Please help diagnose my computer problems

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Hi guys

My computer was fully functional until one day all the problems
started. When I push the power button, all the fans start spinning
(video card, processor, motherboard, etc.) but nothing is booting. All
the hardware gets power power but for whatever reason nothing happens.
The screen remains blank and the HD is not booting. I tried using my
HD in another computer and it was working perfectly fine so I'm sure
its not the HD. Could it be my Motherboard? I understand that the PSU
is a common problem after doing some research but all the fans are
spinning and all hardware is getting power.. Please provide me with
whatever feedback.
Thanks in advance guys!!

Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems wrote:
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Checking the battery might help -

Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems

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I replaced the battery as well and symptoms are still the same

Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems

On Jun 25, 1:44 am, wrote:
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So you fixed something that was not broken.  It underlines that you
violated how problems are solved - "Follow the evidence".

  Your power supply 'system' could have always been defective.  A
defective power supply can still boot a computer. Today it just got a
little more defective.  A power 'system' can spin fans and light
lights - and still be defective.

  What would have detected a defect maybe months ago?  Same thing that
will elicit useful replies here - the numbers.  Best start with a 3.5
digit multimeter (a tool so ubiquitous as to be sold even in Kmart).
For example, was the battery defective?  Without removing it, battery
was measured with a meter.  Well, a defective battery replaced with a
new one could have left other problems.  But now we don't know.  You
replaced an unknown battery with a new (and also unknown) battery.
Always collect facts before replacing things.

  Moving on, a meter must measure critical voltages on any one of
orange, red, purple, and yellow wires from power supply.  Also
summarized in:
Currently your entire power supply 'system' (yes a 'system' is more
than just a power supply) is unknown.  Unknown means nothing has been
accomplished.  Accomplishment starts when the 'system' is either
'definitively good' or 'definitively defective'.  Only then has
something useful been accomplished.  And only then can those who have
extensive knowledge reply with something more than speculation.

  You replaced at battery only on speculation.  Does a legacy defect
from a defective battery remain?  By not measuring the battery before
replacing it, we don't know.  Shotgunning - replacing parts using
speculation - is not how things get fixed quickly, the first time, and
for less money.  Use the meter.  Numbers are necessary to elicit
replies from those who actually know this stuff; to obtain an answer
that fixes it the first time.  Did you know about other components in
the power supplysystem=92?  Again, only some know this stuff.  Others
will just swap parts (ie battery, power supply, motherboard, memory,
etc) until it appears to work - shotgunning.  Shotgunning is a
complete opposite of "follow the evidence".

  Minimal hardware test (and resulting beep codes) are performed AFTER
critical data is collected.  If your problem is a power supply system,
meter will identify it quickly.  Minimal hardware test will not detect
that problem AND can cause a defective power supply to suddenly boot
the system.  So was it the removed hardware - or the defective
supply?  Before removing anything, always first collect facts -
especially the numbers.

Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems

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Wow guys tank you for all the input. I will take your advice and buy
the digit multimeter before i start buying random parts.
I will post the all the numbers as soon as I come back from the store
tonight and do the tests. Again thank you everyone for the detailed

Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems wrote:
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The general way to diagnose this problem...

First, reduce the system to the simplest state:
    a) A video card, or onboard video if you have it
    b) Minimum amount of memory that is a legitimate
       configuration for your mainboard
    c) A hard drive or optical drive
    d) keyboard + mouse
    e) a monitor
    f) No other cards, USB devices, hard drives,
       optical drives, tape drives, etc.

While you're doing this, make an inspection of your mainboard.  Are
there obvious failures in any of the components?  Are any capacitors
domed or vented?

If the problem goes away, add bits in, one at a time, until you find the

If the problem is still in your minimum system, start replacing elements
with known good versions, or verify them in another system.  This not
only includes power supplies, ram and video cards, but also cables.

If you still can't find the problem, then you can start to suspect the
mainboard or the processor.  (Probably the mainboard.)

Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems wrote:
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One thing I'd add, to the "minimal hardware configuration" testing,
is doing "beep tests".

The computer may have a computer case speaker or a piezoelectric buzzer
mounted on the motherboard. For modern boards, the scheme would be, in
the event of hardware trouble, the CPU "beeps" the speaker, with an
error code, according to what is wrong.

For the CPU to beep the speaker, the CPU executes some BIOS code,
and uses the speaker interface, somewhere on the chipset or SuperIO
chip. In fact, beeping proves that a large amount of stuff on the
motherboard is working.

Two things the motherboard really needs, is a video card and the sticks
of RAM. It will beep a different code when each one is missing. So
if you stripped the machine down to motherboard, CPU + cooling fan, power
supply, computer case and speaker, power supply, that would be a very
minimal configuration, suitable for beeping the speaker. If you hear the speaker
beep, then the CPU still works, and power is probably OK.

A complete lack of beeps, after doing the test, means the CPU was not
able to execute code. Since CPUs seldom fail, if you're getting no beeps,
it might be the motherboard.

