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Packard Bell Invalid CMOS Error

oldpcguy

Experienced Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
146
I acquired a Packard Bell Legend 103 Elite system a few months ago. Since obtaining it it has been consistently throwing an invalid CMOS error each time the system starts. First thing to check was the barrel battery and replace it. There was some minor leakage but nothing that appeared to cause any operational damage. Upon replacing the CMOS now retains the system configuration however the error remains. I've restored the default settings and then reconfigured the system for the components installed. While I haven't done any in depth troubleshooting I have done the basics and I am now looking for ideas of how to track down the source of this error.

The configuration is: 80384SX-25MHz, 12MB of RAM, 131MB HD, 1.2MB (drive A) and 1.44MB (drive B) floppy drives. I have removed the HD and replaced it with an XT-IDE CF adapter which is working fine (the error message appeared before I did this). I have since installed a different 131MB HD (I wanted to preserve the contents of the original and I need a real HD for the things I need to do). No matter the configuration this error persists.

All the jumpers are set as they originally were (I temporarily installed an 80486DX-33MHz processor as that's where I ultimately want to go). I noted the jumper settings before doing this and have restored them to those settings after returning the 80486SX part. I suppose maybe one of the jumper settings was incorrectly set before I obtained the system but I have reviewed the settings and don't see anything that would look like the source of this error. Thankfully Packard Bell was wise enough to put the jumper settings on the top case where it is easily accessible and readable.

Aside from this error the system appears to be fully functioning. The only issue I've observed is I cannot have the date set beyond 1999 (I currently have it set to the current date for 1995) but that is likely because the BIOS is not Y2K compliant. Does anyone have any ideas why this error will not go away?
 

modem7

Veteran Member
Joined
May 29, 2006
Messages
7,791
Location
Melbourne, Australia
I am unfamiliar with that computer.

Is the motherboard BIOS made by Award or Phoenix ?

... an invalid CMOS error ...
What exactly is the error message shown ?

Upon replacing the CMOS now retains the system configuration however the error remains.
Confirm by "CMOS", you meant "CMOS battery". Was the replacement battery the same type? If not, how does the replacement battery differ from the original battery?

I've restored the default settings and then reconfigured the system for the components installed.
Was that done using the built-in CMOS setup functionality in the motherboard BIOS ?

Does the motherboard have a 'clear BIOS' type jumper ?

Have you tried a minimal operating configuration, e.g. only card is the video card ?

The only issue I've observed is I cannot have the date set beyond 1999 (I currently have it set to the current date for 1995) but that is likely because the BIOS is not Y2K compliant.
During Y2K, there were some machines where the Y2K non-compliance was only in the built-in CMOS setup functionality of the motherboard's BIOS. For those, an answer was to bring up a DOS prompt, using the DATE command to set the required 21st century date - the year component of the date being typed in using 4 digits (e.g. "2021").
 

oldpcguy

Experienced Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
146
I am unfamiliar with that computer.

Is the motherboard BIOS made by Award or Phoenix ?


What exactly is the error message shown ?
It's a Phoenix BIOS. The exact error is "Invalid configuration information" or "System configuration is invalid" depending on which you're viewing. At the end of this response I've included the two pictures of the screens which show the errors (as well as BIOS information). The black background pic is the initial screen when the system is first powered on, the red background screen is the BIOS screen after pressing F2 from the first screen. I can't explain the vertical line in the first pic but it disappears once this screen is gone. I assumed it is just an anomaly between the flat panel display and this old computer.


Confirm by "CMOS", you meant "CMOS battery". Was the replacement battery the same type? If not, how does the replacement battery differ from the original battery?
Confirming your assumption I meant CMOS battery. The new battery has almost the same specifications as the battery it replaced. Same physical package and voltage (3.6V). I think the only difference is the replacement battery has a slightly higher current capability than the original (I think the original had a rating of 60mAh whereas the new one has a rating of 80mAh). This is the exact battery I purchased: Brand New Geek Power 3.6VB80H Ni-MH 3.6V 80mAh Battery | eBay




Was that done using the built-in CMOS setup functionality in the motherboard BIOS ?

Does the motherboard have a 'clear BIOS' type jumper ?

Have you tried a minimal operating configuration, e.g. only card is the video card ?
  1. Yes, I used the BIOS's load default values option.
  2. I did not see a clear BIOS jumper listed on the jumper configuration sticker.
  3. Yes, there are no expansion cards installed at the time this pics were taken (this morning). The video is built into the motherboard.
During Y2K, there were some machines where the Y2K non-compliance was only in the built-in CMOS setup functionality of the motherboard's BIOS. For those, an answer was to bring up a DOS prompt, using the DATE command to set the required 21st century date - the year component of the date being typed in using 4 digits (e.g. "2021").

I believe that is the case here. I haven't thoroughly investigated as this would be an expected issue for a computer of this time period.

If I can't resolve this issue I can live with it. The system appears to be fully operational otherwise. I'd just like to get it resolved as it's more of an OCD thing for me.
 

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Timo W.

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2014
Messages
1,356
Location
Germany
That's not an error about invalid CMOS data. As the error says, some setting made in the BIOS does not match the hardware. Check all options in the BIOS.
 

oldpcguy

Experienced Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
146
That's not an error about invalid CMOS data. As the error says, some setting made in the BIOS does not match the hardware. Check all options in the BIOS.

Ah crap! That was exactly the problem. The Video Type was set to CGA80 instead of EGA/VGA. Doh! "Problem" solved.
 
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