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Random post failure/reboot

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March 22, 2012 9:40:32 PM

Was contacted by a friend who has his computer go cold on him and asked if I could come check it but he was sure it was the power supply that died. At this time, it was not responding to any input, so I opened it up and double checked all the cables and that the power switch cable was connected. Still dead, so replaced his Hairong ATX-480W with a Coolmax V-400. He really wanted to get it back up and running that day and the only PC shop in town sells this model only. I was worried it might not be enough power and it was not really a top brand PSU.
Installed the power supply in his system, and it booted up first time with no issue other than there being some pretty good air noise from the power supply fan. 2.5 months have passed and he called me saying his computer is "going black" and he thinks the hard drive might be dying.

Built by a local pc shop that appears to no longer be in existence...
Coolmax V-400 power
MS 7309 v1.3 motherboard
Athlon 64 x2 5200
2x1gb ram
Serial Adapter card with 2 serial ports
Firewire adapter card
Twin CD-Rom drives(IDE)
Twin 120gb seagate hard drives(Sata)
Zip drive(disconnected and used to cover 3.5 hole for now)
Floppy drive
Single rear 80mm fan

On to the symptoms....
Depending on what seems to be blind luck, the system can do different things on boot including:
1. Boot up and into windows just fine and provide a random amount of time(up to 1-2hours) of use until it either goes to a black screen or simply reboots. No entries are found in event viewer.
2. Boot up, then between post and windows, drop again to a black screen. Once at the black screen no input is recognized and the cd drives won't even open. Reset also does not respond at this point. Only holding the power button works.
3. Power on the fans and CD-ROM lights up for a moment, however never post or beep. Fans spin and no response is given from the system.


Once the black screen is reached, the HDD light stays solidly lit even if there are no drives installed in the system. I tried to run memtest with nothing in the computer except for the cdrom drive, floppy, ram and cpu. It never posted and HD light was solid with fans spinning. I turned it off for a few minutes, tried again and memtest ran for 3hours with no issue and memory seems ok. I was thinking since it was rebooting that it may have been ram.

Hard drive possible issues(2 years old):
- passed Seagate's diagnostics and tests, currently copying to a backup drive just in case.
- was making tremendous noise and extremely fragmented in his computer the few times I got to windows
- making very little noise at all now that it is on a transfer cable on my desk and backing up to another drive
- not sure what to make of the drive acting so terrible in his computer but then being quiet out here besides the reboots severely fragmenting the operating system/pagefile.

The hard drive will sort itself out I believe either by transfer to a new hard drive or fixing the booting problem.
My only three theories are the motherboard is going bad, the power supply is insufficient or bad already after 3 months, or there is a short possibly somewhere in the case. The randomness of the issue is what is puzzling me however. It can act completely normal and fine(except for the disk check and slowness from fragmentation) and then next time refuse to post completely.




a b ) Power supply
March 22, 2012 10:21:47 PM

I have to say that I am not a fan of those PSUs. Both are bottom of the barrel. I wouldn't trust either of them farther than I could throw them.

He should order an XFX Pro 450w Core from Newegg. In the mean time, you can put your PSU in his PC. Ideally, you want to put something in there that is clearly enough for the system's usage, and the Coolmax isn't that.

A good case and a good PSU are very important to the functioning of a computer and he really needs to try his stuff in a good trustworthy setup before you move on to testing other things.

If you can't trust the power and cooling setup, then you can't trust the results of any other tests either.

I don't know what computer you have, but if your case is a bottom mount PSU you should let him install his stuff into your case. I am going to guess that his isn't a bottom mount case.

March 22, 2012 11:05:26 PM

I have a pretty old Antec TruepowerII 430w that I can try to put in his.

His case is a standard midtower case, 6 or 7 expansion slots on the back, just enough room to slide the psu in. 4 5.25 bays and 2 3.5 bays on the front panel. Only 1 cage that has the floppy + hard drive + removed zip drive... which sadly has to go back in unless there is a miracle cover for 3.5 external bays with the placeholder gone. I have a larger mid tower with the same basic layout but two cages and more height. It has a 430w antec trupower with an old socket 939 system in it which I only use for testing.

Had thought about trying that old PSU but was not sure if it would be strong enough due to age(5 years I think). This system has a 650w Corsair modular power supply in it, bottom mounted.
Related resources
a b ) Power supply
March 23, 2012 12:11:20 AM

If you want to be a really good friend, let him use the Corsair 650w in the bottom mount case.

