accidentally been deleted, use a spare laptop/desktop to just torrent a fresh copy of W7. As far as I know, the CDKey for an "upgrade" or "full" is the same, but just the installation process that differs. Please can someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Either way you are fully entitled to a copy of Windows 7. You have bought it, so the torrent is all for backup purposes - well that's what I think.

Oh, another thing... does Packard Bell say that the PC is "Windows 7 Compatible"? Only because if not, I suspect it's something to do with the motherboard and it being a PB.
 
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Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
The windows discs are full versions, not upgrade.

I also reviewed all the Windows 7 requirements, and the system meets everything with half the hardware removed.

Nick
 

eNxy

Novice Member
I think Packard Bell motherboards have had alterations done to them by PB, I don't know whether that is BIOS related to physical. I don't have a Dell so I wouldn't be able to say.

If your disks are full versions then all the data will be on there, there shouldn't be any need to recall any information off the recovery partition. Otherwise I'm a bit lost! Hopefully someone else knows what might be going on :(

EDIT: My mind has gone off on one and for some reason I'm fixated on Dell when you have clearly said Packard Bell... sorry!
 
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maf1970

Well-known Member
You have kinda shot yourself in the foot by deleting everything off the HDD. Most makers prefer to use a recovery partition rather than supply media. They leave it to the user to cut media themselves and it should be one of the first things you do to insure against drive failure but few do. Makers customise Windows to their own reqs under licence from MS. Hence you get error message if you try to use a Dell Install disk in a non-Dell machine.
If you had the recovery partition you could have reinstalled Vista and then used MS's tool to check for Win 7 compatability. Did you check with PB regarding Win 7 compatability?
Also is the Vista key an OEM one or a full key ?
Does your machine have a Product Model number on it anywhere ? (e.g. PT.U01)
The Packard Bell support site has a link to the old page.
ftp://ftp.download.packardbell.com/
According to reviews your model was released mid 2008 but old page only has Vista drivers.

The obvious route for changing the motherboard would be to one with the same chipset like the ASUS P5N-D.
 
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Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
Yes, its Packard Bell, not Dell (if only....). They seem to go their own way, and don't follow industry standards. The PB support site only lists newer machines. My PC is a WOL-VE3, whatever that means - its nowhere to be seen.

When I looked at the ftp site a few days ago, it wasn't clear what machines the drivers were for. I've downloaded the drivers for the 2007-2009 machines from here anyway:

ftp://ftp.download.packardbell.com/DESKTOP/iPower (2007-2009)/

That lists nForce570 and NF750i chipsets, so although they're 19 months old, maybe they'll be enough to get Win7 installed. Here we go again...
Incidentally, I've never opened an internet site on Windows Explorer before - that was very convenient, drag and drop and all that.

Cheers, Nick
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
Still banging my head on the wall.... I tried re-installing, and added the drivers on a USB drive when prompted by the installer. None of the drivers were recognised however, and the installation failed as before, while "completing installation".

The drivers were applications, so I tried running them in boot-disc windows, but they need proper windows to run (like all those stupid driver tools). Perhaps they're just intended for existing installations, and not what's effectively a new-build.

It's difficult to understand what's going wrong. The PC mostly runs just fine with Hirens' boot disc windows. I'm using it right now.

The mobo seems to be quite a good one, and I thought it was making an effort to get it to work, but I think I'm at the end of the road. A new mobo beckons, and ASUS give me the most confidence. I have another Packard Bell PC (an iPower 8860) and that uses a P5N-E with an nForce 650i chipset. I'll probably get a P5N-D with the 750i chipset, and start from scratch with that.

Has anyone got any good links for new-build PCs?

Cheers, Nick
 

rorackowe

Well-known Member
Have u run memtest? Would imagine u would have had a more spectacular crash earlier (bsod) if it was a ram problem.

Have u run a SMART analysis of your hard disk. U can do this via various Linux partition management freeware.

The drivers u have downloaded can probably be unzipped and the relevant driver files extracted from within the .exe file. These are often just self extracting archives. Also worth getting nForce drivers for the chipset straight from NVidia and trying these.
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
Hi, thanks for the help. I downloaded the packard bell drivers, but the windows installer didn't recognise them as drivers. Shouldn't I run them after windows is installed? The PC runs fine without them of a little CD boot disc?

