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I think my computer is dead

Posted by criticalmass (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 3, 11 at 12:57

I've got a home-built computer that I got from someone a few years ago. It used an ASUS KN8-E motherboard, a separate AGP video card, and three 1GB RAM sticks.

A few days ago, the computer began locking up. No mouse or keyboard. I noticed that the time in the lower-right corner of my desktop had stopped at about 15 minutes previous. I powered down, and everything was fine after that.

Next day, it happened twice while I was using it. I opened the case to check things out, and gave it a vacuum. It seemed to work fine the rest of the day until I was about to go bed, and the "alarm" on my video card started whistling. I think that means there's no power going to the fan.

Day #3, I turn it on, and it locks up within 5 minutes. I turned it off, rebooted, and this time it froze up while booting. I opened up the case again, thinking maybe the video card needed to have the fan vacuumed out. I pulled out the card, but the fan was good. I cleaned it anyway. I also pulled out the three RAM sticks and reseated them. Went to power on, and get no signal to my monitor. All the fans start spinning as they should, but nothing else happens.

I went back to basics. I tried using just one stick of RAM at a time in a different slot; I tried disconnecting the DVD drive, the USB card reader, the sound card, and finally even pulled the video card and put in my old video card, and disconnected the hard drive. Nothing... just fans.

As far as I know, with just the monitor and power cord connected, I should AT LEAST get a display from the motherboard BIOS, correct? Even if it's just telling me it can't find an operating system. I get nothing.

My fear is that it's the motherboard or CPU. I don't see anything obviously wrong with either. I know I will need to re-apply heatsink compound, but until I figure out what the problem is, I really don't need to worry about it though.

I'm hoping someone can either confirm my fears, or tell me what else to look for, or even if it's worth it. Maybe I should just buy another bare-bones system and transfer components over?

Thanks for your time!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: I think my computer is dead

Have you tried my suggestion to thread my computer won't load? and if that does not work, then try tapping F11 then do complete restore back to factory settings.. of course do a save first... so you can reinstall..


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RE: I think my computer is dead

Remember before putting too much money in that this is a 7 year old mobo. You are obviously not afraid to dig into this thing, that is great.

What make and model is the power supply?

Go into the BIOS - hit Del after the BIOS beep
(You do get the BIOS beep?)
Then navigate to the window that shows the electrical voltages and confirm they are all within the 10% allowable variances. There may be a temp indicator and fan speed noted there too.

The wonky clock indicates to me that the BIOS battery needs replacing. This is the CR2032 battery about the size of a quarter you will see flat on the mobo and costs around $3 to $4. On that board it is down in the bottom front corner.

What have you done that makes you feel you will need to re-apply Arctic Silver or similar to the heatsink?

To eliminate heat as the issue leave the left side off and if you have one then have a fan blowing into the case across the motherboard. Any difference noticeable?

While it is in this uncertain state do not attempt to flash the BIOS, normally I would not even suggest this but you seem very willing and able to do things to find a fix. Any failure during a BIOS flash renders the motherboard totally useless.


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RE: I think my computer is dead

Thanks to both of you for the help. I'm at work, so will have to wait until I get home to answer some of your questions and try suzieq's suggestion.

(You do get the BIOS beep?)
I really didn't think about that. I noticed that the internal speaker on the computer did a lot of random beeping and chattering when checking my email in Windows Live, or when using my mouse wheel to scroll on pages. I unplugged it a long time ago. I will have to reconnect it to see if I get a beep.

I didn't think the "wonky clock" was so much a battery issue as I think it was that the entire computer froze up, including the clock display. It was stuck exactly where it was when the computer froze. However, worst case scenario, I can always pull it out and see if a bad battery is causing the system to go haywire. But ordinarily, no, the time was fine up until that point.

As far as the heatsink compound, I was taught that whenever you removed the heatsink from the CPU, you should thoroughly clean both and re-apply new compound. Maybe this is more of a precautionary measure than a necessary one.

And yes, after cleaning out the inside of the case, I left the side panel off, but of course wound up with the same problem.

Worst case scenario is I see that a replacement CPU is only $6.99 with shipping on Ebay, but of course, I don't know if that's the problem!

When I get home, I will have to try both of your suggestions. Thanks again!


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RE: I think the computer is dead

OK so you will be looking for one beep only at startup, if more make a note of how many and which are long or short beeps.

