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  1. #1
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    Question Problem on power up - intermittent

    Hi. It's my first post asking for help here so please be gentle with me!

    I have a pc which was a custom build that I bought off ebay. Virtually all the time (but NOT always) when I power up this pc nothing happens apart from a bit of flashing of the hard drive light, it doesn't even get to the bios screen. I always know when this has happened as the monitor stays on standby rather than clicking itself on a second or so after power up but just before the bios screen appears. I then have to switch it off, power it up again, and keep my fingers crossed it'll get to the bios screen. Sometimes it'll only take a couple of attempts but other times I might have to repeat the process half a dozen times or more before it gets to the bios screen. It matters not how long I leave it sitting with the hard drive light flashing away, it just simply stays the same, no boot. Occasionally though it'll start up quite happily on the very first attempt. It displays the same symptoms whether shut down, hibernated or even just restarted (which is a right pain when installing updates and the like), but always manages to wake from sleep with no problem. Sometimes, after a failed startup attempt, when I power it up again, I get a warning saying the bios settings have prevented the pc starting up properly due to the overclocking settings - do I want to load the default settings. The thing is my bios settings are all set at the default values regarding any settings which would affect the clock speed - I don't overclock it at all. The rest of the time it just starts up normally (ie no bios warning) when it does eventually decide to start.

    My suspicions are either the power supply or the bios itself, but I'm no expert, and to be honest I'm at a loss as to how to proceed to identify the problem. Although I have a pretty good knowledge of pc hardware and software (I've done plenty of upgrading of hardware in the past) and a bit of basic electronic knowledge I'm no electrical engineer and don't have any test equipment in any case. Does this sound like something I need to get a repair shop to look at, or is this likely to be a problem I can diagnose myself with guidance from you guys? If I can diagnose the problem, I can probably replace the faulty part myself, if not I'm sure it'd be cheaper to go to the repair shop and get them to do the replacement than having to get them to do the diagnosis as well.

    Has anyone had any experience of this sort of problem, and if so, did you manage to get to the bottom of it and find a solution? Any and all guidance would be very much appreciated.

    Amd remember guys, be gentle, it's the first time I've asked for help here...

  2. #2
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    Have you check all the connections inside the machine? Have you re-seated the RAM?

    Strange BIOS issues sometimes indicate the battery on the motherboard is bad. How old is the PC?

    Could be the power supply. If you don't have any test equipment then a repair shop visit may be in order. But let others chime in before you take the repair shop route.

    Joe

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    Any warning beeps when this happens?
    may need to check your memory is not at fault. If you have more than one stick of memory try removing one stick and see if it boots reliably even if slower. If it does not the replace the removed stick and remove the other one. If it boots reliably with one of the sticks in then it probably is one faulty memory stick which will need replacing.
    Clive

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    Thanks for the responses so far.

    Quote Originally Posted by JoeP517 View Post
    Have you check all the connections inside the machine? Have you re-seated the RAM?

    Strange BIOS issues sometimes indicate the battery on the motherboard is bad. How old is the PC?

    Could be the power supply. If you don't have any test equipment then a repair shop visit may be in order. But let others chime in before you take the repair shop route.

    Joe
    I have checked all the connections and reseated the RAM. I hadn't considered the motherboard battery, but the bios has never lost the correct time and date or other settings and so I wouldn't expect it to be that. It is only 3 years old and was bought brand new, but I'll certainly change the battery and see if that makes any difference. The power supply was changed about two years or so ago after the last one popped and then died on me (it made my wife jump a mile which was at least some consolation!). It was replaced with a higher rated psu. I'll take it back to where I got it replaced and see if they can run a diagnostic on it, if it is faulty I can hopefully negotiate a discount on a replacement. I suppose it's possible the old psu dying may have caused some damage to the motherboard, but TBH I can't honestly remember if this problem started before or after the psu was replaced, I thought it was before but the wife says after.

    Quote Originally Posted by curiousclive View Post
    Any warning beeps when this happens?
    may need to check your memory is not at fault. If you have more than one stick of memory try removing one stick and see if it boots reliably even if slower. If it does not the replace the removed stick and remove the other one. If it boots reliably with one of the sticks in then it probably is one faulty memory stick which will need replacing.
    There are no warning beeps when it happens unfortunately, if only there was I'd have some idea of the culprit. I've tried each stick of Ram on it's own and in combination but the problem remains. I've also run a full test on the memory using Windows (boot up) memory test function but it doesn't come up with any errors.

    Thanks again for your help guys, when I get time over the weekend I'll strip it all back to the basics and try booting to the bios with just the video card and a stick of RAM and see what happens, I'll let you know how I get on.

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    Silver Lounger Banyarola's Avatar
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    I had the same thing happen on one of my systems and it turned out to be a bad video card....

    I had the same symptoms and then one day it just wouldn't boot at all.
    "If You Are Reading This In English, Thank A VET"

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    Okay. I disconnected everything from the motherboard (hard drives, CD/DVD Drives, USB Hub, etc). I even pulled all the RAM. With the video card left in the same thing's still happening. Take away the video card as well and it still does it.

    In short, when it happens and it's initially powered up it'll fire up for a second, then power down, then repeat the process, until I hard power down. If it's going to boot to bios, there's no delay between powering up and booting to the bios.

    The only conclusion I can come to is that it's either the power supply itself (which seems unlikely as it's absolutely solid as a rock while running) or it's the power supply rail on the motherboard? Does anyone know enough to hlp me diagnose the problem on the motherboard? Or do I really need to get the repair shop to look at it?