I also got the nVidia drivers for the 750i chipset on Win 7/64, but that wouldn't run under boot disc windows. SO I got the Win XP driver, but that wouldn't run with the windows utilities running. I started closing them down and got a BSOD.

I re-started the boot disc and spent an hour running two passes on Memtest86 V4.20. This was just on the single 2GB RAM DIMM that I have installed at the moment. There were no errors or ECC errors. I presume this tests the RAM? I've chopped and changed the RAM a lot, as others found removing non-essential HW got their installations to work, but different configs made no difference to me.

I've also tried different (formatted) HDDs as well, and removed the network connection and the second GPU. No difference. SMART was disabled on BIOS, so I enabled it, and ran a SMART check on Victoria 4.46b. Not sure what I'm looking for, but the SMART status was good.

08:31:56 : Starting Victoria 4.46b Freeware (12.08.2008), 1xCPU, 2500.16 MHz, Windows XP found.
08:31:57 : API access enabled, device #1
08:31:57 : Get passport... OK
08:31:57 : 48bit access enabled
08:31:57 : Model: ST3500820AS; Capacity: 976773168 LBAs; SN: 5QM2B4A4; FW: SD46
08:33:05 : Get S.M.A.R.T. command... OK
08:33:05 : SMART status = GOOD

Do you suspect a HW fault? If that's my problem, its presumably in the CPU, GPU, RAM or HDD? So if I just get another mobo - I will still have that problem?

Thanks, Nick

Edit: Heck, I even tried loading Windows 8 - no change!
 
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Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
OK, one final result. I tested one of the Seagate ST3500820AS HDDs with Victoria 4.46 and got this result:

Start LBO: 0
End LBA: 976773167
476938 Mb

08:34:14 : Get passport... OK
08:34:14 : Recallibration... OK
08:34:14 : Starting Reading, LBA=0..976773167, sequential access, timeout 10000ms
10:13:54 : ***** Scan results: no warnings, no errors *****

There was a set of incrementing counters under the heading "RS" whatever that means:

5 : 3501653
20 : 313804
50 : 22
200 : 43
600 : 0
More : 0
Error : 0

This gives me a bit more confidence that the HW is good.

Nick
 

MarkE19

Moderator
What are the BIOS settings for the HDD? If they are set to AHCI it is worth resetting it to Compatability Mode (IDE) as this may enable you to get Win7 installed.

Mark.
 

MiiCK90

Novice Member
It could be many things, your pc was fully working with vista (although slow or whatever)? but now it won't install ANY OS? I had a few laptops that were on vista and wouldn't install XP without changing the mode from AHCI to IDE, check the bios settings? also, try the hard drive in another machine, install win7 on it as a slave drive in another machine, then enter it in your machine and see if it boots? run memtest86+ and check your ram, try one stick of ram in ram slot 1 (check manual what slot it is, either closest to fan or furthest away), and if it fails, try another stick one a time.

Also does your pc get hot at any point? Might be worth applying some new thermal paste to the cpu if you feel it's hot in any way. how does it not complete, reboots or totally turns off? you have tried numerous hdd's that work in other machines but don't in yours? You say '...The PC mostly runs just fine with Hirens' boot disc windows. I'm using it right now...' what you mean by MOSTLY? any random BSOD or shutdowns etc? Could load optimized defaults in bios or take the battery out the motherboard for 24hours so it clears and try again.

Definitely don't bin it(assume you were joking anyway lol), sell it.. your processor is top notch and so is the rest of the system, it'd be easier if you lived next door, i love getting hands on, hard explaining all the things to try over the net as capabilities of the end user differ. But yeah, don't get rid.. just keep working at it and you'll sort it, PC building would be no fun if we didn't encounter any issues along the way!

Try changing the settings (ahci, ide etc), try clearing the bios, try a different batch of ram, a different psu if you can, remove GPU etc as you don't need it yet.

Can't really suggest any more right now, get back to me.
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
What are the BIOS settings for the HDD? If they are set to AHCI it is worth resetting it to Compatability Mode (IDE) as this may enable you to get Win7 installed.
Mark.
The HDD is set to IDE. I heard of other people having problems when in AHCI, but I have to admit I don't know what that is, and I can't see an option for it in the BIOS. Its either IDE or RAID.

