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Computer boots intermittently; possible video card problem

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March 26, 2010 6:29:38 AM

I put together my first build about two and a half months ago, and now is booting only some of the time. When it won't boot, it's usually preceded by a high pitched buzzing sound (that I've pinpointed to the video card), followed by one long beep and two short ones (a "graphics card error," according to the mobo manual). But when it turns on, it stays on. I've run this thing for hours in the middle of all this without incident--I am, in fact, using it now.

I've found that if I shut off the PSU for a couple of minutes, turn the PSU back on and wait about 45 seconds before hitting the power button, it boots up just fine. But if I shut down normally and try to turn in back on, it won't POST (although restarting works fine). If I try to wake it from sleep, the LEDs on the case will turn on, but nothing on the screen, and the LEDs on my keyboard or mouse won't light until I press a key or a button. When I hit reset or the power, I get the three beeps again.

I had a similar problem about two months ago. Then, it was only a problem with waking it from S3 suspend mode. S1 suspend, hibernate, and shut down and restart all worked fine. I reseated the RAM chips, and that seemed to solve the problem. A few days ago, it resurfaced, this time occurring even when I shut it down. This is also when I heard this high-pitched buzzing coming from it, and a couple of times I tried restarting it after the no-POST beeps in quick succession, only to hear the buzz get louder and lower pitched until the power went out on its own. It hasn't done this in the last couple of days, though I haven't tried restarting it like that, either.

This is what I'm running:

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-MA790XT-UD4P (rev. 1.0), ver. F7
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition, Deneb core, 3.2 GHz
RAM: (2x2GB) Crucial DDR3-1066 (CT25664BA1067), 7-7-7-20
Heat Sink: Stock Cooling
HDD: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 7200rpm
DVD: TSSTCorp (Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology Corporation) CDDVDW TS-H662A DVD+R 22X, DVD+RW 8X, DVD-RW 6X, DVD-RAM 12X, CD-R 48X, IDE
Video: Gigabyte GV-R467ZL-1GI: ATI Radeon HD 4670, 1GB PCI-E 2.0x16
PSU: Antec Earthwatts 650W ATX12V ver. 2.2
Case: Cooler Master Centurion 534 Mid-ATX Tower
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium Edition (64-bit), build 7600

I'm running everything on stock timings and voltages.

This is what I've done so far to troubleshoot this:

1. Pulled everything but the CPU and booted, got a series of short beeps.
2. Added one stick of RAM, got one long beep and two short ones. Unplugged the PSU for ten minutes.
3. Added video card. Heard buzzing from the video card (not the fan--I stopped the blades but the buzzing didn't quit), got one long beep and two short ones. Unplugged the PSU for thirty minutes
4. Swapped out one stick of RAM for the other. POSTs, no buzzing from video card.
5. Added second stick of RAM. Heard buzzing from the video card, three beeps. Unplugged PSU for thirty minutes again.
6. Same setup. Waited 45 seconds after plugging in the PSU to hit the power switch. Computer POSTs without buzzing from video card. Unplug PSU for about two mintues
7. Added hard drive. Plugged in PSU for 45 seconds before hitting power switch. POSTs, boots in Windows.
8. Shut down computer. Upon restart, heard buzzing and three beeps. Unplug PSU.
9. Add DVD Drive. Plugged in PSU for 45 seconds before hitting power. POSTs, boots in Windows. I choose 'restart,' and the system reboots just fine.
10. Check voltages on ATX-24 pin, ATX-12V 2x4, and 4-pin SATA and peripheral connectors. All voltages seem to be within spec.

When this happened before, I tried another video card, which worked fine (An XFX Radeon HD 3850, I think). The only thing that I think think to do that I haven't done is remove the motherboard and check for anything shorting it underneath, but I understand that if that were the case, it would shut down before it could even emit status beeps, let alone boot. I may check it tomorrow, just to be thorough.

I have a feeling it's something to do with a capacitor on the video card, but I don't know if I'm missing something.

Thanks for reading through all this. Any help is greatly appreciated.

Best solution

March 26, 2010 11:20:23 AM

It looks like the video card is at fault, but there also is a possibility that the PSU isn't providing full power to the card quickly enough; otherwise waiting for 1 second or 45 seconds would make no difference at all. Why not test the video card in another system to make sure that it's either good or bad?
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March 29, 2010 11:31:14 AM

Chislain--I would absolutely love to check out this video card in another machine. Unfortunately, I don't have access to another machine with PCI-E ports. The best I've been able to do (on that front) is swap out video cards in my machine, which seems to solve the problem--I say "seem" because this computer worked beautifully for about a month before it started having these problems, and then another month after I thought I'd fixed it the first time. Also, the 45-second wait time isn't an issue with a new card, either.

I pulled out the motherboard, and it wasn't shorting on anything.

I agree with you wholeheartedly: it does look like it's the video card at fault, but I'm worried that I'll RMA the thing and it'll turn out to be the PSU or the motherboard (this card doesn't take power from the PSU directly). But having followed the troubleshooting guides here and in the motherboard manual, checked the connections and seating on everything three times over, and even checked the voltages coming from the PSU directly, I don't know there's much else I can do. Thanks for your help, though.

Alvin--Thank you for your kind, thoughtful, and helpful reply. As it turns out, though, I did "RTFM," as you put it, before I even put the thing together. I also read and followed the helpful troubleshooting guides in the manual, at this website, and several other websites. I also searched for problems with my model motherboard, video card, and power supply in the hopes of finding a problem similar to my own, and found none. However, your keen and valuable insight into the obvious is appreciated.
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April 2, 2010 7:26:03 PM

OP,
Please Report.

Solved ?

= Al =
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April 4, 2010 7:34:49 AM

Solved? Oh yes. It's definitely the video card.

I took it in for diagnostics the other day (because I don't have the equipment to do it myself), and they vetted everything--motherboard, RAM, video card, processor, etc--and found that only the video card was failing; everything else is fine, which is what I was really worried about.

I also took a look at Newegg, and it seems that in the last few weeks there's been a rash of these particular cards failing after about a month, even with some of the same symptoms (i.e., black screen, motherboard doesn't recognize the card) as my problem. Go figure.

I'm going to RMA this thing, and probably get another 4670 (not from Gigabyte), because it was a nice, inexpensive card while it worked. I've read that two Radeon HD 4670's in Crossfire X configuration makes for a decent poor man's 4870 (if you already have a 4670 lying around), and if nothing else, I'll have a spare in case the one they send goes bad, too.
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April 14, 2010 11:13:26 PM

Best answer selected by steppenwolff.
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