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Trouble With Wife's PC - Help Me Keep My Home a Happy Place

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October 14, 2009 11:53:06 AM

I’m having an issue with my wife’s PC. It’s an older PC of mine that she is now using and is a conglomeration of newer and older components of mine through the years.

Symptoms: At random times her monitor would go blank and she would get a message stating signal cannot be found. Rebooting after some time would allow the PC to come back up as normal for a period of time and then go blank again at a later time. The frequency of this has increased over the past few weeks according to her. When the screen goes blank, the PC is still on and at times you can hear the hard drive head moving around as if it were accessing data as normal. There is no additional abnormal hard disk “chatter”.

Trouble shooting I have done thus far: Once I became aware of the issue a few days ago, I checked the connections, swapped out the monitor cable, blew a fair amount of dust off of the CPU heatsink/fan, checked the seating of the video card and other cables/connections within the case.

At this point it is very seldom when I have been able to get the PC to come up and now I am receiving 3 beeps immediately upon power up from the motherboard.

I am not sure if the problem lies with the processor whereas it may have been overheating due to the build up of dust on the heatsink and even though it is cleared off now, perhaps permanent damage has occurred. I am also concerned that the hard drive may be failing since that is the oldest component in the PC.

Can anyone provide any thoughts on what things I should hone in on first before I just go blindly swapping out components. Are the symptoms I am experiencing indicative of any one component failing? Thanks in advance, I appreciate any feedback.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 14, 2009 12:41:31 PM

Sounds like the videocard is the component that is the most flakey right now. Not sure what you are running, but does that have a fan on it? Is that fan still working? Another possibility is that it's your power supply showing it's age. As for hard drive, less likely of a possibility, though if you download speedfan, and check the S.M.A.R.T. report on your drive, it might indicate that the drive's health is failing.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 14, 2009 1:23:37 PM

It sounds like your first problem was the Vid Card - I would have suggested the cable, but you already tried that. Then you cleaned out the computer, and now the whole thing doesn't work, is that correct?
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 14, 2009 1:38:02 PM

Three beeps is an important clue. Now you just need to know what motherboard you have in there, and it BIOS maker. The mobo maker's website should have a place that helps you decipher the beep codes during startup. If not, try the website of the BIOS supplier.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 14, 2009 3:34:09 PM

Paperdoc said:
Three beeps is an important clue. Now you just need to know what motherboard you have in there, and it BIOS maker. The mobo maker's website should have a place that helps you decipher the beep codes during startup. If not, try the website of the BIOS supplier.

+1

Don't forget to test the RAM either. Try each stick by itself to determine if a stick has died.
October 14, 2009 10:21:25 PM

Well, earlier today she turned the PC on and for whatever reason it's stayed up all afternoon with no issues. I'm sure some component is about to fail unless it just took a day for the system to get used to running cooler now that the dust is off the heatsink.
October 14, 2009 10:23:35 PM

wathman said:
Sounds like the videocard is the component that is the most flakey right now. Not sure what you are running, but does that have a fan on it? Is that fan still working? Another possibility is that it's your power supply showing it's age. As for hard drive, less likely of a possibility, though if you download speedfan, and check the S.M.A.R.T. report on your drive, it might indicate that the drive's health is failing.


The vid card does have a heatsink/fan on it and it is running fine. Off the top of my head I believe it's an XFX 8800. It's also the newest component in the box - not that that means that it could not be failing.
October 15, 2009 12:32:42 AM

I hope you are going to continue to test the system and not just ignore it hoping the problem does not reoccur, although cleaning out the dust might have fixed it.

I think you should still check out the mobo beep codes as suggested above to see what that reveals, run the SMART check discussed above, periodically check temps on CPU and GPU, run memtest overnight, and finally run a prime95 stress test to confirm everything is hunky dory.

Hopefully you wife will really appreciate all you are doing to prevent any future problems and reward you appropriately.

Finally, is this a good opportunity to get a new system and pass your current one down to wife?
October 15, 2009 12:35:41 AM

urgatorbait said:
The vid card does have a heatsink/fan on it and it is running fine. Off the top of my head I believe it's an XFX 8800. It's also the newest component in the box - not that that means that it could not be failing.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think any 8800 model should have a fan, at least a heatsink though....and if it's an 8800 and takes extra power connectors make sure those are plugged in, and not prone to come loose. On/off signals like that without the PC rebooting sounds more like a cable/connection problem rather than a component failure.

But definitely do stress tests on everything. I would suggest memtest and Prime95 as above, and maybe Furmark for the GPU stress test. And don't forget to check temps while stressing, as said above.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 15, 2009 3:48:59 AM

If that card is a XFX 8800 GTX, I have the exact same card sitting on my desk right now. Still offers nice performance for current games despite the fact that it's a few generations old. The 8800 series in general though is infamous for their heat issues and massive power consumption. I upgraded to a HD 5870, and my old 8800 required more power.

Since things seem to be running smoother for you now, I agree with the previous advice on keeping a close eye, especially at the power supply performance.
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