Computer restarting - psu issue?


I've been having an issue with my computer that started Tuesday morning. I'm going to provide as much detail as I can, so please bear with me.

So Tuesday morning, I woke up and started to watch Chuck on hulu. Switched to full screen and sat back in my chair. 40 seconds later, BLACK SCREEN and then proceeded to restart. Well that's odd, I thought. Tried it again, same exact thing. Hmmm, seems to be an issue when I go full screen. So I play it in the regular size (absolutely horrible after watching on full screen, BTW) and it works just fine. So after a couple commercial breaks, I switch it back to full screen, and finish out the episode just fine. I then proceed to leave my computer on for the next 4 hours while I finish up some homework before a test. I get back from the test, and go to watch Hawaii 5-0 on Full screen...spontaneously restart after a few seconds. Try again, same thing. Watch in the smaller version, and it's fine. Unlike chuck though, trying full screen after a few commercials did not work. I had to finish the episode in the smaller screen.

So after that episode, I decided to do some research and find out Wtf is going on with my computer. After all, this problem only has something to do with watching streaming videos in full screen. First thing I came across were suggestions that flash or video card drivers might need to be updated. Sure enough, NVIDIA released drivers on Monday, so I updated them. Flash even had a small update so I grabbed that as well. Tried watching something...spontaneous restart. Oh boy. So now the general consensus is that it could be a faulty psu or video card. Then yesterday, the problem got worse. If I was to only watch video in the small version, so be it, I can live with that. But nope. Can't even do that Anymore. In fact, it is now at the point where I can be doing absolutely nothing, and it will restart.

I had a theory that it might be simply overheating. I noticed that when I started it cold, it would last slightly longer then it would after a restart, or even with a few minutes of being off, but insufficient time to cool. So today after class, I fired it up and browsed a couple news articles, and it lasted maybe 10 minutes before restarting. And to not be thorough, I just turned it off and walked away, crying inside. My roommate brought home some compressed air for me, though, so I cleaned all the dust out (after all it has been 7 or 8 months since this build, so maybe that would help). But nope. Immediately after that, it restarted before I even opened the browser. After the restart, I only got part way through a news article before it restarted. Also, it may be of use to note that all fans are running smoothly.

So now for my questions. first, I want you to know that I followed some steps suggested by others such as turning off the auto restart to get a bsod, and to check the system log for any errors. Well, I never got a bsod, and there are no notable errors. Now, I hope I have ruled out the video card. From what I've read, when that happens to other people, they will see artifacts, and then the monitor will go black but if they are playing a game, they will still have sound and stuff. I tested this my own way by playing music In The background, and sure enough everything stopped when the screen went black. This leads me to believe it could be the psu, or possibly the motherboard.

As far as the psu is concerned, i'm wondering if I may have damaged it. I bought the psu in august or so. Thermaltake 650w - I cannot get a specific model number, sorry. I have no tools and the box is at home 2000 miles away. It has been working just fine, never had a problem. In fact no problem with my rig at all since Tuesday. The only factor that changed was moving from home to college back in January. I chose to live in an apartment complex near campus that offers furnishings and utilities and such. The only downside is that if we go over our electricity cap, we pay the difference out of pocket. So, in an effort to save money (because I am broker then broke), I decided to shut off all my electronics when not in use. And by that, I mean once shut off, I completely disconnect the power either by shutting off the surge protector or in some cases just unplugging the cord to the power supply if I want to play xbox or something. So as for that, could I have damaged the psu by constantly turning on and off the electricity to it?

My other concern is the motherboard. My rig is not completely new. It is mostly the computer that I built back in summer 2005. That system was water cooled, but the pump failed and I decided to switch to standard air cooled (which I should have done all along, BTW). So, for the switch, I upgraded my video card because I no longer had the stock heatsink, bought a heatsink for my CPU, and I also bought some RAM and a new power supply. The motherboard, processor, and hard drives are still the originals. So, could the motherboard just be old and in need of replacement? I kinda hope this is the case, because I was planning on upgrading in July or so. If it needs to be replaced now, that's kinda lame but I can live with it. Or might it even be the hard drive? I know they don't last forever. And one thing I didn't even realize was that one of my drives was complete unused until I switched to air cooling. If it's the hard drive, that really is lame because I bought one just before I left home but forgot to bring it with me :(

Alright, I think that's everything you need to know about the situation. Now here are the specs:

Asus p5nd2 sli deluxe
Intel Pentium d 830
Palit NVIDIA 460gtx. I want to say sonic platinum. Whatever the "award winning" one is.
2x Hitachi 160gb hard drive
2x Kingston 1gb ddr2 pc5300? Don't know the specifics.
Thermaltake 650w (as mentioned above no idea the exact model)

I'm posting from my phone, so I can't really bring up my newegg order right now.

One final note. I have very, very limited resources. If I could, I would just take it to a computer repair place for a diagnosis. Unfortunately the only thing I can afford (and that in itself is an overstatement) is the part requiring replacement. If you cannot come to a conclusion based on the information I have provided, please let me know how I can better determine the cause of the problem. Or better yet, if you are near Norman, ok or know of anybody that could see this issue first hand would be great.
4 answers Last reply
More about computer restarting issue
  1. Just to rule out the PSU as the problem, perform the 'PSU paperclip' test. Here it is:
  2. What should I be looking for while I do that test?
  3. starsfan00 said:
    What should I be looking for while I do that test?

    If the PSU is ok, the fan connected to it (per the test) will run. This is not a comprehensive test, but will tell you if the PSU is bad or not.
  4. No, it will not.

    It will tell you if the PSU is bad if the fan doesn't start. It cannot, however, tell you if the PSU is good if the fan does start. All that tells you is that the PSU was able to produce some minimal amount of 12 volt power. It does not tell you anything at all about the 3.3 or 5 volt rails and it does not tell you if the "PSGood" control signal from the PSU is good. You need this signal for the CPU to boot.

    Running fans and drives and motherboard LED's do not necessarily indicate a good PSU. In the absence of a single short beep, they also do not indicate that the system is booting.

    At this point, you can sort of check the PSU. Try to borrow a known good PSU of around 550 - 600 watts. That will power just about any system with a single GPU. If you cannot do that, use a DMM to measure the voltages. Measure between the colored wires and either chassis ground or the black wires. 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%. If you have a white wire (many modern PSU's do not), it should be -5 volts.

    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.

    A way that might be easier is to use the main power plug. Working from the back of the plug where the wires come out, use a bare paperclip to short between the green wire and one of the neighboring black wires. That will do the same thing with an installed PSU. It is also an easy way to bypass a questionable case power switch.

    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.
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