Miick, thanks for your input, I have lots of answers coming up.

Cheers, Nick
 

MarkE19

Moderator

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
It could be many things, your pc was fully working with vista (although slow or whatever)? but now it won't install ANY OS?
I had a few laptops that were on vista and wouldn't install XP without changing the mode from AHCI to IDE, check the bios settings?
also, try the hard drive in another machine, install win7 on it as a slave drive in another machine, then enter it in your machine and see if it boots?
run memtest86+ and check your ram,
try one stick of ram in ram slot 1 (check manual what slot it is, either closest to fan or furthest away),
and if it fails, try another stick one a time.
Also does your pc get hot at any point? Might be worth applying some new thermal paste to the cpu if you feel it's hot in any way.
how does it not complete, reboots or totally turns off?
you have tried numerous hdd's that work in other machines but don't in yours?
You say '...The PC mostly runs just fine with Hirens' boot disc windows. I'm using it right now...' what you mean by MOSTLY? any random BSOD or shutdowns etc?
Could load optimized defaults in bios or take the battery out the motherboard for 24hours so it clears and try again.
Definitely don't bin it (assume you were joking anyway lol), sell it.. your processor is top notch and so is the rest of the system, it'd be easier if you lived next door, i love getting hands on, hard explaining all the things to try over the net as capabilities of the end user differ. But yeah, don't get rid.. just keep working at it and you'll sort it, PC building would be no fun if we didn't encounter any issues along the way!
Try changing the settings (ahci, ide etc),
try clearing the bios,
try a different batch of ram,
a different psu if you can,
remove GPU etc as you don't need it yet.
Thanks for the moral support; here's a bit more history. We have four PCs at home, and all stopped working recently.
PC 1. I fixed my daughter's PC by installing a new ISDN router - easy.

PC 2. The GPU cooling fan in my laptop failed, and guess what happened? Yup. I bought a new cooling fan and reflowed the GPU with a pizza bake in the oven. No great problem.

PC 3. My original packard-bell PC (an iPower x8860: Q6600, P5N-E, 8GB DDR2, 8800GTS, 2x320GB, 400W) started playing up, and now it won't even recognise the HDDs. First there was no video at all, so I substituted one of the 9800GT GPUs from the x9800 and it burst into life. The I refitted the original 8800GTS GPU, and it still worked. Go figure. I'll come back to this one later, but it does give me some parts to play with.

PC 4. The iPower x9800 is the intractable problem, as I can't fix it using my usual last resort - format and re-install.
The PC was built in 2008 and I bought it in 2009 with no documentation or discs.
It had Vista loaded from the start, and worked great until recently, when it stopped loading windows.
I tried to do a clean Win 7 install, but that simply stopped at "completing installation".
No re-start or BSOD or anything, it just stopped.
Then it wouldn't load windows, and when I started in safe mode it said "installation can't complete in safe mode".
I tried this several times, and it fails the same way
No suggestion of any temperature-related issues (the CPU is water-cooled)
I tried two different Win 7 DVDs, and it wouldn't install off two XP CDs either.
The BIOS setting for the HDDs has always been IDE.
I disconnected the second HDD - no difference.
I removed on GPU leaving a single 9800GT - no difference.
I can't remove both GPUs are there's no integrated graphics.
I disconnected the printer and network connection - no difference.
No separate sound card is fitted.
I put both HDDs in PC 3, but they weren't detected at all, even in BIOS.
I put both HDDs from PC 3 into PC 4, and they were detected, but couldn't be read (strange config, maybe RAID?) Worry about that later.
I ran memtest86 and got no errors.
There were 4 DIMMs of RAM adding up to 6GB, and I removed all but 2GB in slot 1 - no difference.
At every stage I was always able to boot from Hiren's CD. Short-form Win XP worked perfectly, it ran fast and completely reliably. I could access the internet and download large files like Windows 8 Developer and save them to DVDs. What I can't do is run programmes that are designed to run in Vista/7/64 bits.

