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Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/16/2008 9:58:01 PM   
JudgeDredd


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I am a software engineer, and I've built all my own computers but for my very first one in 1993...but I'm a bit stuck.

My computer has just failed on me.

Here are the symptoms...

I went on holiday for a week. When I came back, I switched the PC on. Nothing happened. Got ready to go to the shops and about 10 minutes AFTER switching it on, it fired up. I switched it off again, and then turned it on...same thing...nothing. Eventually, about another 10 minutes or so, it fired up again. This time I left it on and used it all night.

Next day, when I swiched it on, it fired up straight away and I've been using it ever since. Until tonight.

I fired it up and it started. About 30 minutes after using it, I switched it off. Later when I tried to start it, I got the same symptoms...NOTHING. Eventually it came on, but now I'm getting no graphics output.

The fans are firing up. I think I can hear the disks spinning (certainly the DVD drive).

I've unplugged the CPU fan from the motherboard and I'm not getting the warning horn (that tells you the fan isn't working).
I've taken ALL memory out, and I'm getting no warning noise.
I've taken the graphics card out...no warning noises.

Basically, the motherboard is giving me no feedback at all.

Now the fact that I'm getting no warning noises from the board when I remove the memory or the graphics card makes me think the motherboard was knackered.
However, because the disks appear to be spinning and all the fans seem to be working (CPU and case fan are powered by the motherboard), then I'm thinking the graphics card could be shot.

Any ideas pls?

Thx
Billy
Post #: 1
RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/16/2008 10:31:49 PM   
Dan Verssen


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I had a computer that was also delaying 5 to 10 minutes to start up. At one point, it was turned on and quietly turned itself off. It never turned on again. I received the computer as a gift from a friend who warned me that its power supply was failing and would one day fail completely.

One guess would be your power supply did something bad and killed your motherboard.

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RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/16/2008 10:44:02 PM   
Peter Fisla


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Yeah it could be the power supply. I also build my computers since 1991 and what I do to debug hardware propblems is, I remove as many hardware cards/components as possible and start with bare minium.

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Post #: 3
RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/16/2008 10:46:50 PM   
06 Maestro


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This is an odd problem. I assume that your screen remains black. It seems odd that if the graphics card was completely shorted, that you would not get the on screen message of "no signal". I have never had a monitor go bad on me, but I suppose it is possible.
Have you tried a boot disk to fire it up after a failure?
It might help to thoroughly clean out the pc and re- seat everything. If that doesn't do it, then bang the mb around a bit-if that doesn't do it, then bang the mb on the table...
Good luck-oh, and, no charge.

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RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/16/2008 11:05:58 PM   
Mr. Skullduggery


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Before you do anything else, replace the power supply.  My PC would POST and then die, everything spinning.  I replaced the MB everything fine, for a week.  Same thing happened.  Finally, just to see, replaced the PS.  Everything back to normal, using the old MB and new MB.  Just me suggestion.

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RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/16/2008 11:23:34 PM   
Gem35


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It could be the power supply, it could be the graphics card or it could be the power switch on your computer case or it could be a short on your motherboard.
Best thing would be to borrow a friend's power supply, take everything out of your computer case and place your motherboard on a flat surface with cardboard underneath.
Use one stick of RAM, the graphics card(or again, a friend's if possible)and your friend's powersupply.
Process of elimination works best.

Good luck.

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RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/16/2008 11:37:43 PM   
JudgeDredd


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Thx Skullduggery.

Trouble is, I don't have any spare kit. I might be able to get a graphics card from work to try, and I'll take my PC into work tomorrow to try this. I doubt very much I can get a power supply...I need a 550 watt minimum.

I'll try and get what I can from work when I get there tomorrow.

Thx for the input.

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Post #: 7
RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/16/2008 11:50:15 PM   
Erik Rutins

 

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Certainly makes me suspect the power supply too.

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Post #: 8
RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/16/2008 11:59:37 PM   
cdbeck


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Wait... before completely replacing the Power Supply, you should check the CMOS battery on a battery power tester. This is basically a watch battery that is part of the motherboard itself and that keeps the CMOS always on in order to keep your time and CMOS settings constantly saved. When these go out, things can get really odd and wonky. This sounds a little like the issues you get with this, and will be far less expensive than an entire power supply.

Here is a page that explains the best way to do this:
http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch000239.htm

Anyway, it is the first and less expensive thing I would check.

SoM


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Post #: 9
RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/17/2008 12:06:50 AM   
JudgeDredd


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K thanks all.

