Your hard drive should not be causing you to not be able to get into your CMOS setup, at least from a software standpoint. The entry into the BIOS/CMOS happens before anything on the hard drive loads. But, to troubleshoot, disconnect all drives, hard drives, floppies, cd-rom, dvd, ..., so that they are not a factor. Disconnect both their power and data cables. Then boot the machine. You should be able to get into your CMOS/BIOS setup. If not, something else is at fault. Remove all add on cards except for your vid. card and try again. Reseat everything. Make sure you processor is still mounted tightly and its cooling fan is operating ok.
If it will not go in to CMOS/BIOS after all that, the mobo, memory, cpu, or CMOS are probably bad. If you can get into CMOS, try adding one device at a time until you discover which was the culprit.
Edit: The only problems I have ever seen from a dead battery, are that it will cause the CMOS to reset at every boot and the time will be incorrect.. It should not cause you to fail to get into BIOS setup. You can get into setup without a battery on the board. It will just not retain any setting that you change from the defaults. Of course, I'm not talking about a battery that has ruptured and corroded the board.
Edited by simplico, 26 February 2003 - 08:01 AM.