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Windows 98 machine being a pill

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#1
Tommy

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Alright, so I'm having major woes with my Windows 98 machine. Random issues have crept up and now it's almost unusable at times. Symptom 1: The machine boots and almost gets to the GUI, but then it's just a black screen and the monitor says no video signal. Symptom 2: Random BSoD mainly concerning 0028:-------, which generally are random numbers, but the 0028 is always the same.

 

Right now I'm working on a remote Malware Bytes scan and attempting an AVG scan but AVG isn't working out so well right now. I have no antivirus protection on my 98 machine but I only go to a handful of sites with it, mainly YouTube, here, and occasionally Facebook but that's only to check things out, I don't really do anything with it. So I don't know if I have a bug on the machine or not, so that's what I'm testing out.

 

Now, this machine does have 2GBs of RAM with the RLoew patch installed. I have done a Memtest on the RAM, but only with one pass, but the RAM was found to be clean. I have done no further testing with the RAM since, but this is one of my prime suspects as I didn't seem to have this problem until I installed this RAM.

 

I did have the processor slightly overclocked from 2.6GHz to 2.75GHz which since I've reverted because I thought it may be causing problems. It's a P4 Northwood and I heard those can be slightly sketchy. But so far I don't know what the issue is. The computer itself doesn't seem to have the problem, just Windows 98.

 

So if anyone has any ideas on what I can start troubleshooting on, all help is appreciated. Otherwise I'm just going to bring one of my older machines out and use it for the time being as I really don't want to format the drive if I don't have to since I do have some important data on it and I don't really want to deal with backing it all up just yet. Speaking of which, the hard drive doesn't appear to be failing either but of course it's always a possibility too. Today the BSoD happened while in the middle of a Markiplier video and I wasn't doing anything except watching it....

 

Edit: This machine also has the USP3 and KernelEx 4.5.2 installed on it.


Edited by Tommy, 15 February 2015 - 11:05 PM.

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#2
loblo

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I bet on dying motherboard capacitors.



#3
jaclaz

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Being more optimistic ;), I would try with another (surely working)  PSU, over the years I have seen every kind of issues that in the end resulted being connected with a dying/weak PSU.

 

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#4
netbookdelgob

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Try disabling ACPI, most motherboards that include ICH7 and later chipset have problems with Windows 98. It seems that 9x doesnt know how to work with acpi apic .



#5
Tripredacus

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May seem weird, but last time I had a similar problem (it was recently) I got past it by replacing the CMOS battery.


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#6
Tommy

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Thanks for the tips, I'm not sure if the capacitors are bad or not as I did inspect the board when I moved it over to a different case because I needed the one it was originally housed in for a full sized ATX board. But I don't remember seeing any bad ones. This 'computer' was indeed going to be sent to recycle by the local computer shop and I saved it from its demise and for months it seemed perfectly fine.

 

As for the PSU, this is where I wish I could remember if it started before or after I started using a different one. It seems to me that it started when I was using the original PSU and even with a different one that I'm using now, it still has the same results. The CMOS battery would be the easiest to change and even test to see if it is low or not. I might even swap RAM modules to see if it could be doing something funky even though memtest said no. I know the computer has been sketchy with automatic shutdowns as well so it's possible ACPI could be doing something funny as well. It didn't always but it seems ever since I put in the new RAM, it starts saying error writing to device aux and then if gives the standard fail, retry, etc options. So it's hard to say exactly what's going on here.

 

Edit: Also, MalwareBytes found the machine as being clean, so that's not the issue.

 

Edit 2: I had another thread started that I didn't think really meant too much as Dencorso said probably not, but I'll throw it on the table here. Going into the BIOS and into the PC Health Section, the CPU Vcore -5V was being reported around -61.69V. So the machine is still working so it can't be right, but is it possibly something is being fouled up because of this, perhaps a sensor is giving off the wrong readings?


Edited by Tommy, 16 February 2015 - 10:07 AM.

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#7
loblo

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Try checking your voltages with a tool from within Windows (such as Speedfan or Hardware Monitor) as the value you report just cannot be right but may indicate there is a problem. If your Vcore voltage fluctuates by more than a few hundredth of a volt you've most probably got a problem with some of the mobo's capacitors and this would account for the random crashes you report.. Dead or dying capacitors don't always show physical signs of damage such as bulging or leaking.