Try removing the CR2032 battery and briskly wipe both side with a cloth, this often works too for the short term by making better contact. Remember, if the clock is not working then it might be fair to say the BIOS cannot be read as there is no initial power there to do the job.

On the heatsink, yes of course use new compound but I was unsure if you had already removed the heatsink from the CPU.

Buying the replacement CPU will give you a clue as to whether it is the mobo or CPU


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RE: I think my computer is dead

This is similar to another recent thread here. Is the power supply on the way out? I also question the 3 X 1GB RAM configuration. RAM is usually should implemented in matched pairs.


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RE: I think my computer is dead

I did remove the heatsink from the CPU. I was looking to see if there was any sign of damage to the CPU, such as blistering or burn marks -- like I said, not really knowing what I'm looking for, but I hope I would know it if/when I saw it. So I know I will need to reapply more paste, if I ever get it working again.

I do have a spare power supply at home from my mold (ok, oldER computer), but I don't know how compatible they are. I know it may not be enough to power everything, but if it at least boots up my system, that would narrow it down.

sofaspud, I'm not saying you're wrong, because I'm not very familiar with the inner workings of a computer (just enough to get by) but if that was the case, why would there be three memory slots?

I've been checking around online... isn't there any place I can get just a case, motherboard, and CPU cheap so that I could reuse all my other components (assuming they're working)? On websites I look at, even the "barebone systems" are coming with DVD burners, hard drives, memory, etc.


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RE: I think my computer is dead

I did remove the heatsink from the CPU. I was looking to see if there was any sign of damage to the CPU, such as blistering or burn marks -- like I said, not really knowing what I'm looking for, but I hope I would know it if/when I saw it. So I know I will need to reapply more paste, if I ever get it working again.

I do have a spare power supply at home from my mold (ok, oldER computer), but I don't know how compatible they are. I know it may not be enough to power everything, but if it at least boots up my system, that would narrow it down.

sofaspud, I'm not saying you're wrong, because I'm not very familiar with the inner workings of a computer (just enough to get by) but if that was the case, why would there be three memory slots?

I've been checking around online... isn't there any place I can get just a case, motherboard, and CPU cheap so that I could reuse all my other components (assuming they're working)? On websites I look at, even the "barebone systems" are coming with DVD burners, hard drives, memory, etc.


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RE: I think my computer is dead

Sorry, looks like that mobo's specifically designed for it. Ignore my previous post.


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RE: I think my computer is dead

As this is a home build I would suspect the power supply is 300 watts or more. Check the spare you have it might well do even if only to confirm whether it is the power supply or not. This mobo has a 20 pin and 4 pin power connector, hopefully the old PS will have the same.

This far out I doubt you will find a bare bones kit for a 754 pin processor, you need to be looking for used parts on Kijijii, Craigslist, eBay or other local reseller sites. It would be nice to isolate the problem first though. Right now I favour the PS as the issue.


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RE: I think my computer is dead

Ok, well I got home and tried to pull all the RAM and disconnect power for about 15 minutes, but nothing different when I powered back up.

I did, however, plug in the speaker and discovered Beep codes! I never knew about them. In this case, I get one long and two short. After some quick searches, most sites say this is a memory problem, and a few say it's a video card problem.

Well, I tried it three times with an old simple PCI video card (not my super AGP card which draws a lot of power) and tried all three chips in the DIMM 1 slot. Each time, I got the same error message.

Unfortunately, this still leaves me in the same boat. I have an old stick of 512K memory, but it doesn't fit this mobo. So I guess this leaves me with:
-- All three sticks of RAM got fried
-- mobo is fried
-- power supply isn't giving enough power to mobo.

I wouldn't know what to test on the PSU, since there are actually two sets of wires going to the mobo. One has many pins, and the other is only 4, but how would I know what each one is supposed to give me? I'm beginning to think I'm out of my league.


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RE: I think the computer is dead

1 long 2 short seems likely the video.

You said this computer has been laid up for a while, perhaps it might be worth removing all cards from the mobo and cleaning the contacts along the bottom edge. Heat attracts crud and laying idle does nothing to help either.

If there is no sign of burning nor any burn smell I doubt that has happened. The power supply provides various voltages for various things, this is why I suggested you enter the BIOS and find the page that shows those to confirm you are within the limits.

What make and model is the power supply? Same for the old one you have. The 20 pin connector was standard back then and the 4 pin was added as computers required more power. Right now you have no real interest in what each wire powers so don't let that depress you.

For now just use 1 stick of Ram and place it in slot 0 after cleaning the contacts.


