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Old 30. Mar 2015, 12:41 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I've tried a different PSU with no joy, so I'm a bit stuck now until I remember where I packed my multimeter
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The other PSU I tried is 500W and definitely working although I can't say how well it matches its stated spec.

The only difference I can see with this second PSU fitted is that when the tower is switched on at the wall, the CPU fan spins just for a second or two. Trying to actually boot the machine still does nothing though, no signs of life at all.
If you are overloading the entire power supply then the overload protection is likely kicking in and cutting off power. That the same thing is happening with a larger power supply suggests that it is the overload cutout on one of the rails (more detail and links below).

The key issue, even with a bigger PSU, is how much power is provided for the devices at each voltage. Different devices use different voltages. So while you may not overload the total output of the PSU, it is possible that you are overloading the output for one voltage (the circuit is called a rail), probably 12V, and the OCP (Over-Current Protection) cuts it off.

You could also have multiple 12V rails in your PSU and you're drawing too much current on one of the rails but not on the other. This also triggers the OCP.

Anyway, you can read more about this on Wikipedia article about power supplies. The most relevant info starts with the ATX supply. Although 12V rails are usually the problem, in your case the +3.3 V and +5 V rails might be overloaded given the additional PCI card(s).

You'll see that the type of PSU is also relevant to the type of problem you're having so it is worthwhile posting the PSU brand, model and date, or the specs if you have them.
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Old 30. Mar 2015, 02:34 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I'll try that too ... CPU hasn't been shifted since I fitted it 15 years ago so it's quite probable the paste is dried out : )

I think this might be prevention rather than cure though? And Speccy hasn't shown any overheating. It's worth a try though as I'm reluctant to give up on this machine even if I do replace it with something more up to date.
Yes, it's quite possible.

Yes, it's more of a prevention, but sometimes it can be the cure, if that's the reason for the PC to stop working. But yes, since Speccy did not show overheating, then it's possible that it is not the issue.

It might be that what Remah is saying is true, and something is cutting the power off. In that case, I suggest to take out all the unnecessary components, like sound card, and the wi-fi receiver, and then just test the system on bare bones to see if it able to run. Try that before you try changing the thermal paste. If you have not changed the thermal paste anytime, and if the system has continued to run fine, then chances are that it will continue to run. But, if it comes to giving up the system, then it's worth trying.

I have changed the thermal paste on my old system occasionally, and if the heat sink did not sit properly, then the PC would not start. The fan would run, and it will turn off immediately. I had to make sure that enough thermal paste was there, and the heat sink was seated properly, and tightly.

Also, the small cover over the spindle of the fan had come off, and over time, dust would gather over it, and it stopped the fan. This happened once a month and I had to put two drops of oil then.

So, I am not an expert, but I have gathered some things over the years with my own experience, and based on that, I can give suggestions. You do not have to apply any suggestion, which you feel that might not be the cause of the issue.

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I agree totally and this PC has coped surprisingly well over the years. It's definitely worth seeing if it can be rescued without spending too much.

Furthermore I shall show your post to my better half, to demonstrate that I'm not the only person who hangs onto broken electrical equipment for years "just in case" and that I was absolutely right to want to bring my three broken PCs across Europe when we moved house
Haha, well, just to warn you that we Indians, specially the middle class, have this habit of hanging on to things till the moment we can squeeze the last bit out of it . So, we try to make everything work. It is because we have to save money, and we cannot be lavish on everything. So yes, in that case, we do keep old equipment around, in case something can be used from them. Does not apply in all cases though, but PCs are definitely a good thing to keep because so much can be used out of an old PC. In cases such as yours, where something is not working, and it can be tested out with old parts, then it's really useful. Heck, even screws can be useful. Motherboard screws, hard drive screws, and jumpers.

I have had to pay overprice for just a few screws and jumpers, just because I needed them. A computer repair shop can just hand over to you without any price at all, but people try to make money out of everything and so even when I knew he was charging more for it, I had to pay.

So, old things like PC parts really do come in handy.

Like yours, my PC too run well, and supported me really well. It was the first PC I bought with my money, and built it myself. It had a P-IV, and although these might not be considered fast today, but you can still get a lot of work done with a P-IV, and 1 GB RAM.

Well, do hope that your PC can be revived .
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Old 30. Mar 2015, 09:59 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I have tried barebones but it didn't help. I found my multimeter as well so I've checked the power switch properly and the cmos battery, both of which appear to be fine.

I'm at a loss now really ... I wouldn't know where to start with checking the motherboard in detail and don't have money to get anyone else to look at it. I'm more inclined to save my cash and get something a bit more powerful as this machine has struggled a bit recently with some of my more demanding audio software. I can use my GPU and other PCI components in a new tower and keep this one for spares or future rebuilding.

