Buggy Hardware Mystery

I have a brand-new emachines M6805 laptop, perfectly stock, onto which I am trying to install Windows XP-64. I have spoken with colleagues who have the exact same model, exact same bios revision, for whom the install of the exact same build goes perfectly. For me, it freezes solid within a minute of GUI-mode setup (after the character-mode setup has copied the files to the hard-drive). Interestingly, I get identical behavior if I try to install any 64-bit Windows (Server 2K3, Longhorn 64): I suspect that the setup programs share common code at that point.

My guess is that this is a real bug, in the sense of the original moth-in-the-circuit erroneous hardware response. My guess is that some the code does some IRQ-level thing to get an offset, doesn’t do a sanity check on the return, and BAM! A hard freeze that requires me to disconnect power. But it’s been more than a decade since I’ve seen such a hardware bug (I had memory parity errors that nuked my system… maybe the first 386 I bought? Maybe even a 286!). I don’t even know if I can get an RMA on the machine because all I can say is “The only reason I have this machine is to work with operating systems you don’t support. Please give me another piece of hardware to try to do that.”

Anyone know anything about what goes on in the early stages of Windows installation?