Trouble Shooting - Hardware


    We're just getting started on this page (28 Jan 05). Plans are to place various encounters with troublesome PCs here such that others 'may' benefit. These will be from my own experiences and others. The menu on the left will get filled as things are found and deemed worthwhile.

A V2Premier 9120 - P4VMM2


A customer called and said that their PC was not working. I arrived and turned on the monitor and found that it worked. I pressed the PC power on and nothing happened. Crawled into the small space provided and looked at the back of the PC. Nothing was connected. Then it was said that a "friend" had looked at it. After reconnecting everything to the back of the PC, including Power, it still did not come on. I said I would have to take it back to my shop. There I found, after opening the case, that none the Power Supply connections were connected AND the HeatSink for the CPU had been broken loose. Not just removed, but broken.

Further Analyzation:

Replaced Power Supply. Did not fix. However, at power on the supply fan would start to spin and then quit. Something killing the PS?? What??
  • PSU test - Shorted Green to Black - PS stays on. PSU OK???
  • CPU - Overheating - but in only 2 or 3 secs??
  • CPU fan not connected. Has detection??
  • RAM Stick out - No help
  • Modem Card out - No help
  • Drives disconnected - No Help
  • Removed CPU - Can now get Power to stay on!!
The fix    After embarrassing my self for to long a time, I got the system to operate. The P4 CPU was bad. I found during this ordeal that all P4's are not interchangeable. Besides speed, there is also the technology. I purchased a replacement P4, at our local 'puter store and it didn't kill the power like the original but it would not work. Thinking that there was something else wrong with the Mother Board, I looked for a replacement. The MB in this system had sockets for both SDRAM and DDR. Could not use both at the same time. A suitable replacement could not be found locally. I found another one on the Internet.

   Unfortunately, the new MB did not fix the problem either. I either had gotten another bad MB or another bad CPU. This is when I learned of the tech difference. The original P4 was of the Northwood technology and the first one I purchased was of the Prescott technology. The Prescott P4 would not work in a board set up to handle a Northwood P4. Fortunately the local store took back the Prescott P4. Another Northwood P4 was not available locally. I searched the net and found one. Finally I was able to power up the PC and almost get it to work. I could finally get into the BIOS and look at the ROM software. However, it would not boot-up from the HD.

   This was a WinXP system and I figured the P4 change and MB change was to much for it to handle. So I asked the customer for the recovery disks. She did not have any. This company had placed a recovery partition on the HD, similar to what I had experienced with my HPs. There was a recovery, if you can call it that, floppy disk that co-coordinated the operations of recovery with the special recovery partition. I tried this and there were claims from the software that there were bad sectors in the system sectors. My logical conclusion at this point was that either the HD was bad and must be replaced or at least needed to be reformatted. Either meant that the recovery partition would be lost. The company was contacted and after signing in blood that we would be good they sent a recovery CD. Once again I ran into problems with the original HD.

   So, off to the local 'puter store for a new HD. One of the same type and size, a Western digital WD800 80GB was purchased. I got the same bad results. Frustrated!! What ... just what is wrong. Now my thinking and trouble-shooting went haywire. I got another drive, a Maxtor 80GB. Just because I like them and have always had good luck with them. Well, things got worse!

   I was at my wits end. I set all aside and went off to relax and think. Something that I should have done sooner, but we all make mistakes. (Hopefully, after reading this you won't make the same ones.) I had obtained a recovery CD from Viscom and Western Digital Lifeguard Tools from Net. The two together would not produce a system disk.
  • I ran Lifeguard, set MBR, setup drive, which really goes to fast.
  • At start of XP install, via the CD, the whole disk is 100% formatted.
  • At the finish of the format it says: "Setup could not format the disk. Pick another partition."
Now this is a fine howdy-do. I run WD software and it appears to work, and then I run the start of the WinXP software and it appears to work .... but they are not. I removed the BIOS chip from the old Mother Board and placed it in the new MB. Still no dice. #@&*!! This really shouldn't be all that hard!!!

   Now then, as was mentioned in the beginning, one of her friends had "looked" at the PC. The HD was a 7200rpm drive and it had one of the 80-wire IDE cables connected to it. However, it, the 80-wire cable was also connected to a DVD drive. This should be ok ... shouldn't it? (Cable Question) Welllll, not really, evidently. Further investigation of the system showed that a 40-wire IDE cable was connected to a CD-RW drive but that it was in backwards. The middle connector was close to the MB instead of the Drive(s). I reversed the 40-wire cable, disconnected the 80-wire from the DVD and hooked the CD-RW and DVD to the 40-wire cable. The only item now connected to the 80-wire cable was the HD. The system worked!!!... as it should.

   The CPU was really bad but the rest of the problems were caused by someone else not hooking back up things as they were found. My unfamiliarity with the system did not help. Through searching sites and corresponding with Viscom and Western Digital I did learn a lot. So in the long run it was very beneficial. Just a frustrating way to learn.