If you'd mentioned more details about the hardware (computer make/model or
motherboard make/model), some of the variations in the above test
procedure, could have been taken into account.

A stuck reset switch can also silence the computer. So take careful note
of where it plugs in, then disconnect it, and see if the symptoms remain.
Some switches are so cheap, that they can fail in the ON or the OFF position.


Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems wrote:

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Sometimes I have the same problem when a USB device is on at boot time. For
example if I forget to shut down a USB printer when I shut down the computer and
go home. Next morning when I come back and turn the PC on I get a blank screen.
Turning of the printer and rebooting solves the problem.

Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems

On Tue, 24 Jun 2008 22:23:40 -0700, xsean415 thoughfully wrote:

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The last time that happened it was the power supply.  Lights fans but no
action.  It's was running, you replaced the battery that leaves the
video, memory or psu.   It's very rare the cpu fails on a running
machine.  If it was the hd your machine would show the bios screens
before booting.

Video is easy to test. Minimal means no hard drives, but basically if you
remove the video card and you don't get any beeps its not the video.  A
better test is to try booting with another working video card.   Same
applies for memory, if you have alternate trying just one.  

I don't know any quick and dirty to test the psu. So, you need to rule
out everything until you can boot.

Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems

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When I do boot the computer, I do get 1 beep which is normal I
presume. When I take out the videocard and power the PC, I get a long
beep, and the same goes when I take out the memory. Unfort. the store
I went to did not have a digit multimeter so I will be going to a
radioshack tonight after work to buy one....

I dont know if this could cause any problems but I used compressed air
to dust out all the gunk in the video card fan....could that have
caused a faulty video card?

Below are the specs of my PC

DFI LANPARTY UT nF4 Ultra-D 939 NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra ATX AMD
Motherboard - Retail
A-DATA 1GB 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Desktop Memory Model
ADBGC1A16 - Retail
EVGA 256-P2-N624-AR GeForce 7900GS 256MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16
SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
Thermaltake TR2 W0070RUC 430W ATX Power Supply - Retail
AMD Opteron 170 Denmark 2.0GHz Socket 939 110W Dual-Core Processor
Model OSA170CDBOX - Retail

Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems wrote:
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One beep is normal. Usually, for missing RAM or video, the pattern of
beeps would be more complicated, and the beep pattern would likely
repeat itself after a few seconds. Since you're getting beeps, some
of your computer is working.

I see a picture here. Is this the motherboard ?

More info here, including a manual.

If the board really has SLI jumpers, as shown in the pictures, you
could try setting the jumpers to SLI mode. That wires the
two video slots in x8 and x8 mode. After the jumpers have
been changed, try the video card in the Primary slot and
then try the Secondary slot, and see if the symptoms change.

If a lane is blown on the interface, changing to SLI mode
may work around the blown lane. That is why I'm suggesting
trying it that way.

When moving the jumpers, use antistatic precautions. That means
a ground strap on your wrist, with the strap fastened to a ground
point on the chassis of the computer case. The reason for this,
is I suspect the Nvidia PCI Express slots are a bit sensitive
to static, included static electricity that can be generated
with compressed air stirring up a dust storm. Since you could come
in contact with PCI Express lane wiring, while moving the jumpers,
I'd want to be static-free while doing the jumper move.

If there is no improvement, by using SLI mode jumpering, you could
find a PCI video card, and install that in a PCI slot, to gain access
to the computer, and be able to boot it. That is, if the problem is just a
blown PCI Express slot.

To keep W_Tom happy, yes, it could be that the power source you plug
into the PCI Express connector on the right hand side of the card,
is bad. You could check for 12V on there, or use another connector
and cable from the PSU if one is available. But since you were
using compressed air, near the video card, I'm thinking static
electricity is involved.


Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems

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Thank you so much Paul and yes, that is my motherboard. I will try
that out and hopefully I will have some visibility on whats going on.

Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems

Somewhere on teh intarweb "Paul" typed:
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I wouldn't use that PSU on anything requiring more power than a basic Barton
system with a GeForce 4:

"Our conclusion is pretty simple: don't buy this power supply."

DISCLAIMER: If you find a posting or message from me
offensive, inappropriate, or disruptive, please ignore it.
If you don't know how to ignore a posting, complain to
me and I will be only too happy to demonstrate... ;-)

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Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems

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  Why try and keep W_Tom happy, his half baked ideas presented
as if there is some special understanding that only he has, is an
established pattern of his.  I find it annoying even when he is
supporting a position I have taken.

  This idea that there is a Power Supply "System" and that you can't
or shouldn't consider the PSU (Power Supply Unit) as a discrete
component, for troubleshooting purposes; is pure bunk.  The average
user should never consider breaking down or attempting to work on
the parts that make up a PSU; or anything that W_Tom might be
calling the Power Supply System.

   I don't consider those with surface mount experience and/or training
to be the average user, even the average experienced user.  There are
those of us here with the equipment and training to replace the
occasional bad cap or burnt rectifier, but that is often as far as it goes.
What does W_Tom expect this OP to do if he were to isolate a
defective part in his "Power Supply System"?  For most users under
most conditions, it would mean replacing the PSU.


Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems

On Thu, 26 Jun 2008 20:40:01 -0500, "Ken Maltby"

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Regardless, more information is better than less.  It is
always up to the reader to assess how much they can or
choose to apply, and sometimes attempting easier things
first before resorting to the more involved resolution
attempts.  Further, the most inexperienced to average
experience users might be more apt to just take the PC to a
shop or replace it so we are dealing mostly with people
eager to learn more... and not only the person who posted
with an issue but for the benefit of future readers who may
have more or less ability.

Remember, we all have our own particular methodology in
troubleshooting.  No one way will catch every single problem
in the least number of steps, but it is good to have
different perspectives.

It's just hard to start a comprehensive troubleshooting
session when many people haven't gathered enough evidence,
don't have a multimeter, don't have spare parts or a
compatible system.  All we can do is throw out any and all
ideas possible and hope for a report back about what the
outcome was.

Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems

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Take a look at these pc troubleshooting flow charts:

Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems

On Jun 28, 6:30 am, "mememe"
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  Look at that chart for a power supply.  "Power Supply come On?"
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"Live Screen?"  No.  So the chart says "Proceed to video failure
chart'.  But that problem was a power supply that powers with
insufficient voltage.

 The OP posted:
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  According to that diagnostic procedure, the OP should be fixing a
video card.  Why?  Answers from that procedure were not definitive.
Therefore the OP  also would be fixing something that is not broken.

  Fixing something with only what is available is sometimes necessary.
Ever fix a car's  electronic ignition with nothing but a light bulb?
Been there.  However the meter is so ubiquitous and so inexpensive.
No reason exists to not have one.  How to nail wood together without a
hammer?  So much easier is to get a hammer.

  Without definitive answers, the diagnostic procedure would shotgun -
buy a new video card.  Then "Live with new video adaptor" would lead
to "Proceed to Motherboard Failure chart".  Eventually, the procedure
removes everything from the chassis, reseats memory and cables, swaps
a new CPU, then buys a new motherboard.  All because the very first
question did not have a definitive answer using a ubiquitous tool -
the 3.5 digit multimeter.

  Having shotgun a new video card, new CPU, and new motherboard; only
confusion remains.  Additional problems may have been created.  And
still have the original problem exists because the very first question
was not answered definitively in less than 30 seconds with numbers -
the 3.5 digit multimeter.

  Hostility by some against a tool as important as a screwdriver is
indicative of fear to learnhow to work smarter; not harder=92.   We
taught technicians how to solve this problem quickly with a meter 40
years ago.  40 years later and still so many despise smarter

  Shotgunning has its place when a car does not start and the only
tools are a light bulb, pliers, and screwdriver.  Shotgunning here is
unnecessary because the meter is so inexpensive, so ubiquitous, so
definitively informative, and a tool as useful as a hammer.

Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems

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 >> Having shotgun a new video card, new CPU, and new motherboard; only
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I understand entirely your reliance and promotion of this tool, but you
don't explain very well how to use it and you don't advise how one can
access the very precise numbers and procedures in order to use it
effectively. We are not all electricians ya know.

In the absence of this information and this tool, it is good enough to swap
in known good components and test the current components on a known good
system. The OP has already verified the basic function of the hard drive ,,
and this does point to a defective power supply or motherboard component. If
it's not the power supply I feel sorry for the OP as replacing a motherboard
is a pain in the neck, even if one can find a replacement .. these things
become obsolete and out of stock as soon as you get them home.

Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems

On Jun 29, 2:22=A0pm, "mememe"
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  Only professional carpenters can used hammers?    Far more
complicated - requires far more knowledge - is using a cell phone or
Ipod.  On the meter, select 20 VDC range (with power on).  Touch
probes to wire contacts.  Read numbers.  Using it was not explained
because it is that easy.

   That last post demonstrates why swapping parts also can lead to
confusion.  Swapping parts can also cause other failures.  Swapping
parts assumed the new part is known good.  Shotgunning is performed
when all else has failed or everything else has been eliminated
(therefore the last part must have failed).

  The meter is for people only smart enough to shop in Kmart - which
is why the meter is sold where hammers are also sold.  If a meter is
too complex, then one has no business even removing screws from the
computer.  Even that disk drive is more complex, easier to destroy and
more hazardous than a meter.   Meter is used by high school science
students. The meter discovers in seconds what shotgunning can only
hope to accomplish in minutes.

  As tjhat flow chart demonstrates, by replacing parts without
definitive answers, the repairman would have replaced most of the
computer and still not even know what the problem was.  That is also
what shotgunning does.  Meter should only be used by people who can
also use a hammer or who do junior high science.

Re: Please help diagnose my computer problems

I presume you are now going to point us to a comprehensive technical sheet
listing the expected voltages for the OPs computer. That would be more
useful than evangelising for a tool which we have not used before.

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