I mean I don't really care or anything, but you at least know those things work because you are using them now. There is no telling what the 5 year old lower wattage Antec can do after sitting in a box for however long.

The idea is to rule out the cause of problems being a certain thing, and if you can overkill that thing so much the better in ruling it out. If you are overkilling it and the problem is exactly the same, that is a good way to rule something out. Just sayin.
March 23, 2012 9:45:49 PM

Swapped power supplies and only hooked up 4pin motherboard and 24pin. Left everything else disconnected but still had the PATA and floppy data cables connected.

Tried to power on, solid red HDD light and green power light, no activity/no response. Removed the PATA and floppy data cables as well, tried again, still no response but no solid HDD light this time. Tried once more, and system boots, beeps, and asks for boot media/drive. Plan to start adding hardware back to it and see how it goes. I checked all the front panel connectors and they are on correctly for location, however the polarity is not marked on this case's power switch and reset.

Hard drive booted up fine, still very slow, very noisy however. Will swap for my cloned drive possibly if it keeps being noisy.
Bad power from the coolmax could have messed the drive up yet it still passes Seagate diagnostics? Or possibly a controller on the motherboard being flaky.

It rebooted about 5minutes into working on windows. Now it goes to windows logo, then goes black for about 30 sec, then reboots. Only sata HD, 4pin mobo, and 24pin mobo connected.

Now it boots, then either
1. Gets through to windows logo, then goes black and reboots later.
2. Starts off black with the HDD light red
3. Goes black sometime between post and windows logo

I switched it to just a CD Rom drive and have similar results.

I'm confused at this point unless the onboard video is failing and causing a reboot. Will put in a GT440 PCI-E next to test if I can get to bios and disable onboard video.

*Edit*
GT440 put in the pci-e slot.
Can't get any video now to change the bios to disable onboard with or without the card in the slot. Fully black screen 100% of the time this last 15minutes working on it. About 70% of the time the fan on the GT440 does not even spin. Perhaps its drawing too much power, but the only other option I have in PCI-E is my GTX460 in the main case. Really thinking something is wrong with this motherboard at the moment. Going to let it cool down a bit if temperature might be an issue and see how it does. The cpu is not overheating verified by bios temps and speedfan when I got into windows. However the motherboard could be I guess. The problem seems to have gotten worse since I have had it here, where it used to be able to get into windows for 30min~ sometimes and into a bootable CD for hours at times. At the moment it seems to not want to do anything.

a b ) Power supply
March 23, 2012 11:19:46 PM

There is no polarity for the power and reset switches. Both cables are exactly the same. Power just needs to go in one side, through the power button, and out the other side.

Which PSU did you switch it with? The old Antec or the new Corsair?
March 24, 2012 12:06:45 AM

Both, and both work in their respective systems.

Antec 430w TruepowerII
Gigabyte K8NSC-939
XFX Geforce 7600GT
Western Digital 250gb SATA I 7200rpm
2x 1gb DDR400
Athlon 2.2ghz 3700+ San Diego


Corsair 650w modular professional
ASUS Sabertooth P67
i5-2500K 3.3ghz
2x 4gb DDR3 1333
EVGA Geforce GTX560 1024mb
Western Digital 640gb SATAII 7200rpm
a b ) Power supply
March 24, 2012 12:18:39 AM

Try installing an OS on the extra hard drive and using that instead to try and rule out the hard drive being bad.
March 24, 2012 2:03:45 AM

Still get the same black screen issues with the cloned hard drive. It's going black on a windows xp home Cd as well.
a b ) Power supply
March 25, 2012 6:03:45 PM

Try putting both the Corsair 650w and the GTX 460 in it.
March 25, 2012 6:22:15 PM

Got the 560 in the small case, but its still not detecting it without disabling the onboard video and I can't get into bios long enough to do that now. In the last 10 tries, it has never had a display 9 of them, and the one it did, it went black in bios before I could get to it.
a b ) Power supply
March 25, 2012 8:22:34 PM

Do I understand it right that you had the 460/560 (which is it?) AND the 650w in his case at the same time

AND

When it was like that, you tried to turn it on 10 times and it only showed even a tiny bit of life in one attempt, after which time it just went right back to what it was otherwise doing?

If I don't have it right, please correct where I am misunderstanding.

Regardless of whether I have it right or not, try your monitor on his computer and see what happens.
a b ) Power supply
March 25, 2012 9:36:37 PM

I had similar problem with failing HDD. Drive passed all manufacturer test, then hung in a linux based backup program. I'd unplug the power and signal cables from teh disk and see if you get clean video with the "no boot disk found" message.

