When it rains it pours…

First the PC I recently built for my parents starts acting up and is in a state at the moment where it won’t boot. Not only is that frustrating seeing as I’m working for the next 11 days straight so I can’t go up and see what the problem is, but it’s downright embarrassing considering they’ve only had the thing a month or so. Then I help my sister-in-law’s boyfriend with a new motherboard he bought that wouldn’t post, which turned out to be a faulty power supply that was actually electrifying his whole PC case (why are my finger’s tingling??). Then the McCormick family, Courtney’s relatives from her mother’s side, ask if I can take a look at a couple of their PCs when I picked her up from her Memorial Weekend stay with them so I brought one of them home to tinker with. Then in the middle of restaging Anne’s PC to correct some quirks it’s developed it suddenly decides to die and not want to boot up properly any longer.

Then I get sick and spend a good portion of my time in bed.

Ugh. I have no idea what the heck is wrong with my parent’s PC, but I’m hoping it’s just a BIOS tweak or something else simple. I haven’t had a chance to peek at the McCormick’s PC yet, but I hope to get to it this weekend when I’m feeling a bit better. Anne’s PC is either the processor, video card, motherboard, or power supply, I think. Turning it on results in the fans and drives spinning up, but no video initialization and no boot up. A couple of tries, however, will sometimes garner a beep and a BIOS message stating it was shut down incorrectly and the CPU frequency needs to be reset in the BIOS, but just a few minutes of running will cause it to shut off suddenly once again. It did that three or so times before it simply refused to post at all. I get no beeps from the motherboard at all when it’s in this state. I’m inclined to think it’s the processor cause I’ve tested another video card in it, but it could also be a slowly dieing power supply as systems won’t boot if they’re not getting enough juice and I just fixed such an issue with the aforementioned sister-in-law’s S/O’s PC.

So I’m going to try hooking up the power supply in my PC to Anne’s motherboard and see what happens. If it boots like it should then I know we need to replace that part and if it doesn’t then I’m going to go with it being the processor. Trouble is it’s an older Socket A AMD motherboard and finding Socket A processors these days is tricky. I have an old Duron or two laying around that I can also use as a test to be sure and then if that’s what it is I’ll have to hunt down someone still selling Socket A processors. I think the local Microcenter store has at least one model still in stock so that’s one possible solution.

A PC tech’s work is never done…

17 thoughts on “When it rains it pours…

  1. i had the same problem as anne’s, i tried upgrading my processor, after i seated the new one, it turned on for a few seconds, and shut off, no beeps, no nothing..  tried using my old processor again, and the same thing happened, now i’m stuck without a pc… if you figure it out, make sure to post an update to the problem hahaha.

  2. I hear that, Les. The bitchy thing about PSUs is that they manifest as a plethora of other problems. My CD and DVD drives stopped being able to spin at certain speeds (drive>>motherboard>>power supply), some of my USB ports started to fail to recognize devices, and I had a lot of program crashes with certain games in Windows.

    Then one day, it wouldn’t boot anymore. If I hadn’t been reading the relevant chapters of the A+ manual a week before, I would have hit everything else first. As it stands, PSUs seem to fail with much more regularity than companies let off.

  3. A suggestion if it comes down to the processor is pricewatch.com, they usually have everything that I’m looking for no matter how old.

  4. I wonder why PSUs don’t have fault indicators. I wouldn’t think that it’d be too hard to put a led in the back that lights when the PSU hits current limiters or has some other fault.

  5. I just finished diagnosing a pc that wouldn’t power up, nothing at all, no beep codes, lights, nada. I tried a new PSU and still nothing, but I did get a power to MB light with the new supply but didn’t with the old. Turns out when the power supply went south it somehow managed to damage the MB as well. It’s an Emachine and from my experience these units use el cheapo PSU’s which can over supply the MB when gasping their last. Another thing that could be your issue is heat since it will run for a bit but eventually quit. Just a thought.

