Old PC New Problem

Hey guys my old PC (not my new one thankfully) has just started acting strange. Its a dell Pentium 4 2004 I think btw. So when I turn on the PC it will boot to the windows xp load screen with lights on mouse and keyboard and picture on the monitor but then the screen will black out and I lose power to the keyboard. I booted it in safe mode and it got past the loadscreen but roughly 2mins in it crashed the same way. I figured it was windows but then I went into bios to reformat it did the same thing. What is weird however after the screen goes black and the keybaord loses power I still have lights on the PC and mouse. Below is what I'm thinking but want your opinion.
PSU- no (lights always on)
Motherboard- maybe
ram- maybe but why would it crash a minute in
CPU- most likely maybe its overheating and crashing (less stress in safe mode hence why it ran longer)
Hardrive- no doesn't explain bios crash

I no its an old PC but its the one I play with and write on so I would prefer it working lol. Thanks for the help.
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  1. Best answer
    Here's my initial thoughts (for what it's worth)
    1) PSU, could very well be the PSU, simply because fans are spinning and lights come on does not guarantee proper operation of the PSU. OEM PSU's aren't really designed to last over 4 years so you've been on borrowed time for a while there. You can check the output voltages with a digital multimeter.
    2) Motherboard, highly unlikely, I would expect near instant issues on start up. One thing to check there is to make sure you don't have swollen/leaky capacitors
    3) Ram, very possible, ram issues can jump out any time from preventing boot to 3 hours into heavy game play - seemingly without cause. Running memcheck should let you know the ram's condition (when/if you get to that point). If you have two sticks of ram, you can pull one and see if you get anywhere that way. Keep one in the slot closest to the CPU (usually) - swap them, see if one works.
    4) CPU, could be an overheat problem, again, with age, the thermal compound used will dry and become less effective. Along those same lines, dust can build up in unseen areas preventing proper cooling. Removal and cleaning of the HSF and reapplication of thermal compound may help.
    5) HDD - amazingly, a defective HDD can have an impact on BIOS - not common but it is a real possibility. I would hold off replacing the HDD as that does seem to be an unlikely suspect.
    6) Here is what I'm personally leaning toward... Dead or dying CMOS battery. A very inexpensive part (available at your local watch/hearing aid battery retailer for about $5). On some older Dell machines, the CMOS battery plays a huge role (I don't know exactly how) in the stability of the machine. Replacement of that battery would be my first step here.
    Hope it helped some
  2. Thanks I'll try what you said forgot bout the battery completely any one else have opinions? I'll respond back tomorrow bout the battery and other fixes.
  3. Hey so the battery fix worked. Thank you so much, the only other question I have is I put in a dollar store battery should I get a more expensive battery instead?
  4. If only for peace of mind, I wouldn't think the brand will matter much. If it doesn't last long, you'll know what the problem is...
  5. Best answer selected by spencer-a-farias.
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