View Full Version : BSOD = stumped!

03-04-2003, 03:38 PM
I keep getting a BSOD but it's not a MS related Blue Screen. It crashes randomly with the same message.

Error message is ***Hardware Malfunctioned.***

It can't be OS related other than BIOS related, since it crashed during a format, with no OS installed yet!

I've reformatted the PC, removed non-essential cards from the PC and cleaned out dust, made sure the fans were working. The power supply to me could be a culprit in this case since it's only 145W powering 2 CDROM drives, a Hard Drive, NIC, FDD, and other mobo stuff like onboard sound/graphics and RAM.

Specs: It's a Packard Bell, P3 700MHz, 128MB SDRAM, OS is WinXP but is not related to this message at all as previously the computer was running Win2k and still got the same message as well as running no OS at and getting the message too.

1. Can a BIOS give you a BSOD?

It's the first time I've encountered a BSOD not related to the OS, so if it's the BIOS I'll see if I can configure it correctly and if not I'll update it and see if that solves the problem.

2. The power supply seems pretty low to me and I'd expect 250W would be a standard psu, could this cause problems?

I have a 350W psu lying about that I am going to put in it, but if I get that problem again. I'd have to dig further into what hardware it could be, but I'd need to understand if a BIOS could give you a BSOD since it's the only thing I can think off that could do something like that.

If you need more information, just ask but this is most of the important bits I could remember

03-04-2003, 04:20 PM
I think you have already reached the right conclusion, it must be a BIOS related function as no OS is underlying anywhere when it occurs.

The BIOS code is in fact likely to be the only software (firmware) that exists at that time.

If thats the original PSU, it would be OK for the basic peripherals, it does tend to point to a hardware (motherboard??) fault.

Graham L
03-04-2003, 05:53 PM
If you are running FORMAT from DOS, you have got an "OS "running. :D There were operating systems long before there was Windows. ;-) I've got a 386SX which has a hard disk formatter in the BIOS ... do your modern BIOSs have that? I've also got an XT which has an MFM formatter :D

FORMAT will be using the DOS INTs. I wonder if the DOS is too old for the hardware.

The other drives won't be loading the PSU unless they are being used. If there is over 120 W (assuming no more than about 10 W for a modern HD) being used on the motherboard, I'd expect the screen to be obscured by the smoke. :D

03-04-2003, 06:33 PM
Remember too that the power supply will become less efficient with age. Capacitors inside dry out and more ripple is introduced. Also, it seems to me that you have more than the "average" load with the extra drives. My bet is with the power supply.

03-04-2003, 06:58 PM
I considered DOS in this but I ruled it out as it can happen before the OS has loaded. I don't think DOS has a BSOD and also Win2k and WinXP don't support the actual DOS but have a similar DOS.

It definitely wasn't the power supply because I just swapped it with the 350W psu and it still BSOD me.

I too still carry a few 386's and 286's that have the low level format in the BIOS. I think I've got a PC that runs the OS off a ROM chip on the board too. It's just PCDOS??? and the chip is about 640k I think or less. I'm not sure if it works though as it's been in storage along with the dinosaurs I kept in the closet.

03-04-2003, 07:00 PM
I'll just see if I can find an update for the BIOS and flash it. Hopefully that'd fix any bugs that are in it.

If not, I'll see if Linux can run stable on it, although I could get BSOD during the install if it's definitely not MS related.

04-04-2003, 05:59 PM
After trying to find the BIOS:

an AMIBIOS for a MS-6168 Mobo, some things that maybe help in finding it:


Intel 440BX/ZX rev 3
MS-6168 rev 3

A6168P2 V2.96 03142000

It's a Slot 1 Mobo, I've searched all over the place for an AMI BIOS update but could not find one.

Anyways I'm blaming the motherboard as the problem and will replace it. Trying it with the new psu the problem occurs more often so it's likely to be a chip on the board that may have gotten damaged.