I'm a super searcher...I search for all kinds of info when people have issues
helps me learn and keep info fresh. So it's just a stumble upon, same system specs thing
another format wouldn't really be needed for now.
Do you know anyone you could borrow a case from? Just to swap in your hd and see if it boots fine.
Borrow someone else's drive and see if it boots fine.
Activation issues aside, you can perhaps reveal who is the culprit for the ultra slow boot time.