PC hardware--CPU & Motherboard & RAM/no post, strange beep codes
QUESTION: Hi Mike,
I've got an MSI p43-c51 motherboard with what I think is AMI bios. The other day it quit working. Powers up, but zero display on the monitor. I tried my video card in a friend's computer and it works fine, so not the card.
Beep code doesnt make much sense to me. I hear a short single beep, then i hear a very brief High-Low in quick succession, then I hear a quick double short beep. Almost like a longer beep, but with a very brief interruption in the middle.
I've looked at possible beep codes on line and none of them seem to match what I'm hearing. I know continuous high-low-high-low is related to CPU temperature, but I dont hear this - just a quick, single high-low. The next sound, the quick double-beep also seems odd.
Can you provide any suggestions of what I can try next? I already cleared the CMOS and re-seated the RAM, no luck. Im considering getting a diagnostic 'post card' though Im not sure it would tell me anything more than what the beep codes are trying to say.
ANSWER: You obviously know your way around a computer well enough to have already tried pretty much everything I could suggest.
Pull CMOS battery and wall power for 10-15 mins, strip everything that isn't needed for booting. Try booting with nothing but HD, a single stick of RAM. Then alternate between RAM sticks and between RAM slots.
I doubt seriously that a bad video card would cause beep code errors and I know you tried that card in a different computer. However, you could at least try a different video card for the hell of it.
The docs I found on AMI beep codes are below, but without hearing them myself I'm not sure which would be closest.
You can give a post-card a try as they generally have their own numerical code and descriptions so that is easier to deal with than confusing beep codes. If none of this is working then it's definitely something more serious but there's no way to know what.
In short, I'm really not much help so I'm sorry about that.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hey Mike,
Thanks for getting back to me. I borrowed a stick of my friend's RAM and plugged it in, and lo and behold, I got something to display on the monitor. I then re-installed my own 2 sticks of RAM and this also worked. I'm totally back up and running. I find it bizarre that re-seating my own RAM and clearing the CMOS didn't seem to work, though using my friend's ram apparently did the trick. In any case all appears to be well.
For beeps, I now hear a short beep, followed by a rapid high-high-low in quick succession. Not sure what it's trying to tell me. I didn't see this explained in the 2 PDF links your provided (thanks for sending me those links, very interesting and potentially very useful to me in the future).
I'd like to ask another question about RAM. I have two 2-gig sticks of DDR3 1333 ram, which I think should add up to something around 4 gigs total. When I check Properties under My Computer, it only shows 3.25 gigs.
In the BIOS, I notice that the default speed of the ram was something like 1066. I adjusted the FSB ratio to 2:1 (if I remember correctly), so that the ram operates at 1333, which I believe is its maximum speed. Doing this does not seem to hurt, though I can't tell if it actually helped or not. That is, Win XP still says I have 3.25 gigs of ram. Can you provide any insight on this, particularly if what I did was a good idea, and if there's anything else I can do to maximize the capability of my RAM?
My motherboard is capable of overclocking via dip switches though I have not messed with this. I'm a little reluctant to increase the chances of heat-related damage if I don't feel a big need for more speed, though I can't help but be curious.
Thanks very much!
If you're still getting beep errors my guess is it's trying to tell you that you have bad RAM. You need to make sure both of your sticks match, that they're both 1333 and I would try booting with just one stick, one at a time, to see if the system still beeps.
As far as the 3.25GB goes, that's standard. A 32-bit OS, like Windows XP or Windows 7 32-bit, cannot handle more than 4GB total and it will always 'take' some of the RAM to allocate for system use. So 4GB will only show 3.25GB and 3 would only show 2.25, etc. The only way you can move beyond the 4GB ceiling is to format that system with a 64-bit operating system. Then that motherboard can handle up to 16GB maximum.
I personally am not a fan of overclocking and I'd seriously recommend not messing with that. The possible value you get from messing with the overclocking will be slim to none and you have a high risk of frying your board.