Overheating Processor

What happens if the CPU maximum operating temperatures are exceeded? -
If your cooler is insufficient and the temperature exceeds the maximum operating temperature, then this does not mean that the CPU is automatically damaged. With AMD CPU's, you will usually encounter crashes if the CPU is overheated; but these go away as soon as the CPU is cooler again. In the long term, running the CPU at a temperature that is too high may reduce the CPU life, since an overheated CPU is more prone to electromigration - even if it runs stable. With P4 CPU's, the CPU will turn its speed down automatically when it overheats. No damage to the CPU is possible, but the system will get slower while it's hot (which, in some cases, users might not even notice).

If you attempt to operate a CPU without heatsink at all, recent AMD CPU's will usually be permanently damaged within seconds, unless special protection circuitry is available on the motherboard. P4 CPU's will run excessively slow without cooler.

The purpose of this page is to give you a quick overview of typical maximum operating temperatures for common CPU's. In the case of Intel CPU's, values vary a bit; if you need precise information for one specific CPU model, please use the data sheets on the CPU manufacturer's website, or visit Chris Hare's Processor Electrical Specifications page - there, you will find more details, and also data for more exotic CPU types than the ones covered here.

The above CPU temperature info was borrowed from the Heatsink Guide

Danny's 7360

Another later:  Now then, to emphasize the importance of cooling to a CPU, I had another customer who was experiencing shutdown. Push the power switch and the system would start up, maybe get to some writing on the screen and then shutdown. The power supply was suspected -but- with doubt. A new supply did the same thing. The usual pulling of components started, to find out which could be causing this and during this operation the CPU was bumped... it moved!! Closer examination showed that the heatsink/fan combo was loose. It was secured with four screws and the plastic -or- bakelite had broken around the screws. Evidently this substance could not handle the heat. System was 3 years old. JFYI: the System was an HP m7360n with an ASUS P5LP-LE motherboard. The processor was an Intel Pentium D 920 at 2.8GHz.

    On a whim, I get a lot of those, I went to the 'puter store and purchased a new Dynatron CPU Cooler. It had screw-on retention like the original -except- these were all metal. I also got another Processor just in case. Well, Intel makes them good. After cleaning the 'old' thermal grease off and applying new and installing the new cooler, the system fired up and ran fine. $19 (fan only) versus $84 (CPU only).

Compaq SR1430NX

This verbiage is from: FixYa

After power button is pushed initially it will run for about 30-40 sec and then shut down. Can go to F10 and go thru Recovery until HD is starting formatting then computer shuts down. Tried another power supply no luck, reseated memory, switch memory around, disconnected DVD drives, removed modem, disconnected HD and tried to boot to a Win xp OS disc only. But still powers down after about 10-15 sec's after initial startup.

Strangely enough, my next door neighbor has the same machine WITH the SAME Problem!!
1.) We blew out all the dust. No go.
2.) I did the Power Supply swap. No go.
3.) Memory... checking it. No go.

ARRRGGGHH!!! It has happened again. In a previous call to my good friend Danny, I found that the Heatsink on the CPU was loose. Two of the legs had cracked and broken. This caused the processor to heat up and quit. The same thing has happened here!! The Heatsink legs are broken!! I had never heard of this before and now here is six months time I encounter two of them. Both of these Original Heat Sinks were a plastic-bakelite type material.

Cooler Master. I liked the Power Supply, an RP600-PCARE2-US ATX12V, from them that I used in my current HP 7480. So I got one of their heat sinks. Got back to my shop and opened it up. In it was/is a 19.63" x 16.5" double sided instruction sheet that doesn't tell you what you really need to know. The Original Heat Sink was screwed to the motherboard. This one has some push pins. They are collapsible/expandable plastic. You are directed to push in two opposing sides at a time. This puts a lot of pressure and strain on the motherboard. You can see it flexing... and I only touched it lightly to see what it was gona be like!

 Usual Web Search  Found the usual good and conflicting info. I will either have to take this Cooler Master Hyper 101 Heat Sink back or figure out a way to use it. It was mentioned on the Web that when the screws were removed, that there was a Bracket on the rear of the board that would fall off. It didn't. They are pressed into the motherboard...and they are to small for the plastic clips. Back to the store....

Ok. Got another Cooler Master, a Hyper 212 Plus. This one has screws and another 19.63" x 16.5" double sided instruction sheet. Not really much better than the other one. Annnddd... the gods are not with me today, neither is my mind. This one won't fit either!! The metal standoffs touch printed circuitry, in the area of the holes, on the ASUS PTGD-LA Motherboard. Back to the store....

This is embarrassing... and the reason this one is getting more coverage than the last one. I'm not thinking, and getting incorrect information and advice. I remember now going through two or more Heat Sinks in order to get one to work on my friend Danny's machine. Next time, IF there is one, I will stop, take measurements, survey the motherboard and then go to the store for parts ... maybe.

