Intermittent boot problem - stuck at spinning dots (sometimes)


Ultragravy

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Hi all - I've recently bought a new Windows 11 PC and have a weirdly intermittent boot problem.

(For reference it has an MSI Z690 FORCE Wifi motherboard and an i7 12900k processor, running Windows 11 64bit, currently 21H2.)

Approximately once or twice a week, the PC will not boot first time (I should note that I shut it down nightly and boot it up fresh each day, I don't use sleep/hibernate). It starts to boot up normally, the monitor comes on and displays the motherboard logo, keyboard and mouse lights turn on, then turn off then back on again as normal when it gets to the point where you get the spinning circle of white dots, just before windows pops up. This is when I would then expect the Windows login screen to pop up.

However, the spinning circle remains spinning, but the mouse and keyboard turn off yet again and it goes no further, just infinite spinning with USB devices not working.

However - every time this has happened so far, powering off the PC and powering it on again makes it then boot up absolutely fine, and the PC will then run for multiple days with no issues, everything working super smoothly as soon as it hits windows.

No hardware has changed at any point, it seems to be completely random. Sometimes the PC will boot up every day with no issue, sometimes it will be two days in a row that I need to power it off and on again for the bootup to work. I disabled Windows 11 Fast Boot as this seemed to be a logical cause but this hasnt fixed it.

Whilst this is all hardly a major inconvenience, something is clearly wrong and would like to understand why my PC occasionally fails booting. However its been almost impossible to work out what causes it as I cannot replicate the problem to know if doing something fixes it, and when the problem occurs all it takes is a power off/on to fix.

What exactly does it mean when the PC hangs on the spinning white circles after all the USB devices have seemingly had their drivers loaded fine, and how can i see any logs or similar to look into things? I've checked windows event logs but nothing is posted in windows until it boots up successfully. The only thing I can find in the event viewer is a single information posting stating that Windows didnt start up or shut down properly last time (not surprising as it was powered off).

Any ideas what might be causing this?

Do I need to be concerned that a hardware piece is failing or is this likely just some windows driver issue? Is the boot getting to the point where it even looks at windows drivers or is this more a bios issue? Many thanks for any help or advice.
 
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21H2

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davewin11

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Do I need to be concerned that a hardware piece is failing or is this likely just some windows driver issue? Is the boot getting to the point where it even looks at windows drivers or is this more a bios issue? Many thanks for any help or advice.
Hi

Just a thought: could you update the Bios? The version that came with the PC may be out of date.

Dave
 

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Ultragravy

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Hi

Just a thought: could you update the Bios? The version that came with the PC may be out of date.

Dave
There are a couple of more recent bios releases, I hadnt updated though as the update notes for each only mentioned a couple of changes that seemed unrelated so I'd held off as I tend to find bios updates a bit scary if they arent 100% needed. If this sounds like something a bios update would fix though I've got no reason not to try, thank you.
 

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Ultragravy

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Recently as in it's still under warranty? If the BIOS update doesn't work you could try an in-place repair install. Repair Install Windows 11 with an In-place Upgrade Tutorial If that doesn't work and it's under warranty I would take back for repairs.
Yeah its still under warranty, though it was via an online choose-your-parts type builder so would be a fair hassle to ship it back and forth. The peripherals are my own too - is there a chance a dodgy mouse or keyboard might cause the above?
The thing is, outside of this occasional boot issue, everything works super smoothly with no weird errors or happenings, everything has checked out fine with no errors ever generated in logs.
Does this sound like hardware failure more than drivers? I'd figured if something was failing i'd be experiencing issues actually using the PC, or the boot would fail at an earlier point?
 

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Winuser

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You could try using just the bare minimum hardware and see if the problem still exist. If the problem goes away try adding one device at a time. Have you looked in Device Manager to see if you have any exclamation marks? It also may help to go to the motherboards web site and check for an updated chipset driver.
 