I have a big pile of hardware to play with, but I think I could do with a bit more. I've bought a new PSU for PC 3, and I plan to get an ASUS P5N-D or equivalent for PC 4.

Cheers, Nick
 
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MiiCK90

Novice Member
Okay, lot of into there lol!

Has there been a vista backup partition created, can you use that to reinstall vista? You mention reinstalling xp and 7, but no mention of vista, can you try reinstalling vista as a fresh install? If you put both hard drives in pc 3 (which your not talking about, your talking about #4 right?), and they aren't detected at all, it seems strange, don't see how you can say 'worry about that later' as it's what'll be stopping you from installing an OS to them..

Can you use ANY hard drive in your house (from pc #1 for example?) and put it in pc #4, and try booting into windows, if it works then you know the hard drives are at fault (try hard drives with vista, xp and 7 installed in pc #4), you may find a vista install on another hard drive might boot but xp and 7 might not..

Put the hard drives in another pc and try installing Win7 on them, then inputting them back into pc #4.

Have you removed the motherboard battery for a long period of time (24hrs) and tried booting?

I'm guessing the whole time you have access to the bios? Have you flashed to the latest bios by any chance?

I wouldn't go buying new bits or anything, try some of the things i've posted and get back :)
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
Happy New Year everyone!

Yes, there was vista backup partition, but like a fool I re-formatted and re-partitioned everything. I did try to recover it using some of the Hiren CD utilities, but all I got was gobbledegook. I don't have any Vista discs to install from.

I want to come back to PC 3 later, as it has lots of files that I want to transfer to another drive or machine. PC 4 is the target, so I want to get that working first, and tackle PC 3 afterwards. Solve one problem at a time - in that order. PC 4 has nothing important on it, so I wasn't too woried about what I did with the HDDs (though perhaps I should have been).

Maybe I could try fitting the HDD from PC1 into PC4, but its an old machine with an IDE drive, and I don't want to take any risks with my daughter's homework.

Although it looks like a likely cause, I don't think there's much wrong with the HDD in PC4. I can write and read large files with no problem (I think!) and it passed all the storage tests that I ran off the Hiren and UBCD4W discs. There are two 500GB HDDs, and the PC behaves the same whichever drive I use. These drives are only unreadable in PC3 - in PC4 they appear to be fine.

Yes, I have access to the BIOS all the time, but I haven't tried flashing that or removing the battery. Should I? The time and date are right.

BTW, the CPU is water-cooled. Would the lack of over-spill air cause the chipset to run hot?

Nick
 
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eNxy

Novice Member
Is it a customer waterloop? Or a closed one like the Corsair H-series? The closed loop systems are very robust and I highly doubt there will be a leak or air trapped in it.

I have heard off another forum, OCUK possibly, that someone had a Corsair H-series cooler, it leaked and Corsair compensated him/her with a brand new PC... :D
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
Or a closed one like the Corsair H-series? The closed loop systems are very robust and I highly doubt there will be a leak or air trapped in it.
Its similar. Its an Asetech close-circuit system with the pump integrated with the CPU block, and a single 120x120x25 rad. It could be a bit quieter, but it seems to work very well.

I do have a custom CPU block and a 240 rad, but even in a big case like the iPower, that has two 120mm fans at the back, there's not quite enough room. There are some stupid people in this World (myself included of course).

Back on thread for a moment though, and I removed the BIOS battery for 24 hours. I put it back in and reset the clock & calendar. HDDs were still set to IDE, and everything else was the same. This made no difference - windows started to load, then the display went off.

I also tried substituting a different RAM DIMM in slot 1. Thsi made no difference either, though I didn't expect it would.

Nick
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
A quick question for the smart guys.

If I got a main board with DDR3 support, do I assume that I wouldn't be able to fit DDr2 RAM?

And is it just me, but isn't DDR3 RAM cheaper than DDR2 these days?

Cheers, Nick
 

maf1970

Well-known Member
DDR SDRAM - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Your assumption is correct. DDR2 does not fit DDR3 slots. See the link above and you'll see how the notch in the ram stick is in different places.

