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PC problem...can someone please help?

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June 12, 2002 12:23:48 AM

I'm having a problem with my computer and I was hoping someone here could help. Alright, when I start it up, either at the video card screen or the BIOS one, it's like the computer restarts. The monitor goes into sleep mode and all the lights on my computer(DVD, CDRW, etc) remain on. All the fans and the power supply also sound like they're on. It just won't get past the startup screens before shutting off the monitor. I'm assuming the monitor thinks the computer is shut off. Upon hitting the reset button, nothing happens. The computer fails to restart. Only after shutting off the power strip and turning the computer on again will it once again go to the BIOS screen and then die.

I thought this was probably a power supply problem so I swapped mine out with a spare I had. After doing this as well as dusting the inside of the case and making sure all the connections were solid, it still doesn't work. In fact, after first getting it to go to the BIOS screen like before, it now won't even get that far. It's almost like no signal is being sent to the monitor because it doesn't come on.

I'm beginning to think it might be the hard drive. Now that I think of it, it has been making an odd noise recently when accessing data. Instead of the normal noise, it sounded staticky if that makes any sense.

Short of buying a new hard drive and trying trying it, is there anything else I can do? I'd really prefer to not have to go out and buy new components just in order to test...

Also, my computer has been working fine before today. I had some difficulty getting it to come on but after I did, it restarted out of nowhere and now I can't get it to come back up.

I'd appreciate any possible suggestions anyone has for me...

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a b V Motherboard
June 12, 2002 5:03:52 AM

Normally drive lights on means data cable is backwards. If you didn't reinstall the drive data cables to the drives today, it's probably a bad drive. If your drive is less than 3 years old, it's probably under warrantee, unless it came from a major manufacturer like Dell or Gateway. I would try unhooking the drive data cable from the hard drive first and see if it boots as far as the configuration screen.

What's the frequency, Kenneth?
June 12, 2002 5:29:56 AM

Thanks a lot for the reply.

Well, I haven't done anything to any of the drives recently so it must be a bad hard drive. By lights, you are referring to the lights on the DVD-ROM and the CDRW drive right? When it restarts, those lights remain on.

I might also want to mention my drive configuration. My motherboard has a built-in ATA100 controller and I have the hard drive plugged into it and the other drives each have their own IDE slot on the motherboard.

I built it myself so I'll have to see about the warranty. It's an IBM Deskstar(sp?) ATA100 drive.

Will the computer start up without a hard drive in it like you suggest? Ifso, that would probably work as a test...

Again, thanks for your help.
Related resources
June 12, 2002 7:02:10 AM

Quote:
Will the computer start up without a hard drive in it like you suggest? Ifso, that would probably work as a test...

Yes.

<i>It's always the one thing you never suspected.</i>
a b V Motherboard
June 12, 2002 7:11:40 AM

Yes, that's how you test to see if it's an IDE device causing the problem.

You built the computer yourself, that means the hard drive IS under warranty, unless it's more than three years old, or an OEM Dell, Gateway, etc drive.

What's the frequency, Kenneth?
June 12, 2002 7:30:59 AM

Yeah, hard drive seems the likely cause. Even try booting up with a win98 bootdisk and see if you can do a "dir" on the c: drive (if you are DOS inclined). If the drive has shat itself, you'll get errors returned after the dir command.
June 12, 2002 8:26:52 PM

I tried starting it up with a boot disk in it and now it won't even get to the BIOS screen before shutting down/restarting. I listened closely and when this happens it sounds like I can hear the hard drive powering down. Does this still seem like a hd problem though? I'm really hoping it isn't the motherboard but could that be a likely culprit?

Thanks again.
June 13, 2002 12:16:18 PM

was the hard drive disconnected while you were doing this test?

<i>It's always the one thing you never suspected.</i>
June 13, 2002 8:04:44 PM

Nope. I assumed since he suggested I try to look a the contents of drive C, I would need to keep the hard drive in there. Am I thinking wrong?
June 14, 2002 1:42:21 AM

try it without the hard drive to see what sort of stability you get. If you stay up, can go into the BIOS settings, etc. it may point more and more to your drive, or IDE bus or IDE cable.

<i>It's always the one thing you never suspected.</i>
June 17, 2002 9:10:14 PM

Alright. Well, I unplugged the HD and it's still doing it--restarting at the very latest at the end of the BIOS screen. Sometimes, it does it before even getting that far; like, at the end of the video card screen.

After that failed, I unplugged every IDE device including the floppy drive with no success. I tried going into the BIOS setup but, it usually restarts before I can get that far.

I also tried re-setting the RAM but that did nothing.

So, currently, the only things plugged into the motherboard are the processor, the RAM, and the PCI/AGP devices(video card, sound card, and NIC) and I don't think it could be any of those things.

Anyone got any further suggestions? At this point, it has to be either the RAM or the motherboard doesn't it?

Worst case scenario, I can use the motherboard dying as an excuse to get a new one, new processor, etc.