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    1920 x 1080
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Ultragravy

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You could try using just the bare minimum hardware and see if the problem still exist. If the problem goes away try adding one device at a time. Have you looked in Device Manager to see if you have any exclamation marks? It also may help to go to the motherboards web site and check for an updated chipset driver.
Firstly thanks for more suggestions. I've checked Device Manager and no exclamation marks. The only peripherals I'm using are mouse, keyboard and a USB microphone, plus a standard headset plugged into the mobo headphone jack, so nothing too heavy. I can try a different keyboard and mouse perhaps and try booting without the mic or headphones in... problem is as said that it's really hard to diagnose because the boot failure is so intermittent. Most of the time it works, so it would be really hard to diagnose if, say, disconnecting the usb microphone would fix it longterm.

Given the fact that the boot failure is always at the same point every time, does this narrow anything down at all as to what windows (or the bios) is trying to do at the point it fails?
 

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spapakons

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I would first try to boot without any USB device connected, not even the keyboard and mouse. If it boots without any issue, there is something wrong with either your USB (not providing enough power or not configured properly in BIOS) or one of the USB devices. If you still have a problem, try upgrading the BIOS to rule out any software issues. If you do that and the issue persists, you have to return to the store for repair under Warranty.

PS: I would also update all drivers or even reinstall Windows to make sure it's not a software bug.
 

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    Legacy MBR installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, no WDDM 2.0 graphics drivers, cannot get more unsupported ;) This is only my test laptop. I had installed Windows 11 here before upgrading my main PC. For my main PC I use everyday see my 2nd system specs.
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    Intel Core-i7 3770 3.40GHz s1155 (3rd generation)
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    Asus P8H61 s1155 ATX
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    Sony Bravia KDL-19L4000 19" LCD TV via VGA
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    1440x900 32-bit 60Hz
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    Patriot Burst Elite 480GB SSD as system disk, Western Digital Caviar Purple 4TB SATA III (WD40PURZ) as second
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kelper

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If you feel confident in opening the case, I would power down (Leave the mains plug in but switch off at the wall and touch the chassis to ensure you are not charged with static.) and then reseat the memory modules. Check that the cables to any hard drives are firmly seated.
 

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spapakons

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If reseating the RAM modules doesn't work try swapping them.
 

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    Legacy MBR installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, no WDDM 2.0 graphics drivers, cannot get more unsupported ;) This is only my test laptop. I had installed Windows 11 here before upgrading my main PC. For my main PC I use everyday see my 2nd system specs.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro v22H2 (build 22621.1105)
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    Custom-built PC
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    Intel Core-i7 3770 3.40GHz s1155 (3rd generation)
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    Asus P8H61 s1155 ATX
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    2x Kingston Hyper-X Blu 8GB DDR3-1600
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    Gainward NE5105T018G1-1070F (nVidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB GDDR5)
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    Monitor(s) Displays
    Sony Bravia KDL-19L4000 19" LCD TV via VGA
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    1440x900 32-bit 60Hz
    Hard Drives
    Patriot Burst Elite 480GB SSD as system disk, Western Digital Caviar Purple 4TB SATA III (WD40PURZ) as second
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    Mitsumi 101-key PS/2
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    Legacy BIOS (MBR) installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, WDDM 3.0 graphics drivers, WEI score 7.4

Winuser

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If you feel confident in opening the case, I would power down (Leave the mains plug in but switch off at the wall and touch the chassis to ensure you are not charged with static.) and then reseat the memory modules. Check that the cables to any hard drives are firmly seated.
Good idea but I have one more suggestion before opening up the computer. With the computer off and the power source disconnected or the power switch on the power supply turned off, push the computer's on button to discharge any electric that is still stored in the computer.
 

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    Intel Core i7-10700K
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    ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4/ax
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    16GB (8GB PC4-19200 DDR4 SDRAM x2)
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    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 TI
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    Realtek Audio
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    Samsung SAM0A87 Samsung SAM0D32
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1080
    Hard Drives
    NVMe WDC WDS100T2B0C-00PXH0 1TB
    Samsung SSD 860 EVO 1TB
    PSU
    750 Watts (62.5A)
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    PowerSpec/Lian Li ATX 205
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    Logitech K270
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    Logitech M185
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    AMD Ryzen 7 4700U 2.0GHZ
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    16 MB DDR 4-2666
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badrobot

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do you have any other USB peripherals attached aside from mouse and keyboard?
 

