Hey guys, my wife's homebuilt PC recently crapped out on us. It started out by restarting when we'd use the DVDRom drive. It did that more and more frequently, then one day she turned it on and we got a black screen with a missing DLL error. Then after trying to boot into safe mode, same black screen, etc, we tried to work through all that and eventually just reformatted the HDD. (Windows XP home).
I got windows up and running, then as soon as I tried to install the mobo drivers it restarted on me. After a few more tries at getting everything installed, I got another windows error message, this time missing a kernel. OK, reformatted AGAIN last night, took it step by step with drivers. I got windows running, installed the mobo drivers one at a time. Got the ethernet adapter driver in, got online. Went to install the onboard soundcard drivers, and boom, shut down. Soundcard is an onboard Realtek, if that matters.
Im thinking at this point, "OK, must be a problem with onboard sound, I'll disable and see if it stays stable". I installed the rest of the mobo drivers, and then all the Windows updates (got it all up to date including SP3).
Then I went to install the video card drivers for the Radeon 4850, and mid-install, it shut down again.
I am left thinking that it must be the PSU. Seems like the PC will run OK as long as no extra devices try to run and draw extra juice. There are no lights or extrra case fans, nothing that draws lots of power. The unit is a 500 watt but its a crappy brand. This PC has run pretty well for about a year and a half, these issues are all recent. I knew I shouldnt have skimped on the PSU but I had it laying around and just figured it would suffice for the time being. Is there something else you guys reccomend I check? I really think it has to be the PSU. I appreciate any input.
The only way to figure out a problem is to isolate the problem. You'd have to replace parts of the computer, ie PSU, one part at a time and verify that each part is working correctly. It's the only way to be "sure". But you can always probe around and guess at things.
You don't have to replace hardware to test it. I would follow MadAdmiral's suggestion of running Memtest86+ overnight to test for faulty RAM. You should also make sure the RAM speed/timings/voltage are set to the manufacturers rated specs in the BIOS. OCZ DDR2 RAM usually required a ridiculous amount of voltage.