Computer dead please help


S

Surfer Joe

I was away for a month and left my computer off and after I returned, it
worked fine for a few days and then I got a series of blue screen
crashes. Then it failed to even turn on.
You can see a power led lit on the motherboard before it is turned on
but when I turn it on it won't show anything on the monitor, it makes no
beeping sounds at all, and after a little while, it seems to restart
itself and try again but I get nothing at all on the monitor and it
won't go into the bios setup or anything.
I took it apart, cleaned everything and reseated the ram and all
connections, but it refuses to turn on or show anything on the monitor.
I tried putting the ram in one stick at a time and in different slots,
but it made no difference. I hooked up the hard drives to another
computer but they seem fine and I can read and copy stuff.

Can anyone please advise on which components may be causing this?
The motherboard? The ram? The cpu? The graphics card? The psu? Something
else?
I do not have a second computer to try swapping components around to see
which work.
Thanks for any advice.
 
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P

philo 

I was away for a month and left my computer off and after I returned, it
worked fine for a few days and then I got a series of blue screen
crashes. Then it failed to even turn on.
You can see a power led lit on the motherboard before it is turned on
but when I turn it on it won't show anything on the monitor, it makes no
beeping sounds at all, and after a little while, it seems to restart
itself and try again but I get nothing at all on the monitor and it
won't go into the bios setup or anything.
I took it apart, cleaned everything and reseated the ram and all
connections, but it refuses to turn on or show anything on the monitor.
I tried putting the ram in one stick at a time and in different slots,
but it made no difference. I hooked up the hard drives to another
computer but they seem fine and I can read and copy stuff.

Can anyone please advise on which components may be causing this?
The motherboard? The ram? The cpu? The graphics card? The psu? Something
else?
I do not have a second computer to try swapping components around to see
which work.
Thanks for any advice.


More than likely either a bad power supply or a bad motherboard
 
V

VanguardLH

Surfer said:
I was away for a month and left my computer off and after I returned, it
worked fine for a few days and then I got a series of blue screen
crashes. Then it failed to even turn on.
You can see a power led lit on the motherboard before it is turned on
but when I turn it on it won't show anything on the monitor, it makes no
beeping sounds at all, and after a little while, it seems to restart
itself and try again but I get nothing at all on the monitor and it
won't go into the bios setup or anything.
I took it apart, cleaned everything and reseated the ram and all
connections, but it refuses to turn on or show anything on the monitor.
I tried putting the ram in one stick at a time and in different slots,
but it made no difference. I hooked up the hard drives to another
computer but they seem fine and I can read and copy stuff.

Can anyone please advise on which components may be causing this?
The motherboard? The ram? The cpu? The graphics card? The psu? Something
else?
I do not have a second computer to try swapping components around to see
which work.
Thanks for any advice.
When the computer turns on, it should beep once to let you know the
video subsystem is working (video BIOS loads before system BIOS; else,
you couldn't see the POST screen or the BIOS config screens). So you
don't get a beep at all, not even one? Are you using external powered
speakers connected to a jack in the backpanel or relying on HDMI to
send sound to speakers in a monitor? Is your computer devoid of an
internal speaker connected to or soldered onto the motherboard?

When you do a cold boot (power on from a powered off state), do you
hear the hard drive(s) spin up (e.g., turbine startup sound)? Do the
CPU, video card, and case fans spin up? Do they not move at all when
you power up? Do they just budge a little and then stop?

See any pregnant electrolytic capacitors around the CPU on the
motherboard or inside the PSU? Any goop stain oozed out from their
tops or onto a PCB around them (even if it is old dried goop)?

Got a voltmeter to check the *loaded* voltages output from the PSU?
You probably have an unused Molex connector from the PSU to probe with
a voltmeter; else, you'll need something like a sewing needle to probe
into the pins of a connector either on a hard drive or the mobo.
Volt- or multi-meters are cheap ($5.29 at harborfreight.com, $11 at
Walmart) but you might want to spend more if it'll go into your
electronics toolbox.

Is the power cord to the back on the PSU and wall outlet, power strip,
or UPS plugged all the way in? Pull out both ends, wait 5 minutes,
and reinsert.