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    MSI R9 290
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spapakons

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Good idea but I have one more suggestion before opening up the computer. With the computer off and the power source disconnected or the power switch on the power supply turned off, push the power on button to discharge any electric that is still stored in the computer.
The way I do it is to turn off the power supply from the switch and then press the power on button 5-6 times to discharge completely. Then I switch on the power supply again and press the power on button to boot the computer. This trick usually works for power supplies that have kept some charge and the computer won't switch on. After discharging the computer will switch on at first attempt.
 

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  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 22H2 64-bit (build 22621.1105)
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Extensa 5630EZ
    CPU
    Mobile DualCore Intel Core 2 Duo T7250, 2000 MHz
    Motherboard
    Acer Extensa 5630
    Memory
    4GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Mobile Intel(R) GMA 4500M (Mobile 4 series)
    Sound Card
    Realtek ALC268 @ Intel 82801IB ICH9 - High Definition Audio Controller
    Monitor(s) Displays
    1
    Screen Resolution
    1280x800
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SSD 850 EVO 250GB SATA Device (250 GB, SATA-III)
    Internet Speed
    VDSL 50 Mbps
    Browser
    MICROSOFT EDGE
    Antivirus
    WINDOWS DEFENDER
    Other Info
    Legacy MBR installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, no WDDM 2.0 graphics drivers, cannot get more unsupported ;) This is only my test laptop. I had installed Windows 11 here before upgrading my main PC. For my main PC I use everyday see my 2nd system specs.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro v22H2 (build 22621.1105)
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom-built PC
    CPU
    Intel Core-i7 3770 3.40GHz s1155 (3rd generation)
    Motherboard
    Asus P8H61 s1155 ATX
    Memory
    2x Kingston Hyper-X Blu 8GB DDR3-1600
    Graphics card(s)
    Gainward NE5105T018G1-1070F (nVidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB GDDR5)
    Sound Card
    Realtek HD audio (ALC887)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Sony Bravia KDL-19L4000 19" LCD TV via VGA
    Screen Resolution
    1440x900 32-bit 60Hz
    Hard Drives
    Patriot Burst Elite 480GB SSD as system disk, Western Digital Caviar Purple 4TB SATA III (WD40PURZ) as second
    PSU
    Thermaltake Litepower RGB 550W Full Wired
    Case
    SUPERCASE MIDI-TOWER
    Cooling
    Stock Intel CPU Fan, 1x 8cm fan at the back
    Mouse
    Sunnyline OptiEye PS/2
    Keyboard
    Mitsumi 101-key PS/2
    Internet Speed
    100Mbps
    Browser
    Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Windows Defender
    Other Info
    Legacy BIOS (MBR) installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, WDDM 3.0 graphics drivers, WEI score 7.4

Cromax

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try reinstalling network adapter driver.. if that doesnt help try wmic startup in command prompt and see what starts on logon.. so if something fishy you can delete
 

