PC Randomly Won't Boot

April 14, 2009 at 07:09:17
Specs: Linux i686 & Windows XP, -AMD Phenom 9600 Agena 2.3GHz Socket AM2+ 95W Quad-Core Processor -Crucial Ballistix Tracer 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) -Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM D
I built my own PC & am having major issues. The PC will work fine for close to a month, then when booted, the monitor keeps flashing from analog to digital & then goes black & the PC won't boot, not even to POST. Eventually, the PC will boot again for around a month, then the cycle repeats itself.

My system specs are as follows & Windows XP
-dual boot system with Ubuntu
-AMD Phenom 9600 Agena 2.3GHz Socket AM2+ 95W Quad-Core Processor
-Crucial Ballistix Tracer 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
-Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
-2 ZOGIS ZO86GT-E GeForce 8600 GT 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express x16 SLI video cards configured using SLI
-ASUS M3N-HD HDMI AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA nForce 750a SLI HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard
-Antec NeoPower 650 Blue 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready Modular Active PFC Power Supply
-2 Samsung 20X DVD±R DVD Burners with LightScribe, both connected via SATA
-Samsung SynchMaster monitor connected via DVI

I have done the following:

-reloaded both operating systems
-ensured everything is properly connected & seated
-removed the RAM & issue occurs whether RAM is inserted or not. With no RAM, the PC should at least boot to POST
-ran memtest & it passes with no errors
-replaced IDE hard drive with SATA hard drive
-updated BIOS to latest version

Would this be a bad motherboard? I suppose it could also be either of the 2 video cards or the power supply. This is a very random issue, & will be difficult to get the bad part replaced/prove which part it is.


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#1
April 14, 2009 at 09:52:26
Something that causes no boot only once a month would be hard to determine.
If it only happens that often, it wouldn't likely be the mboard or the power supply.
However, you can't rule out the power supply unless you try another one.

Your mboard model is rated to support up to and inc. 125 watt cpus, so your 95watt cpu is not a problem, and it's on the supported cpus list.
You need only about a minimum 400 watt power supply to support 2 8600 GT 512MB cards, so your 650 watt power supply capacity is not a problem.

"With no RAM, the PC should at least boot to POST"

The computer cannot complete the POST when there is no ram installed.

This is what should happen when you remove all the ram:

(when you have a speaker or speakers or the equivalent connected to the mboard so you can hear mboard beeps)

If nothing else is wrong, you will get no video but you will hear a pattern of beeps that indicate no ram is installed, or a ram problem.
E.g. for an Award bios or a bios based on one, that's often a beep of about a half second, silence for a half second, a beep of about a half second, silence for a half second, continuously.
.......

You may have a tiny problem with the connection of the ram and/or the cards in their slots caused by something being on the contacts.

See response 2 in this - try cleaning the contacts on the ram modules, and making sure the modules are properly seated:
http://www.computing.net/hardware/w...

Do the same thing for the video cards, and any other cards you have in slots.

Check the main connector from the power supply. The wires close to the mboard going into the main power connector/socket should be more or less perpendicular to the mboard surface rather than at an angle. Take a close look at the wires and make sure they are all locked into the connector from the power supply and do not move when you plug the connector into the mboard socket. Unplug it and plug it back in to make sure.
........

You have not mentioned whether you have checked the CPU temperature. You can easily do that in the bios, or by using the Asus Probe mboard monitoring utility in Windows - it's on the CD that came with the mboard if you haven't installed it.
If you got your Phenom in an AMD boxed set along with a cpu fan/heatsink, the AMD supplied cpu fan/heatsink combo is very efficient and will keep your cpu quite cool under all circumstances, but if you used a separate cpu fan/heatsink combo it may not be as effective and could even be inadequate.

Does it sometimes get quite hot in the location where you have the computer?

You have not mentioned whether you are overclocking anything.



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#2
April 15, 2009 at 07:21:19
The thing is, this happens roughly every month & the PC won't work for a month or more. Then, it will randomly start working again for about a month & the cycle repeats itself. I built this PC like 7 months ago & have only got to use it for around 3 months. To answer your questions:

-Temperature should be fine, I am using the included CPU fan/heatsink. This has happened in the Fall, Winter, & now Spring. The PC is kept in a cool basement bedroom. I don't know if the CPU is overheating when this occurs because I can't even boot for like a month.

-No overclocking whatsoever. The PC will just die, whether I am only surfing the web, burning a CD, or literally doing nothing. Then, as stated, it won't boot again for roughly 1 month.


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#3
April 15, 2009 at 08:01:16
"...& the PC won't work for a month or more. "
OK - that wasn't obvious from the way you wrote the first post.

The reason I mentioned this:

"Check the main connector from the power supply. The wires close to the mboard going into the main power connector/socket should be more or less perpendicular to the mboard surface rather than at an angle. "

is because I had intermittant problems when I first installed a new power supply in one computer until I straightened out the wiring there, for whatever reason. The same power supply has given me no problems since.

If that doesn't help...
Try another power supply. One with 400 watts capacity or more should work fine.
If you can borrow one temporarily when the system stops working, try that first.


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#4
April 18, 2009 at 10:00:10
I have now noticed that when the PC won't boot to POST that the PC is actually turning off. It could also be that the PC is hibernating though, I will check my settings later today when I get home. Now it seems that its probably a video card or slot issue. When I wiggle or move the primary video card, the PC boots.

