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Computer troubleshooting help


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#1 dohdough

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 02:36 AM

I'm trying to diagnose a problem and google is no help.

This is the computer(not mine of course): http://bizsupport1.a...rodTypeId=12454

- The computer POSTs, but doesn't load windows.
- I can only enter BIOS and it's barebones with no cpu temps.
- HDD was tested on another computer and works fine.
- All ram sticks and slots work.
- Tested with 1 stick of ram, cpu, hdd, and vid card(no onboard video)
- The above are detected correctly in BIOS.
- Pulled BIOS battery.
- I get "Boot from CD/DVD" message with real Windows dvd inconsistantly
- Tested with fresh hdd and Windows DVD, but no "boot from dvd" message.
- Tested with fresh hdd alone and get "insert boot disk" message.
- Tested with original hdd alone and got POST, but doesn't load windows.
- HP diagnostic tool says that CPU, ram, and hdd are fine.
- All sata slots are detecting devices.

I'm guessing that the motherboard is borked, because if it was the cpu, it wouldn't post and if it was the psu, then it wouldn't power up at all(I'm assuming). I know there are some professional IT CAG's here and can use a second opinion before I order a new mb.

edit: forgot to mention that there are no BIOS error beeps.

Edited by dohdough, 18 March 2012 - 02:54 AM.


#2 WhipSmartBanky

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 02:55 AM

I'm trying to diagnose a problem and google is no help.

This is the computer(not mine of course): http://bizsupport1.a...rodTypeId=12454

- The computer POSTs, but doesn't load windows.
- I can only enter BIOS and it's barebones with no cpu temps.
- HDD was tested on another computer and works fine.
- All ram sticks and slots work.
- Tested with 1 stick of ram, cpu, hdd, and vid card(no onboard video)
- The above are detected correctly in BIOS.
- Pulled BIOS battery.
- I get "Boot from CD/DVD" message with real Windows dvd inconsistantly
- Tested with fresh hdd and Windows DVD, but no "boot from dvd" message.
- Tested with fresh hdd alone and get "insert boot disk" message.
- Tested with original hdd alone and got POST, but doesn't load windows.
- HP diagnostic tool says that CPU, ram, and hdd are fine.
- All sata slots are detecting devices.

I'm guessing that the motherboard is borked, because if it was the cpu, it wouldn't post and if it was the psu, then it wouldn't power up at all(I'm assuming). I know there are some professional IT CAG's here and can use a second opinion before I order a new mb.

edit: forgot to mention that there are no BIOS error beeps.

Sounds like you did a pretty thorough troubleshooting...I'm guessing motherboard as well.

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#3 epobirs

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 07:40 AM

Probably something subtly fried in the SATA controller.

Machine isn't so old it isn't worth reviving for the right price. You may want to check eBay for motherboards for the model.

You may also try plugging in a a cheap RAID board with its own SATA ports. If it can boot from the hard drives that may be a cheap solution, so long as the optical drive is still usable. If boot from USB is supported that may be another way to get the process started, albeit not a solution for loss of the existing optical drive.

I had reason to check recently and decent two-port RAID boards can had for under $20 at Fry's.
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#4 crunchb3rry

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 07:48 AM

How long did you pull the mobo battery? Might take longer than suggested to clear it out. There might be two little metal pins you can short with a flathead screwdriver that should also reset the BIOS.

It's probably your motherboard. Odds of both your HDD and your DVD-ROM not working is slim, but the mobo controls them, so that's likely the problem right there.

#5 dohdough

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 05:45 PM

Probably something subtly fried in the SATA controller.

Machine isn't so old it isn't worth reviving for the right price. You may want to check eBay for motherboards for the model.

You may also try plugging in a a cheap RAID board with its own SATA ports. If it can boot from the hard drives that may be a cheap solution, so long as the optical drive is still usable. If boot from USB is supported that may be another way to get the process started, albeit not a solution for loss of the existing optical drive.

I had reason to check recently and decent two-port RAID boards can had for under $20 at Fry's.

I suspected that it was the sata controller, but a raid board bypass is a pretty cool idea.

How long did you pull the mobo battery? Might take longer than suggested to clear it out. There might be two little metal pins you can short with a flathead screwdriver that should also reset the BIOS.

It's probably your motherboard. Odds of both your HDD and your DVD-ROM not working is slim, but the mobo controls them, so that's likely the problem right there.

I pulled the battery for 15 minutes and got a bios was reset message, so I'm pretty good on that front.

Unfortunately, the case has a 1-piece led connector that has the pin arrangement specific to the mb, so I dediced that it'll be easier to just get a new mb since the owner is getting a spare case from a friend. Thanks for the input guys!

