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Computer stuck at POST

Last response: in Windows XP
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October 3, 2012 4:02:32 PM

So my brother gave me his in-law's desktop to look at. Didn't say much about it but told me it "didn't work". Upon turning it on, I'm stuck at the Compaq splash image (POST). Trying to get into BIOS or boot menu does not work (tried either PS/2 or USB keyboard). I figured some component was causing it to lock up (and also because it was set to quick POST so no details). I have a 2003ish desktop that would hang when I used a certain EIDE HDD (because it was failing). It got stuck while detecting the HDDs. As soon as I removed it, everything was normal. Anyway I removed basically every component except for the bare essentials (HDD, ODD, Flash Card reader, Modem, etc). All I was left with was Mobo, PSU, CPU, 2 sticks of RAM (and for completion, the LEDs connected to mobo for power light, HDD light and so forth). I even tried having only one stick of RAM and tried different slots. Nothing. Same result, still stuck on the splash screen. As I type, I've been letting it sit in hopes it just pops out of it (but POSTing should never take more than 15-30 seconds -- even with rare exceptions with legacy machines).

I'm assuming that the BIOS program/software is loading into main memory. Obviously CPU, video, and memory check out. But after that? I can't determine what's causing the hang up. Remember, I cannot boot to anything. It might as well be a dead PC (black screen).

I didn't know where to post this so I figured XP was closest because it runs Windows XP Media Center. BIOS revision is 3.14 (all I can see). Model number is Presario SR1834NX

More about : computer stuck post

October 3, 2012 4:57:12 PM

Have you tried clearing the bios? On older motherboards, you normally had to short a couple jumpers.

Although you should be able to get into the bios setup, have you tried replacing the battery on the motherboard? Other than that, it appears you covered all the bases.
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October 3, 2012 5:36:12 PM

Hawkeye22 said:
Have you tried clearing the bios? On older motherboards, you normally had to short a couple jumpers.

Although you should be able to get into the bios setup, have you tried replacing the battery on the motherboard? Other than that, it appears you covered all the bases.


Forgot to mention that. Yes I removed the battery to clear the CMOS settings (~30 seconds it was left out). I figure shorting jumpers results in the same thing as removing the battery (although shorting is a bit more elegant). Seemed like it did something due to the extended period of wait time before POST screen (and fan was at max RPM longer than normal for that one boot).

What do from here? Is it possible to have a bad BIOS? I've never run across it before.
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October 3, 2012 5:45:33 PM

I've never had a bad bios except for a failed bios update so I'm unsure if this can happen on it's own. I'm not sure how a dead battery would effect the bios other than losing it's settings. I'd assume there is at least a default that it can fall back to if the battery dies, but I don't know for sure. Anyhow, that's why I mentioned changing the battery.

What to do from here... I don't know, sorry. Also, you should be able to post (not boot of course) with just a CPU, memory, and video. Have you tried posting with no drives attached?
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October 3, 2012 7:20:33 PM

Hawkeye22 said:
I've never had a bad bios except for a failed bios update so I'm unsure if this can happen on it's own. I'm not sure how a dead battery would effect the bios other than losing it's settings. I'd assume there is at least a default that it can fall back to if the battery dies, but I don't know for sure. Anyhow, that's why I mentioned changing the battery.

What to do from here... I don't know, sorry. Also, you should be able to post (not boot of course) with just a CPU, memory, and video. Have you tried posting with no drives attached?


In my OP I did state that I removed literally everything but the bare essentials (so CPU, Memory, Integrated Video, PSU, and Mobo). But yeah, if I had no memory the computer would do nothing. However, it has memory and it is doing "something". Namely it is loading the Compaq splash screen but I'm not sure at what stage that is. It's in what I consider "basic view" (or quick POST). Although I would assume most BIOS/CMOS would show the details if an error occurs (unless it's magically set with the option to NOT do anything when an error occurs, unless I've confused that option with something else).

So it would seem the CPU, Memory, and Video are functioning properly. Problem is I don't have any systems to test the CPU. I could pop the memory into my other system just for kicks. Who knows, it could be damaged or "bad" but still appears to be functioning (not displaying any obvious errors or emitting sounds).

If only I could just replace the bare essentials one by one... then perhaps I could probably know for sure.

Update: Unless it's POSTing fine. I'm not sure what a computer would do given you take away all its boot possibilities (say there was no ODD, HDD, or FDD connection. Same goes with PXE (LAN). Perhaps there's an issue there? But why am I unable to enter the setup utility? Keyboard is virtually dead it seems. I know the keyboard is good because I've used it with my older system (FreeNAS System).
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October 3, 2012 7:31:35 PM

I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere but have you tried with absolutely no bootable devices attached? Remove all cables at the motherboard.

Assuming no other hardware faults, one of two things should happen after a brief (no more than 30 seconds or so) pause:
1. A message announcing that no bootable media was found and a prompt to insert a bootable disk and hit return.
2. An attempt to boot via network (PXE)

If this happens when no bootable devices are attached then it's one of those devices causing the hang.
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October 3, 2012 7:45:29 PM

Sorry, I must have missed that in the initial post. I read that you stripped it down, but didn't notice you had also removed the drives.