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#5
April 18, 2009 at 12:54:22
As I said....

"See response 2 in this - try cleaning the contacts on the ram modules, and making sure the modules are properly seated:
http://www.computing.net/hardware/w...

Do the same thing for the video cards, and any other cards you have in slots."


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#6
April 20, 2009 at 18:19:15
I haven't cleaned the contacts for the video cards or anything else yet because I have more info to add. I got home & my system was froze on the screensaver. When I rebooted & chose to boot into Linux, I received a kernel panic error. Then I rebooted again & the same issue: flashing from ANALOG to DIGITAL & the PC won't boot. I fidgeted with the video cards & still nothing. This time, as in months past, the PC did not power down like earlier this week. The PC stayed powered on & the fan makes a rough, sick noise. This is what has happened for months. Only earlier this week did the PC power off. Any other suggestions?

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#7
April 21, 2009 at 08:33:42
"I got home & my system was froze on the screensaver."

Which system? The problem system?
Do you have a valid reason for leaving the computer running when you're not there?

"The PC stayed powered on & the fan makes a rough, sick noise. This is what has happened for months."

Which fan?
You have at least two - the cpu fan and the power supply fan.
The power supply may have more than one fan, and you may also have one or more case fans.

The noise probably indicates the fan's bearings are failing, or the fan is filthy and the blades are rubbing on something, or some fan is rubbing on something else. If it's the cpu fan if it's bearings are failing it's likely that's causing the cpu to overheat because the fan can no longer spin as fast as it shouldf.
You can easily check the current temps in the bios, or by using the Asus Probe mboard monitoring utility in Windows - it's on the CD that came with the mboard if you haven't installed it.

If it's the power supply fan, it's likely the power supply is overheating and dumping some of the excess heat inside of the case.


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#8
April 21, 2009 at 11:22:58
"...the monitor keeps flashing from analog to digital .."

That's probably not what the led colors indicate.
If your monitor can only be connected via a VGA connection or a DVI connection, and not either one, one at a time, (a few monitors are both DVI and VGA) the led color either indicates the monitor is getting a video signal - usually when green - or it isn't - usually when yellow or orange - NOT that it's in analog or digital mode - most monitors are either analog or digital.

Your system being relatively recent doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't have accumulated mung (dust, lint, etc.) on the cpu fan and heatsink, especially if you're running it 24/7, or if you also have case fans. The more time the computer is running, the more fans you have, the more dust and lint that can be sucked in, the faster the mung will accumulate.
E.g. A friend of mine who has a 6400+ cpu and a case fan, one power supply fan, has wall to wall carpet and his cpu fan and heatsink have to be cleaned about every three months because of accumulated fuzz from the carpet - no one in the household smokes, and the computer is a long way from the kitchen.

Whether a power supply boots a mboard all the way depends on a signal "power good" being generated by the properly working mboard during the POST.
Whether a power supply shuts down a mboard depends on software in the operating sysatem generating a signal to the mboard - if the operating system is completely frozen , it can't shut down the mboard, and neither can the Reset switch on thecase if it has one.
In most cases, the default settings in the bios setup for the mboard will shut down the mboard when you hold the power button in for at least 4 seconds.

I know very little about Linux.
Apparently kernel panic is the same situation that causes blue screens of death in Windows - the operating system experienced a fatal error it can't recover from.
Apparently you often also get a message about what the problem is when you get a kernel panic error, the same as you usually get a message along with the BSOD in Windows.
If you quoted that other message it may give us clues as to what is going on.

If you are experiecing cpu overheating, all sorts of bizzare symptoms can happen, but they usually only happen once the cpu gets above a certain temperature - they don't happen when the cpu is cooler than that.

Unplug the case/power supply.
Power off your monitor.
Open up the case by removing the left panel as seen when you're looking at the front of the case.
Check all the connections of the wiring to make sure they are all the way onto their pins and into their sockets, especially the main connector from the power supply. The wires close to the mboard going into the main power connector/socket should be more or less perpendicular to the mboard surface rather than at an angle. Make sure all cards in slots are all the way down in their slots.


While you're in there, if the cpu fan/heatsink has mung (dust, lint, etc.) on it, clean it off, but DO NOT use a vaccuum cleaner to do that (they produce a tremendous amount of static electricity when running, and anything connected to them can discharge that to your components) - use canned air, or an air nozzle if you have access to an air compressor, or an artist's brush that can be used in small spaces, etc. It may be difficult to clean the top of the heatsink under the cpu fan - the most likely place to have mung on it - and the bottom side of the cpu fan blades unless you remove the fan. If you have a case fan, clean that too if it needs it.

With the cover still off, restore the AC power, start the computer and make sure the cpu fan spins - if it doesn't spin, if you're sure the power supply is working okay, don't use the computer until you have replaced it.
If it spins too slowly, and/or if it makes rattling or screeching noises, most likely to be noticed when the computer has cooled to room temp, has not been used for a while, and then is started up, the cpu fan's bearings are failing - replace it as soon as you can.

See response 2 in this - try cleaning the contacts on the ram modules, and making sure the modules are properly seated:
http://www.computing.net/hardware/w...

Do the same thing for the video cards, and any other cards you have in slots."
......

If that doesn't help, try another power supply, 400 watts or more capacity.


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