Repeated starts & stops after shipped 9-year-old PC overseas

December 5, 2015 at 08:21:35
Specs: Windows 7, Pentium, 8GB RAM
My 9 year old computer worked great when I disconnected it for packing and shipment overseas with all my other stuff. There is no sign of damage from shipping, but the computer now starts and stays on for 4 seconds (but does not POST or display any video), then shuts off for 4 seconds, and repeats forever. If I disconnect ATX 12 volt power to the CPU, fans and lights stay on and run continuously, but it will not boot of course.

After looking at similar reports, I tried a new power supply, clearing the bios by removing the CR2032, replacing the CR2032 with a new one, removing the video card, removing all but one stick of RAM, removing all the RAM, disconnected the case power switch, but the on-off cycles continue. I would be happy to try other suggestions but I prefer to not buy a new motherboard or CPU for this old computer. Thanks!

message edited by Jim2


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#1
December 5, 2015 at 09:14:21
On the face of it, the CPU looks as if it's overheating, so it probably needs re-seating with thermal compound ("exactly" the way the CPU manufacturer suggests).

However, a common cause of issues during transit is very slight movements of edge connectors on to a part that has oxidised. It is therefore worth cleaning all edge connectors with a soft pencil eraser, particularly the RAM, any add-on Graphics Card, and SATA HD Connectors (Power & Signal),

It is also worth popping the RAM in and out a few times to clear oxide off the sockets too - same goes for any others you clean.

While you are in there make sure no plugs have worked loose.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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#2
December 5, 2015 at 09:23:13
Incidentally... be sure that there is "no" power cord connected whenever you remove "anything" on the motherboard.

On curent desktop/tower systems even if the on/off switch is in "off" position, if the mains power cord is still connected (and live) there will be volts running around the motherboard... Removing the power cord completely removes this problem.

Similarly with laptops - remove both mains power cord and the battery.


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#3
December 5, 2015 at 16:31:58
Does the overseas country have the same wall socket voltage as the country where it was previously used?

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Related Solutions

#4
December 5, 2015 at 20:54:48
Thanks for the suggestions. The RAM sticks and the video board have been in and out several times, so I hope the contacts are good. I doubt that the CPU could heat enough in 4 seconds to shut down the computer, then cool enough in another 4 seconds to allow it to try to start back up again, but I guess anything is possible. My first steps before doing anything inside the computer are to remove the power cord and ground myself to the chassis. AC power was and still is 120 volts.

A link posted in a different thread about a similar problem said to remove the CR2032 and jumper the BIOS clearing contacts for 24 hours (time overkill, but why not?). I will remove the jumper and replace the CR2032 in 12 hours. Wish me luck!


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#5
December 6, 2015 at 05:19:52
Wow, 24 hours eh. We'll await the outcome.

There are many other possibilities. For example, electrolytic capacitors can "dry out" if they go for very long periods without any voltage present and of-course any component can short out.

It might be worth doing the paper clip test on the PSU just for info:
http://www.seasonic.ru/tech-support...

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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#6
December 6, 2015 at 06:11:36
No luck with resetting the BIOS. I didn't really expect it to work, but it was an easy thing to try. The computer still runs for 4 seconds, shuts off for 4 seconds, and repeats that cycle endlessly. I did replace the old 620 watt power supply with a new 750 watt PS, but the symptoms do not change.

As before, when I disconnect the ATX 12 volt 4 pin connector, the fans and lights run continuously. While it was running, I (carefully) plugged the ATX 12 volt 4 pin connector back in. The fans and lights continued on for a few seconds, then shut off for a few seconds, and repeated that on-off cycle until I removed power. I have not yet tried disconnecting the hard drives, but will do so next. Thanks for the comments and suggestions.


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#7
December 6, 2015 at 06:43:43
This is going to sound awfully basic... and overly simple... But one never knows... (cue the MJQ...)

Have you tried using another power cord in place of the one which presumably you are using at present and for all tests?

Another approach: with nothing plugged into the motherboard in terms of power connectors...( e.g. the 12volt ATX etc...) does it still power cycle every 4seconds... ?

Incidentally - is it "as near as damn it" 4 seconds every time?


