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Help troubleshooting an old PC

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by johntennock, May 13, 2010.

  1. johntennock

    johntennock New Member

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    First time on this forum. :)

    If possible I'd appreciate some help troubleshooting an old PC. Being retired, I have the time to mess about fix it myself, but not the money to replace it, or take it to the local computer shop. I seem to have got a bit out of my depth but can probably figure it out with a bit of advice.

    It is an old Celeron CPU with (according to the manual) an ASUS TUSI-M Socket 370 Motherboard, SiS 630ET AGP Chipset. Running Win 2000 if I can only get it to start up.

    The history is that, over the last couple of weeks it has been spontaneously re-booting itself, particularly when first turned on in the morning. This has been getting steadily worse, possibly (just my impression) due to onset of cooler weather combined with cooling down while turned off overnight.

    Sometimes it would start up with the BIOS setup screen so, rightly or wrongly, I decided to replace the CMOS battery. Now it won't complete the startup sequence at all.

    When I hit the start button I get one short beep, which the manual says indicates "no error during P.O.S.T. Sometimes the memory test runs and counts up to 245760 then the monitor goes blank. I can't get it to go into BIOS setup mode.

    I have messed about a bit swapping around the memory modules and this seems to make some difference but I haven't been able to clearly relate cause and effect.

    Any suggestions about a rational diagnostic approach would be greatly appreciated. (It's my wife's computer, so me ego is on the line :eek:)
     
  2. MohawkAngel

    MohawkAngel New Member

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    Lot of humidity and cold is never good for electronic. Night its humid then you get it down there thats why. Computer in basement or not? Lot of factor but maybe mostly humidity that gave problem to hard drive. or humidity made computer restart often wich conducted to hard drive failure physically itself or in the windows program.
     
  3. johntennock

    johntennock New Member

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    Thanks for replying. No, the computer is not in a basement and there are no obvious effects of humidity like moisture forming on anything. Anyway, now the problem is that I can't even get to the BIOS setup screen.
     
  4. Kreij

    Kreij Senior Monkey Moderator Staff Member

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    Welcome to TPU :toast:

    With an old computer it could be any number of things from the PSU going bad, to intermittent motherboard failures.

    I would remove everything from the system that was not required to boot it and see what it does. This reduces the load on the PSU (in case it is the problem).
    If it does boot, add individual things until you start getting failures again.
     
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  5. johntennock

    johntennock New Member

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    Fortunately I have another almost identical machine, which I decomissioned a year or so ago, so I can try swapping the power supply (assuming the one from the other machine still works) and even the motherboard if necessary I suppose.

    Ah well, it looks like I know what I'll be doing today.:ohwell:

    Thanks for help so far. Any further suggestions welcome.

    Cheers,

    John Tennock
     
  6. johntennock

    johntennock New Member

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    I swapped out the power supply but the one from the 'spare' machine didn't work at all, so I swapped in back to check that the original config still behaved in the same way. It did!

    Next I swapped out the motherboard, retaining the RAM from the original, it that didn't work at all either. So I swapped it all back. Looks like my 'spare' machine is not much help.

    Apart from the motherboard, the only other device connected is one hard drive. As previously, P.O.S.T. completes OK. Memory test seems OK, but then it just keeps restarting. Sometimes I can get into the BIOS setup screen before it re-boots, but often not.

    I have checked the ATX power supply voltages with a multi-meter and they seem OK.

    Pretty much out of ideas now. I wonder if anyone can help with some ideas?
     
  7. johntennock

    johntennock New Member

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    I reconfigured the BIOS setup to boot from the CD (with the Win2000 Install disk). That behaved in much the same way which seemed to prove that it wasn't a problem with the hard-drives, so it was back to PSU or motherboard. Decided to replace the PSU first and that fixed it. :D

    Hopefully this little story may help someone else trying to keep an old computer alive.:banghead:
     
  8. DigitalUK

    DigitalUK New Member

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    Sounds like possible Bad Capcitor/s on the motherboard if its worse on cold boots, check the board for bulging or blown caps , if theres nothing obvious look too see if any liquid has come out of any.
     
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  9. johntennock

    johntennock New Member

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    The motherboard all looked OK, and the power supply voltages checked out OK on a multimeter, and on the BIOS monitor. Given that replacing the power supply fixed the problem I suspect capacitors in the PSU. Probably there was too much AC getting onto the DC output, which wouldn't show up on a multi-meter, and I don't have an oscilloscope.
     
  10. anonemus

    anonemus New Member

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    Hi, John!

    You might want to try this utility to double-check your hardware (unfortunately, nothing here to test PSU). Still, its free and has proven effective for me in the past..

    http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
     
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