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System failing to post, monitor not initializing - random hardlocking

Posted on 2004-03-31
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Last Modified: 2010-04-25
I have experienced what appears to be a failure in a combo system (motherboard/cpu/ram) I purchased around a year ago.

The system is a Gigabyte MB PE667 Ultra, with an Intel P4 2.4b CPU and 1 GIG of PC2700 DDR RAM.

The combo system was swapped out with my pre-existing case/drives/psu and all worked fine until a few weeks ago.

I have noticed that recently when bringing the computer out of Standby in Windows XP that sometimes the system would be hardlocked with the harddrive access light on. A reboot was required to fix this issue.

A couple days ago the computer started hardlocking while in-use, it had never done this before.

Yesterday I powered it down and left it off for around 12 hours while I went to work. Upon coming home and turned it on, and the Monitor did not get any signal. The single post BEEP did not occur either. I reset the system numerous times, each time I reset it or flipped the power switch back on the system would seem to "live" a little longer. It finally posted with a beep, and the monitor engaged. It showed the Gigabyte Dual Bios screen then, hardlocked.

I kept trying to reset it, and then it made it to the memory check part, and locked. I just kept resetting it, it made it all the way thru the memory check, and started to boot into Windows XP. I was trying to use IE and it locked while moving the mouse.

I reset it again, and got into the BIOS and reset it to default factory settings. Then it hardlocked on me in the BIOS. I quickly managed to reset it and get into the BIOS again and reset to factory defaults.

I then booted to the DUAL BIOS screen and booted from BACKUP Bios, and then it seemed to work for a bit, then it hardlocked again.

- My troubleshooting:

I thought ok maybe bad ram? I opened the case, (it had not been opened for 6+ months and not moved for over 3 months). I removed both 512meg RAM modules. I then reseated them firmly, and booted it up. No-go, started off with a complete refusal to boot, then after many resets it posted but locked.

I then removed one RAM module and tried that, it locked, I swapped the other RAM module, it locked as well.

Could both RAM modules have just went bad?

- Next test, I thought it was maybe the power supply unit. I went out and bought an ANTEC 350W PSU, and installed it. It failed to post, I reset it and it worked a bit longer... I thought the problem was fixed, it locked hard in windows, then locked on the next post.

Right now I have no idea what could be wrong with this system.
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Question by:xanu
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Expert Comment

by:Callandor
ID: 10728519
To really make sure that it isn't the power supply, try removing everything and boot with a minimal system: cpu, one stick of RAM, video card and motherboard.  If it still has problems, it's probably not the power supply.

Something wrong in the IDE chain (controller, cable or drive) could prevent bootup.  The minimal setup above should reveal that.

A faulty video card can prevent booting, though in this case, I don't think it likely.  Swap it out, just to be sure.

Finally, you could have a faulty motherboard.  When nothing else will explain it and that is all that is left, that's where you should look.
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by:tmj883
tmj883 earned 25 total points
ID: 10729526
You have ruled out the power supply, focus on mainboard or cpu. Reseat the cpu in case its thermal related, if not agree with Callandor...you could have a faulty motherboard. T
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Author Comment

by:xanu
ID: 10729650
I took a closer look at the motherboard.  Its a Gigabyte GA-8PE677 Ultra board.  Near the plug-in for the mainboards power from the PSU was what I think is a bad capacitor? Its a tall cylindrical object sticking up from the motherboard, there are many similar objects on the board, they have a metal top, with a tri-folded leaf top, sorta like 3 pieces fold down on top of it to seal it.  All of them but this one are perfectly flat... but this one is bubbled up and has some brownish crust seeping out of it.

I think that maybe the problem.

Suggestions?
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Callandor earned 100 total points
ID: 10731927
You have a blown capacitor - they have rounded tops or spattered, discolored material around it.  If you are handy with a soldering iron, you can get a replacement part with the same voltage and capacitance rating and replace it.  Otherwise, you will have to replace the motherboard.
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Expert Comment

by:tmj883
ID: 10737142
Gigabyte has had some problems with capacitors on certain mainboards, but they have been very responsive to customers with this problem. Most certainly, contact Gigabyte about this problem. They should offer a remedy, like a free replacement.
Press the issue even if beyond the warranty period. Good luck...T
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