Computer problems (er, need help)

In: Personal

30 Apr 2004

Update: Well, the problem seems solved now, and thanks to everyone for your advice :). Rather than repeat what I said in my comment, do check it out if you’ve replied to my call for help. Thanks again!

This is a computer problem that has been bugging my desktop PC and me (me mostly – the machine seems pretty happy, and sometimes I think I hear sniggers). Well, the problem is, it boots up and then freezes irrevocably (resetting is the only recourse). Nothing out of the ordinary yet, considering I’m running Windows XP, but it freezes at any point from bootup to a fully logged in session in Windows XP. Sometimes it even fails to POST. Sometimes there is just a white line across the screen and the rest is black.

Here’s what I think could be causes:
1) The monitor (it’s a Phillips Brilliance 105 – circa 1996 I think) is too old. But does an old monitor cause the system not to boot or to freeze? Anyone had experience with old monitors? Will it blow up in my face?
2) The power supply’s dying. Possible. But it’s a new one and it should be way above requirements.

I don’t know how to debug (or perhaps I’m just too lazy), so I’m casting about hoping someone would bite and tell me that they have had this exact same problem and how to solve it.

PS. I’m ready for any suggestions that my monitor is truly dead or highly dangerous in its current state – gives me an excuse to get a new, bigger (it’s 15 inch) one.

18 Responses to Computer problems (er, need help)

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Dave

April 30th, 2004 at 3am

1. A monitor would have a hard time causing lockups (if it’s even possible, which I don’t think it is)
2. It is possible, make sure the fan is spinning and the back is not hot.

3. I would check the capacitors on the motherboard, if they’re discoloured, bulging, or leaking…that has been a very common problem for a while now, will cause that behavior.

4. Check the ram with something like memtest86

try these and e-mail me back =D

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caiuschen

April 30th, 2004 at 3am

You might remove the video card and place it very firmly back in. I’ve had similar symptoms before and the video card ended up being the culprit. Or yeah, it could be the monitor ; )

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Chetan

April 30th, 2004 at 3am

It’s definitely not your monitor. The video port communicates only one way (out) and it wouldn’t cause your system to hang. The problem is almost certainly a bad motherboard that needs to be replaced. If you are having other symptoms while in Windows like applications constantly crashing then it could be your memory but since you say it’s only during boot, I would have to go with the motherboard.

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Roshambo

April 30th, 2004 at 4am

I’d recommend the same treatment as Caiuschen: check to make sure the video card is firmly in place; there’s a good chance it’s relatively loose. Likely, rebooting seems to help because physically pressing the power button shakes the card a bit and bumps it back into place.

I know it sounds rediculous, but I’m guessing that’s the problem. I’ve had this exact same thing happen to me before.

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Josh Luth

April 30th, 2004 at 5am

I had a computer that had similar problems and it was the Power Supply. I bought a new one and replaced it and the problem went away.

PS. I would get a bigger monitor anyway. The simple fact that your is a 15″ is enough reason alone.

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Brian

April 30th, 2004 at 5am

I’ll just chime in and say I had a similar problem and the cause was a power supply.

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Bo

April 30th, 2004 at 6am

Joining the chorus, I’ll note that inadequate power supplies end up causing a lot of instability in people’s computers – be sure not to skimp when picking out a new one. Check around, there may be recommended brands/ specs for your specific motherboard.

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Adam Roben

April 30th, 2004 at 6am

The three things that have given me those symptoms are:

  1. Bad power supply — try swapping in a known good one
  2. Bad RAM — run memtest86 if you can, or swap in known good sticks
  3. Bad video card — try reinserting it, or swapping with a good one

Basically, before buying anything try to isolate the problem. Try a different monitor if you have one, and try the steps above.

Also, I’d recommend stripping down the computer to just a keyboard, video card, monitor, RAM, and hard drive (i.e. take out any PCI/ISA cards and disconnect your other drives) and see how it fares. If it works fine, add each component in one by one until you see the problem again.

-Adam

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:)

April 30th, 2004 at 6am

Cheata is like SO right!go aheaD &BUY A NU moniter, but if it aint workin, takeit 2 a shop & buy sum McAffe stuff!sorry bout yur computer!:)

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:)

April 30th, 2004 at 6am

Cheata is like SO right!go aheaD &BUY A NU moniter, but if it aint workin, takeit 2 a shop & buy sum McAffe stuff!sorry bout yur computer!:)

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Rob

April 30th, 2004 at 8am

I have the answer.

Buy a new computer.

