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Homebuilt PC now not booting

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June 8, 2013 3:53:06 PM


Guys - I'm hoping someone can help me troubleshoot my son's desktop. It was self built in 2009 with the following spec. I got the original spec from this site so I thought it would a good place to get help. If this is in the wrong category please let me know:

Case: Cooler Master Centurion 5
Motherboard: NVidia Geforce 6100 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 512MB PCIe
Power Supply: 400CX 400W Corsair
Processor: AMD Phenom 8650 2.3Ghz
RAM: G.Skill 4GB (2x2GB)
Hard Drive: Western WD640 SATA
OS: Windows XP

It's just stopped working. After pressing the 'on' switch, the computer lights up, whirrs a bit, the CD light flashes, the monitor starts up, the lights on the keyboard flash but after a few seconds it just dies.

Can anyone help me start to figure this out?

Many thanks

More about : homebuilt booting

June 8, 2013 4:01:12 PM

Is a speaker plugged in? Any beeps?
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June 8, 2013 4:02:45 PM

actually no, I moved the system to my office and didn't move the speakers. Would beeps give us some clue/s? If you think so I'll hook them up
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June 8, 2013 4:17:01 PM

Does anything come up on the monitor at all?

Normally when a computer boots up there are a sequence of beeps. The sequence lets you know how far into the boot cycle the computer got before something went wrong. This sequence is usually included in the troubleshooting section of the manual that came with the motherboard. Do you have the specific make and model of motherboard. Nvidia is the chip manufacturer but the board itself will be by another manufacturer. If you don't have the manual you can download it from the web.

How many seconds does the sequence above take?

Does the computer start up and completely shut down on its own? If it does the likely culprit will be the power supply or motherboard and based on my own experiences I would strongly suspect the latter. The only real way to test it would be to swap the power supply or take it to a shop that has the ability to run a test on it. I have experienced the symptoms you are describing both from both dying power supplies and dying motherboards. Usually when a power supply dies it will reach a point where pressing the start button does nothing but Corsair build decent power supplies.




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June 8, 2013 4:52:03 PM

I connected speakers and there is no sound at all bar the gentle whirring of 3 fans.

The motherboard is ECS GeForce6100PM-M2.

The sequence normally take 3-4 seconds. The monitor displays nothing, though one time it did start with the normal loading up screen but then the system stopped and the screen went blank again. And just now it booted all the way to the log in screen and then shut off.

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June 8, 2013 5:45:50 PM

Update -- the computer now will remain on but won't boot. It gets to the Windows XP screen and the blue line constantly moves from left to right but it won't boot up. Do you think I should just go ahead and replace the power supply?
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June 8, 2013 6:57:45 PM

You need either the PC case built in speaker or a small (coin sized) speaker attached directly to the motherboard pinouts. Not an external speaker. If the case does not have one built in then go to a PC shop and pick one up or scavenge one from and old PC case. This style of speaker only emits beeps during PC startup or simple beeps during PC / Operating System duties. Get one and report back on the results.
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June 15, 2013 4:21:08 PM

Here's an up date, I bought a new PSU, hooked it up and it's exactly the same. I'd had advice that it may be a worn out graphics card so we disconnected the monitor and attached a different monitor to the video out port on the motherboard and that had no signal at all.

Does that give any clues?
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June 15, 2013 6:24:02 PM

If you pull the ram and video card and get no CMOS beep codes your looking at a mb or CPU failure. If yes, try booting with one RAM stick at a time.
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June 16, 2013 2:32:06 PM

ok I removed the video card and tried again, the monitor worked through the onboard video. But the result was the same, fans spinning but no booting.

So far I know it wasn't the power supply or the video card. I'm going to hook up an internal speaker and see if there any beeps that may help me figure out the faulty part.
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June 19, 2013 5:35:53 AM

When a computer boots up it starts in what is called the BIOS - some writing will appear on the screen. After that the operating system will start. Are you getting the bios text on the screen - if you are not getting this then either the memory or motherboard are damaged. To check the memory do as suggested above - put in one stick at a time and see if it makes any difference. If not then its the motherboard (and possibly other things too) If you are getting the bios text on the screen the issue could be the connection to the hard drive. check the hard drive is spinning (put you hand on it - you can usually feel the vibration when its running or even hear it). If that does not work I strongly suspect the motherboard has failed. What remains to be seen is how many other things got damaged when the motherboard failed. What may have happened is the power supply failed and took the motherboard with it. If you replace components above all you need good quality power supply.
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June 22, 2013 12:23:22 PM

The saga continues:

I plugged in an internal speaker (actually there was a wire already connected to the motherboard but it seemed not to be working). When I tried to start the computer the there were no beeps. The text appeared asking if I wanted to start windows in safe mode or normally or with command prompt etc. Whatever choice I made it went to the windows loading screen and just hung there. There were no beeps from the new internal speaker.

I then removed all RAM and on powering up there was a long beep (20 secs) a one second gap and another long beep (continuous I believe). Inserting a RAM stick returned the computer to the original problem operation (fans spinning but not booting).

AS to the hard drive, I don't feel anything but it's getting warm

Does that tell me anything?

Thanks
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June 22, 2013 1:07:21 PM

Hi Spiny!