It should still post with no drive, but error with "no boot device found".
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October 3, 2012 7:54:43 PM

ex_bubblehead said:
I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere but have you tried with absolutely no bootable devices attached? Remove all cables at the motherboard.

Assuming no other hardware faults, one of two things should happen after a brief (no more than 30 seconds or so) pause:
1. A message announcing that no bootable media was found and a prompt to insert a bootable disk and hit return.
2. An attempt to boot via network (PXE)

If this happens when no bootable devices are attached then it's one of those devices causing the hang.


Absolutely nothing is connected to the motherboard that doesn't need to be. I specifically went to trouble of removing front port USB assembly and media card reader cables and the modem. And yes, I even removed the SATA and EIDE cable from the motherboard despite that I disconnected the power from both devices (since I had trouble removing the data cable from the device side).

So, no data connections are made to the motherboard. Strictly CPU, Memory, and Video. I am still unable to get past the splash screen.

Hawkeye22 said:
Sorry, I must have missed that in the initial post. I read that you stripped it down, but didn't notice you had also removed the drives.

It should still post with no drive, but error with "no boot device found".


Yeah when I first turned it on, the thing that came to mind was the hard drive. In a past experience a hard drive had caused a hang in POST. I expected as well to get "No Boot Device Present" or similar message.

Update: In an attempt to fix it, I tried unplugging my SATA HDD. It has one of those lock/clips. Unfortunately it's really stubborn (and in an attempt not to) so I ended up pulling off more than I wanted. Yep, the actual plastic port came with it. Luckily none of the pins snapped. Was able to bend them straight enough to slide it back over. Plugged the HDD back in and upon start I can see the HDD LED flicker so I assume it's alright.
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October 3, 2012 11:52:03 PM

So I've tested the two sticks of memory in another system. Ran a couple passes of memtest on them without error.

How exactly can I do any other testing? I don't have another CPU (or PC that has the same socket type as the CPU I'm using) to test just in case it was the CPU. How would I test the motherboard? I've already put different memory (from a working one) in the non-working system (memory matched the speed of the original memory) to no avail. Is it possible to connect the motherboard to my PC through some way and run software to test it, or similar (assuming through serial or parallel cable)?
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October 4, 2012 3:30:46 AM

If you're getting a splash screen then CPU is good, no further testing necessary there.

When you cleared BIOS did you use the procedure outlined here:
http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c00...

Very important that the jumpers be in the default position or boot failure will result.

I also don't see where you've tried another power supply.
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October 4, 2012 4:05:44 AM

ex_bubblehead said:
If you're getting a splash screen then CPU is good, no further testing necessary there.

When you cleared BIOS did you use the procedure outlined here:
http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c00...

Very important that the jumpers be in the default position or boot failure will result.

I also don't see where you've tried another power supply.


Yes, I definitely do agree the CPU is good. I'm just open for rare possibilities -- cover all my bases well.

It's because I haven't. I'll have to look around for another good PSU to use but I don't entirely suspect the PSU is at fault. Seems a bit odd for that to be the case (but to stay in check with my logic, I should probably try).
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October 4, 2012 4:59:00 AM

ex_bubblehead said:
If you're getting a splash screen then CPU is good, no further testing necessary there.

When you cleared BIOS did you use the procedure outlined here:
http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c00...

Very important that the jumpers be in the default position or boot failure will result.

I also don't see where you've tried another power supply.


I have now tried a different power supply. Took the one from my main computer (a nice 550w Active PFC Corsair PSU). Still to no avail (stuck at POST splash screen).

I have also followed the "official" way to clear CMOS by jumpers. I have also done it my usual way by removing the battery for ~30 seconds. Neither resolved the issue.
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October 4, 2012 5:11:42 AM

At this point I'd conclude that the motherboard requires replacement.
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October 4, 2012 11:53:55 AM

^ Unfortunately, it's looking that way.
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October 4, 2012 10:44:20 PM

Alright. I guess it does look like the motherboard. But I'd really like to understand why the motherboard is the problem (if possible). One thing I can guess is a failed BIOS update (so corrupted BIOS). Is it possible to flash the BIOS under these circumstances? Is there any way to directly communicate with the BIOS? Again, it's now coming to the point to fix it just for knowledge sake.

Update: It looks like BootBlock Flashing and Hot Flashing are a couple of options.
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October 5, 2012 11:37:15 AM

A failed bios update will brick the board unless you have something like gigabyte's dual bios. As to what caused it... failed bios update, bad PSU, power surge, brownouts,...
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October 5, 2012 7:03:29 PM

Hawkeye22 said:
A failed bios update will brick the board unless you have something like gigabyte's dual bios. As to what caused it... failed bios update, bad PSU, power surge, brownouts,...


Or this http://www.biosman.com/biosrecovery.html

That is if it comes standard on most of their BIOSes. I'm not sure if this PC does. I need to get a floppy disk to test it out.
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October 6, 2012 8:46:17 PM

Did you check for any BIOS "Beep-Codes"?
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October 6, 2012 10:41:16 PM

electronian said:
Did you check for any BIOS "Beep-Codes"?


Yes, lol. There are no beep codes (I can generate one by removing all the RAM of course). I am certain this computer was hit by a virus, and this virus corrupted the BIOS.
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