As expected from my previous post today was the theme of reviving the ASUS A8V motherboard from its USB Over Current bios bug that was preventing it from functioning.
I still do not fully understand what causes the error, but i know i have a pretty high chance of triggering it after a cmos reset as i needed multiple cmos resets in a row to tame the board while some worked fine in between and likely stayed working if i had not tested that cmos software again. The situation was as follows, you reset the cmos (with a tool or physically on the board with a jumper) and either it will work completely fine and stay that way until something triggers a cmos reset. Or, it boots up but with severe drive access defects where either the internal drive and a usb stick with MS-Dos 7.1 would be unable to access any files and then one reboot later it would be all screwed up again with the USB Over Current error preventing a boot.
So a few cmos resets later i finally had a working MS-Dos 7.1 session ready to flash firmware 2.19, and this has tackled the issue. I booted up Windows XP aaaand.... frozen. Its a multi-boot time machine project, so plenty of other things to try. So i tried Windows 7 which of cou... frozen again. Wonder what 98 will do, alright 98 boots and is updating the drivers to fit the new bios aaand frozen! This was not a good sight and got me a little nervous. Had the error been correct all along and did something die on my board? Perhaps this bios was not as stable and compatible as i thought and i'd have to choose the least of two evils. Many reboots later i did get a working XP session, so time to test the sound card as i had to remove it to get to the cmos battery. Instant bluescreen.
So this could not be a coincidence, the sound card on use crashed, and my system only freezes when the drivers load with no working audio. I did have to remove it from the system briefly after all. One reseat of the sound card later it was testing time again. And this time....? Fully stable. My overclock works, my bios is stable, no weird things happen when i reset the cmos. The USB ports are working fine again. The stability has returned to this build.
Lessons learned? If you dare to play with your cmos or bios settings to much your going to have a day full of trouble shooting if it goes wrong even if it seemingly has no reason to go wrong. And if you can avoid it do not update your ASUS A8V past 2.19 because this version is definitely way more stable now that the bad check is no longer part of the system.
With the case open i also wanted to try a dual GPU experiment since the theme of this build is trying to cover as many operating systems as i can get away with on the hardware. Windows 3.11 works reasonably well but the NVidia 6800GT has no working driver for it that isn't a buggy generic svga driver. I still have an unused S3 Trio64 so i added that to the build to see what would happen. Could i reliably switch in between? Turns out, no. Windows 98 absolutely hates this and while i kind off got it working i really disliked the instability this caused with the two display drivers conflicting. I was not going to sacrifice the stability of all the other operating systems to maybe improve Windows 3.11.
So the S3 is back in the box waiting for a project i can use it in or a time i need it for debugging. My retro PC is stable once again, and will be getting an extra SSD in it soon for when i want to run modern operating systems to really see what it can do in terms of performance (While the main harddrive remains the period correct western digital drive with the multiboot solution, i am aiming for period correct with some extra hidden touches).