 Dynatron  I vaguely remembered that name. I do believe that this is the same one I got the last time finally. Should have some record of it around here somewhere, -but- for now we'll fix the current. (No, I'm not crazy... yet. I hadn't found this document... yet, when I first started this the second time.) This Heat Sink lays down like the original and the holes line up. -But- (that word again) the mounting is a metal plate that has extension tabs on it's corners. Not for heights but to stretch out. And this processor is surrounded by components.

The Dynatron 7"x10" single sided instruction sheet had one heck of lot more info than the humongous one from Cooler Master...-but- still not enough.

  • Copper Base
  • Screw Type Mounting
  • Energy Saving PWM (Pulse Width Modulation)
  • RoHS Compliant (Restriction of Hazardous Substances)

Ya know, I'd really like to know where some of these reviewers are getting their products. I found time after time they mention "Pre-applied thermal grease". I don't know where they got theirs but my thermal grease was NOT pre-applied.

Well, it is mounted. Haven't fired it up yet. I am still concerned about the components underneath, -but- it appears to have clearance. Further checks and it is Ok. Powered up the machine and all is Ok. Man is it quiet. I may get one of these for my machine!!
Summary Note: There are many ways to place a Heat Sink on your CPU. Also lots of arguments for which way is best. Do believe that the "Best" way will vary from MotherBoard to MotherBoard and will be dictated by the MotherBoard.

   Compaq Presario SR1430NX Desktop PC Product Specifications
   Cooler Master Hyper 101 Heat Sink
   Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus Heat Sink
   Hyper 212 Review
   Hyper 212 Forum
   Dynatron K987   

Video Woes...

    I was called by a customer with a "messed up" PC. Couldn't get anything. She said she was hooked to the Internet via an AOL phone connection. From her description I thought that she was probably having modem problems. Wrong assumption. Inexperienced users sometimes have a hard time describing their problems. She said she had a Windows 98 machine.

    The PC was a Compaq Presario 5000 Series (5WV280). It was, by today's standards, a limited machine. 900Mhz AMD, 128MB SDRAM, 30GB HD, CD-ROM, CD-RW with an nVidia Vanta LT video card. When I fired up the PC, it came up in 649x480 resolution with only 16 colors. Microsoft Money would not even run unless there were 256 colors. Also got a dialog box message that the Video was not set-up properly.

    I allowed it to start the video wizard and went thru the steps to setup the video display. When it got to the end it claimed that the device was not there!! Well, it was. They had previously tried to use the recovery discs to get things right. These did not help. I analysed it further and stated that I would have to take it in to the shop. Only needed the tower, keyboard and mouse.

At the Shop

    First off I wished that I had brought her monitor. My shop monitor is an LCD type and it would not work with her system. I've had this before, where the LCD would not work but a CRT would. This is, as I learned, an indication that the video card is bad and it is using Windows default display. The LCD's, at least the one I have, can't display at this setting. So, I had to get the old CRT display and go at it.

    I had never seen a display failure like this before. I was having a hard time believing that the card was bad. I mean, there is info on it. Just can't right click on the screen and set the display properties. If you try, the system crashes and requires a power off reset. Thought maybe the drivers we bad. After all my wife's PC had a similar problem and it turned out to be the video card drivers. I had to search long and hard to find the fix for that. So, I though that this might be similar. I want to save the customer money if I can.

    Ok. Could not find a software fix. So, went to local 'puter store to get new video card. Now then, some will laugh at this and others will be thankful for the information. You have a system with 128MB of SDRAM in main memory. The current video card has 8MB of SDRAM and is using an AGP slot. Can you replace it with a video card that uses DDR ram?? I thought not. Why? Cause I tried to be the first one on my block with a GeForce 4 in my machine and the one I purchased would not work in my HP 9995 2Ghz P4 setup. So... I purchased a $29 AGP video card that had SDRAM on it. Guess what?? It didn't work at all!!!! So now what???

    Well, I went to the usual trouble shooting place ... the Internet. In one of my favorite places, TEK-TIPS, I found a discussion about just this situation. Two different individuals mentioned that a Video Card with DDR would work in a system with SDRAM as main memory. Hmmmmmm... why didn't mine work?

    To this there are many scenarios...

  1. I got a bad board.
  2. I didn't remove the previous drivers.
  3. Because of #2 and I was replacing a GeForce 2 with a GeForce 4, it was using the wrong drivers.
  4. The chip set in my 9995 wouldn't handle the GeForce 4 with DDR.
  5. Difference between AGP 2x and 4x.

    Allrighty now, this Compaq Presario was spec'd to handle AGP 2x and 4x. So, I took the cheap board back and purchased an ATI Radeon 9200 SE. This board had 128MB of DDR ram. It worked first try!! When I loaded the drivers it worked even better!! So, a video card with DDR will work in a system with SDRAM as main memory.

    I don't know which of the above scenarios was the problem with my system but at this time I don't have the coins to purchase another GeForce 4 board and try it.





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