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  1. #1

    Help me work out how dead my PC is

    My PC has decided to only display a black screen when I boot it. No motherboard splash, command line prompts or anything but it is black as the monitor will turn off if there is no signal. It does power up, do the 4 bleeps that indicates all is well and powers anything plugged in to it. I've reset the CMOS which has taken as the fans are now spinning up to max rather than the custom settings I had before but it hasn't fixed the problems. So I'm assuming a bit of hardware is dead. Here is what I think I've ruled out:

    Graphics card: tried two with the same result
    Display: it displays the graphical corruption the 2nd card has perfectly
    Hard drive: Should still boot and then moan in past experience when I haven't plugged it in properly
    Power supply: It turns on and everything seems powered

    So that leaves motherboard, CPU and memory. Any good suggestions on how I work out which of these three it might be? Or if I've wrongly ruled out one of the others?

    Thanks for any help.

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jesus_Phish's Avatar
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    I'd retry the graphics cards in different PCI slots if you haven't already and I'd source another display unit. Either another monitor or a telly with a vga/hdmi connection on it. Also just because the PSU turns on and everything seems ok doesn't mean it is. It might not be supplying enough power to the entire system. If you can source another PSU or if you think you can test it while following a guide online go ahead.
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  3. #3
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    Hang on - how can the older GPU show corruption if it's only showing 'BLACK'??

    Does your mobo have onboard graphics?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ComradePenguin View Post
    It does power up, do the 4 bleeps that indicates all is well...
    Depending on your BIOS one single beep indicates that everything passed the POST. Four beeps would indicate a problem unless you have an unusual BIOS. Now I'm curious to know what motherboard it is!

    As J_P has suggested the GPU might actually be okay and the fault may lie with the motherboard itself. From experience, a CPU issue will either cause a specific beep code or the motherboard just hangs and does nothing. Memory tends to trigger continuous beeps (under the traditional POST beep codes at least) but that can also suggest a motherboard failure. That said, I've had a failing HDD produce odd symptoms (POST wouldn't complete, no beep codes) so it's worth stripping the system down clean to just the CPU, GPU, and RAM to see if that changes things.

    If that fails, and you can definitively prove that both GPUs work (by putting them in another system), try removing the RAM to see if it produces a different beep code. If it does, that might suggest the RAM is bad. If you get the same code, I'd probably point towards the motherboard being bad... if you can, check the CPU in another system and see if it works.

    Also as J_P says the PSU might actually be faulty and not providing enough power to actually drive the system. How old is the PSU? If it's old and a generic brand it might be worth replacing it either way. PSU problems can produce odd symptoms that are hard to pin down.

    If I had to guess, I'd probably be pointing the finger at the PSU or the motherboard.
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    It's not hugely likely it's the PSU if he's removed EVERYTHING else (including USBs, HDDs etc.) because the GPU is unlikely the biggest power-user at boot-time.

    The 4 beeps isn't normal for most mobos - in fact mobo beeps are unusual full-stop and usual signal some sort of issue?

    So we're staring at the mobo - tho we shouldn't be discounting the video cable :)
    Last edited by trjp; 28-02-2014 at 03:03 AM.

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    The PSU could be significantly faulty though, I wouldn't rule it out, but I'm still leaning towards mobo.

    Regarding the beeps - every mobo I've owned has used a single beep to signify successful POST, although I think you can disable it these days (or it skips it if you use the quick POST option in BIOS).
    Nalano's Law - As an online gaming discussion regarding restrictions grows longer, the probability of a post likening the topic to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea approaches one.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    It's not hugely likely it's the PSU if he's removed EVERYTHING else (including USBs, HDDs etc.) because the GPU is unlikely the biggest power-user at boot-time.

    The 4 beeps isn't normal for most mobos - in fact mobo beeps are unusual full-stop and usual signal some sort of issue?

    So we're staring at the mobo - tho we shouldn't be discounting the video cable :)
    A duff PSU is a duff PSU, with 1 component on it or 20. But I'd also check the bios beep codes first. If it's a newer mobo it will have a LCD display too. The beep codes may help narrow it down. Though I've had "GPU faliure" that was actually caused by the extra 12v (one of those mobos with 2 12v rails for the CPU) line added to the mobo for OCing, that was too much for the normal CPU, as it only needed as single 12v rail. Once I took it down to 1 cable, it booted fine (No, I was not the one to set it up the wrong way! ;) ). Some strange configurations can cause unrelated errors.
    Last edited by TechnicalBen; 28-02-2014 at 10:27 AM.
    It is a technical difference, but's there none the less.

  8. #8
    Hi all.

    Thanks for the suggestions. The mobo is http://www.msi.com/product/mb/P67AGD53.html and has happily 4 beeped when I turn it on the last 2 and a half years with no problems. The latter ones are deeper and it seems this is just indicating connected usb devices. See the bottom of here http://forum-en.msi.com/index.php?topic=129806.0 Sorry for the confusion it has caused.

    I've moved the graphics card to a different slot with no change.

    However when I removed a stick of memory I got the CPU or memory has changed warning on the screen and F1 for setup or F2 for default settings. It then booted to windows both with and without that stick in (and at 640x480 but I assume this is because the graphics card was in a different slot). But it wouldn't power the usb for my mouse only the one for the keyboard.

