Dead PC

Posted on 2004-11-10
Last Modified: 2010-04-26
I successfully installed a HP DVD+RW drive in my friend's PC. Everything was fully operational, but later in the day of the installation, my friend grabbed the PC tower and slid it back across the carpet to return it to its proper location. When he did this, the power cut out. Subsequent attempts to reboot the machine result in no signal to the monitor and no BIOS launch screen. Since I have already attempted to run the machine on a different power supply, I can rule this out and assume it is a failure of the motherboard, cpu or memory (or a combination of these). Is my assumption correct, that to get the initial BIOS screen you need a working motherboard, cpu and memory as a bare minimum? The video card (I think) can not be an issue since it at least is feeding a "visibly blank" signal to the monitor.

Resolving the issue is now wrought with problems. My friend wants to believe that the DVD drive killed his machine. I think that is unlikely. However, the timing of it all leaves me feeling obliged to assist him further. The machine was running for hours just fine up until the time he slid the tower across the carpet. Anyway, here are the problems - I have no way of knowing with certainty which of the critical components is failing (motherboard, cpu or memory). However, instinct tells me to start with the motherboard. I have no way of testing the cpu or memory. Bad news - the motherboard is a 3-4 year old OEM version from Abit and seems impossible to directly replace. What can I do (with the specs from the CPU and memory in hand) to match them to a different, yet compatible and available motherboard? My friend hasn't the money or the will to replace his computer at this time. He just needs a cheap fix to get him back to where he was. It just seems like locating obsolete standalone motherboards for sale is not easy to pull off. CPU is an AMD (not yet sure about the specs) and the memory module reads Centon Electronics Inc 128MBDDR T153625.

I need some advice in a big, big way. Through it all, rest assured I will resist the urge to help out a friend this way in the future. Originally, I just handed him the DVD drive and said "it's easy to install, you'll figure it out". At his urging, I did the deed for him. Stupid, and this is likely to cause a rift in our friendship. He is nearly sold on the idea that it's my fault.

Question by:smarsquid

    Author Comment

    I forgot to mention that I can also rule out a bad monitor, because after giving it enough time we do not hear the Windows XP Welcome song.
    LVL 23

    Accepted Solution

    when the system starts, are there any lights on the keyboard, or does the CapsLock key toggle it's lights correctly?  any post beep codes?  Does the system sound like it's starting ok?  Fans spinning inside??

    If the keyboard lights are working correctly, then the system is ok, and you should check the monitor/cables and vid card.  I wouldn't trust diagnosing a monitor on just the Windows sound.

    If possible, simplify the system as far as possible - remove network cards, sound cards, disconnect ALL data cables to disk drives etc - just leave the vid card and cpu in.  Try running it with one stick of ram.  You should at least get a POST screen.  

    I take it that a different power cable, to a known good power socket has been tried too.  Obvious, but it's always the silly stuff that gets you....

    If the system was on when it was moved, and the power cable was temporarily dislodged, a power spike could have damaged components.  mb is high on the list, but I'd start with RAM, as it's easier to test/replace.  Either move it to a known good system, or vice versa.  From the age of it, it's prob PC100 or PC133 which is very portable.

    Your friend has to understand that it was all fine when you left it, and anything that happened after that can't be your responsibility.  
    LVL 31

    Expert Comment

    Sound advice above. Also check CPU for proper seating. As the problem occurred after moving the machine, it is not totally unthinkable that something got unseated. The CPU/heatsink/fan assembly is a bit heavy.
    LVL 28

    Expert Comment

    If it is the mobo, you could probably pick up the same unit on Ebay wth a bit of patience.

    Chris B
    LVL 91

    Expert Comment

    first things first: did you inspect that the fans are running if you power up? and the drives? can you hear them?
    Is there power fed to the system? check the AC?
    Then, try with a cheap PCI vga card, or try the card in a different slot; a bad connection on the card can cause this.
    Otherwise, i suggest disconnecting everything  and starting with the minimal config : 1HDD, 1stick of RAM, kbd, mouse and vga card; this should give a bios post screen.

    Author Comment

    I'll be damned...different power cable on a different socket did the trick. No replacement parts necessary. Wow, it really is the simple stuff sometimes. Thanks, DanCh99!
    LVL 23

    Expert Comment

    glad to be of service... cheers for the points and grade!

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