Is the CMOS battery more than 4-5 years old? Sometimes they fail
after just 3 years depending on how long it sat on the store shelf.
Tried shorting the CMOS reset 2-pin jumper header on the mobo for a
few seconds, remove, and try a reboot? Any customized settings in
BIOS will be lost and revert to the defaults and some set according to
the SPD for the memory.

Is the video FULLY seated into its slot? You don't give any specs so
it could, for example, be an old AGP video card. AGP slots can
sometimes be stiff. Users will press in the AGP card only to the 1st
indent but must push past to the 2nd indent (where the card hits its
PCB against the slot shroud). A partially pushed in AGP card can work
itself out due to thermal expansion/contraction with repeated power
cycling of the computer. Even if you reseated the video card, make
sure it is FULL pressed into its slot. Regardless of which type of
card slot, make sure the card isn't angled into the slot. Remove the
retaining screw for its backplate and push the card straight down into
its slot. If it works then but not after using the hold-down screw,
you could have a badly designed or warped case that results in lifting
the backend of the card out of the slot when the screw is used.
Sometimes folks don't realize the bottom tang of the backplate is to
go into a recess and end up trying to affix a card that isn't fully
into its slot or gets skewed when screwed down at one end.
 
T

tigger

Surfer Joe writted thus:
I was away for a month and left my computer off and after I returned, it
worked fine for a few days and then I got a series of blue screen
crashes. Then it failed to even turn on.
You can see a power led lit on the motherboard before it is turned on
but when I turn it on it won't show anything on the monitor, it makes no
beeping sounds at all, and after a little while, it seems to restart
itself and try again but I get nothing at all on the monitor and it
won't go into the bios setup or anything.
I took it apart, cleaned everything and reseated the ram and all
connections, but it refuses to turn on or show anything on the monitor.
I tried putting the ram in one stick at a time and in different slots,
but it made no difference. I hooked up the hard drives to another
computer but they seem fine and I can read and copy stuff.

Can anyone please advise on which components may be causing this?
The motherboard? The ram? The cpu? The graphics card? The psu? Something
else?
I do not have a second computer to try swapping components around to see
which work.
Thanks for any advice.
Check Monitor?
Check loose power cords?
Check inside for loose cables?
Check Fans spinning?

First, replace the Cmos battery before panicking and spending money.

If no boot, remove (unplug)
all IDE drives & Cd/DVD
all PCI cards
any Video card

Then try to boot with each stick of RAM on its own.

If no boot to BIOS, and RAM is thought OK, suspect PSU or CPU/MOBO fail.
If boot to bios, suspect something you unplugged.

Reseat CPU with thermal paste...
(amazing how effective this can be sometimes)

Try again.

Then if no boot, call the shop or panic and spend money.
 
P

Paul

Surfer said:
I was away for a month and left my computer off and after I returned, it
worked fine for a few days and then I got a series of blue screen
crashes. Then it failed to even turn on.
You can see a power led lit on the motherboard before it is turned on
but when I turn it on it won't show anything on the monitor, it makes no
beeping sounds at all, and after a little while, it seems to restart
itself and try again but I get nothing at all on the monitor and it
won't go into the bios setup or anything.
I took it apart, cleaned everything and reseated the ram and all
connections, but it refuses to turn on or show anything on the monitor.
I tried putting the ram in one stick at a time and in different slots,
but it made no difference. I hooked up the hard drives to another
computer but they seem fine and I can read and copy stuff.

Can anyone please advise on which components may be causing this?
The motherboard? The ram? The cpu? The graphics card? The psu? Something
else?
I do not have a second computer to try swapping components around to see
which work.
Thanks for any advice.
I think you've done some good testing so far, and seem to understand
the principles.

The BSOD could have been RAM, but by testing one stick at a time,
you've kinda eliminated that possibility. Normally, all the RAM
sticks don't fail at the same time. (I've had one instance where
they all started throwing errors at the same time, but those errors
did not prevent boot attempts from working. Replacement sticks from
the same purchase lot, worked fine. Otherwise, failures affected only
one stick at a time, when I've had problems)

Philo has suggested power supply, and that's a possibility. You
would use a multimeter, to check the voltages on it. Look
for the voltages to be within 5% of nominal. You can probe
where the wires go into the 24 pin connector, to get voltage
samples.

