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You've certainly covered a lot of territory.
Can you get your hands on some other RAM, optimally a different brand? That it passes memory tests is one thing, but what if it just happens to have some latent incompatibility with this particular board? There have been stranger things.
I know you said you tried different media, but is the source ISO definitely good?
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After boot at the windows 7 install screen did you open diskpart from the windows PE to clean, partition and format the ssd?
Thank you very much for your suggestions. As you can probably tell from the tests I ran I share your suspicion of the RAM, it seems to be the root cause of many problems reported here and elsewhere. I did order another 8GB of a different brand (G Skill) a couple of days ago, and it was delivered yesterday. The new RAM had two glowing reports of DZ68BC compatibility in the vendor’s Feedback forum, so if it is a RAM problem this should fix it. I’ll try it later today.
Regarding the OS media, I should have explained better. The first DVD was a genuine gaudy brand new MS Win 7 Pro SP1 64 bit. The second media (used for test purposes only) was a DVD of SP0 of the same OS that I borrowed from a friend.
Today’s plan is to try a spinning disk as boot drive (see my reply to bobnI) and the new RAM. I’ll report back.
Thanks again for your help,
Thank you very much for your suggestion. This is my first exposure to Win7; in my earlier testing I did not use diskpart to prepare the SSD, so I was excited to try your idea.
I followed your procedure precisely, and then went on to install Win7. I was offered a single choice of where to install it (Disk 0 Partition 1, as before), and this time the installation completed uneventfully! I entered the admin account name and password, set the (ancient) monitor’s resolution, and was about to load the Intel drivers when I was called away to the phone.
When I returned about 40 minutes later the machine was off. When I attempted to restart it complained about corrupted files and offered to repair them. The repair failed, and I was back to reinstalling. I tried to reinstall twice, but I was back where I started, with spontaneous reboots preventing the installation from completing.
While it was not successful, this is the first thing that I have tried that has had any impact on the symptoms at all, so it’s an invaluable pointer. Today I’m going to replace the SSD with a spinning disk, and see if I can install to that. I also have some new RAM from a different manufacturer to try. I’ll keep you posted.
Thanks again for your help,
In diskpart I used , create part primary align=4096 and format quick fs=ntfs
I replaced the SSD with a conventional 160GB Seagate 3GB/s hard drive using the same 6GB/s SATA port and cable. I used diskpart to set it up (the disk used to be part of a RAID array), so I deleted all existing partitions, ran clean, create partition primary and a full format, which took a while. Windows 7 installation was uneventful. To reproduce my earlier SSD based test I then just let it sit; when I came back the system was off again, with the PME LED lit.
I rebooted it, went to power management and disabled all the power saving features. I installed all the Intel drivers from their DVD. It still had not crashed, so I put it on my network. It got an IP address, and I was on the Internet. I was navigating to Windows Update when it rebooted abruptly.
I left it off for a half hour and then disabled ASPM PCIe and Wake on LAN in the BIOS (I was getting desperate!). Restarting Windows it ran chkdsk, which crashed in a BSOD. I left it off for another half hour, disconnected the front panel power and reset buttons and Windows started normally, only to reboot after about 5 minutes. Two more attempts resulted in reboots after a few minutes, so I drew the conclusion that the mechanical hard drive had not helped. I left the machine off for an hour – I’m not sure if that helps the machine, but it gives me a chance to think!
I reconnected the front panel buttons and replaced the existing RAM with 8GB of G Skill F3-12800CL9D-8GBXL, 1600MHz DDR3. The BIOS recognized the RAM as 1600MHz and ran it at 1.5V with 11-11-11-28 timing. The RAM offers a single XMP profile of 1600MHz 1.5V at 9-9-9-24, but I did not try it. I reset the BIOS to its defaults, checked that the RAM timing was still correct, and started Windows. The machine rebooted in <5 minutes. I repeated the restart/reboot cycle two more times before giving up for the day.
So neither a spinning drive nor RAM from a different manufacturer helped. However Windows does seem to be more robust when running from a spinner. I believe my testing has localized the problem to either motherboard or power supply. I’ve tried to borrow a power supply, but have not been able to find one with the modern 2x12 and 2x4 connectors. However, given a choice between a problem with the motherboard or the power supply I’m going to guess that the motherboard is at fault on grounds of complexity. I’ll RMA the motherboard on Monday.
Thank you for the arguments to the diskpart commands. I did use the filesystem specifier, but I overlooked the alignment. I’m going to make one more attempt with the SSD before the RMA, so I’ll try it out then.
Thank you for all the help, and for your patience in reading this far!
I hate a story without an ending, so I felt I had to provide one here. I RMA'd the board to the vendor, N****g. The RMA was handled very efficiently, and eight days later I had a brand new board. The new board has performed flawlessly for several days now, so I believe I'm out of the woods. It's nice to be able to report a happy ending!
My thanks to all who offered advice and suggestions.
1. Are you sure that your RAM stick is OK?
2. Have you tried to disable SMART in BIOS?
3. And another possibility is that double channels RAM make your machine reboot. Try one stick of RAM.
4. Try another edition of WIN7.
Hope this can help.