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PERFORM THESE STEPS before posting about POST/boot/no video problems!

Tags:
  • Product
  • Hardware Issue
  • Hardware
  • troubleshooting
  • Build
  • Systems
Last response: in Systems
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February 5, 2009 5:11:37 AM

shortstuff has kindly granted me permission to continue support of this thread.
jsc


"No POST", "system won't boot", and "no video output" troubleshooting checklist

This checklist is a compilation of troubleshooting ideas from many forum members. It's very important to actually perform every step in the checklist if you want to effectively troubleshoot your problem.


1.Did you carefully read the motherboard owners manual?

2. Did you plug in the 4/8-pin CPU power connector located near the CPU socket? If the motherboard has 8 pins and your PSU only has 4 pins, you can use the 4-pin connector. The 4-pin connector USUALLY goes on the 4 pins located closest to the CPU. If the motherboard has an 8-pin connector with a cover over 4 pins, you can remove the cover and use an 8-pin plug if your power supply has one. This power connector provides power to the CPU. Your system has no chance of posting without this connector plugged in! Check your motherboard owners manual for more information about the CPU power connector. The CPU power connector is usually referred to as the "12v ATX" connector in the owners manual. This is easily the most common new-builder mistake.





3.Did you install the standoffs under the motherboard? Did you place them so they all align with the screw holes in the motherboard, with no extra standoffs touching the board in the wrong place? A standoff installed in the wrong place can cause a short and prevent the system from booting.




4.Did you verify that the video card is fully seated? (may require more force than a new builder expects.)

5.Did you attach ALL the required power connector(s) to the video card? (some need two, some need none, many need one.) It is best to use cables connected directly to the PSU. Only use adapters if absolutely necessary.




6.Have you tried booting with just one stick of RAM installed? (Try each stick of RAM individually in each RAM slot.) If you can get the system to boot with a single stick of RAM, you should enable an XMP profile or manually set the RAM speed, timings, and voltage to the manufacturers specs in the BIOS before attempting to boot with all sticks of RAM installed. If your motherboard supports XMP profiles that is the best way to get your RAM running at its rated specs. Nearly all motherboards default to the standard RAM voltage (1.8v for DDR2 & 1.5v for DDR3). If your RAM is rated to run at a voltage higher than the standard voltage, the motherboard will underclock the RAM for compatibility reasons. If you want the system to be stable and to run the RAM at its rated specs, you should either enable an XMP profile or manually set the values in the BIOS. Many boards don't supply the RAM with enough voltage when using "auto" settings which causes stability issues.

7.Did you verify that all memory modules are fully inserted? (may require more force than a new builder expects.) It's a good idea to install the RAM on the motherboard before it's in the case.

8.Did you verify in the owners manual that you're using the correct RAM slots? Many Intel motherboards require RAM to be installed in the slots starting with the one further away from the CPU.

9.Did you remove the plastic guard over the CPU socket? (this actually comes up occasionally.)



10.Did you install the CPU correctly? There will be an arrow on the CPU that needs to line up with an arrow on the motherboard CPU socket. There may also be a notch that will only line up in one direction. Be sure to pay special attention to that section of the manual!




11.Are there any bent pins on the motherboard/CPU? This especially applies if you tried to install the CPU with the plastic cover on or with the CPU facing the wrong direction.



12. If using an after market CPU cooler, did you get any thermal paste on the motherboard, CPU socket, or CPU pins? Did you use the smallest amount you could? Here's a few links that may help:

Benchmark Reviews

Arctic Sliver

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffK7L0Qj13Q&feature=rela...

13.Is the CPU fan plugged in? Some motherboards will not boot without detecting that the CPU fan is plugged in to prevent burning up the CPU.



14. If using a stock cooler, was the thermal material on the base of the cooler free of foreign material, and did you remove any protective covering? If the stock cooler has push-pins, did you ensure that all four pins snapped securely into place? (The easiest way to install the push-pins is outside the case sitting on a non-conductive surface like the motherboard box. Read the instructions! The push-pins have to be turned the OPPOSITE direction as the arrows for installation.)




