Finally, finally, finally.
I got the new system up and running. It took only about two dozen installs, an hour or so of phone calls with Asus, an RMA with NewEgg (they really are wonderful!), slipstreaming SP2 into my SP1a installer, a new case with a larger power supply and nearly three weeks of elapsed time.
As I give the final answer, there will be sage nodding from those in the know. However, I hasten to point out (in my own defense) that the Asus people, both Level 1 and Level 2 tech support didn't help me to the final answer.
The final answer was.... (drum roll, please):
Use the latest drivers!
What do you mean, anti-climatic? Everyone knows that? Who? Tech support didn't. The folks on the forum didn't.
OK, I'll be less obtuse.
Asus tech support got me to the point of installing the latest BIOS and chipset drivers. The process is this: Update the BIOS at POST. Install the OS, then run the executable to update the chipset drivers. Every time, except the last, the PC would hang upon next boot. I had tapped out Asus. They really couldn't do more. I was using the latest BIOS and chipset drivers. However, the chipset is made by nVidia, so I went to their website.
Asus had version 6.65 for the Force4 chipset. nVidia had version 6.70. That seemed better so i downloaded it and used it. And it worked!
Yea! I don't have to RMA all the hardware and ship it back to NewEgg!
Yea! I finally built a machine after all these years.
Yea! I can once again say "I am geek"
Thanks for reading