    However after switching it off it now won't turn on at all and power light on the motherboard wont come on. I assume this means dead PSU or dead mobo. Any easy way to work out which?

    Thanks for all the help.
    Last edited by ComradePenguin; 28-02-2014 at 02:52 PM.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jesus_Phish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ComradePenguin View Post
    Hi all.

    Thanks for the suggestions. The mobo is http://www.msi.com/product/mb/P67AGD53.html and has happily 4 beeped when I turn it on the last 2 and a half years with no problems. The latter ones are deeper and it seems this is just indicating connected usb devices. See the bottom of here http://forum-en.msi.com/index.php?topic=129806.0 Sorry for the confusion it has caused.

    I've moved the graphics card to a different slot with no change.

    However when I removed a stick of memory I got the CPU or memory has changed warning on the screen and F1 for setup or F2 for default settings. It then booted to windows both with and without that stick in (and at 640x480 but I assume this is because the graphics card was in a different slot). But it wouldn't power the usb for my mouse only the one for the keyboard.

    However after switching it off it now won't turn on at all and power light on the motherboard wont come on. I assume this means dead PSU or dead mobo. Any easy way to work out which?

    Thanks for all the help.
    Get a loan of another PSU or buy a PSU tester or a multimeter and follow a guide on testing PSUs online.

    My guess is the PSU is the fault.
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  10. #10
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    Unless you're super-electrically-confident DO NOT TRY TESTING YOUR POWER SUPPLY - it's rather easy to kill it - and yourself.

    Get another PSU - it's not like you won't need it sooner or later anyway...

  11. #11
    Thankfully a friend has an old psu lying around so I can borrow that to try before buying a new one. Are the Corsair ones still the best cheap modular choice? Getting bored of tying up bundles of cables.

  12. #12
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    Could not post yesterday. But I'm still confused about the beeps. "4 short - System timer failure" which would suggest your clock/battery is no good, so it's loosing settings.
    1 long 3 short is "Conventional/Extended memory failure". Which could be memory (or the motherboard/psu or anything that can effect memory :P ).
    But on an EFI bios it's different. I still cannot find anything direct from MSI. :(

    This thread gives more information.
    http://forum-en.msi.com/index.php?PH...&topic=86906.0

    Long story short, your motherboard should NEVER give 4 beeps if it's working. Which is strange.

    PS, your Bios has a "game" feature and you can play games, but only with the bios driver disk in the drive... yep. I see why this board failed... all the effort went into making it look glittery.
    (PS, no really, 4 beeps seems to be a memory/clock/motherboard fault :P )
    Last edited by TechnicalBen; 01-03-2014 at 07:25 PM.
    It is a technical difference, but's there none the less.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ComradePenguin View Post
    Thankfully a friend has an old psu lying around so I can borrow that to try before buying a new one. Are the Corsair ones still the best cheap modular choice? Getting bored of tying up bundles of cables.
    Be careful with modulars - I have a Corsair 430W Modular and non-Modular here and the non-modular is EASIER to install and LESS messy once it's in.

    The modular one has split it's modular cables in a way that you will likely need ALL of them in most PCs anyway - the modular cables are bulkier too - it's a pain-in-the-arse to install so it's back in it's box waiting for disaster to strike at some point...

  14. #14
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    Is this a desktop or a laptop?
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    The mention of the motherboard brand and model seems to rule that out. ;)
    That and borrowing a PSU and looking at corsair branding. :P
    It is a technical difference, but's there none the less.

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    I have always put a paperclip in the 2 correct PSU pins to see if it will turn on. That has helped me rule out if it the mobo or PSU. Then I RMAed the mobo, got it back and still did not work.

    Or "borrowing" a PSU form the store and returning it.

  17. #17
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    There are enough old ones out there, you can "borrow" for real from friends/neighbors/spares (upgrades chuck outs with working parts). Ask around. I did, and have like 5 I now need to send to the scrap yard. :P
    It is a technical difference, but's there none the less.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by TechnicalBen View Post
    Could not post yesterday. But I'm still confused about the beeps. "4 short - System timer failure" which would suggest your clock/battery is no good, so it's loosing settings.
    1 long 3 short is "Conventional/Extended memory failure".
    This was me reporting the wrong beeps. My motherboard has a different lower shorter beep for USB connected devices. When everything was unplugged from the USB it was only 1 beeping. Glitz even in the beeping.

    I've now got a horrible looking generic psu from a friend's old pc so if I can get it to boot with this I'll assume it is the psu and replace that. Interesting stuff on the modular ones. I will see if they really would save me any cables. Thanks for the heads up.

  19. #19
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    Ah, thanks for that. I've not really seen mobos do that for connected devices, it's usually at the OS level. Thanks.

    Hope the PSU works, so you at least know the solution, and it should be cheaper. Remember not to connect many devices/ram slots etc, so it's both not drawing more than the PSU can provide (assuming it's lower than your current), and also ruling out other unrelated hardware.
    It is a technical difference, but's there none the less.

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    go to a technician much better he know the problem for me i suggest you too change your hard disk drive cause if only the problem is RAM there is boot load or screen but in your case there is no boot load show when you start or open your pc . just a suggestion

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