15. Are any loose screws laying on the motherboard, or jammed against it? Are there any wires run directly under the motherboard? You should not run wires under the motherboard since the soldered wires on the underside of the motherboard can cut into the insulation on the wires and cause a short. Some cases have space to run wires on the back side of the motherboard tray.

16.Did you ensure you discharged all static electricity before touching any of your components? Computer components are very sensitive to static electricity. It takes much less voltage than you can see or feel to damage components. You should implement some best practices to reduce the probability of damaging components. These practices should include either wearing an anti-static wrist strap or always touching a metal part of the case with the power supply installed and plugged in, but NOT turned on. You should avoid building or working on a computer on carpet. Working on a smooth surface is the best if at all possible. You should also keep fluffy the cat, children, and fido away from computer components.

17.Did you install the system speaker (if provided) so you can check beep-codes in the manual? A system speaker is NOT the same as normal speakers that plug into the back of the motherboard. A system speaker plugs into a header on the motherboard that's usually located near the front panel connectors. The system speaker is a critical component when trying to troubleshoot system problems. You are flying blind without a system speaker. If your case or motherboard didn't come with a system speaker you can buy one for cheap here: http://www.cwc-group.com/casp.html



18.Did you read the instructions in the manual on how to properly connect the front panel plugs? (Power switch, power led, reset switch, HD activity led) Polarity does not matter with the power and reset switches. If power or drive activity LED's do not come on, reverse the connections. For troubleshooting purposes, disconnect the reset switch. If it's shorted, the machine either will not POST at all, or it will endlessly reboot.




19.Did you turn on the power supply switch located on the back of the PSU? The switch should be depressed on the side with a I, the O means off. Is the power plug on a switch? If it is, is the switch turned on? Is there a GFI circuit on the plug-in? If there is, make sure it isn't tripped. You should also make sure the power cord isn't causing the problem. Try swapping it for a known good cord if you have one available.



20.Is your CPU supported by the BIOS revision installed on your motherboard? Most motherboards will post a CPU compatibility list on their website.

21.Have you tried resetting the CMOS? The motherboard manual will have instructions for your particular board.

http://www.spotht.com/2010/02/reset-bios-clear-cmos.htm...

22. If you have integrated video and a video card, try the integrated video port. Resetting the bios, can make it default back to the onboard video. If you are trying to use HDMI outputs, try using DVI or VGA instead. Sometimes the HDMI ports won't work until the correct drivers are installed.

23. Make certain all cables and components including RAM and expansion cards are tight within their sockets.


I also wanted to add some suggestions that jsc often posts. This is a direct quote from him:

"Pull everything except the CPU and HSF. Boot. You should hear a series of long single beeps indicating memory problems. Silence here indicates, in probable order, a bad PSU, motherboard, or CPU - or a bad installation where something is shorting and shutting down the PSU.

To eliminate the possiblility of a bad installation where something is shorting and shutting down the PSU, you will need to pull the motherboard out of the case and reassemble the components on an insulated surface. This is called "breadboarding" - from the 1920's homebrew radio days. I always breadboard a new or recycled build. It lets me test components before I go through the trouble of installing them in a case.

If you get the long beeps, add a stick of RAM. Boot. The beep pattern should change to one long and two or three short beeps. Silence indicates that the RAM is shorting out the PSU (very rare). Long single beeps indicates that the BIOS does not recognize the presence of the RAM.

If you get the one long and two or three short beeps, test the rest of the RAM. If good, install the video card and any needed power cables and plug in the monitor. If the video card is good, the system should successfully POST (one short beep, usually) and you will see the boot screen and messages.

Note - an inadequate PSU will cause a failure here or any step later.
Note - you do not need drives or a keyboard to successfully POST (generally a single short beep).

