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When I power up my machine, it dies while the BIOS is doing its thing. The power remains on, the fans hum, but there is no life in the machine. I turn it off and start again; the second time, the BIOS completes and then it dies while Linux is starting up. Again, the monitor signal disappears and the computer is dead, although the fans continue to whirr and the power lights remain on. I tried waiting a reasonable time and then attempting to ssh in from another machine; no luck. The machine really is dead. When I try a third time, the computer boots up successfully. Once the computer has been brought up successfully, there are no further problems.
Since it just completely dies during start-up, there is no possibility of any troubleshooting log information. The only thing that has changed recently is that a few weeks ago I swapped my Radeon 9600 pro graphics card for a much more powerful NVidia GeForce 6800 GT. I have no idea whether this could be related.
Do you think it is likely my motherboard is on the way out?
I had a similar problem once, it turned out that the PSU was fried... It was somehow badly damaged and the power was having up and down... the BIOS was sometime hanging, sometime it was the POST, sometime the boot, etc... It took me a while to figure out what was the problem but once I changed the PSU the computer was like new.
I investigated the voltages using the BIOS system monitor, and immediately after switching on (with everything cold) the +5V rail was actually wobbling around 4.46V which is way outside ATX specification.
Over a few minutes as things warmed up it gradually climbed up to around 4.73V which, although still outside spec, was apparently enough to keep the computer functioning.
Anyway, on that basis I blamed my PSU, and shelled out for a Seasonic S12 600W. I now have no problems.