(This doc has the pinout, so you can tell which wire is which...)

http://www.formfactors.org/developer/specs/ATX12V_PSDG_2_2_public_br2.pdf

I'm curious how you know the thing is restarting itself. If it
was restarting itself in a controlled manner, that tells you
the CPU is likely working, and is reading BIOS code. And
something else is preventing it from displaying something
on the monitor.

The green LED on the motherboard surface is run from +5VSB, and
when the system is powered, that light should stay on steady. It
shouldn't blink or anything. Perhaps you have a LED on the front
of the case that is blinking ?

In testing, you try to pull extraneous hardware, anything
which is not "core" to making the machine work. If you had
a sound card, you'd remove that and put it in an antistatic bag.
Always turn off all the power, before changing cards or changing RAM.

You can also disconnect the hard drives, while you focus on
CPU/mobo/PSU.

The motherboard may or may not have integrated video. You
may have two video solutions. You can move the monitor cable
between those, and see if a video signal is present. And if you
did have integrated video, a test case you could try, is to pull
the PCI Express video card (put it in an antistatic bag), and
do another test.

Now, a fun test, is to test with no RAM at all. The computer case
speaker (the one that beeps), that one should beep a RAM missing
error code, when no RAM is present. If you get beeps, that tells
you the CPU is running, the chipset is in relatively good
shape, and the CPU is able to get BIOS code. The repetitive beep
pattern, is generated under CPU control. Which is why the
missing RAM test is useful. So you're not really testing the RAM,
you're testing the system response to no RAM being present. And
determining that the CPU is running. If you get no beeps, then
either CPU power is missing, power supply is dead, etc. There
are still a bunch of things that could have failed.

If you get beeps on the missing RAM test, but no beeps when
RAM is installed, that could be a motherboard problem with the
RAM subsystem.

There is a beep code for missing video, so with one stick of
RAM present, you could pull the video card, and listen for
that beep pattern. But if there is integrated video, it's pretty
hard to test for a beep pattern on that, since it'll always
be enabled by the motherboard (as the only option).

It's not always possible to narrow down the failure to
just a single component, and I don't have a "flow chart"
to do that. So at this point, you're still gathering
whatever evidence you can. And hoping that some symptom,
points at the culprit.

*******

When I had an Antec power supply fail here, the first warning
was a "sizzling sound" during the first 30 seconds of operation.
That was the leaking caps on +5V, making a noise. Eventually,
one day I got a BSOD (as the +5V was getting worse and worse).
And I even got a little puff of smoke from it, just for fun.
I managed to replace that PSU, with no damage to my system.

What I saw inside the supply, looked like this. Rusty orange
on top of multiple caps. Those are leaking, and account for
the power from the supply, no longer meeting spec. If you inspect
the supply like this, you unplug it, remove the four screws
for the cover, and *don't touch* anything inside. Just look,
for the orange crap. While the primary side cap has a bleeder
resistor on it, you should never trust the bleeder to be
functional, and always assume the primary is fully charged
to operating voltage. That'll keep you alive a bit longer.
And you don't use the screwdriver discharge technique on
the primary - that'll pit the tip of your screwdriver,
and deafen you. This is a case, where all you want to do is
have a look, then close it back up again.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/84/PSU_Caps.jpg

Paul
 
X

XS11E

VanguardLH said:
When the computer turns on, it should beep once to let you know
the video subsystem is working
Many "modern" PCs (or cases, for those of us who roll our own) do not
have a MB speaker. Mine is one of those.
 
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M

Mike Easter

Mike said:
The (every/each) mobo has a connection for the case speaker or a buzzer,
which is 'simpler' and the last case I bought came with a little buzzer
but not a mobo/case speaker.

pic
http://img.bhs4.com/8d/2/8d2064aaa80504b2674052686523f157d1eed2bd_large.jpg
.... that is, if the OP is going to be troubleshooting and has zero parts
to swap but has insight into what is going on in side, he needs a few
things from 'the bench' or the store besides his eyeballs and ability to
remove and replace components, such as a little mobo/case speaker/beeper
if there isn't one and multimeter.
 