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#8
December 6, 2015 at 07:34:02
trvlr, Decades ago (when I knew everything), I would have considered it silly to think about the power cord, but I am sadder and wiser now. Several years ago, I replaced a power supply in an old computer only to discover that the power cord was defective. After reading your comment, I rushed to try it while miffed at myself for not thinking about it sooner. Unfortunately, neither the power cord nor disconnecting power to the hard drives changed the problem. The on time and the off time is approximately the same. I measured them as "Thousand 1, Thousand 2, Thousand 3, Thousa". My guess is that the on time and the off time are around 3.5 +/- 0.5 seconds each. Disconnecting the 12 volt 4 pin ATX connector enables the fans and lights to run continuously.

Another comment I saw in a related thread was to remove the motherboard, look for shorts, and clean any dust off of it. I did try to remove the motherboard, but I could only get as far as removing the screws that hold it into the chassis. The back panel connectors and ports (keyboard, mouse, USB, RJ-45, audio, etc.) Seemed to lock the motherboard to the rear of the chassis. I was not happy to remove the motherboard anyway, so I put the screws back in. I did look closely at the components, but I do not see any that appear to be damaged. My next step will be to get a can of compressed "air" and blow the accumulated dust off the motherboard and out of the computer.


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#9
December 6, 2015 at 08:37:02
Are there any other internal "power" connections that might be removable?

When I queried to 4 seconds.. I was thinking that possibly the time periods might sometimes be noticeably longer. But clearly they are more or less the same...

Can you easily disconnect the hard drive power connectors and any other similar connectors; and see if the on/off cycle repeats still (or not)?

Compressed air wouldn''t hurt.

Incidentally what make and model is this computer? It may be possible to find the manual that details how to remove the motherboard... I have taken a few out of assorted models in the past. Usually fairly obvious of course; but having a manual is invariably nice/helpful...



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#10
December 6, 2015 at 09:08:42
When you blow the dust out make sure to include the CPU heat-sink. You can usually clean it quite well through the fan blades, maybe using a small artists paintbrush (that's a small paint brush not a small artist LOL).

The 12V rails feeds the CPU, GPU and HD's and fans so it might be interesting to see what happens without the HD and the graphics card (if separate).

Sorry, when I posted #5 I'd missed the fact that you've already tried a new PSU.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks

message edited by Derek


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#11
December 6, 2015 at 10:13:26
Bearing in mind this unit was transported... I'm leaning very slightly to a possible problem around the HDD... Possibly it took a shock of sorts and "maybe" that shock has resulted in a short cct. somewhere is in its electronics - which might produce the problem as posted?

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#12
December 6, 2015 at 10:50:58
The computer case is generic, but the motherboard is a Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS3L/. I have the manual but it doesn't say anything about disassembling the motherboard from the case. At different times in this process, I have removed RAM, the case power on switch, the CR2032 BIOS battery (and replaced it with a new one), the graphics card, and power from each device that is connected to the power supply, but none of them affect the symptoms. The only things I have not removed are the hard drive signal cables and the 20 pin power cable to the motherboard. I did remove the 4 pin ATX 12 volt cable but that is useless because without the 12 volt ATX, only lights and fans are powered.

I will look for a shop that sells compressed air here, but that will be a few days from now. if anyone has other thoughts about a simple test I could try, I will work on that soon. Otherwise, I will report back within a week after I can blow dust out of the motherboard and CPU cooler area. Thanks!

message edited by Jim2


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#13
December 6, 2015 at 11:01:02
Just disconnect the hard drive entirely from the motherboard - if only to eliminate it from the possible cause(s)?

Also.. if you can lay your hands on a really powerful magnifying glass. have a really close look at all areas to see if per chance "anything" has managed to lodge itself across a track or three?

I'm thinking of very small screws etc... Equally double check that the motherboard hasn't shifted in some manner so as to contact with the case in some area? Possibly this may have happened and the short burst of power on is "enuff" to allow the board to make contact (due to thermal expansion or even a minor "surge" when volts are applied)?

message edited by trvlr


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#14
December 6, 2015 at 19:59:21
My theory is something that was mentioned very briefly above but not given any apparent serious thought since but I think that it warrants a more serious look into.
During shipping the CPU's heat sink (which has some mass to it generally) might have been moved on the CPU due to a shock to the computer during the shipping. The heat sink mount will have a slight bit of flexibility to it and may have allowed the heat sink to shift slightly and it may have even shifted back to roughly the same spot (we may be talking about less than a millimeter). This shifting would have broken the thermal bond between the CPU and the heat sink and is now acting as an insulator with a minute air gap. And Yes, the CPU can heat up to overheating within 4 seconds if there is no proper bond to the heat sink (heat sink OK but no fan will take longer because of the thermal mass of the heat sink).
My suggestion is to remove the heat sink, properly remove all thermal compound and replace the heat sink with the proper amount of new thermal compound. See this for details:
http://www.arcticsilver.com/methods...