  6. Patness is right on the money. I had a power supply that managed to wreck two mobos and a video card before I realized what was really happening…

    Those damn PSUs will break your other stuff and confuse the hell out of you when you try to figure out what exactly is broken.

    But the thing I hate most about PSU problems is that they are one of the few computer problems that are intermittent. Most computer problems will happen everytime the same exact way in a repeatable and observable pattern, but nooo, not with the PSU before the real damage is done you’ll get random non-repeatable problems ranging from memory corruption, drives not working, drives crashing, video cards crashing and the list goes on and on.

  7. Y’know, I never stopped to realize this, but you’re asking for a Socket A chip? I don’t know how good my old one would be (I’m assuming it’s my motherboard that finally failed last week); it’s an A-XP 2600+ (Barton).

    I don’t have any particular place to get rid of it (or my Radeon X800 pro AGP). Let me know if you’d like it.

  8. Did your parents give you any idea of what is wrong.  Like is it powering up and just not finding the os, or is it worse than that?

  9. I have an old Duron I think it’s only a 660, but it worked last time I used it.

  10. I’m afraid I have nothing worthwhile to add other than, have you tried a hammer?
    I’m a great believer in the value of shock therapy.

    The added value of having a [an?] hammer close by is that completely destroying something with a hammer, especially something with a perverted sense of humour such as … let’s say a computer, is a great way to relieve stress.
    Just my 21 oz worth.

  11. Well I’m highly annoyed. I was pretty sure Anne’s problem was the CPU after some testing so I tracked down an Athlon 2300+ CPU at a local computer store in their bargain bin and plunked down $40 for it. Got home and put it in and turned the machine on and it ran fine for awhile and the suddenly shut down for no apparent reason.

    That left the power supply or the motherboard so I swapped out the PS with a replacement and turned it on and it wasn’t long before it did it again.

    So I’m down to the MB at this point though I suppose it’s possible it could be the RAM, but it doesn’t feel like a RAM issue.

    At this point, unless I get suddenly inspired in some way, I’ll probably just have to wait until I can afford to build Anne a new PC as this one seems to be kaput. At a minimum I’d need to buy a new MB, processor, RAM, and video card. Her old HD and optical drives should be more than sufficient for now and the case is still good. I’ve not sat down to figure out how much that would take, but it’ll be awhile before we can afford to do that as we’re just scraping by with the job transition at the moment.

  12. Try running a live cd. Ubuntu and fedora have open source downloads. If you run one of these you can do a full system test.

  13. Try switching out memory. A bad stick of memory can cause random reboots. Not always after the same amount of time either.

  14. Les: Newegg has a combo deal for an AMD Athlon 3400+  2.2 GHz 90nm Venice core Socket 939 cpu + a Foxconn 6150K8MC-KRSHN2 Micro-ATX board (nVidia 6150 chipset) for $69.99 after $20.00 mail-in rebate.

    Update: I checked the link to the motherboard to check the specs for what RAM it would require, and it takes DDR 400.

    Low-and-behold, they have yet another combo deal, offering the aforementioned CPU + Motherboard + 1 GB stick of Crucial DDR 400 184-Pin RAM for $119.98.

    See the pages here for details:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813186115

    http://promotions.newegg.com/AMD/939pin/index.html

    Seems to me to be a pretty good deal if you are looking for something inexpensive but workable.

    Just to let you know: It’s the cpu socket (either the contacts melted or something) in the motherboard that fried. Happened to me with a Biostar board. Same exact symptoms. Got a different board, voila, works perfectly.

  15. Bill, Macs aren’t an option. Too much money and not enough games.

    Timmeh, no blue screens at all. It just shuts off as if you had flipped the switch on the PSU.

    Kit, I’ll be double checking the RAM though I would expect a bad stick to cause blue screens rather than shut downs.

    Jynxed, money’s too tight even for that at the moment. We had to transfer some of our savings over to cover the transition from the Meijers job to the new job as it is. With any luck Anne’ll be working soon and then we’ll probably be able to do something.

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