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Old 01-06-2003, 03:49 AM   #1
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Default A real test for the computer experts. Please help.

I currently have two computers. One is for my personal use. The second is my girlfriends and lately I've been having some trouble. I've been working in the computer industry for about 3 years now and am reasonably qualified but right now I'm out of my league. Apologies if this is long but this is the sort of information needed in computer queries.

The computers were as follows.

Jetway V266U Motherboard - 2 SDRAM Slots, 2 DDR Ram.
Athlon 1.4ghz CPU
GeForce Ti500
Hercules Gamemuse Soundcard
3 Com 10/100
Conexant 56K modem.
Pioneer DVD Drive
40gb HDD
10.4gb HDD
Windows XP

Jetway Motherboard ( Old so I don't remember the model )
Duron 700mhz CPU
128mb SDRam
GeForce 2 MX400 - Elsa Gladiac 511
D Link Network Card
Soundblaster Pro Soundcard
40gb HDD
Windows XP

Early in December we had some electrical faults and I blew my main computers PSU. So I replaced it, looked at surge protection and stupidly put it off till after Christmas because in the run-up I was broke. But the main machine worked fine after. On the 21st December the second machine stopped working and I assumed it was the same thing and lo and behold when I open up the PSU a capacitor falls out. I nick the fan and bin the rest. Later I replaced the PSU but the computer still wouldn't work. I swapped parts, PSUs, power buttons. Nothing. I assumed the faulty PSU had taken out the motherboard. I was still skint so I left it till pay day. Then I had the idea it could be a faulty memory chip so I try one from my machine in the spare, nothing happens but I fry the memory chip in the process because 2 days later my machine shuts down never to load in again. I take out the memory chip and it loads in.

So now I'mconvinced the spare machine is dead because the PSU fried the board.

This weekend I go out and spend money. I know I have to get at least another 256mb RAM back into my machine and I rail at the thought of buying SDRam for a board that takes DDR. ( I bought a 2SD, 2DDR board because I couldnt afford to buy DDR when I upgraded so left the option open. ) And I know I have a working 256 MB chip spare then. Assuming that if the second machine blew my memory I figure it blew it's own memory too.

I come to the conclusion that I'll have a new motherboard, 512mb DDR Ram, and pass my old machine to the GF. So last night I take the parts and attempt to build 2 computers as follows;

Jetway V333U Motherboard 333mhz 3 DDR Slots
Athlon 2200 CPU
512MB DDR Ram PC2700
GeForce 3
Hercules Soundcard
3 Com Card
Conexant Modem
Pioneer Drive
HDDs as per computer 1.

For the second machine all I do is put the GF2, into my old machine.

In haste and tiredness ( 11pm ) I put both the 3 com card into my machine and the D Link instead of the modem. I also stick the wrong soundcard in, fire the computer up and it works perfectly. My accident just confirmed the soundcard and network card are intact. I'm also fairly sure that the GF2 works ok because I seem to remember testing it in the first machine.

But the second computer wont run. When I hit the power button the fan jumps but nothing else happens. Pressing it again yields no effect and the fan won't jump, but if I disconnect the PSU from the wall, and try again the fan jumps again.

Now remember that the motherboard has never been removed from it's case, the CPU hasn't been touched nor has the memory. The only new things it's had is the DVD-CDRW, the GF2 and the HDD. I've checked the external power cables and they're fine.

I return the computer to it's original configuration ( GF3, modem, Hercules etc ) but it still wont run.

So logically either one of the drives, or the GF2 seems to have either blown something or be causing another fault. I could find out for certain. One by one I could drop them into my new machine. Personally I'm not big on that idea because it's a bit like drowning someone to prove they're a witch. I'll have my answer but I may kill another board.

Even though I've never seen HDDs or CD Drives blowing a board ( they're usually earthed directly to the case ) I know it can happen. Still my instinct is telling me that both the motherboards are actually fine. I have no evidence to back this up and indeed I'm aware that all the evidence points to the opposite being true.

