The Desktop Motherboard Fails

I had my successful Windows 7 Launch Party on 24th Oct. The new OS had worked flawlessly till that time. However there was one yellow flagged little item in the Device Manager of a failed “PCI simple communications controller”. I traced it to the thermal sensing chip on the DG965RY Board. As my board was still under Intel’s three year warranty, I could a free replacement. Therefore, I decided to replace my desktop board. The actual replacement took about an hour. When I booted the machine it was taking forever to start. It seemed to be running 100 times slower. Even in Safe Mode it was the same story.

There was utter panic.

I checked the BIOS settings many times but could not figure out what was happening. Then I realised that the SATA settings on this board’s BIOS were different. My old board could set SATA as IDE, Native or AHCI mode. The new board had only IDE and AHCI. My existing Windows 7 installation was done with this setting at Native. Hence this OS installation would not work on the new board.

The only solution seemed to be to reinstall Windows 7. So bright and early next morning, I put the Signature Edition Disk of 64Bit Windows 7 Ultimate in DVD drive and booted the machine. Initial setup screens came up promptly and then there was an infinite pause. No messages just a frozen machine. Hmm! Now what? I thought the C: drive still had the old OS installation so may be the setup is getting confused. So got out my old DOS tools and Quick formatted the C: drive and tried installing Windows 7 again. No GO. The same situation.

Keep cool now! The problem seems to be that the new board and Windows 7 somehow don’t like each other. I knew it had to be something to do with the SATA setting on the new motherboard. A quick trip to the Intel site revealed a bigger truth. The DG965RY board no longer supports Windows 7.

As one last try I decided to install the BIOS from the old board on to the new board in the hope that it would again bring up the three SATA settings. Intel site has images of all old BIOS programs which you can download and burn the image into a bootable CD. You boot the CD and the flashing program gives you very understandable information and prompts for burning the BIOS on your motherboards.

Very sleek but unfortunately even this did not help solve the problem.

Final Solution. There was no alternative now but to replace the motherboard with a supported board. I chose the easily available DG41RQ mother board. I have a NVIDIA GFORCE 8400 GS video card so on board Video was not being used. I also use Logitech Z10 Speakers which have their own USB audio processing so onboard audio was also not going to be used. So all in all this seemed to be a very cost effective solution.

The new DG41RQ board is much smaller than my old DG965RY board and fitted in my old case very well. The new board does not have any setting for SATA which hopefully meant it worked in native SATA mode. There was only one way to test it, to load the Ghost Image of C: drive I had taken on 21st OCT before the Windows 7 Launch Party and hope for the best.

The Ghost Image backup process is really great; very convenient and efficient. It has saved my skin may times in the past and did not fail me now. Some twenty minutes of wait for the 091121W7.GHO 8GB file to be restored and Bingo the machine booted with Windows 7 back in time as of 21st OCT. Collective sigh of relief all around.

In hindsight it seems this two days effort was worth it. I got a machine which will be supported by Windows 7. It will run cooler. The Windows Experience Index has gone from 3.4 to 3.5 so there is some improvement in performance. Renewed my faith in Ghost Image backup.

Now that I had changed my motherboard  Windows Activation promptly detected it and asked me to reactivate.

Of course the Automatic Reactivation on internet failed and I had to reactivate Windows 7 by phone. How I finally managed it will be my next post on this blog.

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