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No POST beeps, no bootFollow

#1 Feb 26 2011 at 11:21 AM Rating: Good
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Lahurah has the very pretty Wings of the Goddess PC she won in the ZAM pumpkin carving contest a few years back. I am her live-in tech support, but I'm scratching my head on this one.

She was playing FFXI and her computer shut down out of the blue. It then refused to reboot. My first guess was overheating, but usually in that case it'll boot back up after it cools off. All fans are running - we tested.

Once we push the power button, the lights come on and the fans run, but computer doesn't even seem to get to POST. The BIOS does not load.

Curious about why we're not getting POST beeps, I pulled out all the RAM. Nothing. It's not going to POST at all.

We pulled out the CMOS battery and reseated it, and it booted again, but then it died again shortly and once again, won't boot. So I'm sending Lahurah out to get the CMOS battery tested and possibly replaced. That shouldn't affect its ability to POST and boot up, though.

The next steps we are going to take is dissecting the system and reseating everything, including the CPU. Thankfully I've got some thermal paste lying around...

Most of the parts in her system are about 2.5 years old now. We replaced the PSU a few months ago, and she added more RAM. The motherboard is an ASUS M278N, which is no longer manufactured, but I think we can just get any AM2+ motherboard that uses her same RAM and be okay. I'd rather not replace the motherboard if that's not the issue, but I have a feeling that it is.

What could be preventing a system from even reaching POST? What other things should I test before she drops $50 on a replacement motherboard?

Edit: Turns out the motherboard is under warrenty until May, so we can RMA it if necessary. We've pulled out everything and reseated it - the thermal paste was pretty loose, so if it was a CPU overheating issue, this should fix it. She's off to a party now so I'm waiting til she comes back before we continue testing. We also dusted everything out so the interior is in good shape.

Now if she would only let me put Windows 7 on it.

Edited, Feb 26th 2011 3:26pm by catwho
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FFXI: Catwho on Bismarck. Once again a top bard on the server: Dardaubla 90 on 1/6/2014
Thayos wrote:
I can't understand anyone who skips the cutscenes of a Final Fantasy game. That's like going to Texas and not getting barbecue.

FFXIV: Katarh Mest on Lamia - Member of The Swarm and leader of Grammarian Tea House chat LS
#2 Feb 26 2011 at 2:40 PM Rating: Excellent
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Heat will do it. You may have cooked the voltage regulators on the motherboard, the CPU, or the ram. any one of those things can cause a post failure. I'd probably bet on the board.
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#3 Feb 27 2011 at 9:00 AM Rating: Good
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Even after a complete physical rebuild, the crashing still occurred. Unfortunately, she lacks the purchase information necessary for an RMA (downside of a contest computer), so we're just going to buy a new motherboard and processor for her and give her an upgrade in the process.
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FFXI: Catwho on Bismarck. Once again a top bard on the server: Dardaubla 90 on 1/6/2014
Thayos wrote:
I can't understand anyone who skips the cutscenes of a Final Fantasy game. That's like going to Texas and not getting barbecue.

FFXIV: Katarh Mest on Lamia - Member of The Swarm and leader of Grammarian Tea House chat LS
#4 Feb 27 2011 at 9:42 PM Rating: Excellent
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Upgrade is always the way to go as far as I'm concerned, but you might want to check with Pikko and see if she can get you the required information for RMA.
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#5 Mar 26 2011 at 3:35 PM Rating: Good
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Issue still occurring after we replaced her mobo and processor. (She now has a sweet six core.)

We pulled out the video card and the issue has stopped, so video card is the next thing to get replaced. I'm kinda annoyed that we didn't think to do that to begin with, but I was soooo sure that it was the motherboard....

At least video cards are cheap these days.
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FFXI: Catwho on Bismarck. Once again a top bard on the server: Dardaubla 90 on 1/6/2014
Thayos wrote:
I can't understand anyone who skips the cutscenes of a Final Fantasy game. That's like going to Texas and not getting barbecue.