Failing memory can do this. you have 2x1gb ram, try without one of the dimms. then try the other.

I'd stick with internal video, not use a video card.

A slightly ajar adapter card can do this. reseat anything you still have in case.

failing reset switch or power on switch.

good luck.
March 26, 2012 12:07:13 AM

You have it right, raidden. I had already swapped the video card before you posted just to see. It has only been on my monitor the entire time.

tsnor, as posted above, I've already tested it with no devices connected, only the motherboard, ram, processor, power supply, motherboard 4pin and 24pin connected, keyboard, video connection and power cord. Still same issue. No hard drives, no cd drives, no floppy drives, no addon cards, only the motherboard and what it needs to work.. still did not work.
a b ) Power supply
March 26, 2012 12:38:09 AM

I am about ready to take a guess that it is a bad motherboard.

I still feel like there is more to do, but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of resources to do it with.

Unless you have a motherboard with the same slot type as his motherboard.
a b ) Power supply
March 26, 2012 12:47:42 AM

Failing memory can do this. you have 2x1gb ram, try without one of the dimms. then try the other. -- did you rule this out too ? swap them one at a time.

get rid of keyboard and anything usb attached when testing.


March 26, 2012 11:38:02 AM

The keyboard is a ps/2 keyboard and his keyboard was also ps/2.
Memory has been tested on single chips, however I have no other memory to put in there that is ddr2. Single chips both gave same result and memtest passed it for 2hours back when it used to boot.

Have no other AM2 board to test with unfortunately and there seems to be an extremely limited stock online.

Best solution

a b ) Power supply
March 26, 2012 5:54:53 PM
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You might want to ask him if he is ready to upgrade his core to a new processor/motherboard/ram.
March 26, 2012 9:24:19 PM

Best answer selected by VJTB.
March 26, 2012 9:29:11 PM

The thought has been discussed, we are checking whether to build a new core or replace everything. The case is very dated with 80mm fan mounts and no front panel ports of any kind. Putting a case on top of the core brings it closer to just... new system, but I will price both for him.

It looked like the guts have been removed once and had the AM2 board installed with its parts.

Thanks for giving me some extra ideas and things to try.
a b ) Power supply
March 27, 2012 2:52:55 PM

If he is getting a new case, the HAF 912 is pretty much the ideal case in terms of price/performance.

Anyway, I wish I could tell you something else, but it seems to me like it would be guesswork between a small number of components as to which is causing the problem so money could end up completely wasted if you try replacing the old stuff with old stuff.

Contrast with a new i3-2120, h61 or h67 $50 board, and 1 or 2 sticks of 4GB 1333 for $20 each and you are guaranteed not to be wasting money like that.

Even if you did switch out old part for old part successfully, there is no telling how long it would be till the next time you had to do a replacement when the next old part failed.
March 27, 2012 11:17:18 PM

was thinking more along a centurion 5.

2120 is a little pricey as well, I was looking at a Athlon II triple core, but not sure yet.

firewire pci card
parallel port pci card

Autocad 2000(he said it ran fine on the 5200 athlon X2 with integrated graphics).
a b ) Power supply
March 28, 2012 1:57:00 AM

The HAF 912 is about the same price and it is like 10x better than the Centurion 5.

Indeed, I have never heard of anyone here suggest that somebody should get a Centurion 5 for that reason.

Bottom mount cases are the way of the future.

The Athlon 2 x3 455 isn't a bad choice for an ultra low budget system.

The one I have, the Athlon 2 x4 840 is a pretty good 4 core chip for the price too, especially if you have a Micro Center nearby. They will give you a free cheap motherboard with it.
March 28, 2012 4:19:34 AM

I guess the air filters would negate the extra fans pulling dust into his case. This old case has some major old brown looking dust in it. The pc is in a workshop environment. The centiurion 5 had a front panel firewire, I will have rear panel firewire, so it won't matter.

If you think the HAF 912 is better for someone in a dusty environment and will be easier to work in, then I'll go that route. He only uses the computer for autocad 2000 and mostly internet/email that I see.

Firewire port needed on the back(got a PCI firewire card in old system), parallel printer port needed(can get one for about $12), he wants lots of USB plugs(more than 6), and he's kind of tired of things breaking down.

