VOGONS


First post, by SBB

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Hi all

I just finished putting together my Socket A PC but it isn't stable,

The specs are as follows:

AMD Athlon XP 3000+ FSB333 (would be nice to have a 3200 but I already had this in my collection)
GlacierTech aluminium cooler (not the best but very hard to find Socket A coolers - will try to get an upgraded one ASAP)
EPoX 8RDA3I nForce 2 Motherboard
2x512MB Crucial Ballistix DDR400
Gainward GeForce 4 Ti 4600
Antec 550W PSU

Unfortunately after a lot of testing I found the machine crashes when running at anything further than 133mhz FSB.

I tried a different motherboard that I had on hand (MSI KM3M-V) and the machine is stable at 166mhz FSB which is good, at least none of my other hardware is faulty, but this is a really cheap microATX board so i'd like to put something better back in in the future.

Do you think it's worth recapping the board, what are the chances this would this fix the stability issues? Or am I better off trying to find a different NF2 board? I tried all the usual stuff I could think of like updating the BIOS etc and the caps visually look OK (at least to my untrained eyes)

Reply 1 of 7, by keenmaster486

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The caps should have flat or slightly concave surfaces.

Even if their appearance is fine, however, they may still be bad. It is probably worth it to replace them anyway.

I flermmed the plootash just like you asked.
World's foremost 486 enjoyer.

Reply 2 of 7, by BitWrangler

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NF2 chipsets are picky with memory...
https://web.archive.org/web/20070704233459/ht … mpatibility.asp

I believe Crucial ballistix should have micron chips on which may be included above, but the other half of the equation is the motherboard manufacturer managing to wire things up right and give the BIOS the right info, so compatibility and stability with given sets of modules was often improved by later BIOSes over the release version BIOSes.

2017: Basement full of ancient PC stuff, starting to go through it. 2021: Still starting, heh, many setbacks. So what's this BitWrangler guy's deal ??? >>> Taming the pile, specs to target?

Reply 4 of 7, by SBB

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I removed the northbridge heatsink, it was absolutely stuck solid with the old paste (looked more like glue to me it was so dried up!), managed to get it all off eventually using some solvent remover, then reapplied fresh paste

I was hopeful, but the board is still unstable 🙁

I will put the MSI board back in for now, maybe one day I will take another look at this EPOX board ... I have a spare Athlon XP 2200+ CPU for testing and loads of DDR, so once I get another Socket A cooler I can test it on my workbench and maybe try to repair it

I also tried some different RAM in the past, but no improvement, seems this board is just broken ... im almost certain it WAS stable a few years back so it feels to me like something has degraded (caps?)

Reply 5 of 7, by The Serpent Rider

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Like in many motherboards of that time period - caps quality was crap. Epox notoriously loved to put junk just barely above absolute bottom level. I've seen enough of those in half-dead state with lots of bulging caps.

Get up, come on get down with the sickness
Open up your hate, and let it flow into me

Reply 6 of 7, by AlexZ

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You aren't the only one. I have Epox 8K5a2+, a very good motherboard at its release date but now Windows crashes with 2 memory sticks or 166 FSB CPUs. Stable with 1 stick and 133 FSB CPU though. High end Epox boards were overclocking boards which is not a good thing for retro hardware as they were pushed to limits.

Pentium III 600E, ECS P6BXT-A+, 384MB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 128MB, 80GB HDD, Yamaha SM718 ISA, 19" AOC 9GlrA
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Reply 7 of 7, by dionb

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Overclocking wasn't the problem, crap caps were (as The Serpent Rider already commented). Replace all big caps, ideally all electrolytic caps great and small, then re-test. Good chance it will be rock solid then.