FFXIV: Katarh Mest on Lamia - Member of The Swarm and leader of Grammarian Tea House chat LS
#6 Mar 26 2011 at 8:48 PM Rating: Good
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catwho wrote:
Issue still occurring after we replaced her mobo and processor. (She now has a sweet six core.)

We pulled out the video card and the issue has stopped, so video card is the next thing to get replaced. I'm kinda annoyed that we didn't think to do that to begin with, but I was soooo sure that it was the motherboard....

At least video cards are cheap these days.

You and I have differing definitions of the word "cheap".

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130628
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#7 Mar 26 2011 at 10:28 PM Rating: Good
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The most robust game she plays is FFXIV. We're looking at the same card I have, Sapphire Radeon HD 5670. Try $60 :P
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FFXI: Catwho on Bismarck. Once again a top bard on the server: Dardaubla 90 on 1/6/2014
Thayos wrote:
I can't understand anyone who skips the cutscenes of a Final Fantasy game. That's like going to Texas and not getting barbecue.

FFXIV: Katarh Mest on Lamia - Member of The Swarm and leader of Grammarian Tea House chat LS
#8 Mar 27 2011 at 12:03 AM Rating: Excellent
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Givent hat it wasn't booting at all, i'm guessing you took a power spike at some point that did in the old board and the old video card. Thats just a guess though.
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#9 Mar 27 2011 at 9:25 AM Rating: Good
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New problem: random BSOD. Fortunately, that's more that we got before, and the errors were related to atimkdag.sys. We've uninstalled the latest Catalyst drivers and are going to try rolling back to the Dec 2010 set, the last in version 10 and trying with the old card one more time. If it freezes up again, then we know for certain that the video card is fried.

Edited, Mar 27th 2011 11:25am by catwho
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FFXI: Catwho on Bismarck. Once again a top bard on the server: Dardaubla 90 on 1/6/2014
Thayos wrote:
I can't understand anyone who skips the cutscenes of a Final Fantasy game. That's like going to Texas and not getting barbecue.

FFXIV: Katarh Mest on Lamia - Member of The Swarm and leader of Grammarian Tea House chat LS
#10 Mar 29 2011 at 7:52 PM Rating: Decent
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Kastigir wrote:
catwho wrote:
Issue still occurring after we replaced her mobo and processor. (She now has a sweet six core.)

We pulled out the video card and the issue has stopped, so video card is the next thing to get replaced. I'm kinda annoyed that we didn't think to do that to begin with, but I was soooo sure that it was the motherboard....

At least video cards are cheap these days.

You and I have differing definitions of the word "cheap".

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130628


The most expensive thing about that card is the Crysis 2 logo on the side. You can get a comparable card for half the price.
#11 Mar 30 2011 at 4:23 AM Rating: Good
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Turin wrote:
Kastigir wrote:
catwho wrote:
Issue still occurring after we replaced her mobo and processor. (She now has a sweet six core.)

We pulled out the video card and the issue has stopped, so video card is the next thing to get replaced. I'm kinda annoyed that we didn't think to do that to begin with, but I was soooo sure that it was the motherboard....

At least video cards are cheap these days.

You and I have differing definitions of the word "cheap".

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130628


The most expensive thing about that card is the Crysis 2 logo on the side. You can get a comparable card for half the price.

I'll admit that I only looked at a midline card, and it was the first one that was shown.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125363

Was $239 when put in cart, so not quite "half" the price. To get 1/2 the price you lose some speed on the bus.

Edited, Mar 30th 2011 1:38pm by Kastigir
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#12 Apr 08 2011 at 8:50 PM Rating: Good
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Issue still occurs with a brand new video card.

So Lahurah gave up on me, her free support, and took it into the local computer shop.

They ran it under a stress test for 24 hours straight without any problems.

So she paid $60 for someone to tell her it was probably her surge protector, or the electrical outlet. Riiiight....

All right, we're game. She brought it home and tried it under different outlets in the living room, with and without the surge protector. Still crashing.