J

Johnny

I was away for a month and left my computer off and after I returned, it
worked fine for a few days and then I got a series of blue screen
crashes. Then it failed to even turn on.
You can see a power led lit on the motherboard before it is turned on
but when I turn it on it won't show anything on the monitor, it makes no
beeping sounds at all, and after a little while, it seems to restart
itself and try again but I get nothing at all on the monitor and it
won't go into the bios setup or anything.
I took it apart, cleaned everything and reseated the ram and all
connections, but it refuses to turn on or show anything on the monitor.
I tried putting the ram in one stick at a time and in different slots,
but it made no difference. I hooked up the hard drives to another
computer but they seem fine and I can read and copy stuff.

Can anyone please advise on which components may be causing this?
The motherboard? The ram? The cpu? The graphics card? The psu? Something
else?
I do not have a second computer to try swapping components around to see
which work.
Thanks for any advice.
It could just be the monitor. Does your monitor show anything when you
disconnect it from the computer? My Dell monitor shows a test pattern.
 
C

Chuck Anderson

Surfer said:
I was away for a month and left my computer off and after I returned,
it worked fine for a few days and then I got a series of blue screen
crashes. Then it failed to even turn on.
You can see a power led lit on the motherboard before it is turned on
but when I turn it on it won't show anything on the monitor, it makes
no beeping sounds at all, and after a little while, it seems to
restart itself and try again but I get nothing at all on the monitor
and it won't go into the bios setup or anything.
I took it apart, cleaned everything and reseated the ram and all
connections, but it refuses to turn on or show anything on the monitor.
I tried putting the ram in one stick at a time and in different slots,
but it made no difference. I hooked up the hard drives to another
computer but they seem fine and I can read and copy stuff.

Can anyone please advise on which components may be causing this?
The motherboard? The ram? The cpu? The graphics card? The psu?
Something else?
I do not have a second computer to try swapping components around to
see which work.
Thanks for any advice.
I stumbled into a simple cause (and cure) for a similar issue once.

A few years back my daughter's aging FrankenPC became unbootable. It
would never finish booting. Since she lived within walking distance of a
Fry's (giant electronics outlet), after doing what I could do at her
home (like swapping RAM), I bought a replacement power supply. But, no
difference. I took the power supply back and got a new mother board and
CPU. The new motherboard and CPU seemed to fix the problem ..... until I
plugged the reset switch into the mother board. Then it began to to do
the same thing. So .... I put the old motherboard back and left the
reset switch unplugged. Voila! I had repaired her computer. I was even
able to return the mother board and CPU (Fry's liberal return policy),
so I spent $0.

I wish I would have thought of that first. Unplug the reset switch. It's
simple enough that it's worth a try.

The reset switch (part of the case) had failed (how does that happen?).
Who needs a reset switch anyway? That PC has been running fine for the 5
years since then.

--
*****************************
Chuck Anderson • Boulder, CO
http://cycletourist.com
Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop In
*****************************
 
S

Surfer Joe

Thanks for all of the help.
It seems to be a ram module.
I did a clear cmos and then tried each of the ram modules in different
configurations. One stick did nothing when I tried it in each of the
slots but then when I used the other stick alone, the monitor came on
and the computer was already in the bios screeen. I tried the same
module in the other slot and it also booted up.
I have not tried to see if the first ram stick now also works again, and
maybe it was a cmos problem, or if the stick continues not to work.
When I was first getting the crashes yesterday, it was after I told the
bootup screen to perform its diagnostics that the computer stopped
responding completely. Maybe that affected the cmos and clearing it
 
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F

Fokke Nauta

Thanks for all of the help.
It seems to be a ram module.
I did a clear cmos and then tried each of the ram modules in different
configurations. One stick did nothing when I tried it in each of the
slots but then when I used the other stick alone, the monitor came on
and the computer was already in the bios screeen. I tried the same
module in the other slot and it also booted up.
I have not tried to see if the first ram stick now also works again, and
maybe it was a cmos problem, or if the stick continues not to work.
When I was first getting the crashes yesterday, it was after I told the
bootup screen to perform its diagnostics that the computer stopped
responding completely. Maybe that affected the cmos and clearing it
<cut>

Thanks for the update. I guessed it was the power supply.

