OK. Simple really. The apm was causing the boot to fail.
Once apm was disabled in bios everything was fine.
Apparently the bios' on this family of boards is still a bit rough.
Just FYI I didn't have the nforec driverss installed (other than any wihch come with mdk 9) and it wasn't an X problem as the kernel was dying way before X was getting a chance.
Thanks for the response though, bwkaz.