Yes,it is because it is the current item and therefore in production more than DDR2 (if it is still manufactured)

In a previous post I mentioned how to change the board. I was assuming that you would want as close as so I suggested the Asus P5N-D.(same chipset)
Replacing the board you might as well explore all the options rather than restrict yourself to the nVidia nForce 750i chipset. This would open up all the Intel chipset boards.
 
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Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
I was thinking along the same lines.
The ASUS / 775 / DDR2 configuration seems to be popular, and the P5N-D is at the top of my short-list.
However, there's no particular reason to keep to the same chip-set, and I hadn't realised an Intel chip-set might make more sense.
I was originally thinking of changing the board, and keeping everything else the same, but there's no compelling need to do so.
I'm just wary of the usual trap where one change becomes two changes … becomes three changes … becomes change everything.
I'll open it up to include P5E, P5Q and related boards, and consider DDR3 instead of DDR2.
Would anyone like to volunteer any opinions on P43/45 chipsets vs X38/X48? Are the latter the more recent?

One final question though - are nVidia SLI dual GPUs tied to nVidia chip-sets, and ATI CrossFire dual GPUs tied to Intel chip-sets? I read dozens of ASUS specs, and if that's not the rule, then I didn't see a single exception. I had previously thought that a 2 x PCIe x16 board could run either 2 x nVidia or 2 x ATI GPUs. Is that not the case?

Cheers, Nick
 

maf1970

Well-known Member
Intel P45 vs P43 chipset comparison

X48 over X38. Would give you access to the Asus Rampage boards.
ASUSTeK Computer Inc. - Motherboards- ASUS Rampage Formula

Crossfire vs Nvidia SLI

CrossFire can be implemented with varying-GPU cards of the same generation (this is in contrast to Nvidia's SLI, which generally only works if all cards have the same GPU). This allows buyers who have varying budgets over time to purchase different cards and still get the benefits of increased performance. With the latest generation cards, they will only crossfire with other cards in their sub series. For example, GPU in the same series can be crossfired with each other. So a 5800 series GPU (e.g. a 5830) can run together with another 5800 series GPU (e.g. 5870). However GPU's not in the same hundred series cannot be crossfired successfully. (e.g. a 5770 cannot run with a 5870)
ATI has opened the CrossFire architecture to Intel, allowing CrossFire to be enabled on many Intel chipsets which feature two x16 PCI-E slots. SLI, however, requires a motherboard which is SLI certified, which includes all nForce chipsets (such as the nForce 590 SLI, nForce 680i SLI, and nForce 790i), and most Intel X58 and Intel P55 based motherboards.
ATI crossfire configurations can run many monitors of varying size and resolution, while SLI only allows two monitors. The exception is when Nvidia surround is being used though monitors must be the same resolution for this to work.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
As maf1970 said you can't put DDR3 DIMMs in a DDR2 slot, or vice versa. But my previous motherboard (Asus P5KC) had both DDR2 & DDR3 slots - but you could only use one or the other, not both at the same time.

Before you look at replacing the motherboard in a Packard Bell or any prebuilt PC you should check that the case will fit a standard ATX/mATX board. Many prebuilt PC's use non standard parts and so a motherboard replacement may not be as easy as it should be :rolleyes:

Mark.
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
OK, so I currently have a Q9300 CPU, 4 DDR2 DIMMs and 2 x 9800GT GPUs. If I want to use them all on a new board, then my choice is for the most part narrowed to a 775 / DDR2 board with an nForce chip-set. No great hardship, there are plenty of good choices, though I think I'd have liked the option to use Intel chip-sets. I guess I could do that if I went for dual ATI GPUs or a single nVidia GPU, but if I was going to make that many changes, I may as well sell the machine for parts and buy another one.

I get the mobo size thing. I measured the existing board some time ago, and it appears to be a standard ATX board. I was encouraged that the X8860 machine used a standard P5N-E board. I know Packard Bell do things their own way, but I'm confident an ATX board will fit.

I've been doing a lot reading on the usual web sites, and it struck me what a large and complex subject this is. There's a lot to know, but there's also a lot of information about – tests, measurements and comparisons. Whatever you want to know – that information is out there. It's not like hifi, where's there's simply nothing like the resources available. It seems to be driven by the time, effort and money that people will put into gaming. I'm not the over-clocking type, but it's not hard to see where it all comes from.

Nick
 

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