#8
submix8c

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This 'computer' was indeed going to be sent to recycle by the local computer shop and I saved it from its demise...

Capacitors have a "small thin space" between them and the MoBo board. If there's any particulate under them, that could couse a "short".

 

And I agree that you should check from within Windows, if possible, to be sure.


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#9
dencorso

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For what it's worth, here's what I'd do:

1) Disconnect the current HDD (I remember you said there's just one on that machine), but leave it where it is.

2) Grab another PATA HDD of any size (say...  >= 20 GB) and partition it with a single active primary partition.

3) Install *plain vanilla* 98SE, add RLoew's RAM Limitation Patch *only*, tweak the desktop minimally for confort (without any third party app, except perhaps MS's own TweakUI), add Opera 10.10 for connectivity and super-pi to give the OS something to do, then run super-pi and let it churn some for 6 to 30h (unless it crashes before that) to decide whether I do have a hardware problem (and if so, then troubleshoot for it) or not. In case it crashes soon, reboot it some 3 to 4 times to make sure it's crashing consistently

 

 If it does not crash and behaves solidly, then disconnect the new HDD, reconnect the old one and troubleshoot instead the Win 98SE setup.

 

 

This is just my 2ยข, of course... please feel free to ignore it completely. 



#10
Tommy

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Thanks for the help everyone. I'll certainly look at all possibilities. Since the computer itself cost me nothing when I got it, I'd say I had a great run with it while it lasted. I do think stressing the hardware would be a great place to start.

 

This is my board: http://www.biostar-u...model=U8668 PRO

 

I do not know if this came from the time of bad capacitors or not, but it's likely. I had another computer given to me that had a Biostar board in it and died after 3 boot ups and when I thought I accidentally damaged the socket (775), I found it had two slightly bulged capacitors right by the CPU so I trashed it. I didn't think it was worth fixing anyway.

 

Edit: Alright, so I tried both speedfan and hardware monitor. I'm still getting flimsy readings. HWMonitor is reading -12v at around -4.30 and -5v around -16. Speedfan is reporting -12v at around -11.26 and -5v at around +3.84. So something is definitely screwed up.


Edited by Tommy, 16 February 2015 - 06:29 PM.

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#11
loblo

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Let's assume HWMonitor doesn't  work well with your motherboard sensors. As for Speedfan values, 11.26 is OK for +12 but  3.84 seems really low for 5v which may indicate a power supply issue. If you wanna know if you've got capacitors problems check Vcore fluctuation over 10-15 minutes with the graph feature.

 

And in the vein of dencorso's suggestion but lazier you could always boot a Live CD, Linux or WinPE, and see if you get random lockups too which would definitely  point to hardware problem.



#12
Tripredacus

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I do not know if this came from the time of bad capacitors or not


There is no "time of bad capacitors" !!! :P

There was, however, a time of "worse than usual capacitors." Caps can go bad over time. It doesn't matter if it was made during that bad time, or a good time.
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#13
jaclaz

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What exactly provides voltage in a PC (AND BTW contains capacitors as well)? :unsure:

 

Let me think what I would try next .... :whistle:

 

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#14
dencorso

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loblo is right!

Stop everything and do this first!

It's easy and it will provide valuable info.

 

And in the vein of dencorso's suggestion but lazier you could always boot a Live CD, Linux or WinPE, and see if you get random lockups too which would definitely  point to hardware problem.



#15
Tommy

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Thanks for the suggestions! I like that you mentioned Linux because I have tried Linux on this machine a few months ago in fact and at times it acted weird, sometimes I'd have to hard reset the machine. I don't recall having problems with Windows 98 at this point but I do remember the occasional lockup on Linux. At first I thought maybe Linux was just too powerful for this machine and wouldn't work out well on it. Maybe something funny was going on then.

 

@loblo: Why would it be reading positive for -5v? I did put the positive sign in purposely because it was in the positive range, not negative, unless it's suppose to be like that but my main Windows 2000 machine I'm using right now isn't like that. I do have another power supply in stock but the linux problem happened with the other power supply, not this one. So it's likely maybe one of the capacitors are shot.