So she's going to take it home to her parent's house and try it on THEIR grid, and if it still continues to randomly crash, she's going to say **** it and upgrade to Windows 7 because obviously her Vista is borked.
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FFXI: Catwho on Bismarck. Once again a top bard on the server: Dardaubla 90 on 1/6/2014
Thayos wrote:
I can't understand anyone who skips the cutscenes of a Final Fantasy game. That's like going to Texas and not getting barbecue.

FFXIV: Katarh Mest on Lamia - Member of The Swarm and leader of Grammarian Tea House chat LS
#13 Apr 09 2011 at 1:24 AM Rating: Excellent
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OK, a bit more information is required here. Is there anything in the event logs around near the time of the lockups? Also if you download and run bluescreenview, are there any recent BSOD's that coincide with the crashes?

Was the machine connected via the network port when the IT shop ran their stress test?

What other machines or devices are on the network that might interact with that machine? Is there a possibility that any of those machines might have an infection?

What model router do you have in between the devices and your computer?

Given that its not the hardware anymore likely, and the machine didn't crash during the IT shop stress test (if they actually did anything) I'd start suspecting either somethign going on with the network card, maybe drivers, maybe external influence, maybe device like a PS3 causing crashes due to UPNP issues, etc.

Also, just to rule it out, download and run secunia psi and patch everythign that is out of date on the machine, run windows update and patch everything, make sure you are on at least vista SP2, run disk defragmentor, run a full virus scan, then see if its still crashing.

Is the machine doing anything specific at the time it crashes? in game, playing audio, running a certain program, viewing a certain webpage, etc?
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#14 Apr 11 2011 at 10:56 AM Rating: Good
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Issues also happened at her parent's house.

I suspected network stuff as well, except her network adapter was built into the motherboard for both the old and new ones and thus was replaced as part of the motherboard.

We got BSODs only when she messed with the video card drivers. The BSODs stopped when she replaced the video card, but the original issue - the system randomly shutting off without any sort of warning whatsoever - still happens.

It happens no matter what program she is running. iTunes, while in the middle of FFXIV, while transfering stuff to external USB, while checking email. No rhyme or reason.

I asked her if she brought in all her USB peripherals to the shop, including her wireless USB dongle. The answer was yes, but that communication was on txt message.

She is in Florida for the next three weeks so the IT shop is going to hammer it until it dies during that timeframe.

Edited, Apr 11th 2011 12:57pm by catwho
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FFXI: Catwho on Bismarck. Once again a top bard on the server: Dardaubla 90 on 1/6/2014
Thayos wrote:
I can't understand anyone who skips the cutscenes of a Final Fantasy game. That's like going to Texas and not getting barbecue.

FFXIV: Katarh Mest on Lamia - Member of The Swarm and leader of Grammarian Tea House chat LS
#15 Apr 12 2011 at 3:35 PM Rating: Good
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Backup and Reinstall.

I work doing pc repair and I can already tell you a company that goes farther than 4 to 5 hours into trying to fix an issue that has to do with multiple windows system errors they're doing it wrong and over charging you. At this point with all the issues I've read about this particular machine I would either go for the upgrade, or just do a brand new fresh install of windows.

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#16 Apr 12 2011 at 4:38 PM Rating: Good
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Yeah, my first instinct any time things start going south on a Windows machine is just that, but waaaaaaay back in December when we first replaced the power supply, she said she didn't want to have to reformat/reinstall (and I nearly refused anyway on the grounds that reinstalling Vista is a crime.) It's usually the first thing we do on the business machines we work with at my office, but our users aren't supposed to be storing personal stuff on local folders anyway. For a home user that doesn't have regular backups set up, that can be a tragedy.

On the upside, she's going to get a case and stick all the original components in there along with a cheap 300 gig drive, and sell the box for $300 on Craigs List, which will just about cover the cost of the new hardware.
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FFXI: Catwho on Bismarck. Once again a top bard on the server: Dardaubla 90 on 1/6/2014
Thayos wrote:
I can't understand anyone who skips the cutscenes of a Final Fantasy game. That's like going to Texas and not getting barbecue.

FFXIV: Katarh Mest on Lamia - Member of The Swarm and leader of Grammarian Tea House chat LS
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