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MSI PM8M3-V rev. 1 - unstable gaming only


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I working with computes since 1991 and there is not much that I cannot understand, but this MSI mobo is challenging me. So, the mobo in question is a MSI PM8M3-V with PCB rev. 1.0 and latest bios v1.4 used.


Board: MSI PM8M3-V (VIA P4M800) PCV rev. 1.0

Bios: Version 1.4

VGA: PNY 6800GT 256MB DDR3 350MHz/1GHz

PSU: Enermax Liberty 620W PSU (replaced caps to quality ones!)

CPU: 2800MHz Celeron D 336 (133x21) 1.350Vcore

MEM: 2048MB OCZP4001G 2.5-3-2-7 200MHz 2.60V

HDD: 500G Western Digital 16MB cache (WD5000AAKB)

COOLER: Intel box cooler, checked, AS paste applied, cooling good (slowing all the way down to 1000 rpm in reality)

OC: NONE! (tried FSB 133 -> 138 and it get unstable even in Firefox, lol)

OS: Windows 2000 SP4 Czech


More info:

19" iiyama ProLite E1980SD 1280x1024 75Hz DVI


IDE 100MB zip

floppy with 7+1 USB2 reader Mitsumi FA404

Using PS2 mouse (Logitech MX510 red)

OkiPage 14ex laser printer

NetGear WGR614 fireWall / 54MBi WiFi - OFF


The Cause


While the mobo is perfectly stable in normal usage, gaming is a problem. At first, I was using there a Radeon 9100 card, yet it can play SoF2 well, so... I working hard to make the mobo stable, it is not stable in 3D games. In the end of making it stable it is not stable even in 2D Windows... lol. Increasing the voltage for AGP = bad idea.


To cut long story short - at first, it was just a mobo full of known bad caps that sometimes refuse to boot and losing clock AND bios settings when power is cut off. Sometimes it also crash during SoF2 _LOADING_ (never gaming), but that it is. Very rare crash.



So I replaced all the caps, put even these that aren't there back in action and used hi-grade caps. For example the best polymers that even exist Nichicon LE for Vcore and for voltage supply there are Nichicon HZ caps - the best elyte caps even made - king in terms of ripple current, only Samxon GA is "par to par" with them, but that it is. Sourced from Digikey, so, originals.



Result - still not stable. So I blamed the Radeon 9100 with questionable caps and added 120mm fan blowing on it.

Still no help, rare crashes of game. Fast Writes disabled, AGP 4x (R9100 cannot go faster), 1 WS Write/Read used, Calibration ON.

So I replaced the Radeon 9100 with GeFroce 6800GT, that have only 3 caps (Chemi-con polymers) and worked well for me before. Truth is a years ago... http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/showthread.php?t=189594


Problems get worser. Even exiting SoF2 or Quake3 is impossible now. It always freeze on exit...! It get reasonably stable for playing, yet try save screenshot and it crash ASAP. So I try lower the AGP rate (allow me to choose only 8x or 4x), disable Fast Writes, disable AGP Master 1 WS Write/Read and even disable AGP 3.0 Calibration Cycle (one by one). No help.

So I toyed with the voltage, raising from 1.55 to 1.70 and no help either. (later I find that this is what makes matter even worser)


Another thing that I added a huge nice heatsink on the NB, because the original one was pretty small and useless. And I discovered beneath it, that there was just a dip of white paste widely off center and that was it. Most of the heatsink did not even have contact with the chip...!

So I tought - I got this! Laped a BIG heatsink, Arctic past used and screwed it tight on the NB... and again no help.

MSI_PM8_M3_V_southbridge.jpg MSI_PM8_M3_V_northbridge.jpg MSI_PM8_M3_V_northbridge_cooling1.jpg MSI_PM8_M3_V_northbridge_cooling2.jpg MSI_PM8_M3_V_northbridge_cooling3.jpg


So the last thing to toy with is the AGP Driving Value. It can be changed from 00 to FF, defaut on Auto show DA.

Dunno what will happen, but I run out of ideas right now.


Therefore I'm open to ideas. About the caps - there is one about 10uF SMD cap at the very end of AGP port. This cap I did not replaced. Could this be the culprit? Any suggestion about the Driving Value? I think - try 0 (00), 32 (20), 64 (40), 96(60), 128 (80), 160 (A0), 192 (C0), 224 (E0) and 255 (FF) and see, witch of these values give the best stability?


Edited by trodas
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Looks like the version 1.5 is the latest bios:



So I updated the bios, let almost the default settings (all default for AGP) - 8x, Aperture size 128MB, all on, Fast Writes Off.


However no help. The SoF2 game works well - untill I hit the screenshot button. Then in crash:




So bios are no help.

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memtest: 7 hours straight and fine!