Help me please. What do I do?
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Old 01-06-2003, 04:15 AM   #2
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I would strip it down to the barebones to boot(hdd, vid card) and start from there. Add 1 peripheral at a time until you find the culprit(assuming it does boot from a barebones config). It sounds to me like something is causing a short.

Know that's not much help but it's what I would do. Also this may sound stupid but did you make sure the monitor didn't get blown also? But looking at what you wrote that doesn't look to be the case since you aren't seeing any hdd activity after powering up. Looks like you might be going out to buy a new mobo.

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Old 01-06-2003, 04:35 AM   #3
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Can't be the monitor because I put the thing together and attempted to boot the machine before connecting to the monitor.

It's worse then a new motherboard. There's no way I'm going to buy one of them till I know what the problem is.

Otherwise I'll be forced to buy everything new as something is doing damage.
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Old 01-06-2003, 04:49 AM   #4
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Dunwut has the right idea, go as minimal as possible. See if it completes the post process.

Keep adding stuff to it until it stops posting. There's your culprit.

Sounds to me like mb or mb/cpu though.

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Old 01-06-2003, 04:58 AM   #5
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Default no info here


I'm not an expert, but I did want to say that I think you described your problem fairly well. Most of the time symptom recognition and the turnover for troubleshooting aren't done correctly which leads to poor (or even bad) advice. It does sound like you may have a short somewhere in my opinion. But my expertise is in (military) electronics, not computers.

This also goes to show why the experts get so much $ per hour to fix stuff like this. Good luck on the bare bones bench-testing.

Take care,
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Old 01-06-2003, 05:08 AM   #6
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Ok..let me see if I have this right Arn. Are you suggesting that something blew the motherboard or CPU or they themselves are the fault?

If so would both go at the same time. Is it possible my MB is being fried, but the CPU is safe and vice versa

As I say thats two mbs and two cpus gone now.
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Old 01-06-2003, 06:06 AM   #7
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You may still have a bad PSU. Manufacturing quality on these isn't what it used to least not here in the states. I have an old 250 watt that has worked for years. I keep it sans tower just to test if it is the PSU. I went through three exchanges of brand new power supplies to get a good one once. Finally just coughed up the extra $20 to buy an Antec supply. They were all 400 watt. The first two were just bad fresh out of the box.

Failing that I would say it sounds like a bad cpu frying the mobo then you try a new cpu in the now fried mobo and get a freshly fried cpu.

First thing I would try is taking the old PSU back and exchanging it if it is under warranty. This assuming you don't have a spare PSU laying around to test whether it is the PSU. Since you bought new cpu and mb try taking them back and exchanging them. Many times the store will bench test them before an exchange to see if they are functional. If they test ok then try the barebones boot up with the new PSU and/or tower.
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Old 01-06-2003, 06:40 AM   #8
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I also recommend the minimal setup. Pull all the cards (except video, use a known good video) and cables off and see if you get a post. Slowly add things back in until it stops posting.

Also, you said you replaced a CD drive. The symptoms you describe could come from the IDE cable being plugged in backwards. You may want to check that first. (I am assuming IDE in a PC.)

Good luck, let us know what happens.

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Old 01-06-2003, 07:35 AM   #9
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(im sure you know this, just satisfying my curiosity..also, not to keen on AMD's)

You getting any error codes? (ie beeps)

when you say the fan 'jumps' assuming the fan in the power supply turns on then off.. and the only way to reset this action is by unplugging from the wall?

there is no activity on the CPU fans?

All you have installed is a vid-card, RAM, and a HDD ( if i read correctly..need ..more...coffeeee )

usually if its either the RAM or the vid-card, you will get some sort of error codes (assuming the mobo is still functioning correctly)

and if its a HDD, you just wont be able to boot past post.

..well, if the P/S fan is doing what your saying (again, if im reading correctly) the P/S itself is being cro-barred, or its being told to shut down by the CPU.