#6 koalak

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 12:10 AM

Maybe you can do a System Restore?
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#7 crunchb3rry

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 12:53 AM

I'd be sure to really get the specs on that case. Might not be so bad now, but I know it used to be where HP, Compaq, etc. had proprietary case designs instead of standardized. I had a Compaq I couldn't replace the mobo on, or the HDD because it was literally combined with the CD-ROM into one single piece of hardware.

#8 WhipSmartBanky

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:19 AM

I'd be sure to really get the specs on that case. Might not be so bad now, but I know it used to be where HP, Compaq, etc. had proprietary case designs instead of standardized. I had a Compaq I couldn't replace the mobo on, or the HDD because it was literally combined with the CD-ROM into one single piece of hardware.

Yeah, and IIRC Dells used proprietary power supplies, or at least ones where the pins were reversed and could short out a non-Dell board.

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#9 epobirs

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 05:42 AM

Yeah, and IIRC Dells used proprietary power supplies, or at least ones where the pins were reversed and could short out a non-Dell board.


They stopped doing that a while back. It got to be more trouble than it was worth.

Another annoyance was the odd plug type used on many of their laptop power supplies. I once tracked down a third party replacement that actually said 'mickey mouse plug' on the packaging.

On HP boxes it is usually an ASUS made motherboard and ASUS often markets an equivalent under their own brand. That can be a second source to check on eBay if you can ID the board.
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#10 dohdough

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 11:33 PM

The owner ended up choosing a Raidmax case on his own and I put everything together, but it STILL has the same problems. I went through 2 new mobo's and it would strike me as super unusual for 2 new mobo's to have the exact same problem as the original. The only three components I have left to swap out are the vid card(which makes no sense because I wouldn't get video at all), the power supply(if it was under powered, it wouldn't be able to POST), and lastly the cpu(which also doesn't make sense because it'll POST, but I saw temps of over 50C! so maybe the cpu is overheating from poor contact with the heatsink?) The weird thing is that if it's overheating, wouldn't it completely power down instead of running the cpu fan at full speed while killing video output and the power switch, which requires switching the psu off to shut it down?

#11 crunchb3rry

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 12:58 AM

It takes like 5-6 seconds for a CPU to overheat. There's a rather foolish test some people recommend for testing a CPU...taking the heatsink off and turning it on, then seeing if your finger gets hot while touching it.

As for thermal compound, maybe it has a pad and it slipped? Not too likely though, because a heatsink installed properly is on there pretty tight. I always take all compound off the stock heatsink and put Artic Silver on. It's a much thinner layer than the "sticker" of compound that is usually on a heatsink.

Sounds like your mobo is fine.

Unrelated, but I had an issue helping a friend build a computer where we couldn't get it to boot. But it turned out it WAS booting, that there was a detachable speaker hidden in the box we didn't see. Plugged that in and heard the POST beeps finally, which led to the videocard. The card didn't work because the manufacturer left out an auxilliary power connector for it.

Did you try to install Windows on a fresh HDD? Might be that your installation got corrupted on the original AND you have a defective DVD drive?

#12 dohdough

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 01:45 AM

It takes like 5-6 seconds for a CPU to overheat. There's a rather foolish test some people recommend for testing a CPU...taking the heatsink off and turning it on, then seeing if your finger gets hot while touching it.

Hahaha...that's some crazy shit!

As for thermal compound, maybe it has a pad and it slipped? Not too likely though, because a heatsink installed properly is on there pretty tight. I always take all compound off the stock heatsink and put Artic Silver on. It's a much thinner layer than the "sticker" of compound that is usually on a heatsink.

I took off the old putty and used arctic silver when I switched mobos. I also used the original mounting brackets that used actual screws instead of the twist/pressure clips on most aftermarket heatsinks. It's kinda weird because HP used an Asus cooler.

When I took everything apart again, I noticed that there wasn't good contact with the heatsink because arctic silver wasn't spread evenly across the cpu(I use the line method).

Sounds like your mobo is fine.

This is a distinct possibility. I just wish I had an extra rig to test the cpu, but I do repairs as favors...silly me.

Unrelated, but I had an issue helping a friend build a computer where we couldn't get it to boot. But it turned out it WAS booting, that there was a detachable speaker hidden in the box we didn't see. Plugged that in and heard the POST beeps finally, which led to the videocard. The card didn't work because the manufacturer left out an auxilliary power connector for it.

Similar thing happened to me a couple years ago. Plugged in the speaker and out came the beeps. Turned out that I had ram in the wrong slots. Instead of channels 1 and 3, I had them in 2 and 4. I guess that particular mobo was fickle.

Did you try to install Windows on a fresh HDD? Might be that your installation got corrupted on the original AND you have a defective DVD drive?

I can get to "press key to boot from cd/dvd" and "insert bootable drive/disk," but can't get past POST even with a known working dvd drive and a fresh hdd. As someone that's been messing around with these things for over 15 years and A+ certified(insert joke), this is kinda frustrating.