If you successfully POST, start plugging in the rest of the components, one at a time."


If you suspect the PSU is causing your problems, below are some suggestions by jsc for troubleshooting the PSU. Proceed with caution. I will not be held responsible if you get shocked or fry components.

"The best way to check the PSU is to swap it with a known good PSU of similar capacity. Brand new, out of the box, untested does not count as a known good PSU. PSU's, like all components, can be DOA.

Next best thing is to get (or borrow) a digital multimeter and check the PSU.

Yellow wires should be 12 volts. Red wires: +5 volts, orange wires: +3.3 volts, blue wire : -12 volts, violet wire: 5 volts always on. Tolerances are +/- 5% except for the -12 volts which is +/- 10%.

The gray wire is really important. It should go from 0 to +5 volts when you turn the PSU on with the case switch. CPU needs this signal to boot.

You can turn on the PSU by completely disconnecting the PSU and using a paperclip or jumper wire to short the green wire to one of the neighboring black wires.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FWXgQSokF4&feature=yout...

This checks the PSU under no load conditions, so it is not completely reliable. But if it can not pass this, it is dead. Then repeat the checks with the PSU plugged into the computer to put a load on the PSU. You can carefully probe the pins from the back of the main power connector."


Here's a link to jsc's breadboarding thread:

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/262730-31-breadboardi...


If you make it through the entire checklist without success, Proximon has put together another great thread with a few more ideas here:

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/264823-31-progess-tro...

More about : perform steps posting post boot video problems

February 5, 2009 5:17:42 AM

Should absolutely be a sticky. This will save people like us frustration from repeating ourselves over and over, and make us more willing to help folks out.
February 5, 2009 5:30:59 AM

Nice guide. Needs to be stickied for sure!
Related resources
February 5, 2009 5:34:17 AM

We are looking to refine it a bit before it gets stickied... get some more input from some of the people that help out alot with trouble posts.
February 5, 2009 1:38:07 PM

Good checklist. My additional comments:

Re #2 - I see a lot of questions about "My mobo has an 8 pin socket, but my PSU only has a 4 pin plug. Where does it go?" Ans. - The 4 pins closest to the CPU. Second answer - "RTFM".

Re #9 - might want to rethink this a little. It's good advice for most coolers, but I'm not certain it applies to coolers like the Xigmatek.

Re #7 and #11 - I alway recommend installing the CPU, HSF, and the RAM before installing the motherboard in the case. RAM sometimes takes a lot of force to install.

Re #14 - Some cases do not come with a system speaker (Antec 900's, for example).

Re #15 - Polarity does not matter with the power and reset switches. If power or drive activity LED's do not come on, reverse the connections.
February 5, 2009 4:29:27 PM

Updated the checklist.
February 5, 2009 7:20:49 PM

Might want to add on there if you think its the PSU or the Case's Power switch doing the paper clip and shorting the jumpers/ green wire to black? Common trick to trouble shoot items.
February 5, 2009 7:29:54 PM

I'm not so sure I buy the "paper clip" trick. That only tells you if the PSU is producing any power at all, it may be able to spin the fan, but not power a system. I don't want to be responsible for people frying their PSU's shorting out the wrong pins.
February 5, 2009 7:39:37 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
I'm not so sure I buy the "paper clip" trick. That only tells you if the PSU is producing any power at all, it may be able to spin the fan, but not power a system. I don't want to be responsible for people frying their PSU's shorting out the wrong pins.


... or frying their pacemakers :) 

It's really getting there now. If you think of someone that can contribute to this post, shoot them a PM :) 
February 5, 2009 8:32:44 PM

I agree with Proximon. The problem with the paper clip trick is that all it really proves is that the 12 volt output is capable of powering an extremely minimal load. It doesn't check the 3.3 or 5 volt lines. And it doesn't check the "PowerOK" control signal.
February 5, 2009 8:34:26 PM

jsc said:
I agree with Proximon. The problem with the paper clip trick is that all it really proves is that the 12 volt output is capable of powering an extremely minimal load. It doesn't check the 3.3 or 5 volt lines. And it doesn't check the "PowerOK" control signal.