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spapakons

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An order tool but still applies is the Hijackthis. It shows all startup applications and services and even browser add-ons. Examine all results carefully and disable anything suspicious. If unsure Google the description of each entry to see what it is. You can also use CCleaner, but I think Hijackthis shows more hidden stuff.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 22H2 64-bit (build 22621.1105)
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Extensa 5630EZ
    CPU
    Mobile DualCore Intel Core 2 Duo T7250, 2000 MHz
    Motherboard
    Acer Extensa 5630
    Memory
    4GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Mobile Intel(R) GMA 4500M (Mobile 4 series)
    Sound Card
    Realtek ALC268 @ Intel 82801IB ICH9 - High Definition Audio Controller
    Monitor(s) Displays
    1
    Screen Resolution
    1280x800
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SSD 850 EVO 250GB SATA Device (250 GB, SATA-III)
    Internet Speed
    VDSL 50 Mbps
    Browser
    MICROSOFT EDGE
    Antivirus
    WINDOWS DEFENDER
    Other Info
    Legacy MBR installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, no WDDM 2.0 graphics drivers, cannot get more unsupported ;) This is only my test laptop. I had installed Windows 11 here before upgrading my main PC. For my main PC I use everyday see my 2nd system specs.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro v22H2 (build 22621.1105)
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom-built PC
    CPU
    Intel Core-i7 3770 3.40GHz s1155 (3rd generation)
    Motherboard
    Asus P8H61 s1155 ATX
    Memory
    2x Kingston Hyper-X Blu 8GB DDR3-1600
    Graphics card(s)
    Gainward NE5105T018G1-1070F (nVidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB GDDR5)
    Sound Card
    Realtek HD audio (ALC887)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Sony Bravia KDL-19L4000 19" LCD TV via VGA
    Screen Resolution
    1440x900 32-bit 60Hz
    Hard Drives
    Patriot Burst Elite 480GB SSD as system disk, Western Digital Caviar Purple 4TB SATA III (WD40PURZ) as second
    PSU
    Thermaltake Litepower RGB 550W Full Wired
    Case
    SUPERCASE MIDI-TOWER
    Cooling
    Stock Intel CPU Fan, 1x 8cm fan at the back
    Mouse
    Sunnyline OptiEye PS/2
    Keyboard
    Mitsumi 101-key PS/2
    Internet Speed
    100Mbps
    Browser
    Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Windows Defender
    Other Info
    Legacy BIOS (MBR) installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, WDDM 3.0 graphics drivers, WEI score 7.4

Winuser

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The way I do it is to turn off the power supply from the switch and then press the power on button 5-6 times to discharge completely. Then I switch on the power supply again and press the power on button to boot the computer. This trick usually works for power supplies that have kept some charge and the computer won't switch on. After discharging the computer will switch on at first attempt.
That's basically how I do it when I want to make sure I'm doing an actual clean restart to eliminate any problems that may have stayed in memory.
 

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Ultragravy

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Firstly, thanks all for the sudden flurry of extra suggestions.

I've got a BIOS update ready to try (likely do it this weekend), I just wanted to monitor the situation a bit more first to see if I could work out any patterns or find out any additional information. The issue has happened a couple of times since my post here, as always its exactly the same behaviour each time, but powering off and on fixes it. My PC usually goes 3-4 days booting fine each day, then one day it wont boot for the first boot and it needs the power off/on, then its fine for another 3-4 days. It's random though.

I can try a RAM reseat, though if RAM was dodgy wouldn't I potentially have issues actually using the computer? I use it a lot, lots of hours of gaming and net use, a lot of high end games on ultra settings that push the PC and it's behaving absolutely perfectly with no errors or problems experienced (touch wood) in two months of heavy use, outside of the boot issue, which is why I tend to veer towards assuming it isnt a hardware problem.

Can anything be told from the behaviour of the spinning dots and what happens in what order (when comparing the days when it boots fine to the failures)? As said, when it fails it seems its not getting to the point where the kernel has loaded enough to write anything in the windows logs. When my PC boots fine, my USB devices turn off around the time the spinning dots first appear, then the dots -pause-, the devices come back on, and it pops to the windows login screen. When the PC fails, the dots keep spinning as the USB devices turn on for a few seconds, and then turn back off again. I know the BIOS has its own USB controller and it tries to handover to the Kernel once its loaded, but does this order of happenings trigger any thoughts?

do you have any other USB peripherals attached aside from mouse and keyboard?
I have a desktop USB mic, and that's it. My headphones use the 3.5mm jack on the mobo.

That's basically how I do it when I want to make sure I'm doing an actual clean restart to eliminate any problems that may have stayed in memory.
I dont know if this is relevant, but could some kind of slightly "unstable" power cause something like this. If its on a ring main that might have occasional little fluctuations could do something weird with the PSU that means it needs to discharge or something . My previous PC had a weird situation where sometimes when I turned it on fans would spin up, then it would instantly power off for a a few seconds, and then boot itself back up fine again, as if it had failed some kind of initial check and then fixed something automatically. This occurrence was random too, and although the old PC was a completely different spec this strange power down/power up behaviour occurred infrequently, maybe once a week or less, but i never got to the bottom of that.
I know next to nothing about the electrical side of things but could it be feasible that weird bios boot issues might in some way be tied to the wall socket that they're plugged into?

