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Old 02-15-2005, 11:50 PM   #1
Registered: Jul 2001
Distribution: Ubuntu
Posts: 195

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Total system death? Help me through this please

My computer is dying as far as I can tell, but if you have any idea how to pin point the problem, or what the problem might be, your help would be greatly appreciated.

I have a P4 1.3 GHz processor, Intel D850GB motherboard, 384MB RDRAM, MSI GEForce FX5200 VTD128 video card, D-Link PCI wireless card, Promise SATA150TX2plus controller card with a 160GB SATA WD hard drive (added about 4-5 weeks ago), Sound Blaster Live sound card, Fujitsu 40GB 7200RPM hard drive, 60GB 7200RPM WD hard drive, Pioneer DVR-108 DVD-RW drive, LG 24x cd burner and an Enermax EG465P-VE power supply.

The PSU, SATA controller card, 160GB hard drive are about 5 weeks old. The DVD burner is about 2 months old, and the rest has been there for 1-4 years.

The reason I got a new PSU and hard drive, was that about a month ago my computer restarted/turned off a few minutes/seconds after it would start up. This always lead to data loss on one hard drive, so I decided to back everything up on a new hard drive....and since all my problems started right after hooking a 2nd monitor to my video card, I figured there was a chance that my old 300 Watt power supply just was sucking! so I replaced that. From that point on I left the sides off my computer, as recommended by others, and was problem free.

Last night my computer died. I was typing something, and next thing I new the computer was completely frozen. The Hard drive light was solid red on the front of my computer, and no sound of any hard drive activity. After a few minutes I restarted, only to get a short message that said something like "Boot Failure: System Halted". So I figured maybe the hard drive finally died. So I unplugged the hard drive that I thought was the problem...No error...but when I tried running any program/installers by booting CDs they would free almost immediately. So I replugged the one hard drive and unplugged the others. I got into windows after a quick "fdisk /mbr" to fix any possible mbr problems. This seemed to fix the problem. But before I could see how long it would stay on, I had to restart for some stupid reason...never got back in. It either gave the error again, or would start windows and freeze before I could
do anything...again the light on the front of my case was solid red. Otherwise it would restart spontaneously and would give me the error mentioned above.

Also, with no hard drives plugged in I get the same error on start up.

I let the computer sit overnight, and now have it running (about 15 minutes now). I have a desk fan on at Medium speed pointing into the computer.
This is pretty temporary and INSANE! I just don't know what is wrong though...Since I got the same problems with both hard drives plugged in the Motherboard IDE controller when they were plugged in alone, I've decided the drives are probably ok. I can run programs off of floppy disks, such as the Western Digital disk checker tools, which report no problems.

I don't know what else to do. Since I have to old style P4 and RDRAM changing the motherboard is a very expensive venture, and a last resort.

Could a faulty stick of RAM cause this...I'd rather not start pulling those out unless I absolutely have to...expensive, and wouldn't want to damage them.

The hard drives shouldn't both be damaged! So I figure they have to be ok...though plugging both of them in caused the computer to free almost right away when windows was starting up.

Please guide me though this if you have any ideas...tonight I can't try anything because I have an exam tomorrow so if there are some obvious things I haven't tried its because of that...or because they aren't that obvious to me, so anything please. If you need more info just tell me what you need...and no I will not give you my credit card info!!!

Please help,
Old 02-16-2005, 04:51 AM   #2
Registered: Jan 2004
Location: Lake Bluff, IL
Distribution: Fedora 8
Posts: 117

Rep: Reputation: 15
Lightbulb Motherboard?

You may have a fried motherboard. Have you tried to go through and change the BIOS settings? Because my friend has had a similiar problem, his computer froze before getting into Windows. Some motherboards have some fail-safe BIOS settings.
Good luck,
Old 02-16-2005, 05:04 AM   #3
Registered: Mar 2003
Distribution: Slackware10.2,SUSE,FC,RHL,Vector Linux,WHAX,PHLAK,bt4,ubuntu,debian,aptosid,backtrack,blackbuntu
Posts: 529

Rep: Reputation: 31
all i can say is that u must have at some point of time either tried to overclock your processor or your video card.....

however try changing the slots of RAM....maybe a loose connection.....

let em know if this helped
Old 02-16-2005, 09:49 AM   #4
Registered: Aug 2002
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Distribution: PCLinuxOS 2012.08
Posts: 428

Rep: Reputation: 30
Sounds like a heat problem may have damaged your motherboard or CPU. Have you tried replacing the fan for your CPU? Is there a fan on your chipset? Check all your fans and check for dust buildup in the CPU heatsink.

I once had a system that started locking up after a few minutes, sometimes would start, and sometimes wouldn't. The fan on the chipset had slowed to a crawl and the resulting heat damaged the chipset, causing the instability. Also, I once attached a CPU heatsink incorrectly. It didn't make good contact with the CPU and caused a lot of heat buildup.