If its being cro-barred, by removing what existing hardware is in the box will tell you this, as once you turn it on the P/S will continue to run.

btw, you can remove RAM and the supply should still stay up as thats a post test. (just will get some nice error codes)

If its being told to shut down(after the first test was done) the CPU, Mobo, or P/S is the problem. ( I would place my money on the CPU at that point)

or it could be something as simple as not detecting the CPU fan.
(i believe that version of Mobo has the CPU fan detection as part of the pre-post process, if not detected it can shut the system down. Part of AMD's answer to thermal throttling)
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Old 01-06-2003, 07:57 AM   #10
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I can't imagine it's the power supply. One I could understand, two perhaps, three I don't think I could be that unlucky.

It's not the PSU fan that jumps. Its the CPU fan but yes you have to unplug it to provoke the same response.

But can I just point out it's now two motherboards doing the same thing. Not the same motherboard.

Essentially I have added a hard drive, dvd-cdrw combi drive and GF2 to that board.

Soon I'll eliminate the GF2 idea. So that should leave me 2 drives.

If the motherboard is shutting itslef down wouldnt that indicate Im right in the assumption that it's alive, just not well.
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Old 01-06-2003, 08:08 AM   #11
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Two ideas for you:

1. Something is shorted out, when you assembled it, there's a screw or something making contact with the motherboard, etc.

2. It's the GF2, you're trying to use a 3.3v AGP card on a board that only supports the newer 1.5volt cards -- resulting in, damage to the motherboard. Try sticking the GF3 in it and see if that'll get it to POST.
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Old 01-06-2003, 08:27 AM   #12
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Tried that. No go.

Don't want to seem like I'm enjoying shooting some of these ideas down. I'm thankful for every reply. All I'm trying to do is give as much information as possible as quickly as possible.

Once again thanks.
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Old 01-06-2003, 08:59 AM   #13
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Default ...

Sounds like it could be a Ram thing to me. Try taking some of the ram that you know works out of your new setup and put just 1 chip in the motherboard that is having problems ( if the ram is compatable).

Sounds like to me that you don't get any ram test screen or CPU detection so the motherboard is failing on one of the very first things it tries to do.

After you try a ram chip from the working computer and that doesn't work I would think that it only leaves the CPU, MB, and PSU. At this point if you are really stressed and don't know what to do take out the PSU and all Ram then try and boot up. Like said before you should get some pretty sounding error beeps but that at least tells you that the MB might not be fried.

These things will tell you if in fact it was the cpu, ram, or mb that are the problem.
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Old 01-06-2003, 09:02 AM   #14
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It really sounds like you have something that's shorting across the motherboard and causing it to fail on post.

As they all said, pull everything off the MB except for the Vid card and 1 RAM module, and look in the MB manual for the BIOS reset jumper. Reset the BIOS, then try posting it again. If you have to, pull the motherboard out completely and place it on the plastic mat that your new board came with and try posting it there. (For giggles, you can pull the power connection from your workin computer and try the same test if you want to make sure that the PSU isn't the problem.

You should be able to swap out vid cards, ram, and even the processor. (That old 700mhz that was lying around would be worth it to test with even though it might be toast.- you never know.)

The two times that I've seen problems similar to yours (yes, yes, I know anecdotal evidence means relatively little) were caused by improper assembly or an improper bios config.

On the one hand, my roommate placed EVERY mounting post he could before he assembled his computer- all of them. Then he tried to turn it on and it of course was shorting out onto the case.

The other situation was one where I went into the BIOS and set the heat protection too low for an Athlon similar to yours. The chip runs at around 150 degrees F and was immediately going into a protect on boot. *grumble* Still figuring that out.

However, with all that said, my gut feeling is that the problem is the MB.

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Old 01-06-2003, 09:04 AM   #15
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Thanks. I didn't know you could do that. Im hoping the CPU is fried.

Never thought Id see the day come when a CPU is cheaper then Ram.
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Old 01-06-2003, 09:27 AM   #16
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Default Aye

When I'm troubleshooting a system, I always start with MB on a static mat all by it's lonesome on my workbench. Add a known good power supply, CPU, RAM and Video card. Kick it on and see what I get from there. I always keep around some old (but known good) components just for this purpose. I even keep an old PCI video card to use for this, since you don't run into AGP 1x/2x/4x etc compatibility issues.

