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Old 28. Mar 2015, 09:55 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default No power to PC

I went to boot my PC this morning and, nothing.

Absolutely nothing ... no fan in the PSU, no signs of life whatsoever.

The supply from the wall and the kettle lead are working fine.

Can I safely assume that the PSU is totally dead? Or is it worth me testing other items ... for e.g. testing the individual outputs from the PSU, testing the CMOS battery etc..?

I have been suffering random freezes for quite some time now which I just read can be a symptom of a failing PSU ... and last night before leaving for work, I suffered another which meant that I had to switch off the PC using the power button on the front of the case.

I know this isn't really a hardware forum but I thought I'd post anyway just in case : )
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Old 28. Mar 2015, 10:20 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hey sicknero, sorry to hear about your PC.

It happened to me one day too for my old PC, and I found that the motherboard was fried. And mine was running all fine until the night I shut it down nicely. It's just won't start in the morning at all. I hope that's not the same in your case.

Random freezes can occur due to a number of reasons... a bad RAM, overheating CPU, faulty PSU etc.

The first thing I would look is to check for the tiny light on the motherboard, if it comes on when you turn on the power to the PC. If that's fine then, probably motherboard is fine. If not, then it might be the PSU, and the power is not coming. In such a case, you can test with a different PSU.

Also, I suggest to take off all connections from motherboard, and look for any signs of burns, to see if any damage can be seen on the motherboard. If yes, probably the motherboard is fried.

Also check the CPU, if the thermal paste is fine, or any excessive dust on the fan.

Don't think a bad CMOS battery might be the cause, because then atleast the light on motherboard would come on. Still, if you want, you can replace it with a new battery and see. The batteries come quite cheap. I have seen cases in which an old battery caused the computer to boot up after half an hour, or an hour after the power to the system was turned on.

In my case, what I found later, was that the UPS which I was using had gone bad, (its battery had leaked)... which caused a power fault somehow, and that in turn caused the motherboard and PSU to be fried. I had been using a local PSU, which is what most of the consumers do, as they cost very less.

So, for my new PC, I went in for a branded PSU, branded UPS of APC, and a good computer case too. It is worth investing in these things.

Good luck, and I hope it is only some small or rectifiable problem with your system.
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Old 28. Mar 2015, 10:25 AM   #3 (permalink)
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BTW, if your motherboard has issues, I have heard that there is such technology now, that they just put the motherboard in some sort of equipment, and it runs some tests, and it finds which component is faulty. That component can be changed, and your motherboard lives again. Don't know if anyone else is aware of this.
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Old 28. Mar 2015, 11:16 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for your comments Anupam : )

I don't think my mobo ever had a light, or at least a working one ... it's a Winfast K8 series (early one, e.g. max 2gb RAM) that I got second hand about 15 years ago I think. I don't remember ever seeing a light any time I've had the case open or when I was building the PC.

I was wondering if the total lack of visible or audible activity from the power supply might mean that this is definitely dead - I guess it's time to dust off my multimeter.

There is a fair bit of dust in the case despite my efforts to keep it clean, but Speccy has been showing my temperatures to be well within safe limits.

I was quite surprised too to read that a dead CMOS battery might be the problem but I'll check it anyway.

Annoyingly I moved house very recently, and threw out three old PC cases and various bits and bobs which I could have used today for testing/spare parts. Typical : )
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Old 28. Mar 2015, 01:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Welcome .

Yes, it is possible that for such an old computer, the motherboard light will not be there.

From what you describe about the PSU, it would be good to test the PSU first.

It really would have been helpful if you had kept the PC cases, or atleast kept the parts that could be replaced in other PCs. Well, it is certainly typical that you suddenly need the things only when you just got rid of them .
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Old 29. Mar 2015, 10:57 AM   #6 (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

Short of trying a new CMOS battery I've no idea really ... I would have thought there would be symptoms of a failing battery, e.g. problems with the clock, and I've tried bypassing the power switch too.

Thanks for your suggestions anyway, maybe it's time for a new PC ...
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Old 29. Mar 2015, 12:29 PM   #7 (permalink)
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You've had two problems which might well be a progression of issues with the PSU:
First, freezing with power
Then, no power at all

You tried a different PSU but did you check that it wasn't underpowered. I'd check that the specs for the second PSU were equivalent or better overall and for each rail, i.e. the current (amperage) for the circuits with different voltages such as 3.3V, 5V, 12V. Also, if the second PSU was old or cheap then it could be much worse than its stated spec.

When you have unexplained faults it is also worth cleaning everything. Dust is a system killer. It can sometimes helpt to reseat the cards, the CPU, and RAM. If you are getting a lot of dust then it is probably too close to or actually on the floor. It should be at least two feet off the ground as dust on the floor gets stirred up close to that height just by people walking around.

A close inspection might also detect signs of electrical problems such as a smell of smoke/burning and scorched or melted component.
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Old 30. Mar 2015, 10:44 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks ...

I did wonder if I've been over-taxing the PSU as it's a 350W and I do run some outboard gear such as an 8x8 firewire soundcard and USB midi controller/keyboard. I also added a PCI wifi receiver quite recently.

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.

I've made sure that everything is seated properly ... there are no visible signs of anything burnt out or any smell and it's all pretty much dust free now. It wasn't too bad before really, I do clean it out quite frequently.

I'll try testing the CMOS battery today (still haven't found my multimeter : ) ) but failing that I'm pretty much stuck. If I'm looking at a new mobo and/or CPU, then I think I'll just hold out for something newer ... my local PC shop has some quite decent second-hand towers that aren't badly priced.

I'll post back if I do find out what the problem is.
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Old 30. Mar 2015, 10:52 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Yes, with that amount of hardware, you do need a PSU with higher output. Good thing you checked with such a PSU.

Well, if the CPU fan did spin for a while, then it seems that the motherboard might be good. I will suggest to take out the CPU heat sink and look if the thermal paste has gone dry. You can get thermal paste and apply it on the CPU and reseat the heat sink and then see if things work. It might work. You can find tutorials on how to apply thermal paste, so make sure you read them.

I think it is worth trying to save an old PC that might still work, if you were able to get decent work out of the PC. If you cannot diagnose the issue, and it looks like it might be a hardware issue, you can take it to the local computer shop too, to find out the exact issue, and if it is a small one, well and good. Otherwise, you have to get a new PC.
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Old 30. Mar 2015, 12:11 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
I will suggest to take out the CPU heat sink and look if the thermal paste has gone dry. You can get thermal paste and apply it on the CPU and reseat the heat sink and then see if things work.
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.

Quote:
I think it is worth trying to save an old PC that might still work, if you were able to get decent work out of the PC.
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

Last edited by sicknero; 30. Mar 2015 at 12:17 PM. Reason: typo
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