You might also try disconnecting all the extras you have, like the extra monitor, extra harddrives, PCI cards, etc. Start with a minimal system, like keyboard, mouse, 1 harddrive, one monitor, video card and nothing else, and see if things are stable. Then, one by one start attaching your other components. Add a component and run for a day or so to test stability before attaching the next one.
Let us know what you find out. Good luck!

Siri Amrit
Old 02-16-2005, 09:58 AM   #5
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Registered: May 2003
Location: London, UK
Distribution: Debian "Jessie"
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Sounds like your motherboard is dying.

I'd take everything apart, de-dust it, and take a good look. Some MoMo's have "bad capacitors" see this link:

If it all looks OK, and nice and clean (No, please do not use water!), reassemble it all and try again.

Hope this helps.
Old 02-16-2005, 10:15 AM   #6
Registered: Aug 2002
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Distribution: PCLinuxOS 2012.08
Posts: 428

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"From that point on I left the sides off my computer, as recommended by others..."

Opinions vary about this, but I'm in the camp that believes that If you have a well-designed case with good airflow and enough fans, you're better off with the sides ON. This will force cool air directly over the CPU and video card. At minimum you need a front intake fan and rear exhaust fan, besides your PSU exhaust fan. I have added an 80mm side intake fan that aims at the CPU and video card, and my box conveniently comes with a top exhaust fan. I use a quiet Speeze FalconRock II heatsink/fan, but you have a Pentium so would need something else.

Last night when I checked, my system temp was 86 degrees F, and CPU temp was 91.

You did well to get a good Enermax PSU. If you have to rebuild, get a good case with good ventilation, if you haven't already. Stock PSU's, cases and chipset fans are mostly garbage...
Old 02-16-2005, 10:27 AM   #7
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Registered: Apr 2004
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
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Your problem also MIGHT be a bad PSU, but it does sound more like a motherboard problem. In any case, there's rarely such a thing as a "total system death". Usually, just one component fails, while everything else is salvageable.

A note about heat--unless the case is very poorly designed, temperatures are actually cooler with the sides in place. The airflow in a traditional case is supposed to come in at the bottom front and leave out the top rear. This acts something like a smokestack, and is usually beneficial to airflow over all components.

However, if you leave the sides off the case, then airflow patterns will be very different. In particular, there is no longer any suction effect pulling air into the bottom front of the case. You get fresh air directly coming in from the side to the CPU, which then gets sucked up by the PSU and ejected out the top rear. This is good for CPU temps and bad for everything else. Most importantly, your drives which probably had sufficient airflow before probably have insufficient airflow now. An overheating drive WILL die, sooner or later, and that's no fun to deal with.
Old 02-16-2005, 01:31 PM   #8
Registered: Jan 2004
Location: Rhinelander, WI, U.S.
Distribution: Slackware
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One of my computers was doing that, and after I blew all the dust off the mainboard, it worked fine.
Old 02-16-2005, 09:28 PM   #9
Registered: Jul 2001
Distribution: Ubuntu
Posts: 195

Original Poster
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Thanks for the advice. I just finished what I hope to be my last University Midterm exam ever, and have reading week next week so tons of time to try all these suggestions. Unfortunately it'll be a few days minimum before I can post any details though, so Thanks, and I hope to report back with good news soon.

I have a fairly decent case, Turbocase's X-Dreamer...I got it I think almost 2 years ago due to temperature issues with my old case during a really hot summer with no A.C. It has 4 80mm fans going...I want to try to change them to 90mm or 120mm silent fans when I have the money to spend. They are at all the locations case temp is generally in the 80's...unfortunately I ruined the temperature probe when I was putting in my new hard drive (NOTE: Always my sure loose items such as temperature probes are secured or out of the way when working on your computer...and don't rush just because you have to be somewhere like school)
Dust could definitely be a factor...does anyone know of any good filters for case fans that aren't too expensive?

Thanks again,
Old 02-16-2005, 11:06 PM   #10
Registered: Jul 2001
Distribution: Ubuntu
Posts: 195

Original Poster
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Well, a quick update: My computer has been running for 2 hours now with a desk fan directed right at the motherboard.

I checked the temperature of the processor, and it was about 28 degrees Celcius with the fan on. I turned the fan off about half an hour ago. The temp of the processor quickly rose to about 44 degrees Celcius, and then dropped down to 37 as soon as one program finished running. Voltages of the power supply as reported by the motherboard are right where they should be.

I'm sure I'm not out of this yet, but I have to mention that the fan has cleaned my computer pretty well, so it might be due to that...or maybe just a fluke that it hasn't crashed yet. The computer is quite sluggish, especially in the early stages of starting up windows. But its running for now.
Old 02-17-2005, 12:35 PM   #11
Registered: Jul 2001
Distribution: Ubuntu
Posts: 195

Original Poster
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Computer ran overnight with everything but one hard drvie connected.

Processor zone = 33 C
Zone 2 = 28 C
Zone 3 = 38 C

I don't know what zone 2 and 3 are but they've been constant since yesterday.



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