    My best guess is that when the old power supply blew it must've caused some kind of power surge or short circuit in the power line which is causing problems when powering up although leaving it solid as a rock once running? Alas my electronic knowledge doesn't cover whether there's a different part of the power supply line used for first powering on, and if so that part of the circuit becomes redundant after powering on, so I could use some advice on that, as well as some idea of whether this likely to be repairable (new capacitor, resistor, diode, etc?) or whether I'm likely to need a new motherboard.

    I tried removing the bios battery but couldn't figure out how to get it out it's holder but will try again later.

    Thanks in advance again for any and all guidance guys.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by mjmacnab; 2012-02-05 at 14:04. Reason: To add a couple of attachments of warning screen and more info

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    Silver Lounger Banyarola's Avatar
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    In my opinion, leaving the video card out and booting is the same as if you were booting with a bad video card..

    You can go to Office Depot or Staples and pick up a new video card and try that..
    If trying the new card the PC still doesn't boot up you can always return the video card if you buy it from Office Depot or Staples because they have a return policy...
    "If You Are Reading This In English, Thank A VET"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Banyarola View Post
    In my opinion, leaving the video card out and booting is the same as if you were booting with a bad video card..

    You can go to Office Depot or Staples and pick up a new video card and try that..
    If trying the new card the PC still doesn't boot up you can always return the video card if you buy it from Office Depot or Staples because they have a return policy...
    Would a stress test on my video card using a benchmark test maybe tell me if I have a bad video card? If so I could do that tonight rather than waiting till tomorrow when the shops are open. Thanks.

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    Silver Lounger Banyarola's Avatar
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    I don't know about a stress test.

    All I can tell you is that I had the same problem and then one day it wouldn't boot at all...

    Of course it could be something else but in my case it was the video card.
    "If You Are Reading This In English, Thank A VET"

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    Something similar happened to me once after I'd swapped a faulty motherboard, except that it wasn't intermittent. Just no boot - the fans would start, then stop, then nothing. Not even a beep code. Turned out I'd zapped the CPU (quite a feat in itself, I must've been really clumsy that day).

    As in this case the machine boots sometimes, it might be a case of component creep. It might be worth re-seating the CPU.

    Carefully.

  11. #11
    Bronze Lounger DrWho's Avatar
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    I doubt if a man in the UK can just run out to Best Buy or Staples. EH?

    But a guy with all that electronics background should have a little digital volt meter laying around somewhere.

    That first CMOS battery could have been OLD before it was ever put into that motherboard.
    So the age of the PC really has nothing to do with it. Check that battery with a meter or just exchange it.
    When checking a CMOS battery with a volt meter, it must check out to 3.0vdc or better or it should be changed.

    Good Luck,
    The Doctor

    PS: Have you looked at the Electrolytic Capacitors on the motherboard, to see if any are bulging on top?
    If there are any, even just one, that can cause internittent problems till the mobo stops working all together.
    I replaced six of those, on my own mobo this past summer. It had gotten funky and then just stopped working all together. I'm a board level repair tech, so changing out the BAD Caps was only an inconvenience.
    Last edited by DrWho; 2012-02-05 at 19:22.
    Experience is truly the best teacher.

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrWho View Post
    I doubt if a man in the UK can just run out to Best Buy or Staples. EH?

    But a guy with all that electronics background should have a little digital volt meter laying around somewhere.

    That first CMOS battery could have been OLD before it was ever put into that motherboard.
    So the age of the PC really has nothing to do with it. Check that battery with a meter or just exchange it.
    When checking a CMOS battery with a volt meter, it must check out to 3.0vdc or better or it should be changed.

    Good Luck,
    The Doctor

    PS: Have you looked at the Electrolytic Capacitors on the motherboard, to see if any are bulging on top?
    If there are any, even just one, that can cause internittent problems till the mobo stops working all together.
    I replaced six of those, on my own mobo this past summer. It had gotten funky and then just stopped working all together. I'm a board level repair tech, so changing out the BAD Caps was only an inconvenience.
    True - I can't just run out to Staples or Best Buy - it's a long jog from here lol.

    Regarding your comment about "a guy with all that electronic background", I said I had "a bit of BASIC electronic knowledge" - my electronics was all done at college - so alas I don't have a digital voltmeter lying about, but I'll replace the battery anyway in case it is that (just as soon as I can figure out how to get it out it's holder).

    Thanks for the tip about the capacitors - I haven't checked them yet but will do as soon as I get the chance to whip the cover off. If I see any with bulging tops I'll know (from what you've said) it's not terminal.

    Any other visual clues I should look out for while I'm in there?

    Thanks Doctor.

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    does the motherboard have built in graphics? Could then remove the extra graphic card and plug monitor into the motherboard VGA/DVI socket and see if problem still occurs.
    Clive

    All typing errors are my own work and subject to patents pending. Except errors by the spell checker. And that has its own patients.

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    We do have a staples in UK also Maplins and PCworld. so would be worth trying one of them to see if you could buy a cheap graphic card with option to return it if not needed.
    By the way what type of graphic card have you got installed. If a high end one maybe it needs extra power connected to the 6 /8 pin black connectors on the graphic card. If they are not connected properly the machine would not boot up most times but could occasionally be lucky.
    Clive

    All typing errors are my own work and subject to patents pending. Except errors by the spell checker. And that has its own patients.

  15. #15
    Silver Lounger Banyarola's Avatar
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    Like I said in my post, I had the same problem and it was the video card...

    If you plug in a new card it will disable the on board graphics if he has that.
    "If You Are Reading This In English, Thank A VET"

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