I know about the insides of computers...built them for years. CMOS battery is evident and I'll have a look at that tomorrow also, thanks for that idea SoM.

I just hope I can get the spare kit at work tomorrow to see what the problem is...not gaming rig is my worst nightmare...you don't understand, without a gaming rig, I may well get a divorce...because I'll have to have "conversations" with her!!!

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Post #: 10
RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/17/2008 3:45:58 AM   
panzers

 

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My gf has a similar problem and it definately was the power supplt in her case, and I think it may be yours also. One thing I am not is a computer wiz, so plz don't take that to the bank, but it does sound all to familiar especially if the screen is black.

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Post #: 11
RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/17/2008 4:29:06 AM   
e_barkmann


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I'd concur as well it's the PS, having had similar experiences over the years.

cheers


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Post #: 12
RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/17/2008 4:34:58 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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Does your motherboard have built-in graphics? If you can connect the monitor and bypass the graphics card, you might be able to get some feedback.

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RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/17/2008 4:55:02 AM   
panzers

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Capt. Harlock

Does your motherboard have built-in graphics? If you can connect the monitor and bypass the graphics card, you might be able to get some feedback.

Don't all motherboards have some kind of basic graphics?

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Post #: 14
RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/17/2008 5:03:41 AM   
NefariousKoel


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I'd be willing to bet money it's a motherboard failure. While power supply is suspect, in my experience when this kind of power switching problem happens it's the motherboard.

Check the voltages on your power supply - especially before popping a new board in. If the PSU is screwed up - you don't want to put a new board in there with the PSU having too much or not enough voltage coursing through it. It could be both. I had skipped checking it with a new board once and, sure enough, the 5V rail was putting out 7+ volts. Fried the new replacement board in about 30 seconds. :(


< Message edited by NefariousKoel -- 4/17/2008 5:05:21 AM >


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RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/17/2008 7:03:16 AM   
Jeffrey H.


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I would never unplug the CPU fan, those things will fry in SECONDS without the fan.

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Post #: 16
RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/17/2008 7:49:08 AM   
Marauders

 

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It could be the power supply.

This also sometimes happens when the BIOS is bad or the memory slots have gone bad.

The machine may be trying to POST at a bad memory multiplier or speed.

I had this happen recently.

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Post #: 17
RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/17/2008 10:25:42 AM   
SemperAugustus

 

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You should get beep codes from the motherboard if it can get it started and there is something wrong with it.

I have had issues with the graphics card failing which also caused similar issues, the motherboard fan being very, very quiet on start up. In my case the issue was with the graphics card fan failing.

Other possibilities is the old favourite: dust. Unplugging everything and cleaning it up and plugging it in again.

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RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/17/2008 10:28:19 AM   
JudgeDredd


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Thx all.

I've got it in work this morning, so I'll take it apart and give it a good clean out and reseat everything. Then hopefully I can find some parts to do some fault finding.

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RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/17/2008 11:37:00 AM   
Gem35


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In order to get beep codes you are assuming his PC has a speaker connected.

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Post #: 20
RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/17/2008 12:23:47 PM   
JudgeDredd


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Yes PC speaker is connected and worked in the past.

Brought it into work so update.

I took the MB out the case and sat it on a cardboard box. There is NOTHING on the motherboard except the CPU. I've connected the PC speaker and the Power switch. All memory is out. No graphics card or sound card...so I'm down to the bare minimum.

Plugged the power supply into the motherboard (and the ATX? power the 4 pin connector to the MB...they come with so many power outlets now!)
Switched on....nothing
Left the office
Went back about 10 minutes later and it's powered up

I'm leaning towards power supply. But it appears, at the moment, that my computer (2 years old) is far superior to anything we have at work!! as I'm not sure we have one with all the necessary connectors.

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Post #: 21
RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/17/2008 12:36:52 PM   
JudgeDredd


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Well what do you know.

Just went back in and switched it on. It came on right away but beeping for memory not being in.
Switched it off, put memory in and switched it on and beeping because graphics card wasn't present.
Switched it off, put graphics card in and switched it on and I got the normal POST beep.

I can't see if I can get graphics output because my card is DVI only and the only monitors we have here are normal VGA. But from hearing the boot up sequence, I definitely got the POST beep, so everything seems OK.

Going on what I've said so far, is anyone in agreement that it seems the power supply is on it's way out?

One other thing I noticed...the power supply fans (the one IN the case at the bottom of the CPU to suck hot air away from the MB) and the one at the back which blows hot air out...neither of them are spinning. I was pretty sure they were both required to be spinning...regardless of temperature?

