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Obscurities - PCI card preventing POST / boot

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by , 4th November 2013 at 12:44 PM (9132 Views)
This post is intended purely for future Google warriors, as it took me a while to track down and I know, from my struggles, that there isn't much discussion of the issue.

Whilst building a home theater PC for a friend earlier in the year, I hit a roadblock with the PC TV Tuner - everytime the card was installed in the system, the computer completely refused to boot.

With the PCI card removed, the machine worked as intended, no problems at all.
With the PCI card installed, the fans would spin up, the HDMI output would push out a blank signal (although sufficient to stop any "no signal" warnings on the attached display) and the only way to power down was to hold the power button in for 5 seconds and kill the power - a click of the chassis power button was ignored. There was no Power On Self Test (POST) completed, no beep, no boot whatsoever.

There were few options exposed in the BIOS, and much back and forth enabling/disabling items and tweaking settings gained me nothing.

Using a different PCI card in the slot - a PCI modem, in this instance - presented no problems. It wasn't the slot, it was explicitly the card causing the issue.

I had a look at the TV card - a Hauppage WinTV-NOVA-TD-500 - and noticed that it had a PCI-USB bridge on it, presumably as a cost cutting measure: one TV card can be designed for USB and then, with relevant bridges, be converted to work on PCI and PCI-E . As a test, I disabled the onboard USB on the motherboard and - lo and behold - the PC booted.

Somehow, someway, this specific TV card with this specific PCI-USB bridge with this specific motherboard (MSI FM2-A85XMA-E35) clashed horribly with regards to USB.

Now I'd love to report that there was a fix for this, but... there wasn't, at least not so far as I found. It was a fundamental clash of hardware, I needed the onboard USB ports, therefore the TV card had to go back and a USB TV tuner was purchased in its place, which turned out to be a perfectly competent solution anyway. But if you are having trouble with a PCI card preventing your PC booting, it may be worth checking for a USB bridge on the card (PCI-USB was silkscreened on top of the chip in this instance) or disabling your onboard USB and seeing if it resolves the issue. If you do disable onboard, make sure you have a P/S2 keyboard to hand so you can still get into BIOS, or make sure you know how to remove the CMOS battery to clear the BIOS so you can enable USB again without a keyboard.

Hope this helps someone out there in future, anyway...
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Obscurities

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