Fokke
 
F

Fokke Nauta

I stumbled into a simple cause (and cure) for a similar issue once.

A few years back my daughter's aging FrankenPC became unbootable. It
would never finish booting. Since she lived within walking distance of a
Fry's (giant electronics outlet), after doing what I could do at her
home (like swapping RAM), I bought a replacement power supply. But, no
difference. I took the power supply back and got a new mother board and
CPU. The new motherboard and CPU seemed to fix the problem ..... until I
plugged the reset switch into the mother board. Then it began to to do
the same thing. So .... I put the old motherboard back and left the
reset switch unplugged. Voila! I had repaired her computer. I was even
able to return the mother board and CPU (Fry's liberal return policy),
so I spent $0.

I wish I would have thought of that first. Unplug the reset switch. It's
simple enough that it's worth a try.

The reset switch (part of the case) had failed (how does that happen?).
Who needs a reset switch anyway? That PC has been running fine for the 5
years since then.
Even with W7 the reset switch is useful, unfortunately.
Every now and then the system hangs.

Fokke
 
P

philo 

Thanks for all of the help.
It seems to be a ram module.
I did a clear cmos and then tried each of the ram modules in different
configurations. One stick did nothing when I tried it in each of the
slots but then when I used the other stick alone, the monitor came on
and the computer was already in the bios screeen. I tried the same
module in the other slot and it also booted up.
I have not tried to see if the first ram stick now also works again, and
maybe it was a cmos problem, or if the stick continues not to work.
When I was first getting the crashes yesterday, it was after I told the
bootup screen to perform its diagnostics that the computer stopped
responding completely. Maybe that affected the cmos and clearing it

O

Huh?


In your first post you said you tried one RAM stick at a time,
so now you seem to have changed your story.
 
B

Buffalo

"philo " wrote in message news:[email protected]
Huh?


In your first post you said you tried one RAM stick at a time,
so now you seem to have changed your story.
Actually he said he tried one stick of ram in different slots, I believe,
and not each ram stick. It was confusing since most of us figured the ram
was good. :)
He left out the info about what he did last, before the computer refused to
boot up.
Important info, if you want a correct diagnosis.
Anyways, it sounds like he is back up. :) :D
 
P

philo 

"

Actually he said he tried one stick of ram in different slots, I
believe, and not each ram stick. It was confusing since most of us
figured the ram was good. :)
He left out the info about what he did last, before the computer refused
to boot up.
Important info, if you want a correct diagnosis.
Anyways, it sounds like he is back up. :) :D

Here is an exact quote from his post:

"I tried putting the ram in one stick at a time and in different slots,
but it made no difference."


I interpreted that as meaning he tried /all/ sticks one at a time.

If so, the mobo may not function with only one stick of ram I'm guessing.

Anyway, I am glad he got it sorted out and the mobo is still good.
 
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B

Buffalo

"philo " wrote in message news:[email protected]
Here is an exact quote from his post:

"I tried putting the ram in one stick at a time and in different slots, but
it made no difference."


I interpreted that as meaning he tried /all/ sticks one at a time.

If so, the mobo may not function with only one stick of ram I'm guessing.

Anyway, I am glad he got it sorted out and the mobo is still good.
That is correct. It sure sounded like he meant he tried 'each' stick of ram
in each slot by itself.
Hell, he never even mentioned about running a 'diagnostic' immediately
before the computer stop booting up.
I'm also glad he got it going. :)
 
P

Paul

Surfer said:
Thanks for all of the help.
It seems to be a ram module.
I did a clear cmos and then tried each of the ram modules in different
configurations. One stick did nothing when I tried it in each of the
slots but then when I used the other stick alone, the monitor came on
and the computer was already in the bios screeen. I tried the same
module in the other slot and it also booted up.
I have not tried to see if the first ram stick now also works again, and
maybe it was a cmos problem, or if the stick continues not to work.
When I was first getting the crashes yesterday, it was after I told the
bootup screen to perform its diagnostics that the computer stopped
responding completely. Maybe that affected the cmos and clearing it
OK, you've changed your story.

