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when I reboot I often go to the PXE boot screen and the board doesn't recognise my SATA hard drive(HITACHI Deskstar 1TB, Windows partition 200GB) as being bootable. I'm just left with the "No bootable media" message.
Sorry to read you're having probs with your one week old PC. Why do you go into the PXE boot screen... or are you saying the PC does this by itself sometimes ie that ends up being displayed? That may happen even if your hard disk drive (HDD) is above booting from LAN (PXE Boot) on the list of devices to boot from, simply because your hard disk drive may be playing up, there are problems with its contents or you have poor connections to it. What happens is if the motherboard cant read the required data to boot from the HDD, it then looks to the next bootable device on the boot order list. As boot from LAN (or PXE boot) is often an option there somewhere on the list, the screen where it shows the Intel Ethernet hardware looking briefly for something to boot from on the network will appear (until it realises there's nothing bootable there) - this is by design.
First things first, as this may be indicative of a problem with the HDD, if you haven't already done so, make sure any valuable data on this HDD is safely backed up to external media. Id then suggest that if you are conversant dealing with PC internals (and you doing so won't viod your PC manufacturers warranty) you switch off power at the mains and check inside the case to ensure your HDD is securely and correctly connected - both to the motherboard (check both ends of the SATA cable - or even swap a known good cable in to test with if you have a spare) and to the power supply.
If all looks in order as far as the HDD connections are concerned, the next thing you could do would be to download and run a drive diagnostic utility. For the Deskstar that'd mean DFT but different HDD manufacturers provide their own software on their websites. Most of these products allow you to also run a zero fill or drive erase. It's a good idea to perform this procedure every now and again (maybe yearly) but it's especially useful if you've had lots of partitions of all different types on the drive (eg linux and windows mix) and you want to take it back to a totally blank status (well as near as users can get to that anyway). I've had zero fills correct 'problem drives' in the past and it's a useful function. It will mean you need to start from scratch with a total OS and software reinstall though.
If you are going to install Windows 7 on this board from scratch with this drive AHCI is definitely the option you should choose as it gives added benifits such as NCQ for better performance and better power state compatibility/functionality. IDE is really there as a backup to provide a simpler connection for the sake of at least being able to get basic functionality with the drive under software which has problems with AHCI. Once you've installed in IDE it can be problematic if you then flip the BIOS setting over to AHCI so maybe that explains your issue?
It'd also be worth running the software Intel provides for your specific board to ensure the board isn't affected by the known Sandybridge SATA issue (if it turns out that it is, follow the instructions to get the board replaced for free). If you take it back to the seller they should also take care of that for you but unless you have a board from very old stock, that should not be a problem for you these days.
Thanks for those suggestions, especially to Kiwi for covering many eventualiities
1. The drive isn't being picked up when I end up at PXE boot, I'm not selecting it
2. Drive is securely connected, it has the newer sata cables that click when they lock in. In addition no matter how many times I try to boot unsuccessfully to the hard drive it will always boot straight away if I press F10 and select it manually
3. Diagnostics came back clean for the hard drive (0x00)
4. I used IDE mode in the BIOS simply because I didn't want issues and I'm upgrading to a 160GB SATA III SSD as my OS drive in the next few weeks.
When I initially looked at rseiler's post I thought "of course it is, I've triple checked", however when I went back into the BIOS I noticed an "advanced boot menu". When I activated this my DVDRAM drive was first and HDD second. I've re-arranged to have the HDD first, however PXE was 3rd so I would have assumed the system should have still booted to hard drive vs PXE.
As I've said the pc is custom-built by myself but I have a lot of experience with PC building. This is not a showstopper, just slightly irritating. However since this is a new build I'd like to ensure all early problems are not board-related and the intermittent nature of this has me stumped.
Do you have another HDD you can swap in just for testing purposes (not because of a suspected fault with the current one but because there seems their may be some sort of compatibility issue with this board)? Have you tried adjusting the setting relating to HDD Pre-delay so there's a longer pause after power is applied to the drive before the system attempts to identify it. Not sure if this has any effect with SATA drives though or even if its an option with your board. Finally, what about using a different SATA port (perhaps swapping with the port your DVD is connected through - do they all behave this way? Which port is the HDD currently plugged into (in case there are others out there with this board who may have recognised the same behaviour)?
It does sound like an unusual quirk of this board to me, especially given whenever you F10 it always works as expected.
I do think the fact you've chosen to configure the controllers on IDE mode may be behind this though, not that such a setting should result in this behaviour but because most people will put their drives in AHCI for all the benefits it offers, especially if you have an 'easy AHCI install' OS like Win 7. There really is no simplicity advantage to be gained in leaving them in IDE mode so you could change that back and see if this problem clears up.
Thanks again Kiwi
Further investigation shows me that if I press the case reset button after a failed boot then Win 7 will boot immediately. It seems the issue only occurs during a "cold boot"
Unfortunately I don't have any other SATA hard drives at the moment. I'm going to increase the pre-delay as you suggest and I will be purchasing a new SATA SSD in the next two weeks so I'll reply if I do get to the bottom of this issue. As I said it's not a major issue, I was just trying to rule out a dodgy motherboard as I have quite a bit of shiny kit in this system which I would prefer to not see fried
All the best