:-)

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Brian

April 30th, 2004 at 7pm

I highly doubt it’s a monitor issue because a monitor is not required for the computer to boot up. It might be a video card issue. Newer video cards have their own custom BIOS loading screen that shows up before the regular BIOS. If the video card BIOS fails to load up, then I can see how the regular BIOS might fail as well.

If it were a power supply issue, then the crashes would be more intermittent. Have you checked the voltage info for your CPU (if your BIOS has such an option)? If they’re fluxuating +/- 0.5 volts, then it very well might be a power supply issue.

The problem you are describing actually sounds like it might be a hard drive issue, which is usually the last thing the BIOS loads in the POST screen. Did you specify Master/Slave or are you using Cable Select? It’s always good practice manually specifying the master and slave. If the hard drive fails after it loads Windows and allows you to log on, then obviously it would crash. What kind of hard drive do you have?

Message me on ICQ and I’d be more than willing to walk you through a few steps here and there…

Hope you figure out a solution.

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Dave

April 30th, 2004 at 9pm

I work with this stuff almost all of the time. I practically live at my friends computer shop…read my earlier message….they are right though, a bad video card could do that, but I find it unlikely…I’m still saying bad caps on the mobo, possibly a bad power supply, or ram…

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Sam Newman

May 1st, 2004 at 9pm

With these issues I always suggest the same thing, namely strp your computer right down. Remove all extra drives, memory (go down to one DIMM or whatever). Then if you sstill get the same problem, try swapping things out (e.g. try a different graphics card, dimm whatever). Try plcing cards in different slots. If you can’t reproduce the problem, put things back in one at a time and see what happens.

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Cheah Chu Yeow

May 3rd, 2004 at 2am

Everyone: Thanks for your words of advice. It really means a lot (once again) that people are willing to step forth to help out. I’m sorry for the very late replies to everyone’s comments – have been uncharacteristically distracted of late from my weblog.

Strangely, it seems to be working now and hasn’t freezed since a day and a half ago. I wasn thinking it could be yet again a power supply problem like most of you pointed out, so I took out the power to the 2nd CD-ROM drive that wasn’t really used at all, and also a crappy old ISA modem. I also took out the video card and put it back in like some of you suggested. After that, it did still freeze, but after several bouts, it became OK again and hasn’t freezed since. I haven’t had the time to do any further checks since it seems to be OK again, but watch this space – it may just get cranky again.

Once again, I appreciate everyone’s advice, and they will come in especially handy next time something breaks down (which is probably sooner than later).

Dave: You’re right I’ve thought about that (that monitors can’t cause a problem), but I was too ready to believe that any fault lies with the monitor ;). The fan is spinning (noisily as always) and it is not uncharacteristically hot. I haven’t checked the motherboard though (because it seems to work now). I wanted to do a memory test with memtest86 like you suggested, but when I found out it needed a floppy, decided it was too much trouble. Sorry though, and thanks once again for coming to my rescue :).

Rob: Yeah I wish I could do that too. Somebody employ me already!

Brian: The video BIOS loads up fine, so that isn’t the problem. I haven’t checked the voltage – I should do that actually. Thanks. The hard drives are OK, well, at least I think so because it’s been fine for a long time and nothing’s changed since. I have an 80 GB WDC drive.

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ed

June 17th, 2004 at 1pm

I recently gave my nephew a 21″ monitor for his new computer. He plugged it in and the power supply blew up. Could the monitor have done this? I gave him the new monitor because his old 15″ was blinking. I can’t find any info anywhere that says that a monitor could cause a power supply to go. Can anyone help?

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Mark

March 10th, 2006 at 1pm

Unfortunatly monitors can cause problems when trying to boot the computer. All depends on monitor and the system you are using. I bought an older computer a while ago for my son to browse the internet with but when I turned it on all I got was abunch of DOS readings about the computer. So I tried a few things like taking my flat screen which was newer and hooked it up to the older one I recently bought and it worked so I knew it had something to do with the monitor. So next I took the older monitor and hooked it up to the newer computer changed the display settings to a lower resolution. Hooked up older monitor with new settings with older computer and presto she booted.
Also had similar problems with mouse went into display settings option for the mouse and presto it worked also hope this helps.

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Theresa

August 17th, 2007 at 10am

I sure hope someone can help me. My computer just shut down by itself today. I unhooked the power chord from the back of the unit, opened it up and cleaned out all of the dust from everything. I then proceeded to turn it back on and no power! The CPU fan turned about a quarter of an inch then stopped. The fan inside the power supply box turned a bit but same thing, stopped. My computer won’t even boot up. The light is on stating there is power but computer will not boot up. The monitor has a box flashing on it stating: “Check PC and Cable Source- Monitor is working” ??? HELP!!! Is it that I need to replace the Power Supply??