Power up problem

August 20, 2009 at 11:54:17
Specs: Windows XP, Pentium 4 1.8GHz 256
Starting about a week ago, my PC has been having problems powering up. When I press the power button to turn my PC on, the LEDs light up and the fan runs for maybe a second and then everything shuts off. I have to switch off the power supply, wait a few seconds, press the power button, wait a few more seconds, and then switch the PSU back on. Only then, will it power on and stay on. What could be causing this?
My box is a VPR Matrix model purchased at Best Buy in 2002. The only component which I have changed since I bought it off the store shelf is the power supply. I installed a 400W Rosewill PSU when the original 300W gave out about two or three years ago.

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August 20, 2009 at 12:47:06
There may be a poor connection in your case somewhere.

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.

A common thing that can happen with ram, even ram that worked fine previously, is the ram has, or has developed, a poor connection in it's slot(s).
This usually happens a long time after the ram was installed, but it can happen with new ram, or after moving the computer case from one place to another, and I've had even new modules that needed to have their contacts cleaned.

See response 2 in this - try cleaning the contacts on the ram modules, and making sure the modules are properly seated:

It is common to un-intentionally damage IDE data cables, especially while removing them - the 80 wire ones are more likely to be damaged. What usually happens is the cable is ripped at either edge and the wires there are either damaged or severed, often right at a connector or under it's cable clamp there, where it's hard to see - if a wire is severed but it's ends are touching, the connection is intermittant, rather than being reliable.
Another common thing is for the data cable to be separated from the connector contacts a bit after you have removed a cable - there should be no gap between the data cable and the connector - if there is press the cable against the connector to eliminate the gap.
80 wire data cables are also easily damaged at either edge if the cable is sharply creased at a fold in the cable.

Try another data cable if in doubt.

Check your SATA data cables. The connector on each end should "latch" into the socket on the drive and on the mboard, or on the drive controller card - it should not move when you merely brush your hand against it near the socket - if it does, mere vibration can cause a poor connection of it - use another SATA data cable that does "latch", or tape the connector in place.
(There is a slight projection or bump on one side of the outside of the connector that "latches" it into the socket - it's easily broken off or damaged)

The same thing applies for the SATA power connection.

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.

If you did or checked out all of the above and still have the problem....

Failing power supplies are common and can cause your symptoms.
Check your PS.
See response 4 in this:

If it is failing, you can usually replace it with any decent standard sized standard ATX PS with the same capacity or greater.

Standard (PS/2) power supply size - 86mm high, 150mm wide, 140mm deep, or 3 3/8" h x 5 7/8" w x 5 1/2" d , or very close to that, though the depth can be more or less for some PSs.

Don't buy an el-cheapo PS.
See response 3 in this:

Your power supply must have at least the minimum capacity required to support a system with the graphics card you are using installed, or the max graphics card you might install in the future.
(Onboard video - video built into the mboard - IS NOT A CARD!)
You can go to the video card maker's web site and look up the specs for the model - often under system requirements - the minimum PS wattage, and, more important, the minimum amperage the PS must supply at 12v is stated. If you don't find that, any card with the same video chipset including any letters after the model number has very similar minimum PS requirements.

Check your hard drive with the manufacturer's diagnostics.
See the latter part of response 1 in this:

(thanks to Dan Penny for this link:)
Hard Drive Diagnostics Tools and Utilities

If you don't have a floppy drive, you can get a CD image diagnostic utility from most hard drive manufacturer's web sites, but obviously you would need to make a burned CD, preferably a CD-R for best compatibilty, on another computer if you need to.

If the hard drive itself tests okay, any data
problems found can be fixed, one way or another.

Much less common, but some mboards (and some power supplies) develop this problem over time:

Open up your case and examine the mboard to see if you have bad capacitors, and/or other findable signs of mboard damage .

This was the original bad capacitor problem - has some example pictures.
History of why the exploding capacitors and which mboard makers were affected:

What to look for, mboard symptoms, example pictures:
Home page that site
- what the problem is caused by
- he says there are STILL bad capacitors on more recent mboards.

Pictures of blown capacitors, other components, power supplies, Athlon cpu's, etc.:

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