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RE: I think my computer is dead

Sorry, I didn't know you had posted around the same time I did.

The current PS is an Antec True 380 (380W), and the old one is a Compaq DPS-250KB-2 (I think that's what it says). No 4-pin connector like I need.

Also, my mb schematic has the RAM slots labeled as 1,2,3... there is no 0, so I've been using DIMM 1.

The other (bad?) news is that I took the suggestion that I saw on another site, left the CMOS battery out for a while, then tried it again while holding down "Insert" on the keyboard to get to BIOS. The beeping was gone, but the CPU is still dead. Now, there's no beep codes even when I don't press anything.

I also think I'm smelling some faint burning coming from the inside somewhere. That musky smell like old electrical stuff going bad.


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RE: I think the computer is dead

Antec has always been recognised for good power supplies and 380 watts is ample.

I was not sure on the DIMM numbering so 1 is great.

Nothing wrong with removing the CMOS battery, all it does is return the BIOS to default settings. There is a jumper on the motherboard that does the same thing. Never heard of holding down the insert button but who knows with these gadgets of ours.

If you have a magnifying glass get a good light in there and have a looksee for burning signs, also blown or bulging capacitors.

Did you give the battery a good clean before replacing it?
Did you check the voltages showing in the BIOS?


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RE: I think my computer is dead

Don't remember which message board had the thing about the Insert key, but no, it didn't get me into BIOS anyway. Cleaning the battery didn't seem to help either. Although, like I said, now I get no beeps at all... just fans.

There IS one capacitor that I would not be so bold as to declare "dead", but I would definitely deem it as "suspicious". In other words, if you told me that one of the capacitors was definitely bad, I would suspect this one. The top of all of them is divided into three segments, but this one seems to be bulging a tiny bit where the segments intersect. There's a little bit of brown in the grooves of the intersections, but it's certainly not "burst". Could this be it? And is it a simple matter of just hopping on down to Radio Shack and getting a replacement to solder in?


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RE: I think my computer is dead

If there is no beep I still think that CR2032 battery needs changing. This is a very common battery available in many stores and used on many items.

You would enter the BIOS by tapping the DEL key as soon as you hear the beep - or try keep tapping it.

On the front of the tower do you see 2 LED lights? One on continuously the other intermittent? The solid indicates power, the intermittent is the active when the hard drive spins.


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RE: I think my computer is dead

Thanks again for the attention you are providing in this matter...

I actually had a fresh 2032 battery in my drawer. I tested the old one on my battery checker (which does 3V lithium batteries) and it was in the red, but I'd say it would be around 40%. However, the new battery gives the same result in the computer.

As for the lights, yes, the power light comes on, but the other doesn't... no surprise, remember, because my hard drive is still disconnected! I'm just running the CPU, video card, motherboard, & keyboard. All extra peripherals, drives & cards have been pulled. I'd be happy at this point with a "No OS found" message.

While I was at it, I pulled the single stick of memory out. I'm still not getting the (long)(short)(short) beep. Maybe whatever was going bad finally is totally shot now? Fans and mb LEDs still work.


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RE: I think my computer is dead

"The capacitor plague (also known as bad capacitors) is an ongoing problem with premature failure of large numbers of electrolytic capacitors of certain brands. Capacitors are used in various electronics equipment, particularly motherboards, video cards, compact fluorescent lamp ballasts, LCD monitors, and power supplies of personal computers. The first flawed capacitors were seen in 1999, but most of the affected capacitors were made in the early to mid 2000s. News of the failures (usually after a few years of use) forced most manufacturers to repair the defects and stop using the capacitors, but some bad capacitors were still being sold or used in equipment as of early 2007, and faults are still being reported as of 2011"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague

And

http://www.google.com/search?q=bulging+caps&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a


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RE: I think my computer is dead

Running out of ideas over here.
You have never replied that you have entered the BIOS and verified the voltages are good.
Right now you have only the fans and the power LED working and nothing else?
No beep at all?
I think if it were me I would try that 230 watt Compaq power supply just to see if anything different happens..


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RE: I think my computer is dead

Was still never able to get into BIOS by hitting Insert, Delete, or anything else while starting. And yes, when I turn it on, the fans sound normal, but yes, that's all I get. No beeps at all.

I found the link below on ebay, and while it comes with the fastest CPU the mb can handle, I wonder if that's a bit much for an old, used MB/CPU.