EDIT - on an unrelated note, I now have the latest bios file ready to go on a USB stick. Very dumb question - I know I need to hit delete on startup to go into the BIOS and find the MFlash option to actually do a flash, but at what point do i put the USB stick in? Does it need to be in before it starts up before I go to MFlash, or will this make it boot weird by trying to boot off the stick and thus should put it in after I'm in the bios? Bios flashes terrify me so just want to make sure i'm doing everything by the book!
 
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Garrett

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I had this problem and the fix was simple. Somehow dual monitors had been selected so system would look for second monitor on boot which wasn't there. Next time you get it to boot try this, Windows Key + p Change monitor, should be on single pc screen. It worked for me. Good Luck.
 

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spapakons

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It sounds like a power supply issue to me. Maybe it is not enough to correctly power all the devices and hence it freezes. Consider replacing it with a more powerful. Replace it before risking to upgrade the BIOS. Id the upgrade is interrupted for any reason your computer won't boot.
 

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  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 22H2 64-bit (build 22621.1105)
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Extensa 5630EZ
    CPU
    Mobile DualCore Intel Core 2 Duo T7250, 2000 MHz
    Motherboard
    Acer Extensa 5630
    Memory
    4GB
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    Mobile Intel(R) GMA 4500M (Mobile 4 series)
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    Realtek ALC268 @ Intel 82801IB ICH9 - High Definition Audio Controller
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    Legacy MBR installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, no WDDM 2.0 graphics drivers, cannot get more unsupported ;) This is only my test laptop. I had installed Windows 11 here before upgrading my main PC. For my main PC I use everyday see my 2nd system specs.
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    Windows 11 Pro v22H2 (build 22621.1105)
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    Custom-built PC
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    Intel Core-i7 3770 3.40GHz s1155 (3rd generation)
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    Asus P8H61 s1155 ATX
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    2x Kingston Hyper-X Blu 8GB DDR3-1600
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    Gainward NE5105T018G1-1070F (nVidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB GDDR5)
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    Realtek HD audio (ALC887)
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    Sony Bravia KDL-19L4000 19" LCD TV via VGA
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    1440x900 32-bit 60Hz
    Hard Drives
    Patriot Burst Elite 480GB SSD as system disk, Western Digital Caviar Purple 4TB SATA III (WD40PURZ) as second
    PSU
    Thermaltake Litepower RGB 550W Full Wired
    Case
    SUPERCASE MIDI-TOWER
    Cooling
    Stock Intel CPU Fan, 1x 8cm fan at the back
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    Sunnyline OptiEye PS/2
    Keyboard
    Mitsumi 101-key PS/2
    Internet Speed
    100Mbps
    Browser
    Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Windows Defender
    Other Info
    Legacy BIOS (MBR) installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, WDDM 3.0 graphics drivers, WEI score 7.4

Ultragravy

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I had this problem and the fix was simple. Somehow dual monitors had been selected so system would look for second monitor on boot which wasn't there. Next time you get it to boot try this, Windows Key + p Change monitor, should be on single pc screen. It worked for me. Good Luck.
I've checked and it seems set to only one monitor, though it certainly feels like the system is trying to look for a particular hardware configuration, not finding what it expects, and then freezing/correcting it, then finds what it expects on the reboot.

When you had the problem yourself was it a constant thing, or intermittent? Did you have the same thing I had whereby it would only fail to boot -sometimes- and others fine, and then fixing the monitor setting meant it booted fine forever, or did it constantly fail to boot every time until the settings change?

It sounds like a power supply issue to me. Maybe it is not enough to correctly power all the devices and hence it freezes. Consider replacing it with a more powerful. Replace it before risking to upgrade the BIOS. Id the upgrade is interrupted for any reason your computer won't boot.
Yeah my first thought was generally PSU for this kind of thing, but the one i have is a gold rated 750 watt, and I just have a single video card (3080 ti) and a couple of SSDs (which draw less power than HDDs i think?) plus mouse, keyboard and a desktop mic. The PSU should be more than sufficient for that by a large margin i thought, and if the PSU was faulty wouldnt i see errors or crashes when I really pushed my video card and it started drawing lots more power?
 

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