Desktop Diagnostic Problem

paugie

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Dec 13, 2003
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Hello, hoping there's a quick explanation for what's happening

I built a PC 9 years ago for a friend
Gigabyte G31 chipset based motherboard
core 2duo E4500
Built in video sharing 9Mb memory (per BIOS)
2x1Gb DDR2 memory
No Name (supposedly tru-rated) PSU

Initially, I installed 1 Samsung 1Tb HDD
But over the years, this died.
When the problem came up 10 days ago, a Seagate 2Tb HDD was in it

The complaint was it was cycling at startup for a few times before entering Windows 7
He had a WD 1TB HDD his son bought for him so I put it in, partitioned it and used the 2nd partition to back up his data.I removed his old 2Tb and installed Windows on the WD primary partition.
The machine would continue to cycle a few times before being able to enter windows. Also, it seemed it was much more problematic when we put in a USB wireless dongle through which the PC connected to the internet.

I took my Seasonic PSU from my own PC and installed it on his PC
It booted right up but still was sluggish
I tested the memory and it passed a few cycles of memtest 86

We bought a new Seasonic PSU and a pair of 2Gb DDR2 memory (good 2nd hand) which passed the customary memtest86 test.

The machine was zippy and like new.There was no more problem with the USB wireless dongle.
I said, problem solved and he was happy.

Two days later, he phoned me to report that it wouldn't start. I asked him if he checked all the power cables and if the PSU switch was on. He said he did. I told him to bring the case over. But a few minutes later said, he tried once more and it booted up. Intermittent boot up.

hmmm, I was thinking motherboard. But on his own, he tried to replace the new PSU with the old one. It would start up perfectly every time, though the cycling problem was back.

hmmm, so the new PSU was defective. I put in my Seasonic. OK, good start up, good boot up. But now the video would black out for a second or two every now and then. This blacking out would continue and not go away. I plugged and unplugged the power connections to the mobo, but the blacking out would not go away.

now the old PSU is installed, it starts up every time, but takes three cycles to enter Windows. It's not zippy but ok.

???
 

Stereodude

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Have you cleaned it (as in made sure there isn't a layer of dust / grime coating everything) and reseated all the cards, RAM, connectors, etc?
 
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ddrueding

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Reseating everything is a good call. My other guess would be temp related. Does the machine usually run all the time? It seems that every time it has been off for a while (to have service done) it works well for a while before acting up.
 

paugie

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Bulacan, Philippines
Yes, we blew off the dust of the years from the machine.
There are no cards to reseat. The video is built in.
Plus, the RAM is essentially newly installed. (I will retest it later)
And the symptoms change as the PSU is changed. Thing is, the old PSU (which I expect to be most problematic) is proving to be the most stable, though it has to cycle a few times before being able to enter Windows.
The Newly bought PSU runs well after a rest but will shut down by itself after a few hours. Or if for some reason you need to restart, it won't start the machine up.
My old Seasonic runs well except for the intermittent video black outs
 

Chewy509

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My first thought was PSU as well... but with a G31 based motherboard have you had a very close look at the capacitors? (Might be a few bulging, causing power issues on the mainboard). IIRC there were a few boards from the era that suffered problems with caps when they all got 3+yrs old.

Also, sd's recommendation is a good one to rule out it being a hardware based issue. Just boot using a LiveCD/USB and play around for a few minutes, browse the net, etc. No need for installation.
 

paugie

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Sorry, I don't have linux, too complicated for me. =)

But I might have an old installer around. The name escapes me now but it was freely distributed a few years back. Would that work? It won't affect the data on the HDDs? It's a concern because it's his livelihood.
 

paugie

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With the old PSU, the machine boots repeatedly (4X at least) before being able to enter OS, whether Windows or the Ubuntu CD
With my old Seasonic PSU, the machine boots perfectly and enters OS effortlessly, but after a while, video blanking occurs.
With the new Seasonic PSU, the machine boots perfectly and enters OS effortlessly, but after working a while, the machine either shuts off by itself, or if shutdown for any reson, will not turn on again for at least a few hours.
 

Stereodude

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Hmm... sounds like the motherboard might be bad or the video chipset is though I'm not entirely sure why it's sensitive to differences in the power supply. Does it have a PCIe x16 graphics slot you could try a discrete card in?
 

paugie

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Thanks, SD. I've convinced the owner to buy a new PC. It looks like too much trouble to pinpoint the source.
He might still shell out for a 2nd hand G31 mobo since these are still available in our market. Then it will be our luck to find out the processor is the cause.

Glad to be back on the forums after a few years.
 

Bozo

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Have you checked the CPU heatsink/fan? There is a possibility that the heat sink compound has gotten dry and not working well. Or the heat sink is very dirty, or loose.
 

Stereodude

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Have you checked the CPU heatsink/fan? There is a possibility that the heat sink compound has gotten dry and not working well. Or the heat sink is very dirty, or loose.
I was thinking similar to you before, but the video chipset is not on the CPU in that generation of CPU.
 

LunarMist

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No it is not. I had a G31 board that died after 3.5 years with similar flakiness at the end. Cheap crap.
 

time

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Cheap crap.

That lasted 9 years ...

Having said that, my G31 experiences weren't any better.

A PSU is not a battery, it has lots of ripple and other artifacts. Given the effects of changing the PSU, I would assume that the main problem lies in the motherboard VRM; after 9 years, even solid caps could be shot.

Best to bin it, I'm afraid.
 

paugie

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Wow, these are ideas, I should have checked right away.
1. Processor heatsinking
2. Yes, if the VRM is iffy, that could explain the different reactions to the assorted PSUs.
 
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