Been trying to find a rear panel mount for the extra USB front panel header to put that to the rear for an extra 2 usb ports, but newegg doesn't sell one under $30 that I have found, which is rather high to me. Most motherboards have two USB headers, however most front panels only use on of these in my experience, leaving the other not used. Would like to take it to the rear of the case and pop out an expansion slot with a rear bracket with 2 usb ports.
a b ) Power supply
March 28, 2012 5:27:13 AM

He could get a USB Mini Man. It is essentially a USB hub. It plugs into a USB port and splits into 4 USB ports (one per hand and foot). My wife has one of those for all her USB stuff and it works pretty well.

However, you might want to go a little larger on the PSU, especially on the +5vsb line in the PSU if you can find it. The USB devices can suck a lot of power down and make it hard to wake up the computer from sleep mode if there are tons of them plugged in.

I can't speak for which cases will have all the tiny little ports that he wants. I mean I could research it, but either of you can just as well.

The HAF 912 does have some air filters, though, just like the Centurion does.

The bottom mount HAF 912 case will definitely help to avoid the PSU breaking down, though, and that is the item that is most likely to break down and the most likely to cause problems when it is starting to fail. Indeed the problems it has when it starts to fail pushes it more towards failing.

For that reason alone I can't suggest anyone ever get a top mount PSU case, regardless of their situation.
March 28, 2012 11:41:34 AM

I'm curious now, how does the top mount PSU design cause more premature death to PSU than the bottom mount?
a b ) Power supply
March 28, 2012 1:14:49 PM

It isn't just to the PSU, because the PSU can kill things it is attached to (everything) when it fails to operate correctly.

Here are some articles you should read in order to better understand what I am talking about

This one explains a little about differences in cooling setups, and why bottom is better than top mounting a PSU.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cooling-airflow-hea...

In that article, it touches on the affect that increased heat internal to the PSU has on its operations.

This article explains a little bit more about what happens when a PSU runs outside of its specifications. Something they do more and more of as temperatures internal to the PSU get warmer.

http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Why-99-Percent-o...

Something that isn't really spelled out by either one of those articles in great depth (neither one of them is about this particular subject, just related ones) is PSU efficiency and how its performance changes when heat is applied internally.

The way electrical components work, this is ruled by Physics, the warmer they are the less efficient they are at conductivity and stuff. I am not going to go into super high detail about the technical aspects of this. If you want to know about these technical minutae, this info should be available in electrical engineering textbooks.

Say you have a PSU that can give 1000w at 0c, the short form of the above is that every constant 1c of internal temperature you add to the device the wattage that PSU can deliver decreases by a measurable amount. At 50c it might only be able to deliver 500w. At 100c it might only be able to deliver 200w.

These are just example numbers. They depend a lot on the quality of the internal components used, something that nobody knows unless a reviewer that knows what they are talking about disassembles the PSU and performs an in depth examination.

Suffice it to say that cheapy PSUs are cheap because lower quality parts are cheaper than higher quality parts. The effects of heat on them are greater than the effects of heat on a PSU that is more expensive per watt than the cheapy PSUs. If a PSU costs $1 per 10w, its probably got high quality internals. Not always especially if it is modular, but usually.

However, all PSUs, regardless of what components they use internally are negatively impacted by heat internal to the PSU. There is no PSU you can buy that isn't.

In addition to lower deliverable wattages, PSUs also "run out of spec" when the temperature inside of the PSU gets higher and higher. This is avoidable to some extent. The highest quality components delay running out of spec the longest.

Running out of spec is one thing that can destroy your other computer components that the PSU is attached to. These components expect the power supplied to them to be pretty low variance. If a video card uses, say, 150w it doesn't wan't the PSU to give it 147, 153, 149, 156, 148. Instead it wants 150w, 150w, 150w, 150w.

The variance as in the first set of numbers can damage electrical components over time.

Additionally, regardless of how good a PSU is, the components internal to it degrade over time. Higher quality components experience this degradation slower, but its there for both types.

This basically means that the maximum wattage a PSU can deliver decreases over time.

This effect compounds with the heat problems from before. Say you had a PSU that could deliver 1000w on day 1. It may only be able to deliver 900w after 1 year of using it in your PC just through regular wear and tear.

Thus if your PSU could deliver maybe 600w at its regular internal temperatures on day 1, maybe it can only do 550w after 1 year, and maybe only 500w after 2 years at the same temperature.

When this maximum wattage deliverable goes under the amount the computer components need, say it can only deliver 250w and your components ask it for 300w during some high end game playing, then all kinds of random bad things can happen.

First of all, this causes all kinds of freezes/lockups, reboots, and stuff like that. Secondly, it can damage components when components ask for power that they don't get, or looking at it a different way they ramp up their operations in expectation of power that doesn't come.