Prime 95 memory test at the tightest timings the rams can handle - that means CL2! (2-3-2-7)



And I would very much recommend them the stability, because there are damn good caps used for rams now:



Prime 95 CPU test



HDD tests did not reveal any problem:




...so I think we can rule HDD or HDD cabled problem out of the question. Also I would noticed HDD errors, and they are nonexistant.

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So I start suspecting the one cap that I did not replaced yet, because I did not trust caps at all after some failures. I would like to mention that the PC did not started correctly today. After a post it ended in endless loop with just the flicking lone char from dos "_" in the top left corner. Failing to enter the VGA mode once again. Reset fix that, but you know I suspect the cap:




(the small, 10uF 16V (?) one that I did not yet replaced, the rest are replaced with quality Nichicons)



After two hours of gaming the PC finally crashed (at first, it took two crash attempts to get SoF2 working, but once it is working, then things go smoothly - no more crashes in loading, as with Radeon 9100) and I took the oportunity to diassemble it right away and check temps and then voltages.



CPU Vcore regulators are lightly mildly warm, as if there is nothing going on. Clearly good surprise, they obviously benefit from the quality caps and even under load stays cool. Great.

GFX card - cold, well cooled.

But NB chipset cooler (and now it is a BIG one) is relatively warmer that expected. It is not like hot, but clearly I expected lesser temperature. So my idea that a better cooling is necessary might not be far off the reality what is need. That is why I get the Thermalright SI-128 SE... but the damn bottom scews are missing, so I cannot use it :(

Rams are about the same temp, as the NB heatsink. Well warm, not hot, but warm.



3.40V, 5.11V and 12.01V on the wires from PSU to HDD/GFX card. Directly on the GFX card connector there is a 11.99V, so the cables and connection give 0.02V drop. Not bad at all.

Vbattery is 3.56V.

But what I see as definitive BAD NEWS is the voltage I measured on the last not exchanged cap. And that is precisely 1.55V.

Ring any bell? Yeees, this is the AGP voltage set in bios! So clearly this cap have something to do with the AGP and it is not at all impossible, that it could be the culprit behind the crashes.


Because to me it seems that everytime the GFX card should change it's mode of operation (from TXT mode to VGA mode, from 2D to 3D...), then it is very likely to crash.

Actually todays 4 times it hang on TXT mode to VGA mode switch, during all the resets and powering on and on again...


Bottom line - dunno if this is caused by the exchange of GFX card or not, but time and bios settings are lost once again, even I put a new battery there.

(I have to use small GFX card (old good Riva :) ) to be able to measure the voltage on the small SMD cap.

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Prime95 overnight CPU torture test - 7h 8min



No errors. Claims, that the machine is unstable in terms of CPU are dismissed. It must be the gfx card and/or it's powering.


FurMark - got a very low score of 547:



...but the problem is, that the FurMark did not crashed for about TWO hours straight MaxBurn test...




I was somewhat confused, that the image on screen did not update, but that it probably because FurMark is checking for bugs in the image, right?

Never the less, I have complain. On screen it write this:

Renderer: GeForce 6800 GT/PCI/SSE2


Obviously I have a problem with the "PCI" part, because the card is AGP and given some of the slow-downs it really looks like as it run on PCI speed, not AGP 8x...


No idea what this cause, but probably some wrong initialization of the card. Regardless if this works as I supposed right, then the card seems to be stable.


There are minor annoyances too, tough they are not new at all. First at all - opening overlay took for the first time eternity. (1 - 2 minutes) Dunno why that happen, never seen that in my life, but it does happen with different Forceware frivers (61.76 WHQ, 77.72 WHQ) as well, as with different VIA Hyperion 4in1 drivers (v5.24a, v5.11a, v5.04a). So it have to do something with what the card seems to initialize.


ALSO I cannot get the AGP page back in the drivers. It was there:




...and now, even I add to the registers the coolbites:





It is just not there.

Also a minor problem is, that the gamma value in nVcpl can be set only between 0.5 and 3.61 - too sensitive, no way to set better value or get back to 1.0 :(


Kinda bad that FurMark run slow, yet not fail. I did not dare to take a screenshot of the "PCI", but the slow-downs in SoF2 looks like something is wrong with the speed...



Aaaargh! My card is really running in PCI mode:




...that is why the speed suxx and also why the nVidia drivers therefore CANNOT show the AGP page, when the card is running in PCI mode...


Looks to me as simple yet devastating HW issue with the cursed not replaced cap. Now let's source a replacement cap... :(

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And of course I did install the VIA 4+1 AGP drives just right after the Win and DirectX install, prior to anything else.


I believe the issue is in the hardware, as drivers cannot cause the hang after post screen, when the GFX card should switch to VGA mode from TXT mode... And that it happening :(

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