I'm not sure what kinds of resources are in your area, but if your lucky, theres a nice Mom-N-Pop shop nearby that would most likely be willing to go step-by-step through your components and figure out which ones are bad. Of course, they'll be hoping you return the favor by purchasing the replacement part from them, but if you do this sort of thing regularly, theres nothing like having a good working relationship with a mom-n-pop shop tech.

Anyway, also, remember that even a "good" power supply can be overloaded. When trying to figure out a problem like this, disconect all drives, modem, NIC, etc. No reason to put further drain on the PS, and again, your really trying to reduce variables as much as possible.
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Old 01-06-2003, 09:31 AM   #17
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no error codes (which if it was a vid card, or ram, would happen)

VIA Apollo---Award BIOS (if memory serves right)
No beep codes except for vid-card and RAM..everything else should be displayed on screen

sounds like a definite CPU problem to me.
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Old 01-06-2003, 10:07 AM   #18
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Several folks above have it correct. Strip the box to nothing. For post, all you need is:

Memory (as few modules as possible)

You can use the following components as well:


The new MS OS's don't necessarily support boot from Floppy, but Win98 does. If you want to get to a C prompt, use a Win98 start disk and see if you can get that far.

Basically your rebuilding the PC from scratch at this point, but assume you did something wrong. Reverify all jumper settings, dip switches, etc. with the manual from the MoBo. Verify that all plugs are in the correct way as well. Make sure that your one memory module (or two if mobo requires it) are set in the proper sockets.

I have had this problem a couple times, and in both cases a component was not seated properly. CPU in one case (cartridge didn't line up with support) and Video in the other (slots in back of case were not lined up well, causing vid card to not sit all the way in the slot).

Hope this helps and hope your problem gets fixed. Good luck.
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Old 01-06-2003, 11:29 AM   #19
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I am assuming you are plugging this into a wall outlet for your power. Have you tried using a different one? It might be that you are hooked into a bad outlet and are getting insufficient power to the PS in the first place.
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Old 01-06-2003, 11:50 AM   #20
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Good point Gieve! This could definitely be the culprit if it was the same power outlet that experienced the surge that was mentioned.
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Old 01-06-2003, 01:12 PM   #21
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Heh, Kerryn. There is a little switch on the back of the power unit.

Try this, switch it one way and turn it on. Turn it off, then switch it back to normal and turn it on again.
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Old 01-06-2003, 04:47 PM   #22
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Only skimmed the replies so this may have already been said.

Really sounds like a short to me as well, here are a few things that cause shorts most often.

RAM not fully slotted
CPU not properly seated
MB cmos jumper not connected/connected wrong
MB cmos battery not fully seated
old case fan pluged in backwards
mounting post on the case touching a non protected part of the MB
too large of a skrew used to mount the MB and it extends past the grounded area of the hole

Give all those a shot even if you think you have already or think it can't be it. I am almost willing to bet it is the cmos jumper, reset(short) it and put it back in the right postion and if the MB is still healthy you should be back up and running.

Good luck.
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Old 01-07-2003, 02:10 AM   #23
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I confirmed it completely dead last night.

CPU, Memory, Graphics seem to work fine. Motherboard must be dead so it must be one of the drives killing it. It galls me to pay someone to fix my computer but they have access to unlimited parts and I don't.

More money to pay out.
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Old 01-07-2003, 06:48 PM   #24
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if you havent given it to a tech yet and havent tried taking it out of the case i'd suggest doing that and also making sure the power button's connected to the right pins. It sounds like there may be a short, or if you're using a power supply that has 2 different settings (220W/110W) make sure it's set to the right one. I think 220 is euro and 110 is american. If anything's wrong it's prolly the mobo, so if u get a new one try getting one from a reputable company hehe, and dont get one on the via chipset.
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Old 01-07-2003, 09:35 PM   #25
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I've had a problem like this with my machine and MICROS Eclipse workstations (don't ask) unplug the PSU from the mobo. leave it off a few then plug it back in and see what happens.
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