I completely agree.
February 5, 2009 11:53:08 PM

+1 for making this a sticky. Great job guys!
February 6, 2009 3:46:26 PM

Another one that sorta piggy backs off of 16. I've ran into multiple cases where people are plugged into receptacle that is controlled by a switch (many states require you to have one because of building codes). What happens is the switch is turned off meaning no power is coming from the receptacle. Also make sure that if your plugged into a GFI (ground fault interrupter) receptacle, it hasn't been triggered. I've seen some people that are using some bigger psu's will trip the GFI because of the extra load.

In other words check the power outlet.

+1 for sticky!!
February 6, 2009 7:57:36 PM

Yeah good point. We have to remember that some people don't think of the obvious all the time.
February 6, 2009 8:03:22 PM

Speaking of which... Is the PSu plugged in to the wall? :) 
February 12, 2009 11:22:34 AM

Maybe another point to add somewhere around the ram section is to make sure there inserted in the right slots. A lot of people using the x58 boards have been inserting sticks in 2 4 6.
February 12, 2009 11:29:18 AM

11. If the stock cooler has push-pins, did you ensure that all four pins snapped securely into place? (The easiest way to install the push-pins is outside the case sitting on a non-conductive surface like the motherboard box. Read the instructions! The push-pins should be turned the OPPOSITE direction as the arrows.)

I use a roll of packing tape or duct tape to support the motherboard while I am pushing on the pushpins.
February 12, 2009 11:34:07 AM

You migt want to add:

"Try clearing the bios, by removing the battery for 30 seconds, if you get no response when turning on the computer."
February 12, 2009 3:49:00 PM

Excellent article.
Additional things to check:
For troubleshooting purposes, disconnect the reset switch. If it is shorted, the machine either will not POST at all, or it will endlessly reboot.
The paperclip trick on the power switch leads can be used to verify if these lines are shorted (or open). If they are shorted, the usual symptom is the PC will power on for 4-5 seconds, then shut down again.
If the system powers on long enough for LEDs to flash and fans to flicker, then shuts off, this symptom suggests a short-circuit somewhere. This is one reason why disconnecting all non-essential components (even the drives) to try for a POST is useful. Be aware that a disconnected GPU will usually shriek to complain of insufficient power. If your mobo has it, use onboard video for initial testing.
February 12, 2009 9:47:31 PM

What about troubleshooting?
In the old days we had more expansion cards so if I had a problem I would pull out the extra expansion cards and try it with just video card and mobo.

I think mobo+ram+cpu is the minimum to get the mobo to POST. Of course the only way to know that it is doing this is that the cpu fan is running. Then add a video card so you can see what it is doing. After that you can plug in the drives.
February 20, 2009 9:11:17 AM

I completely agree - sticky needed. You're right - many of us seem to be answering a lot of the same questions. Nice work.
February 20, 2009 11:00:59 AM

evongugg said:
11. If the stock cooler has push-pins, did you ensure that all four pins snapped securely into place? (The easiest way to install the push-pins is outside the case sitting on a non-conductive surface like the motherboard box. Read the instructions! The push-pins should be turned the OPPOSITE direction as the arrows.)

I use a roll of packing tape or duct tape to support the motherboard while I am pushing on the pushpins.



This is a pretty good idea. Never thought about using a roll of duct tape/ect to put under the boart when putting on the heatsink. I'll have to use that idea in the future. (Guess your one of us few that installes the cpu and hs while the mb is out of the case). I'd say that tip however isn't part of this thread. Probally in a how to assemble your computer one. Love the idea though.
February 26, 2009 4:35:55 AM

I would also like to add that a video card is not needed for a computer to boot. If there is a problem where the system wont even pass the BIOS screen and shuts down right after wards, remove the video card to see if it helps.

