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Old 1st August 2019, 11:30 PM   #1
The Great Zaganza
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need help diagnosing my hardware problem

Thanks to everyone who made it this far into the thread.

Yesterday, my tower PC quit from one second to the next.
If I give it a few minutes break, it'll boot up again to login, and perhaps a few seconds past that (no Windows Recovery prompt) before just switching off completely again.
I haven't noticed any heat issues. Going into BIOS setup works.

The machine is ten years old or so, so maybe the thermal paste on the CPU could use some freshen-up, but otherwise I have no clue what could have suddenly gone wrong (again, I very much doubt it's a software issue).

thanks again, let me know what you think I could check/replace.
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Old 2nd August 2019, 01:21 AM   #2
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I've seen a similar problem...

Computer would turn on, start normally and suddenly fail.

In that case it was a CPU that wasn't firmly sitting in the socket.

As soon as it got warm it moved enough to cause the problem.

These days CPUs are held in with clips etc. so I'm guessing not there...

If it is physically turning off, that suggests that something is shorting out the circuit that the motherboard monitors for power up, power down, like the way the power button works.

Is it happening four seconds after the boot?

It could be as simple as a switch on the front of the computer that has frozen in the down position.
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Old 2nd August 2019, 01:24 AM   #3
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You could try disconnecting the front panel power button from the motherboard and then see if the computer continues to turn off.

(You'll need to short out that pair of jumpers briefly to start the computer if you have disconnected the switch)

If that goes no where, try removing and reseating each card in the computer, and do the same for the memory sticks.

Just in case it is something that is making intermittent contact.
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Last edited by novaphile; 2nd August 2019 at 01:25 AM.
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Old 2nd August 2019, 01:49 AM   #4
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If you can go to the BIOS and wait for a while, does it shutdown automatically too?
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Old 2nd August 2019, 01:59 AM   #5
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Actually, since you can get into the BIOS, you should be able to check the CPU temperature while you're there. That should tell you if it is your CPU over heating.

Poking around on the net, it sounds like the power supply over heating is a common fault.

Check to see if the power supply's fan is running, and if the vents are blocked.

(Generally dust around any of the vents is a bad thing, not just the power supply).

The front air vent on my computer is often filthy!
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Old 2nd August 2019, 02:59 AM   #6
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Yeah, overheating is my guess.
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Old 2nd August 2019, 05:20 AM   #7
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It could also mean a faulty temp sensor somewhere. Not necessarily the CPU, but also hard drives, graphics card, power supply etc. I've had this happen in a laptop, where it turned out to be the hard drive temp sensor. It wasn't actually overheating, but the sensor told it it does.

Shouldn't there be a log somewhere if it's related to overheating or temp sensors?
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Old 2nd August 2019, 07:42 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Thanks to everyone who made it this far into the thread.

Yesterday, my tower PC quit from one second to the next.
If I give it a few minutes break, it'll boot up again to login, and perhaps a few seconds past that (no Windows Recovery prompt) before just switching off completely again.
I haven't noticed any heat issues. Going into BIOS setup works.

The machine is ten years old or so, so maybe the thermal paste on the CPU could use some freshen-up, but otherwise I have no clue what could have suddenly gone wrong (again, I very much doubt it's a software issue).

thanks again, let me know what you think I could check/replace.
I'd say you're spot on there. If you're going to take it off and you have the extra room you could move into a water cooler. I water cool my PC at home and it was one of the best decisions I made. Installing them is easy as all hell too.
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Old 2nd August 2019, 07:44 AM   #9
The Great Zaganza
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thank you all for your suggestions.

As far as I can tell, I can stay in the BIOS no problem, but once I boot up, it crashes within a minute.
BIOS sees the temp as fine. All fans are working. All cards are in their place.

As a test, I unplugged my Graphics Card and ran the monitor through the motherboard GPU - PC lastet a few minutes before quitting.

I'll check how tight the CPU is next.
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Old 2nd August 2019, 07:56 AM   #10
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I'd second the suggestions to look at temperature (actual or reported) and power supply.

Just sitting in BIOS the computer isn't doing, well, really much of anything, so little heat build up. The CPU especially, though, is very busy during boot getting the OS up, starting background programs, etc, etc, so heat levels would rise.

Similar for power supplies. If there are problematic components, then sitting in BIOS doesn't draw much power, so compromised bits may be able to support low levels. But during boot, when everything is spinning up and power draw will be higher, it may be overloading something.

Is this a custom system, or one purchased from a manufacturer? Many pre-built machines have diagnostic tools provided by the system manufacturer, either built-into a special diagnostic partition and/or available for download. Might be worth checking if that applies to yours; they generally will test all your system components.