I wouldn't mind getting something else if I knew what to get. I wouldn't mind upgrading the whole thing if I can use my 500gb HD, 3GB RAM, & fancy video card in it. I feel confident I replace any part with the same, I can handle it myself, but I fear that the further I stray from what I have already, I may run into trouble, since I don't know enough to know what to look for. I don't even know what other MBs will fit in this case.

I know I'm jumping the gun because we're not 100% it's dead yet, and I really can't afford to spend too much, so I'm trying to keep costs down. Just seems that $90 is a bit steep when I think I could go to WalMart and get a brand new pre-built thing for under $400. I just know that my friend must have spent a lot of money on this thing, because I noticed that the 3 sticks of 1GB memory are STILL about $40 each years later. I'd hate to see all this go to waste.

Anyway, I'm already running late for work. Will have to try poser supply later. Sorry for rambling! Thanks again!

Here is a link that might be useful: Replacement CPU/MB


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RE: I think my computer is dead

I don't even know what other MBs will fit in this case.
If you check the board will be about 9 by 12 inches, a standard ATX board. The case should accept any ATX or even a micro board.

I definitely would not be paying $90 for a 7 year old board. Look here for a better choice and better prices, there are a few in the USA.


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RE: I think my computer is dead

Sounds like you've just about declared it dead :) If it is, it is, but I just wanted to try to narrow it down, and I didn't want to throw money around willy-nilly in the hopes of figuring out what the problem is.

Your search took me to Ebay Canada. I took the liberty of changing the .ca to .com to get Ebay US, but with the same search. Why pay extra shipping if I don't have to?

Like I said, I'm a novice at this, so I may not be entirely sure what I'm looking at, but from what I've noticed, I only clicked on the ones that had 3 memory slots (I have three sticks, so might as well use them), and from what I could tell, all the ones I looked at were listed as used, and total with shipping they still came darned close to $90. I did see this one below which ends in the morning (hopefully nobody here will sabotage me and bid against me!) and comes with a CPU which is slower than mine. I don't know the difference between a K8N-E and a K8N4-E.

At least in the one I showed you earlier this morning, the MB was used, but the CPU that came with it was an UPGRADE to the one I have now. In fact, it's the fastest chip that can go in that board. The chip by itself (ATHLON 3400 CPU, 754 socket) is selling for $25US anyway on Ebay.

I just thought overall, the whole repair would be cheaper, since I can replace my CPU for under $10, but if the going price of these motherboards means I'm going to wind up paying (total with shipping) $80-$90 anyway for a used board with no CPU, I just as well get the one with the 3400 in case my CPU is fried as well, correct?

Thank you again, and forgive me if I'm being presumptuous. I just want to make sure I'm understanding correctly. If I'm wrong in any way, feel free to slap my wrist.

Here is a link that might be useful: K8N4-E on ebay


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RE: I think my computer is dead

No I would never slap your wrist, you seem a wise person who is not afraid to dig inside the case yet smart enough to know that random poking around can cause damage. I like your kind of person although I do understand the fear many have about opening a computer case!

Sorry about linking to the Canadian site, I need to pay attention more but sometimes these sites insist on giving us sites in our own country.

The board you linked to looks interesting, only 17 hours to go. You have no idea how many different people are in those 11 current bids.

Personally I might consider trying to sell that DDR memory if you do not get the mobo listed on eBay rather than start building with something so outdated.

Somewhere about you wrote about testing a battery so if you have a multimeter you could test that Antec PS because if it is good then it will do you proud unless you are heaping on loads of external devices with no independant power supply. The hard drive is good. So all you really need is a motherboard with onboard LAN, video and sound so no daughter boards are needed. Then buy the CPU. Your current case might well do depending on how old that might be but as long as the external connectors line up with the opening on the case it is good to go.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to test a power supply


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RE: I think my computer is dead

Ok, allow me to pick your brain just a little more, since you've been so helpful already... what exactly is the difference between a K8N and a K8N-E? I've looked at the specs and it looks like the K8N is a little better.


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RE: I think my computer is dead

...and come to think of it, what's with the MSI K8N Platinum? Does the fact that it's also a K8N mean something to me, even though it's a different brand?


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RE: I think my computer is dead

I believe you will find the K8 refers to the AMD processor, the N is nVidia chipsets, S is SiS and V is VIA chipsets.

I always assume the others stuff indicates the board gets better (more expensive) with the various numbers following along behind. Much like the auto industry, baffle 'em with BS to a degree.


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