Also, none of this really touches on what happens when a PSU comes near to its maximum power delivery.

If a given PSU can only give out 500w at some point in time, you don't want to take 500w from it. It doesn't matter how it gets to this point, whether 500w is the maximum it can give on day 1 or whether internal degrading combined with high internal temperatures or whatever causes it to only be able to deliver some smaller number than its day 1 deliverable power.

What matters is the fact that the device should not be at 100% load, at least it is not a good idea to run it like this and especially not commonly.

Running a PSU at 100% load causes bad efficiency (more pulled from the wall to give the same amount of power to the internals). If the PSU is 80% efficient at 100% load, then 500w of load would mean 600w pulled from the wall. That extra 100w turns into heat inside the PSU that stays there all during operations until the load on the PSU reduces.

That 100w of heat internal to the PSU, as explained above, is not good for the PSU. It further reduces the maximum power the PSU can deliver and increases the rate of internal decay.

Going back to the 100% load thing, PSUs just literally up and explode after a while if you use them too close to their maximum power. This will almost definitely destroy a component if it happens.

Some PSUs go out gracefully. They just turn off one day and never turn back on again. Other times the end of the PSUs life is more dramatic. If they just die in their sleep, often there is no component damage. If they go out with a BANG (literally) then the chances are quite high.

So you really don't want your PSU to be running at 100% load commonly.

One of the best ways to keep that from happening for the longest amount of time possible is to run the PSU at 50% load to the greatest extent possible. They are designed to provide half of their maximum power as the baseline. They are most efficient at this point and they degrade the slowest at this point.

Thus if your PSU delivers 600w at the temperature you use it at (not what it says on the box!) you ideally only want to take 300w from it. You also want the temperatures internal to the PSU to be the absolute lowest they can conveniently be.

This makes the time that it takes for the maximum it can deliver take a really long time to go below 300w where damage to components becomes very likely (both PSU and non psu).

This is all long and complicated stuff, but it is all interconnected and you can't understand any of it without understanding how different things impact each other.

It gets more complicated than this, but that is at least the basics.
March 28, 2012 11:11:50 PM

Hrm the link got truncated, SeaSonic M12II 620 Bronze 620W ATX12V V2.3 / EPS 12V V2.91 SLI Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

Think that will reach everything in the HAF 912? and is 24amps enough for 8 usb devices(granted usb devices can vary in how much power they pull). I was worried about the HAF's top vent, but I figure he can cover it with a sheet of metal or something to avoid things falling into it.

Thanks for all the help so far and I guess I need to start a new topic so you can get another best answer since I've changed the thread a bit.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
HAF 912
i3 2120
2 sticks crucial 2gb ddr3 1333
ASUS DVD burner(best rating and I own two of them)
Seagate 500gb SATA
PCI parallel printer adapter
a b ) Power supply
March 29, 2012 7:16:55 PM

I am not hurting for best answers as it is. Not that I specifically don't want them, but I need 750 more best answers before I get to expert so it would only bring me like a tenth of a percent closer to the goal. Might as well not bother with it unless a mod comes in and shuts the topic down while it is still active.

Some of them don't look at anything except whether the thread has been marked as having a best answer or not.

The USB devices are mostly on the +5v lines, so usually you don't have to worry about not having enough amps since those lines are pretty much never overloaded.

I agree that it would be good to avoid things falling into the PC if you can, but top vents are the best cooling devices on the PC so it would be a little sad if you had to obstruct them.

I love my top vents on my PC-K59.

Was it mostly clear what I said before about how the case and temperatures and all that stuff affect the PSUs operations? I mean as far as I went into it, that is.

That Seasonic 620w is a really good PSU.

Is there anything else I need to answer at this point?
March 30, 2012 1:54:06 AM

I think that covers it unless you offer to build it to :) 

Thanks for all the help and advice.
a b ) Power supply
March 30, 2012 2:49:25 AM

If you are near DC I will do it for tips.
March 30, 2012 4:15:39 AM

Raiddinn said:
If you are near DC I will do it for tips.


what do you think about the Azza Hurrican 2000 Full Tower Gaming Case with 4 Hot Swappable HDD Cage & (4) 230MM Fans... is it better than the HAF 912 ? i like the look and it looks like it can really keep a system cool, if not i'll just go with the HAF 912 and call them asap
a b ) Power supply
March 30, 2012 4:40:45 AM

- Edit - Moved response to other thread Mustachio posted his question in.
!