Computer failing to power on properly (most of the time)

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Computer failing to power on properly (most of the time)

Postby JS » Fri Sep 14, 2007 5:37 pm

I'm having trouble with a dual boot machine (Windows 98/Slackware 11) that isn't powering up properly. (Of late) pressing the power button caused the power and HDD LEDs on the case to go on, but the system doesn't boot (i.e. nothing on the screen, no power to the HDDs.)

Hardware:

Cirrus Logic GD 5464 graphics card (lspci)
256MB RAM
Maxtor 2B020H1 (hda) and ST310220A (hdb) (hparm -i)
Motherboard:
KT3IS.B14 KT3-AS/KT3-AV/KT3-EV (reported by BIOS POST)
But dmidecode says: VIA VT8363

When the system works properly, the HDD makes a noise, and the HDD light goes off, flickering with activity. There is an initial system beep, and the BIOS screen appears, then LILO etc.

Now, on pressing the power button, the case's LEDs go on, and the 3 keyboard LEDs flash. (I assume the keyboard ceases to get power, as no keys then cause anything to happen e.g. Caps Lock, Ctrl-Alt-Delete). Both the CPU and PSU fans come on too. USB appears to get power, as when a memory stick (with an LED) is plugged in the LED goes on when the system power is on. To power off, I need to hold the power button in for a few seconds. It takes about half a dozen to a dozen attempts to get the system up and running.

I've checked all the cable connections (internal and external). I've reseated the RAM, CPU, graphics card and network card (no other PCI/ISA/AGP cards are present). I've unplugged/plugged the main power cable to the motherboard and the wires related to the power/reset switch etc. I've tried using the system without non-essentials i.e. CD-ROM, CD-RW, both hard drives, network card and floppy drive.

It looks to me like a hardware problem (motherboard? PSU?) but I'm at a loss!

Any idea what's causing this, and if so, how to debug/fix it?

Thanks.
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RE: Computer failing to power on properly (most of the time)

Postby Rhakios » Fri Sep 14, 2007 7:05 pm

Without spare equipment (like another PSU) or proper circuit testers it's well nigh impossible.
As you have already mentioned, it's most likely to be the PSU or the motherboard (or even both if a PSU malfunction damages the motherboard), but without being able to swap either or both out, it's impossible to tell which.
The cheapest and easiest option would probably be to try a new PSU.
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RE: Computer failing to power on properly (most of the time)

Postby pootman » Sat Sep 15, 2007 6:42 pm

I have a system that does the same, because the PSU isn't quite dead yet, but somehow it's struggling on.
You could try disconnecting power to one of the hard drives and booting without it to see if that stops the error.

I have to disconnect the power on one of the drives, power up, wait to pass the post, plug in the live power connector and then hit reset to get the box up and running...
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RE: Computer failing to power on properly (most of the time)

Postby nelz » Mon Sep 17, 2007 9:29 am

Then replace the PSU ASAP because failing PSUs are very good at killing hard drives :(
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RE: Computer failing to power on properly (most of the time)

Postby donoreo » Mon Sep 17, 2007 2:03 pm

I will second, or third, or fourth the power supply.
I cannot deny anything that I did not say.
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RE: Computer failing to power on properly (most of the time)

Postby pootman » Mon Sep 17, 2007 9:06 pm

Nelz, you bloody swine!

That box has been happily kick-started since before last christmas. I knew what I was doing was risky, you knew it, anyone with any sense knew it, but you couldn't just say it quietly to yourself, could you?

The psu is fine, but I've had to open a window for the smell of burning /dev/hdc...
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RE: Computer failing to power on properly (most of the time)

Postby JS » Wed Oct 03, 2007 9:44 pm

Regarding the computer I originally posted about, I think I'll be going for the new PSU option. If the motherboard isn't at fault, the only change I'll make is the PSU, but obviously if the PSU isn't the problem, I'll replace the motherboard (and CPU etc.? there doesn't seem to be such old technology for sale these days :-( ) - the question is, what PSU to buy!

I'm not sure of the current wattage (can this be determined from software, or by looking at it with the computer's case merely open?). Would ebuyer's "extra value" (or extra value gold) range be OK? I'm thinking along the lines of: this (£5.99/300W)? Or alternatively, what about maplin's range, e.g. this (£18.98/250W)?

I have picked the cheapest that seem to be compatible (I know little about such hardware), ebuyer seems much cheaper, but there's a maplin nearby (5-10 mins in the car). (The local store had a PSU/case deal for £25 last week - I don't know if it's still on, seemed a good deal.) Are these cheaper models a Bad Thing, or should they be fine as the system isn't exactly a high spec, latest kit for games etc. machine?

If the worst comes to the worst and the PSU wasn't at fault, would these PSUs be compatible with newer motherboards etc.? I would be trying to upgrade (replace with similar specification kit) as cheaply as possible, the current specs are fine for it's usage, so I wouldn't be getting top-spec PSU-beating equipment!

Oh, and any other suggestions for other/better retailers?

Thanks again.
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RE: Computer failing to power on properly (most of the time)

Postby lok1950 » Wed Oct 03, 2007 10:57 pm

For my system i got the best PSU that i could find an Antec it is the quality of the unit you should worry about not the price.

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RE: Computer failing to power on properly (most of the time)

Postby nelz » Wed Oct 03, 2007 11:58 pm

Having said that, I've used the Ebuyer ones and they are quiet and seem reliable. Where it matters though, I've used an Antec though. The PSUs supplied with cases are generally the cheapest, shoddiest available, I always buy PSU and case separately.
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RE: Computer failing to power on properly (most of the time)

Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:10 am

Be careful that the PSU has the correct connector for your mobo.

The wattage is usually on a label on the PSU, but cheaper ones may be a little "economical" with the facts.
Wattage can be "peak", "average" or "max constant"

More info here
and connector info here
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