Tools for ANY one that builds their own computer.

http://www.alwayslowest.com/AL/index.cfm?fuseaction=sho... - Power supply tester.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - if you have an Intel 775 system

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... if you have an AM2 system

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - Memory that will work in ANY DDR2 motherboard

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - PCI (not PCI express) video card. Newegg often has some great prices on open-box PCI video cards as well. Check your local ma-n-pa computer store, I'd be willing to bet that they have a working PCI video card somewhere in the back room for about $10.

Buying all of these components will let you diagnose almost any problem on TONS of different computer systems.
March 8, 2009 5:56:20 AM

I think it's time for another bump. I've seen another stream of "my new build won't post" links come up again.

I also wanted to add some suggestions that jsc often posts. This is a direct quote from him:

"Pull everything except the CPU and HSF. Boot. You should hear a series of long single beeps indicating memory problems. Silence here indicates, in probable order, a bad PSU, motherboard, or CPU - or a bad installation where something is shorting and shutting down the PSU.

To eliminate the possiblility of a bad installation where something is shorting and shutting down the PSU, you will need to pull the motherboard out of the case and reassemble the components on an insulated surface. This is called "breadboarding" - from the 1920's homebrew radio days. I always breadboard a new or recycled build. It lets me test components before I go through the trouble of installing them in a case.

If you get the long beeps, add a stick of RAM. Boot. The beep pattern should change to one long and two or three short beeps. Silence indicates that the RAM is shorting out the PSU (very rare). Long single beeps indicates that the BIOS does not recognize the presence of the RAM.

If you get the one long and two or three short beeps, test the rest of the RAM. If good, install the video card and any needed power cables and plug in the monitor. If the video card is good, the system should successfully POST (one short beep, usually) and you will see the boot screen and messages.

Note - an inadequate PSU will cause a failure here or any step later.
Note - you do not need drives or a keyboard to successfully POST (generally a single short beep).

If you successfully POST, start plugging in the rest of the components, one at a time. "

http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/page-262730_13_0.ht...
March 8, 2009 11:46:56 PM

Install CD/DVD/Blu-Ray drive LAST... seems to be a common source of problems especially since some people are using IDE drives.

Do not close the case until it has all booted up and you have installed the OS, connected to the net and have run Prime95 or something similar and checked CPU temps. Make sure everything is hunky dory before you close up and put it under your desk or wherever. That way you avoid the frustration of having to open it back up and you know that it WAS okay so any cooling issues that arise later are due to fans being installed the wrong way around or due to your case location not having enough airflow available.
March 9, 2009 12:07:43 AM

WOW, I don't have anything to add other than WOW....I realize now...I am in the company of folks that REALLY know thier stuff!!! Jack is ALL ears!!! I am humbled!!!!!!
March 14, 2009 3:30:06 PM

Updated jsc's comments above.
March 20, 2009 12:29:55 PM

Really good list. I'm gotta have this book marked.
March 26, 2009 9:36:12 PM

Something about mobos occasionally needing a bios update to actually support given cpu. Doeesn't happen often but shows up every once and a while.
March 27, 2009 2:12:51 AM

kyeana said:
Something about mobos occasionally needing a bios update to actually support given cpu. Doeesn't happen often but shows up every once and a while.


That's a good point. We are very cautious about BIOS flashes around here though.
March 27, 2009 3:47:55 AM

very understandable ;-)
March 29, 2009 12:47:07 PM

If you have integrated video and a video card, try the integrated video port.
Resetting the bios, can make it default back to the onboard video.
March 29, 2009 11:10:07 PM

*nod*

Not a bad addition now that we'll be seeing more 790GX boards.
March 30, 2009 6:32:32 AM

Added the above and some other suggestions to the original post.
March 31, 2009 4:51:43 PM

i think its about time for a sticky
March 31, 2009 4:58:04 PM

It sure would be nice to not have to keep bumping it to the top.
March 31, 2009 9:36:45 PM

I'll send a PM this time ;) 

I'll make it a double with the how to ask thread too.

