my computer only boots sometimes

Hewlett-packard Pavilion media center m8...
October 28, 2010 at 09:53:54
Specs: Windows Vista
My HP Media Center m8300f (see specs here: that will boot to varying levels of usability. The problem started a couple weeks ago when it would shut down or not come back from sleep mode. Now I am at the point where it will boot to certain points but not consistently. The first attempt at turning it on I may only get a black screen (fans, hard drives and all other hardware running). The second attempt it may load to the (HP screen with BIOS access) but I am not able to enter BIOS. In a third attempt it may load to either of the first options or load windows & run normally until I shutdown. I have been able to do the following in an attempt to solve the problem: reset the hard drive to factory, ran CClean on the hard drive, ran Memtest 86, ran drive diagnostics in Windows and Ubuntu and they have all come up clean.

Unfortunately, I am fairly limited in my computer knowledge and I am left scratching my head still unsure if I am having a hardware or software problem. Any advice I can get would be extremely helpful.

Thanks in advance!

See More: my computer only boots sometimes

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October 28, 2010 at 10:43:25
You state you can't get into the BIOS (setup) screens. Are you using the original keyboard? Is the keyboard a wired USB or wired PS/2 type?

If you have a live version of Linux, try running that. If it runs OK then the issue is software. If that won't run either, then most likely a hardware issue.

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October 29, 2010 at 06:04:29
I am using the original keyboard so the BIOS access problem is not the keyboard.

Last night I worked on it for a little longer. Here is the recap:

After pressing the power button the hardware will kick on (fans, hard drive, cd-rom, keyboard, mouse, monitor) but after a few seconds of searching for a signal the monitor will hibernate. The light for the hard drive flashes a few times initially but eventually stops and does not resume.

I gave it a few more tries (turning the power off and then back on) and eventually windows loaded normally. I had read somewhere that this was possibly a BIOS issue so I checked for an update, downloaded and restarted. Windows booted normally no problems. Solution!! Not quite.

I ran Windows without any problems for a while even shutting it down & doing a couple restarts and everything appeared to check out. However, this morning when I pressed the power button I ended up with the same problem mentioned earlier (everything starts up but nothing happens).

It almost appears that once the system is loaded it will run fine but I am getting hung up in the boot process.

Again all of my system checks tell me that it is not a hardware problem but I am still not sure. Anyone have any thoughts on system checks that I could run that could give me more info?


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October 29, 2010 at 07:49:02
I would suspect a power supply issue. If you can get into the BIOS (setup), look for any listings for voltages. Actual readings should be within +- 5% of rated voltages.

If there are no voltages available in the BIOS screens the download a third party program like CPUID or speedfan. These utilities run in the tray and can monitor things like voltages in real time. That should help you to determine if the power supply is failing.

Another possible cause could be defective capacitors. Open the case and look at the round cylindrical components on the motherboard. You are looking for bulging or leaking. Look at the link below for examples.

DO NOT attempt to open the power supply.

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Related Solutions

November 1, 2010 at 12:37:29
I checked everything out internally & it looks like it is the capacitors. It appears that 3-4 of them are bulging and atleast 1 is leaking. I made several attempts to look at the power supply but I am having some more major failures.

I suppose at this point the answer to the problem is to replace the motherboard?

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November 1, 2010 at 12:45:55
Check the warranty on it before doing anything else. If you need help with a replacement post back with some system specs.

Type of CPU, RAM and video card are what you need to know to select a compatible replacement.

I know of a site that sells refurbished pulls for very reasonable amounts.

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November 15, 2010 at 11:07:32
Here is a link to the HP website with all of the specs:
let me know if there is any other info that you might need.

Thanks for help!

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November 15, 2010 at 12:36:52
In order to have the best chance of Vista working on a new motherboard it is best if you stay with the 6150/430 chipset on an AM2 motherboard.

I have found several to choose from but I need to know a few things.

First of all, do you have an add in video card?

Are you using a copy of Vista that came on the computer originally?

Look to see how many memory modules you have. Your Motherboard has 4 slots, many replacement boards only have 2 slots.

Do you use the dial up modem? If so, is it an add in PCI card or integrated onto the motherboard?

Download SIW from the link below. Install and run it. What is listed under the motherboard heading.

If you can't get the board to fire up then look for a model number printed somewhere along the edge of the board.

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November 16, 2010 at 06:25:41
I will do my best to answer the questions you have, but bear with me if I do not get to the answer you need the first time around:

- I have not added a video card and am only running the NVIDIA GeForce 6150 that came factory

- I am using the original Vista os that came loaded as well as Ubuntu

- I have not had a chance to check the memory modules but from what I remember seeing and what is listed in the specs there are 4 slots and all are being used (I have not added any memory this was factory)

- I do not use the dial up modem and probably never will so I am not worried if I were to lose that on a new motherboard

- Unfortunately I have not had time to get ath the new motherboard but was hoping these answers could maybe get me a little further.

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November 16, 2010 at 06:56:51
The only issue may be the memory modules. Many of the available boards have only 2 memory slots. That could pose a problem if all slots are currently filled because you would lose half the memory.

SIW will show you what memory sticks are installed, if your computer will still start. The motherboard model will help me determine if your current board is a full ATX size or mATX (smaller form factor). Both will work if you currently have ATX (which I suspect due to the memory) but if you have an mATX board, installing a full ATX might be problematic, depending on the space inside the case.

Hope this explains why I am asking these questions. the first sentence in #7 is what I have in mind when looking. Some folks have had good luck getting new motherboards with different chip sets on them to work with the original version of Windows that came from the factory. There are no guarantees unless an identical board is installed. Most times the original board will be an off shoot of a commercially available board.

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November 29, 2010 at 12:58:44
I looked a little closer at the motherboard last night and it is in fact a full ATX size. I have been checking some different websites in an attempt to find a compatible motherboard, but I am having some difficulty finding any with 4 memory slots. If there is anything else that would help me in my search that would be fantastic.


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November 29, 2010 at 15:31:04
That is what I stated in #9 above. Most mATX motherboards only have 2 memory slots.

You could go with something a little different but that makes the possibility of using the OEM version of Vista less likely. I can't say if Vista will work or not. Some users have installed totally different chip sets and still have gotten the OEM version of Windows to install.

edited- links to board to follow.

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November 29, 2010 at 16:20:40 This board has a cheaper version of your chipset and video but will work and has 4 RAM slots. No backplate included. Yours may work. This board is new retail. Has the same exact chipsets as yours but only has 2 RAM slots.

According to the specs for your computer it came with 2 – 1GB sticks & 2 – 512MB sticks. If you used the 2 – 1GB you would still have 2GB of RAM.

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