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Tommy

GA-Z68P-DS3 PITA reboot loop

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I have never gotten so PO'd at a computer in my life, but that has changed with this board in my main rig. Here's what I got in it, which doesn't make much difference but the information is here for the sake of completeness.

E3-1220 Xeon Processor
120GB Samsung SSD
250GB WD Blue SSD
1TB WD HDD
EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260
24GBs of RAM 2-4GB Hynix and 2-8GB Samsung
EVGA 500w 80+ PSU

The only thing I have not tested is the PSU, but I do not (think) it's the issue. So here's what is going on.

It starts acting peculiar when restarting from Windows. Yes, I said restarting. The computer will actually turn off for about 3-5 seconds and automatically turn itself back on. It will then start to POST as if I had restarted the computer. With Award BIOS based motherboards, it will generally skip the processor information and single beep upon a simple reboot, at least that's been my experience with how Gigabyte boards act. Now this is where it starts getting poopy.

Most of the time, if it's going to do the reboot loop thing, it usually stops when it is time to detect the RAM. It will hang for a few seconds and then shut off. After 3-5 seconds, it will turn itself back on but this time it will beep once and display everything as if I did a cold startup. Then there's a 50 to 80% chance it will stop at the memtest area again and repeat the turn off and turn back on boot loop. Although there are times that it won't reach the memtest and it will get stuck again and then just power off and power back on. So while I'm not going to say it can't be the RAM because one of the things I have tried is taking out all sticks of RAM except for one and I have also swapped different sticks out, no difference.

Although, sometimes it will boot just fine while taking no action, but this is where it gets strange again. Windows 2000 will boot just fine 100% of the time. Once POST is done and control is handed off to the bootloader, it will never turn itself back off on its own. However, Windows 7 most of the time will not boot properly and will freeze on the boot screen just before control is handed off to the operating system. If I start it in safe mode, it will boot into the GUI. No problem! Normal mode, will not though. I did get it to boot into normal mode once. I tried system restore but it had failed. I also ran the Windows 7 memory tester and it didn't seem to find any issues with the RAM. I haven't tried memtest yet but I may just to thoroughly test out the RAM just to be certain something isn't going on with all the sticks for some reason.

So Windows 2000 is fine and I can run it under load and nothing weird happens, I don't get any blue screens, no random restarts or shut downs, it just works like nothing was wrong.

Now, here are all the things I have tried so far.

Disconnected all hard drives from motherboard, no difference. Swapped RAM modules and tested in different slots, no difference. Swapped video cards, no difference. Removed video card all together, beeps 4 times and then shuts off by itself after about 10 seconds and turns itself back on again, so no difference apparently. I reseated all power connectors on motherboard, no difference. Although if it were a power/supply issue, I'm pretty sure this behavior would be much more consistent or be a problem even during normal operation within Windows. I did not do anything with the CPU, but again, I think if it were a CPU issue, it would be apparent during normal operation and not just during POST. It's not an overheating issue either as I do monitor that closely and my heatsink is huge along with the fan. It's actually the coolest (running) system I've ever built, no pun intended. I reflashed the BIOS with the latest version (which it was already running but I flashed it again just to be sure there wasn't something weird going on with it), no difference. I've replaced the CMOS battery, which the original was fine anyway since I tested it with a multimeter and it was reading 3 volts. But this is where things got a bit weirder, but more on that in a minute. I've even used a can of air to blow out the system, just in case a piece of dirt was causing issues in shorting something out, no change there either. I've also switched between loading fail-safe and optimized defaults in the BIOS, neither makes a difference. I've also took the CMOS battery out, left it out, killed power to the system to force settings to go back to factory defaults, no difference.

This is where it gets even weirder yet. Apparently, it doesn't like being turned on without a battery. I would turn on the system, the green LED would flick on just a bit and go right back off again and sometimes even trying to turn it back on wouldn't do a thing at all, I would have to kill power at the power supply itself, turn it back on, and then it would do the same thing where the green light would flick on and then go right back out again. Put a battery back in, turns on like it should but will still do the boot loop thing half to most of the time.

Going back to swapping video cards, I put my older PNY NVIDIA GeForce 9800GT Energy Efficient card in, which doesn't require separate power and with this card, it will show card information before the POST screen for a few seconds and sometimes it would freeze on that screen before even getting to POST and then do the boot loop thing, which is why again, I'm thinking it's not the RAM.

It did not originally do this when I assembled the system. We did have a brief power outage the other day caused by heavy wind and it was out for about 10 seconds. Both my computer and router (I'm hard-wired into it) have power protecting surge protectors (they aren't just cheap power strips), but the router itself is fine and displays no issues so I don't think that would cause an issue as I would think if there was a fault on either end, both devices would be affected in some way or another but the internet works fine and when I get into Windows on the affected PC, the internet works fine.

So now I'm at a complete loss. I have no clue what else to try. I've read that others have had issues with the z68 based Gigabyte boards but some act as though they know what they're talking about when others describe this problem. There's a massive thread over on overclockers.net about the P67/Z68 reboot loop, but nobody has really come up with an actual answer on why this happens. I don't overclock anyway, but I did try a few of the suggestions listed in the thread and none of it made a difference.

Anyone else think of something I'm missing? I'm going out of my mind with this issue and 8 years later, I'd think someone would have the answer to this problem. I'd like to think there's a solution otherwise I'm probably going to end up exorcising this board. :unsure:

While I'm on the subject, does anyone have any recommendations on a possible LGA1155 replacement? I've used Gigabyte since 2012 but I'm really thinking about switching to something else but I don't really have expertise in other board brands, but I'm open-minded to other brands. The only real requirements I have is that it needs to have 4 RAM slots and a PS/2 port. A parallel port would be nice but as long as I have a PCI slot, I can put an addon card in so it's not a huge deal. I'm just thinking the Gigabyte board is trash and I'm not willing to take another chance on any other z68 boards from them, regardless of model or revision number.

Thanks for taking the time to read!

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If it's acting like a bad overclock, try underclocking everything: CPU, RAM, buses. Check the RAM and video heatsinks and fans as well. The BIOS might let you disable internal CPU caches.

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