 

@Tripredacus: What I meant was the bad capacitors used in the older Dells like the Optiplex GX270, which I owned and it suffered bad capacitor fate which I was hoping I'd get lucky on but didn't.

 

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#16
dencorso

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Get a cheap multimeter and measure the +5 V and the + 12 V in real time from a molex. That's how it's done. Then you can move on to a monitoring app if you like, but if what you read on the multimeter is OK, that's that.

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#17
Drugwash

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Let's get one thing straight: by the new regulations - whoever may be enforcing that - the negative 5v (-5V) pin is no longer required in power source units. If you look at the main 20 (or 24) pin Molex on the motherboard, there may be a missing pin - that means the -5V output does not exist, in which case the software may yield weird results for that particular output.

 

One possibility is that both the old and the new PSU are somehow defective as in not-so-accurate voltage output and they may both produce system lock-ups or other unusual behavior. Get a fairly precise multimeter and measure each voltage on the main Molex while the board is running (careful not to produce a short-circuit!)

 

Does the video card have an additional power socket on it and if so, is it connected to the power unit? It may drain too much power, more than the PSU can offer. If that's the case, test with an older, more "gentle" card. Careful with drivers!

 

Also check CPU temperature over time, the thermal grease between cooler and CPU may be missing or dry, the cooler may be improperly mounted, the fan may not provide enough air flow.



#18
bpalone

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I vote for Power Supply issues. I had one that tested as fine with a tester, but was found to be WEAK after more issues appeared. It started as you describe, random lockups, etc. Inspected MB and found bulged capacitors, so decided then and there that that had to be the issue (may of been part, but it wasn't it at the time), so replaced the MB and decided to upgrade the CPU to a dual core at the same time. Machine would not boot, wouldn't even get to the BIOS checks. Figured I had a D.O.A. O.E.M. CPU and just put the old CPU in. Everything seemed to work just fine with the old CPU and new MB. Then a couple days later the old symptoms appeared again. At that point, I figured that the only thing left is that the power supply was laying down under load. It's stated wattage was well above what was possibly being called for by the hardware. So, I replace the power supply and haven't had an issue since. Or, at least until something fails. If at all possible, I would try a NEW power supply. My case was not with 98 but with 2K and Linux, but if it is the power supply, it doesn't care what OS is there.

#19
farfigs11

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I've had a MB not work right when the 3.3v was around 3.16 or lower.  The PC I'm using right now has a capacitor problem.   With a capacitor problem it's usually temperature related.   It either works when it's cold or warm-only after letting it idle for about 3 min. before booting.  Either case it will usually lock up in DOS at some point.



#20
Drugwash

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I've succesfully replaced capacitors on motherboards and video cards. Too bad I'm so far away, I could've helped or at least you could've sent me the faulty boards instead of dumping them. ;)



#21
Tommy

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Thanks for the tips everyone. I probably won't get to this machine at least until next week. I should check the CPU just because I do think it was running a little hotter than I liked it to. Also, the video card is an nVidia GeForce 6800 AGP, it does not have a power connector for it so there's no way I can plug in something else, but even though the card was almost new when I bought it less than a year ago, I've wondered if it has a problem with it.


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#22
Tommy

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Alright, so I decided to start investigating the problems of this machine. To my (somewhat) horror, I found the Dell Power Supply that I put into this case only outputs a huge whoppin' 200Ws of power. So my first reacting is eek. I decided to take out the video card (GeForce 6200) and I replaced it with a lot lower end nVidia Vanta video card. Surprisingly, the machine seems to work a lot better! Of course I can't make it my permanent solution because it doesn't support the resolution I need it to and it seems to not like direct 3D on Windows 98, but that could be related to something else. But the machine even shuts down automatically now instead of popping up a message saying error writing to device aux like it had been for a while now. So at this point, I don't think it was quite the power supply but the video card that was being a bit problematic. I can't rule out that it's not slightly defective either as I started having a few issues with it on the other power supply as well. But while testing this card, no blue screens, perfect shutdowns, and no blank screens while booting. So I'm starting to think it could be a bit problematic, especially since one of my friends said the capacitors on that card are known to be stinkers and even though they look perfect, that doesn't always mean much. I'll keep replying to this thread as I make more findings.


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