Thanks ahead of time.
June 17, 2002 9:19:48 PM

do u have another video card u can try to rule out a problem with it? shorting out or something?
June 17, 2002 10:33:44 PM

Um, not really. I have a video card in this PC but I'd really prefer not to have to take it out seeing as how it's a real hassle to get the case on this one open. Do you really think it could be the video card? I might try that if I can't figure anything else...
a b V Motherboard
a b ) Power supply
June 18, 2002 3:00:27 AM

You should be able to get to the CMOS set up screen without anything at all hooked to the IDE ports. Make sure the securing screws to the motherboard chassis supports are tight, which actually ground the board to the case. Pull your RAM modules and use some canned air to clean all the dust off the board, processor, and RAM slots, then reinsert your RAM modules and make sure they are seated good. Check and be absolutely positive your heatsink fan is running. Inspect all of your cables and generally look the board over and under for a dropped screw a fine piece of wire or even a hair that could short out whatever it might be touching. If you've checked all these things and still cannot even get to the CMOS setup screen, clear the CMOS through your Motherboard Manuals instructions, and retry and if you still can't get to the CMOS setup screen, Install a new CMOS battery.
June 18, 2002 4:17:48 AM

Well, when I was unplugging various things today, I checked all the connections as well as dusting out the case with some canned air. I did notice that the fan on my processor was unplugged buy I made sure to plug that in. After all this, it still won't get past the BIOS screen before restarting.

Also, when you say CMOS setup screen, what're you referring to? Like, when I hold delete to enter setup?
June 18, 2002 5:03:54 AM

Just a few thoughts. I wasn't clear if your cpu cooler fan was disconnected because of your cleaning, or all along. If it was disconnected from the beginning that could be the cause of your problem. A cpu has only a few minutes (or seconds) of life without cooling. I know this because I fried a brand new (unfortunately oem) 1.4 Athlon in about 2 seconds when building my first computer with the fan disconnected.

Another thought. Are there any beeps present during the part of the start-up that you get through? These beeps can be decoded as a specific problems such as memory, cpu, etc. The codes should be in your manual, but are usually standard by manufacturer. Check their websites for the beep code list.



"If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space".
June 18, 2002 8:22:07 PM

I'm pretty sure the fan came disconnected while cleaning. If it's been disconnected for two years, I would think that I would've had a problem earlier. Plus, according to my BIOS last week, the temperature was below average so I don't think cooling was a problem.

I also might want to mention a compatibility problem I've always had with the computer. Sometimes, due to an incompatibility problem with the video card, my computer will beep signifying an insufficient power problem. After hitting reset, it will start up without a problem. This has been a persistent problem for two years on occasion and I don't know if this could wear on the motherboard over time.

Now, there does seem to be a beep between the video card and BIOS screen but it's only one beep so I don't know if it could be a code. Should I look into this?
June 19, 2002 1:44:32 AM

one beep is normal. But AFA the case being difficult to open, you better open that pup up. It's really pointless to try to debug something like this if you're afraid to open up the case.

<i>It's always the one thing you never suspected.</i>
June 19, 2002 4:13:26 AM

I was just saying that I'd prefer not to open the case on this computer unless it's a last ditch effort because it has like 8 screws and it's difficult to line-up when you put it back on. The computer I'm working on is really easy to get into. Plus, I don't even know if the video card in this computer is an AGP one...it's only a 300 mhz PII that we got from Gateway like five years ago.

Like I said, I'm more than prepared to try anything but I'd prefer to only swap parts out of this computer as a final try.
June 19, 2002 8:14:10 AM

Does you mobo have onboard video, if so use it and pull your vid card out. I had the same problem except I waa getting the display problem audible signal.

How did I get here???
June 19, 2002 7:56:09 PM

Nope, my motherboard has nothing on-board. You were having the same problem? Your computer wouldn't get through the BIOS screen without resetting?

I'm actually planning on borrowing my friend's old Voodoo 3 this weekend...he has a spare.
June 19, 2002 8:38:03 PM

inmehd,
It really sounds like you are having either a motherboard problem, a CPU problem, or a RAM problem. The fact that you even see anything on bootup sounds like the video card is doing it's job. If you can power up that means your powersupply is ok. Of the 3 suggestions I would think the bad motherboard would be the #1 choice. With no proccessor you would get no video at all and only hear beep codes. No RAM in the system would yield the same result. A bad motherboard may try to boot but then fail if there was a short somewhere.

In short: Sounds more like a motherboard issue. Why again?

1. You have SOME video (Initial BIOS)
2. The fact that you GET video and no beep codes sounds like your proccessor and RAM are ok
3. You've unplugged all other cable devices.

Maybe try removing all non-essential PCI cards as well. Might help ;) 

Hope that helps you narrow down the problem!
Maniax
June 19, 2002 10:45:03 PM

Thanks a lot for your reply, Maniax. That's really what I've been thinking.

BTW, was your summation an attempt to get this topic off the main page forever? Heh, I realize I've probably been a little too persistent with this problem.
!