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RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/17/2008 4:20:44 PM   
Marauders

 

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quote:

One other thing I noticed...the power supply fans (the one IN the case at the bottom of the CPU to suck hot air away from the MB)


The CPU fan?

quote:

and the one at the back which blows hot air out...neither of them are spinning. I was pretty sure they were both required to be spinning...regardless of temperature?


Is this in the power supply or is it a case fan?

The CPU fan and power supply fan are critical. 

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Post #: 23
RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/17/2008 4:34:01 PM   
JudgeDredd


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The CPU fan is spinning, as are the case fans...the PSU fan is not. Although it does have a sticker on it saying Temperature controlled.....but I thought it was always spinning, but just sped up and slowed down as the case temperature rise and fell.

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RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/17/2008 6:27:16 PM   
cdbeck


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Do PS have a "safety measure" to not switch on if the PS fans have stopped? This might make sense, as an overheating PS could theoretically create a good bit of damage to the system.

JD, after the 10 minutes pass and the computer boots on, are the PS fans spinning then? I'm wondering if the ball bearing in the PS fans might have gotten dirty or off center, meaning that the engine is exerting pressure to turn but the fan is only turning intermittently. If it has a system shut off mechanism to prevent overheating, then that would account for why it won't turn on until the PS fan starts turning and will kick off if the PS fan gets stuck again.

Just a thought, again, replacing a PS fan is FAR cheaper than the PS, like $5 vs. $60-80.

SoM

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RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/17/2008 7:02:38 PM   
SemperAugustus

 

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I guess no one has messed with the voltage settings... Have you checked the PSU fuses?

Another option, maybe radical, would be to contact the PSU manufacturer and see how the fans are supposed to work.

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RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/17/2008 9:59:48 PM   
JudgeDredd


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Son_of_Montfort

Do PS have a "safety measure" to not switch on if the PS fans have stopped? This might make sense, as an overheating PS could theoretically create a good bit of damage to the system.

JD, after the 10 minutes pass and the computer boots on, are the PS fans spinning then? I'm wondering if the ball bearing in the PS fans might have gotten dirty or off center, meaning that the engine is exerting pressure to turn but the fan is only turning intermittently. If it has a system shut off mechanism to prevent overheating, then that would account for why it won't turn on until the PS fan starts turning and will kick off if the PS fan gets stuck again.

Just a thought, again, replacing a PS fan is FAR cheaper than the PS, like $5 vs. $60-80.

SoM

When the system booted up and was working, the fans were spinning...but not since I had the computer at work this morning.

Anyway...UPDATE
Right. I decided in my wisdom it was the power supply (after reading peoples thoughts and what I saw this morning at work trying to debug it).

So I've bought a new power supply An Artic 650W. £70. Looks very well thought out. It doesn't have one big cable with lots of "branches" where half won't be used. It has "sockets" on the back of the supply and you plug in the cables you require.

Fitted it and the machine is working...thanks for all your help.

BUT

I have a new issue...the keyboard does not want to work "all the time". By this I mean...
I have the BIOS setup so if I hit a key, the machine powers up...and this it does
However, when I get to the login screen, I cannot type anything in the password box.
HOWEVER, if I boot in safe mode and log in as me, I CAN type in the password!

Now I logged in as me in safe mode and removed my password just so I can get onto the system and this is fine, but I CANNOT use the keyboard.

I've checked the BIOS for some setting causing an issue, and I can't see anything mentioning PS2 (my keyboard type)
I've installed the drivers for my keyboard in safe mode.
So the keyboard works in safe mode, but not in normal boot up mode.

Any ideas please?

Once again, thanks for all your input and a special thx to the people mentioning power supply. I suspected motherboard, b


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RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/18/2008 12:53:30 AM   
Joram

 

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Don't know if this will work but it couldn't hurt.  Some bios have a switch on keyboard control between bios and OS.  Try switching it if it gives you the option.

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RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/18/2008 1:11:41 AM   
JudgeDredd


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Sorry...forgot to update this one (I was asking for help at The Wargamer also)...the keyboard issue is fixed. Apparently my install of the drivers for the keyboard wasn't "complete". Installed under my own login, rebooted and all was well.

Thx for your help. My gaming PC is revived (thank god...marriage saved!)

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Post #: 29
RE: Computer Failure - I need advice - 4/18/2008 6:20:33 AM   
cdbeck


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Congrats! Nothing more frustrating than computer problems. They ALWAYS occur at a bad time. Last time I had issues was the morning I had my PhD comprehensive exams. Yuck!

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(Kill them all. God will know his own.)

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Post #: 30
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