You have to be a little bit crazy to keep you from going insane.


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#15
December 6, 2015 at 21:21:12
Fingers, you make a strong case for the culprit being a CPU heat sink problem. Is there an easy way I could test for that before I disassemble the existing heat sink? That is a skill I have not yet needed to learn, and I prefer to avoid it if that is not the problem. For example, can I disconnect power to the fan (or remove the fan) and press down on the existing heat sink to see if the computer will run longer than 4 seconds? Thanks!

message edited by Jim2


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#16
December 6, 2015 at 23:09:04
That really wouldn't be a sufficient test. The best thing is to remove the heatsink/fan assembly, clean off the old paste and add a dab of new past and reassemble. Different manufacturers have different ways of clamping the heatsink on the cpu. Most P-4 motherboards have some kind of lever that holds it tight.

Often, especially with an older system like yours, the paste will have dried or they may have used thermal tape instead of paste. In that case removing the heatsink often pulls out the cpu also. If that happens just try to not bend any pins. The socket it's in will be a zif type and will have a lever you flip up for normal installation or removal of the cpu. So flip that up and reinsert the cpu.

To re my # 3--are you sure the voltage is right? Also check if the PSU has a 110/220 voltage switch and if so make sure it's in the correct position. Only change it when the power cord is removed.


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#17
December 7, 2015 at 07:20:54
Thanks again for the comments and suggestions. I doubt that the hard drive SATA signal cables could cause this problem, but I will try removing them later. I will also try to find a local source for compressed air and Artic Silver so I can try them too. Finding that stuff here could take me several days, but I will post again when I have something useful to add. Thanks!

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#18
December 7, 2015 at 20:00:39
You do not need to use Arctic Silver, any decent thermal compound that a local computer store sells will be fine. There is little difference for normal use between the cheapest and the most expensive compounds. For extreme use like overclocking, some have their preferences and go looking for performance charts but you are not likely to find any difference. The link I included because they have the most complete and concise instructions for the process. Use a quality rubbing alcohol (greater then 90% isopropel) for removing the old thermal compound and removing any oils you may leave behind touching the surface.

You have to be a little bit crazy to keep you from going insane.


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#19
December 8, 2015 at 07:00:00
I have no good news, but here is the latest. I disconnected both power and SATA signal from two hard drives and an SSD, but the power cycle problem was unchanged. I was able to purchase a can of compressed air. I blew dust (there was only a little) out of the CPU heat sink by rotating the fan blades so I could cover it all. I also blew dust out of the space between the motherboard and the case. Two half inch balls of dust popped out, so a long overdue cleaning was worth the effort. Finally, I dusted the full surface of the motherboard, even though I did not see any dust accumulation there. Unfortunately, cleaning did nothing to cure the power cycle problem.

I think the only solutions I know about but have not yet tried are a short circuit between the motherboard and the case, or redo the thermal bond with the CPU and heat sink. I will order a tube of Artic Silver online, and I should get it in a week or two. Meanwhile, I will try again to remove the motherboard, or to lift it at least enough to insert an insulator (sheets of paper?) between the motherboard and the case. Hopefully, one of those approaches will be rewarding. Thanks again for the comments and suggestions.


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#20
December 8, 2015 at 12:42:46
I have distant recollections that some motherboards are mounted on mini-studs, and frequently there is wee small insulating "washer/spacer" between the studs and the board. The fixing screw simply passed through though the board into the stud(s).

Similarly there were those with no insulating washer/spacer and the board simply rested on the stud; and the fixing screw passed through the board into the stud..

Presuming the board in question here is mounted somewhat as above... It "might" be that the board has shifted "every so slightly" in transit and a track is now touching the (metal) stud; and thus the case in general... Which may account for the "shorting out" as described?

Only very close inspection will of course reveal if this is the case; possibly even a removal/re-insertion of the board...?


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