And there are still some lessons to be learned here.
Lessons I've learned, the hard way.

When you say you tested RAM, that means testing one stick
at a time, and testing *each* stick that way. If you own
two sticks of RAM, and have a four slot motherboard, that's
a total of *eight* tests. Only then, could you make a claim
of having done a complete job.

Now, while we've covered the easy case, of testing with one
stick, it is also possible to test with two sticks. It goes
as follows.

If your motherboard is dual channel, it is wired like this.

| |
stick 1 stick 3
| }
stick 2 stick 4

That illustrates the two channels. Stick 1 and 2 share
a lot of signals in parallel, but share little with
Stick 3 and 4.

Normally, for performance reasons, you'd put a stick in
the #1 slot and the #3 slot. In other words, one stick per
channel. That's called dual channel mode.

When you install the two sticks in dual channel mode, it doubles
the bandwidth. The controller alternates from side to side,
as it goes up through the address space.

But, now, let's consider a fault case. And this one happened to
me, on my Nforce2 motherboard.

Say one entire chip fails on one of the modules.

If the sticks are installed in #1 and #3, the interleaved
access pattern hits the defective chip, every eight addresses
(or so). Due to the interleaving being done, the "defect" is
spread far and wide. The BIOS has no "safe place" to work,
since now, the bad RAM is mixed all through the address space.
That's the disadvantage of interleaving.

Now, say for testing purposes, we move the sticks around.
And install them in single channel mode (#1 and #2).

| |
stick 1 (empty)
| }
stick 2 (empty)

Now, what happens is, OK, one module is bad. But the "Badness"
either affects high memory or low memory. The badness isn't
spread through the address space. Only the top or the bottom
part of memory, is now bad.

If you swap the modules and put the "badness" in low memory, the
BIOS cannot start.

If you swap the modules around again, the badness moves to high
memory, the BIOS gets good memory to work with in the low memory
region, and the BIOS will start. In fact, you can also boot a
copy of memtest86+ that way, and do memory testing, and discover
the entire bad chip on the second module.

That's how I diagnosed a failure to start on my NForce2. A stick
of Crucial Ballistix failed, causing the machine not to start.
By moving the sticks to single channel mode, and doing two tests
(swapping the two sticks, so they change from low memory to
high memory), I was able to isolate a test case where
memtest86+ would run.

The reason I wanted that to work, is it was able to tell me what
happened. An entire chip on the second module, couldn't
remember anything, and was just giving back random data.
And it was only possible to make a working configuration
(for a memtest86+ run), by using single channel mode, and
ensuring good RAM appeared in low memory (for the BIOS to use).

Paul
 
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V

VanguardLH

Buffalo said:
"philo " wrote in message news:[email protected]

Actually he said he tried one stick of ram in different slots, I believe,
and not each ram stick. It was confusing since most of us figured the ram
was good. :)
He left out the info about what he did last, before the computer refused to
boot up.
Important info, if you want a correct diagnosis.
Anyways, it sounds like he is back up. :) :D
"one stick at a time" means he tried separately each of his *multiple*
modules for however many modules he has.

If he had 4 memory modules and 4 slots then "one stick at a time in
different slots" means:
- module #1 in slot #1.
- module #1 in slot #2.
- module #1 in slot #3.
- module #1 in slot #4.
- module #2 in slot #1.
- module #2 in slot #2.
- module #2 in slot #3.
- module #2 in slot #4.
- module #3 in slot #1.
- module #3 in slot #2.
- module #3 in slot #3.
- module #3 in slot #4.
- module #4 in slot #1.
- module #4 in slot #2.
- module #4 in slot #3.
- module #4 in slot #4.

That's all the permutations possible. He did a CMOS clear (which
probably set the BIOS to use the SPD of the memory modules). One
module inserted by itself failed regardless of which slot it was was
used. Another module worked. So he has a memory module that went bad
(since he implies but doesn't really state that his computer was
working before his month long absence).
 

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