April 1, 2009 1:27:42 PM

I just revisited this thread.

A few more comments:

Step ??. Clear the CMOS. This works just often enough to be worth doing.

Step 15. If the system doesn't power up, try swapping the case power and reset switches. Doesn't cost anything or take long. I was building a give-away system with a recycled case and had that problem once.

My breadboarding link:
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/page-262730_13_0.ht...

Pay particular attention to the Dysan floppy box with the transplanted case wiring.

April 1, 2009 7:54:39 PM

We should include that breadboarding link for sure. I don't completely understand the case switch thing jsc, are you saying to try to boot the build using the reset switch in case the power switch is bad?
April 1, 2009 9:23:34 PM

The CMOS reset is included in step 18.

I also put a link to the breadboarding post in a post dated 03/07. I could move some of that info into the OP if you think that would help.
April 2, 2009 7:06:36 AM

I think this should be put in the first post so people don't have to hunt for it, its very good stuff. People might not see it unless you put it up top. One more step towards stickification.
shortstuff_mt said:
I also wanted to add some suggestions that jsc often posts. This is a direct quote from him:

"Pull everything except the CPU and HSF. Boot. You should hear a series of long single beeps indicating memory problems. Silence here indicates, in probable order, a bad PSU, motherboard, or CPU - or a bad installation where something is shorting and shutting down the PSU.

To eliminate the possiblility of a bad installation where something is shorting and shutting down the PSU, you will need to pull the motherboard out of the case and reassemble the components on an insulated surface. This is called "breadboarding" - from the 1920's homebrew radio days. I always breadboard a new or recycled build. It lets me test components before I go through the trouble of installing them in a case.

If you get the long beeps, add a stick of RAM. Boot. The beep pattern should change to one long and two or three short beeps. Silence indicates that the RAM is shorting out the PSU (very rare). Long single beeps indicates that the BIOS does not recognize the presence of the RAM.

If you get the one long and two or three short beeps, test the rest of the RAM. If good, install the video card and any needed power cables and plug in the monitor. If the video card is good, the system should successfully POST (one short beep, usually) and you will see the boot screen and messages.

Note - an inadequate PSU will cause a failure here or any step later.
Note - you do not need drives or a keyboard to successfully POST (generally a single short beep).

If you successfully POST, start plugging in the rest of the components, one at a time. "

http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/page-262730_13_0.ht...

April 2, 2009 1:43:59 PM

xthekidx said:
I think this should be put in the first post so people don't have to hunt for it, its very good stuff. People might not see it unless you put it up top. One more step towards stickification.

Done.
April 9, 2009 2:24:59 PM

Great thread...refreshes my memory from previous builds and hopefully will help me with my current build.

BTW: I've never had a build work right the first time. I've not done enough of them to know the pitfalls and what not. I'm not ignorant by any means but it's threads like these that certainly help me get my bearings.

If I post the same ole same ole it's not from a lack of reading.
April 9, 2009 9:03:53 PM

In the old days, I was always putting in the floppy cable backwards :p  Eventually I learned to match the little number 1 on the board with the 1 on the cable. :p 
April 15, 2009 2:22:15 PM

Still no sticky :( 
April 27, 2009 8:43:10 AM

Printed this off for my impending "initial power button push"

Thanks a ton
April 29, 2009 7:12:15 PM

make this a sticky please
May 4, 2009 5:56:50 AM

Ok we got the Build advice thread stickied, now just one more...
May 5, 2009 9:01:38 PM

I edited the original post. Apparently the checklist was too "boring" for the forum mods. I'm not sure how exciting a checklist can be, but hopefully they like it better now.
May 5, 2009 9:14:50 PM

LOL, of course it's boring for the forum mods, since they are hardware experts and don't need it. They are not the target audience for this thread.
!