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Hardware problem

Last response: in Systems
December 2, 2012 5:37:32 AM

I would like to start a thread regarding my homebuilt system that started dying about a month ago but am unsure where to place the thread. I know its hardware related, but im on my second mb and the issue is not resolved. At this point it could be ram, cpu or pwr supply, please let me know where to post a thread about troubleshooting hardware but not sure which component is at fault.



More about : hardware problem

December 2, 2012 6:09:40 AM

Usually motherboards have diagnostic LED lights to show where in the boot process the computer is failing. Can you describe in more detail exactly what is going wrong. If you just exchanged the motherboard and it still has the problem it's most likely power supply related.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 2, 2012 6:22:42 AM

System specs? please include psu make and model.
Related resources
December 2, 2012 7:15:08 AM

Ok so im gathering this is an ok place to talk about this. Some background info.
System specs:

Mb, gigabyte h67n-usb3-b3
Cpu, core i5 intel
Ram, gskill ripjaws, F3-10666cl7d 8gb (2x4)
Psu, Aereon asroc asc-700c 700w
Gfx, radeon hd6850 1gb
Case, nzxt h2
Samsung 830 128gb ssd (c drive)

About a month ago i had a win 8 update (im running 64bit), upon reboot the system got to bios splash screen but no further. Im not sure what the correct term is for when a pc gives up, its like u hit the power button and all fans stop etc, i call it 'falling over', maybe u can educate me to the correct term. Anyways it would do this, get to bios splash screen, no further and fall over, then restart by itself caught in an endless loop.
Hitting f12 with the wirless keyboard was erratic in success, a wired keyboard was more relaible.
I would enter the bios and manually set boot drive and all was fine, it would then load win 8, and as long as i didnt reboot no problems occured.

Then last sunday i gave the machine a shutdown for a couple of hours, upon restart it didnt even get to bios splash screen, it just fell over (without restart cycle).
My first thought was psu fault, so i happened to have a spare one lying around, albeit only 500w i tried but alas it was failing same point 1-3 secs into boot (pre bios splash screen).

I then stripped all peripherals out of the motherboard/case so only what was connected to the motherboard was psu, wired keyboard, monitor' ram and c drive (gfx card not connected).
This helped sumwhat in that i was able to get further into the system but it still fell over, even if i managed to get into bios and think about what i might try and do, it was like i was on a timer and it randomly would fall over, sumtimes 5 secs into bios, other times 30 secs.
I tried lots of other little tricks like triggering cmos rest via screwdriver (which actually triggered the pc to switch on, is that normal?), pulling the bios battery out for several hours and reinsrt, nuthing worked.

So after a little googling and reading, most views were that it was mb issue.

So i bought a new mb as i wasn't particularly satisfied with having only 4 sata points and one pcie slot anyway.
Now i am running a Asrock h77 pro4-m with all of the above specs.
It was my second attempt at building a pc but upon booting up everything seemed to work, no falling over. I couldnt 'see' all my hdd (i have more than listed in the system specs, ie data drives) but not all were showing, but at this time i wasnt overly concrened about that, just getting my machine up and running for now.
But it seemed as tho the preinstallation of win 8 from the old mb wasnt playing to nicely with this mb, CCC for example wasnt opening, sum usb ports seemed to work sumtimes and other times not, then i got a usb power surge error.

I decided to reinstall a fresh clean installation of win 8 to start off on the right foot with this new mb. I formatted the c drive but the system reserved partition remianined i think.
Upon reinstall i noticed somethings stayed, sumhow my background wallpaper of choice remained could the system reserve partiion on drive c retain this info?

I had only reinstalled a couple of programs (MS Office and ff, skype) when i was asked for an adobe flash update, during which the system fell over again.

Uh oh i thought... Here we go again, and right enough it starts falling over again and again. It fell over during a Pc Refresh, and now its falling over so badly that i cannot even stay alive long enough to out a new operating system (was going to try win 7, but it falls over during very early loading of disc etc).

I even managed to do a WDM Tool prior to an attempt of win 7 installation, it did 6 passes no errors.

Im at a loss now, im thinking faulty psu or cpu. Mb is brandnew and the ram passed (just one) mem test, but i have run out of components to play with at home, think i will have to send it to the local pc repair shop.