I know you've probably done most of the steps in this checklist, but there might be a few tips that could help.
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June 25, 2013 7:08:11 PM

Hi - yes it tells quite a lot and its good news - the boot sequence is at least getting through the BIOS boot up and making it to the windows start screen which means that the motherboard and CPU are good. The problem you are encounterning is starting to sound a lot like what I have experienced when I overclocked my RAM too much.

What you need to do is test the RAM a stick at a time to check it is ok. If you remove the RAM completely the computer will not start up and will do exactly what you are describing. The computer needs RAM installed to work properly. What you need to do is start the computer with one stick of RAM only and test the boot sequence with each stick to see how it behaves. The motherboard manual will advise which RAM slot you should use when using only one stick of RAM. Try booting with each stick of RAM installed separately. If it makes it to the windows boot screen in both cases then your RAM has at least not completely failed but if it hangs at the windows boot screen let me know. If it completely boots up with one stick of RAM but not the other then your problem is with the RAM and you simply need to replace it. Based on what you are reporting it would seem that it is either the RAM or the hard drive that is faulty. Good Luck
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June 25, 2013 8:20:35 PM

this is great, thanks so much, I can't wait to try this. I'll report back. Thanks
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June 25, 2013 8:44:06 PM

I tried this and achieved the following result.

I tried each stick individually in each slot, and then both sticks together. The result was the same. Exactly as before. The text appears on screen the boot process seems to start but then the computer just stops.

Hard drive?
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June 26, 2013 7:37:12 PM

Everything is pointing to a problem with the hard drive - probably the sectors that contain the windows system start information have been corrupted. You could take the hard drive to a store and have them run a test on it although they'll probably charge you $30 to test it so better just to buy a new hard drive. You will need your system restore disk to install the operating system on the new hard drive. fyi I once built a brand new computer that was having all kinds of issues starting windows. I kept re-installing the Operating System to try and get it to work but it wouldn't or at least booting up was very irratic. I finally concluded that it was the hard drive and lo and behold the test at the shop verified my suspicions - and that was a new straight from the packet hard drive!

All this being said, if there is some type of problem with the RAM you would get similar issues. The reason I say this is because I have DDR2-1066 RAM in my PC BUT I have had issues if I try and run it at that speed (which may be due to compatibility with the motherboard). The issues I was having are exactly as you are describing . . . . basically windows would not boot reliably. when I backed the speed down to DDR-800 everything worked fine but you are presumably working with a shop bought computer rather than a home build so the manufacturer would have used compatible components . . . . . therefore 90% likely the hard drive BUT if not then it will be the RAM.


Although again . . . I had no issues running DDR2-1066 with Windows XP64 . . . only had problems when I switched to Windows 7. Life is fun :) 
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June 26, 2013 7:47:53 PM

thanks guys, I've ordered an new hard drive and will report back
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June 27, 2013 8:49:16 PM

I bought the hard drive recommended and installed it tonight. The system went through bios and booted from the Windows XP disc. The drive formatted and then began installing windows. But then the computer shut down part-way through installation.

Any ideas?
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June 27, 2013 8:54:42 PM

I tried it again and it got as far as the XP serial numbers, entering dates and times, and language, then shut off again
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June 29, 2013 3:02:54 PM

success, I ordered the motherboard from Amazon and the computer is now up and running. I'm setting up Windows, as I type. Thanks for all your help guys. I know we went a little round the hills on this one but it was fun :(  I guess the psu needed to be replaced anyway, based on all the remarks you guys made. The original hard drive is ok so I reinstalled it and I'm keeping the new one for my own computer since I believe the disc in that is struggling a bit.

So a good result in the end, thanks again Stevemeister, ur6beersaway, scragnoff and traildriver.
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July 3, 2013 2:50:11 PM

Glad you were finally able to fix it . . . as you can see it can sometimes be a bit of a game to try and figure out what is wrong. Looks like the MB was not completely toast but something had been damaged to the point it was not booting properly. A good new PSU - Seasonic / Corsair are good. I have used PC Power and Cooling PSU's in 3 computers but if I were building a computer today I would use Seasonic. A good PSU will last many many years.
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December 3, 2013 3:59:02 PM

I fear I have to start this whole thing over again. The computer has worked fine until last night. It suddenly just shut down. On pressing the on button the fans whir for a few seconds, a couple of lights come on and it shuts down. It's the same procedure as 6 months ago and at that stage I replaced the following parts:

motherboard
psu

I opened it up and checked connections to everything, all was secure. My son took the front off the case to check the connections to the front power switch and when i replaced the front, the computer powered up, but we lost the monitor. It wasn't finding any signal. My son needed some projects for college so we removed the HD and instaled it in my PC so the hard drive works.

Does anyone have ideas?
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December 3, 2013 5:08:26 PM

Most of the time on & off is a shorted motherboard (back) to the case or a pinched cable.
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December 24, 2013 4:53:52 PM

You are not having much luck - it could be the motherboard again. I've had new from the box MB's that are DOA and others fail after a few months. I've also had PSU's fail, new hard drives that are duff and RAM that is defective - all of which were bought new. As I think you have discovered there can be a lot of trail and error involved in troubleshooting and its harder to diagnose when the fault may be intermittent but given you have replaced most items I would suspect the MB. The fact that you are getting power to the fans and then a shutdown leads me to think the PSU is okay plus you replaced it not that long ago . . . my experience of PSU issues has been that if it is dead the computer won't start at all.
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