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It is because we have to save money, and we cannot be lavish on everything...
I grew up in a similar environment ... from my parents I learnt the value of making/mending things rather than buying/replacing them as we never had a lot of money plus, it was a much more common attitude to life in the 1970s.

It's something that has stuck with me and it makes me quite sad and cross that people discard so many things that could be mended. And that so many things these days are not even designed to be mended when they go wrong.

Which is a bit off-topic so I won't rant on about it

Thanks for your responses everyone, as always it has been very educational.
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Old 31. Mar 2015, 01:35 AM   #14 (permalink)
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It now looks more likely to be a CPU or motherboard problem. So if you want to reuse the motherboard then you still need to diagnose the actual problem and attempt relevant remedies.

It wasn't clear if you had reseated (removing and reinstalling) the motherboard components or if you had just checked they were seated properly.
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Old 31. Mar 2015, 02:26 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Yes ... I reseated the RAM, all jumpers and connectors, ribbon leads etc, CPU and fan. Extra components such as GPU, PCI cards, DVD drives and second IDE drive, I removed or disconnected and left out.

As you say the motherboard or CPU do seem to be the most likely candidates now. Both are very old; the motherboard I paid something like 20 for and the CPU is a 2 gig Sempron which tops out frequently these days, so I can't complain too much if either or both need replacing.

As far as spares go, that leaves my PCI cards and GPU which are well worth keeping, 2x1Gb DDR sticks and a couple of DVD writers, the case itself and, apparently, a working 350W PSU. Both IDE drives are in pretty poor health now so not really worth keeping.

I'm curious about the process (which I found in several different articles) which initially made me almost certain that it was the PSU that had failed ... basically to disconnect everything from the PSU, short out pins 15 and 16 (I think) which are the on/off pins, switch the PSU on and see if the fan spins. The fan failed to spin but trying a different PSU made no difference. I've not tried the same experiment in the second PSU as it isn't mine.
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Old 31. Mar 2015, 07:45 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I have tried barebones but it didn't help. I found my multimeter as well so I've checked the power switch properly and the cmos battery, both of which appear to be fine.

I'm at a loss now really ... I wouldn't know where to start with checking the motherboard in detail and don't have money to get anyone else to look at it. I'm more inclined to save my cash and get something a bit more powerful as this machine has struggled a bit recently with some of my more demanding audio software. I can use my GPU and other PCI components in a new tower and keep this one for spares or future rebuilding.
Well, you tried, and I guess it might be time to go for a new PC now, since you have tried what you can on this one. You are right, it might be worth putting in money in a new PC, rather than trying to salvage this one.

And yes, you can use many of the components from this PC, and it will surely save money on the new one.

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I grew up in a similar environment ... from my parents I learnt the value of making/mending things rather than buying/replacing them as we never had a lot of money plus, it was a much more common attitude to life in the 1970s.

It's something that has stuck with me and it makes me quite sad and cross that people discard so many things that could be mended. And that so many things these days are not even designed to be mended when they go wrong.
Saving should be a priority.. anywhere... even if you are well off.

I have heard that in US, when its time for new systems, they just throw away perfectly working old ones. I am not sure if they do make use of those, but have heard of perfectly good systems and parts just lying around. Just think that it could be given away to people who are in need of it. Or, of parts that can be reused.

And throwing away such good parts also contributes unnecessarily to the e-waste that is becoming a big problem nowadays. You can easily blame the developed countries for this, because developing or under developed countries will most definitely reuse what they can.
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Old 31. Mar 2015, 07:55 AM   #17 (permalink)
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It is difficult to diagnose if there is more than one problem. That is more likely with power problems which can impact on other components.

Pins 15 & 16 are not powered outputs so I'd be surprised if you had any problems connecting them on the other PSU. Connecting them is the signal to the PSU to power on the computer.

Pin 16 is the power on control, i.e. it doesn't supply power. The PSU maintains it at +5V internally and waits for it to drop when it is earthed by the operator pressing the power on button on the computer.

Connecting Pin 16 to Pin 15 is the manual method to achieve the same result, i.e. to turn the computer on. That's why you can use it if your computer's power button stops working. You only have to earth pin 16 momentarily because the PSU will pick up the signal very quickly.

Many people with difficult problems like yours strip the computer down to its most basic components, just the PSU and the motherboard, and then add back in the components one by one until the problem component or combination of components is revealed. If you do this you start with no connection to the power button on the case so you will have to switch power on manually.

I don't use this method because I prefer to keep the motherboard in an earthed chassis to reduce the risk of static shock.
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