You can also buy a power supply tester for not much, just make sure you get one for your form factor (AT/ATX/etc). They can be a bit of a pain, as you have to unplug all the power cables and plug them to the tester, but they'll check all the different voltage lines on your PSU and report any faults.
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Old 2nd August 2019, 08:09 AM   #11
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My guess (and I do mean guess) would be a bad power supply.
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Old 2nd August 2019, 09:22 AM   #12
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If you want to verify that it is a hardware problem before you begin a complete teardown, try downloading a live Linux distribution on either DVD or flash drive and boot from that, see if it encounters the same symptoms.
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Old 2nd August 2019, 09:35 AM   #13
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Tardy to the party.... I would guess PSU
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Old 2nd August 2019, 09:42 AM   #14
The Great Zaganza
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Originally Posted by CORed View Post
My guess (and I do mean guess) would be a bad power supply.
thanks everyone.

I also tested the RAM with same results.

So I will get a new Power Supply. That will take a few days, I'll let you know if it worked or not.

Again, many many thanks and have a nice weekend!
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Old 2nd August 2019, 07:36 PM   #15
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One more thing.

Recent versions of Windows have "power management" settings that can cause problems.

See here re Windows 10:

https://www.howtogeek.com/243901/the...-startup-mode/
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Old 4th August 2019, 09:14 AM   #16
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Chipping in with;

Did you remove and reseat the RAM when you tested it?

In order of likelyness from the description & age

PSU or overheating
If you're confdent to pull the CPU cooler off give that a good clean (either air duster & brush or water & scrub if you can seperate the fan) and reapply thermal paste, £3-£5 off Amazon

If it's ok in the BIOS and you have access to another PC you could download a Linus Distro that'll work off of a key - Ubuntu is a fairly good bet. The install should make the system work hard enough to see if that''s the cause rather than Windows.
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Old 4th August 2019, 10:23 AM   #17
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If the paste / position was bad, it would crap out in the BIOS as well. No harm in giving it a refresh, but I don't think it's the problem. You've ruled out RAM and GPU it seems, and bad RAM would BSOD before it would lock and freeze.

PSU is a possible source of the problem. But I wouldn't rule out corruption / hard disk issues.

Try booting into safe mode -
https://www.ccleaner.com/news/blog/2...s-in-safe-mode

Also, when you get it stable - run the CHKDSK and SFC /runnow commands.
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Old 4th August 2019, 01:15 PM   #18
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You can also troubleshoot the hard drive on a gross level by simply unplugging it before you boot. The boot won't go very far before it tells you it can't find the boot drive, then leave it there for a while. If it doesn't shut down after a few minutes then there's a good chance the hard drive is the problem. If it still shuts down the problem is probably not the hard drive.
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Old 5th August 2019, 04:43 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
thank you all for your suggestions.

As far as I can tell, I can stay in the BIOS no problem, but once I boot up, it crashes within a minute.
BIOS sees the temp as fine. All fans are working. All cards are in their place.

As a test, I unplugged my Graphics Card and ran the monitor through the motherboard GPU - PC lastet a few minutes before quitting.

I'll check how tight the CPU is next.

I'd say something is broken. Buy a new one. It will be much better.
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Old 5th August 2019, 04:45 AM   #20
The Great Zaganza
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Originally Posted by a_unique_person View Post
I'd say something is broken. Buy a new one. It will be much better.
that's what she said ...
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:00 AM   #21
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Thanks to everyone - I got a new PSU, and so far everything is running smoothly.


But I'll get your excellent, free advice again the moment something else goes boing in the night.
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Old 6th August 2019, 11:24 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Thanks to everyone - I got a new PSU, and so far everything is running smoothly.


But I'll get your excellent, free advice again the moment something else goes boing in the night.
I'd still run, from a command prompt, SFC / scannow. This checks system files against the repository and replaces corrupt files with the good ones. After random crashes, it's best to check just to make sure nothing got cattywampus during that time.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/...rrupted-system
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Old 7th August 2019, 09:16 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Leftus View Post
I'd still run, from a command prompt, SFC / scannow. This checks system files against the repository and replaces corrupt files with the good ones. After random crashes, it's best to check just to make sure nothing got cattywampus during that time.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/...rrupted-system
Isn't it a different beast on later Win10 systems? it's a dism command there, isn't it?

https://www.howtogeek.com/222532/how...dism-commands/

Ah, the DISM command fixes the component store, which is what SFC pulls from.
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Old 13th August 2019, 04:42 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Hellbound View Post
Isn't it a different beast on later Win10 systems? it's a dism command there, isn't it?

https://www.howtogeek.com/222532/how...dism-commands/

Ah, the DISM command fixes the component store, which is what SFC pulls from.
The way I understand it is that DISM fixes the files that SFC uses. I did run into the problem where SFC wouldn't work, so I had to run DISM to fix SFC so SFC could run.
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Old 14th August 2019, 01:22 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Leftus View Post
The way I understand it is that DISM fixes the files that SFC uses. I did run into the problem where SFC wouldn't work, so I had to run DISM to fix SFC so SFC could run.
Yeah, I answered my own question as I was asking it; you're correct.
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Old 14th August 2019, 01:32 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by CORed View Post
My guess (and I do mean guess) would be a bad power supply.
This would be my guess too
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