With this information, does anything stand out as to what the culprit is? I have already spent $100 on the mb, and whilst i dont rate that as a waste of money as it has more features i like/want, i can't keep shelling out $$ on random parts till i find the culprit.

Plz forgive typing errors etc, im on the ipad <groan>
a b B Homebuilt system
December 2, 2012 8:27:59 AM

bruce i would start by making the system a simple as you can. unplug all the extra drives just the ssd. if the cpu has a gpu built in then remove the video card and run on the onboard video. start with the ssd. make sure the firmware is at the last update from the drive vendor. windows 8 uses the cloud now and some of your install info is saved online. ie background and wallpaper.
on the ssd i would do a secure erase just to make sure any of the system lock up have not damaged the drive. before you install windows again make sure the sata ports are set to achi mode and you have your ssd connected to the intel chipset on the mb. also check that the ram you have is set right for speed and timing in the mb. (turn on xmp profile). install windows and intel chipset drivers and all the updated drivers for the mb. if the system is stable to that point then download memtest and burn it to a cd and boot from the cd and see if your ram passes. if it does but you get a system crash again with the system bare bones. take one stick of ram out and see if the system is stable. if it crashes swap the dimms are try again. make sure our windows 8 cd not downloaded from a toreent sight most time there full of virus or have issues. make sure your using the one from ms web page. the issue with your old mb was a bad drive hanging the mb up or to many devices on a usb hub. make sure with your system you just have a mouse and keyboard conencted to the system by usb and nothing more. you need to get the system stable state where it not crashing then add one variable to the pc till the error show up.
December 2, 2012 5:39:59 PM

Thank you for the time to write that reply, but im not sure following yer advice will help much. On the old mb i did have only the bare essentials running, and it still fell over. Seeing as im on a new mb and same problem still persists it is more than likely that the old mb was fine and that the fault lies elsewhere with a psu, cpu or ram.
I have already stripped down the pc to its bare minimum before, it didnt help that much to enable a boot into an os or anything, just went from falling over 1-3 secs to more like 10-30 secs. (to me this suggests a power issue, less drainage last longer but still dies, more plugged in more power required, dies sooner, but what do i know...)

I could do as u say and also strip this build down to bare minimim but im guessing im going to find the same thing happen again i.e the machine still falls over but at a different point (last a bit longer).
You say the problem with the old mb was a bad hd hanging it up, or too many usb things on a usb hub, but how then was it still falling over when i had no peripherals (just a single keyboard) and NO hds connected at all (at one time i did not even connect the ssd c drive)?
So im pretty sure this issue is not mb related, hdd, peripherals, gfx card.
The only three components i have not tried testing extensively is cpu, ram and psu, but i have no other ram lying around, nor psu, nor cpu, so thats why i think any troubleshooting here is going to be wasting time, im prolly better off paying the diagnosis fee at the local pc shop and following their recommendations.

What i was hoping is that someone would read this story, be able to take a step back and justify why they think i have a bad psu, ram or cpu etc.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 2, 2012 8:05:36 PM

Start ruling out parts, first disconnect any extra drives not needed to boot the system, and remove all external devices other than power, monitor, mouse and keyboard. If it still crashes take the video card out and use the onboard. If it still crashes try 1 stick of ram at a time, if its still crashing unplug the boot drive and plug the cdrom back in and boot to a live os cd like Knoppix, If the system still crashes in knoppx then its either the PSU or cpu where the motherboard has already been replaced. Between the 2 I say the PSU would be the most probable cause, a bad cpu could cause this but a bad PSU is much more likely.
December 3, 2012 4:17:39 AM

Took the pc to the shop this morning, he got straight to work opening him up and trying a boot up with his own hdd running win 8. Everything was fine, he did a stress test and quite quickly it fell over. Can u imagine the relief i felt, at least it was happening here in his shop and not just with me at my place with my hdds. (i did also mention at tomshardware that it falls oever even without any hdd connected :S
now i told him that once it falls over once it will do it again much sooner, and lo behold it did, to the point it was dying within 10secs.

He even tested my psu and tried another one, still no joy. So i left him withh it and went to work, will be interesting to hear if he had any more luck with it when i call him tomorrow...
December 10, 2012 2:24:25 AM

In the end the thermal paste was very thin, poor heatsink placement and one bad stick of RAM causing the problem, overheating VERY quickly.