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Whats causing my computer to freeze

Posted on 2005-03-07
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Last Modified: 2010-04-25
I have a Dell Dimension 4400  1.6P4 512mb ram, 40gb HD, 32MB AGP video.  A few weeks ago it started hanging while OS was up and running.  Then it started hanging intermittingly on and off even in bios and using a Ghost boot disk.  

Through the process of selective interchange I have replaced almost everything except for the motherboard and processor.  I have replaced the fan for the CPU but that yielded no change.  (The CPU fan is one that is made into a plastic shroud)  

I'm thinking it’s the motherboard but just wanted some others 2nd opinion.
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Question by:GTKINC
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Callandor earned 1500 total points
ID: 13480932
Causes for spontaneous reboots or freezes at the BIOS level:

-overheating cpu
-overheating video card
-faulty PCI card (especially network cards)
-bad RAM
-faulty power or inadequate power supply
-faulty motherboard

You can check for overheating by physically touching the heatsinks of the cpu and video card.
Swap the RAM for ones you know work, or run the diagnostic program at www.memtest.org (not quite as sure as swapping RAM).  Swap the power supply for another one as powerful.  If you have done all these things and it still behaves the same, then it could be the motherboard.
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by:GTKINC
ID: 13481013
Memory has been swapped twice with brand new memory.  Heat sinks are warm but won't burn you.  If i put a very simple power tester on the power supply it says that it is bad (because it has no 5v showing, other Dell's do the same thing, and power supply is just fine)  I'm under the gun to get this thing fixed.  However i can't find a motherboard to replace this one that is less than 250.00  At this point though I would just like to fix it.
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by:Callandor
ID: 13481092
$250?  That's an i845 chipset motherboard, which should not be too expensive to replace.  I have an Asus P4B533 running a P4 1.6a, and an Asus P4G8X running a P4 1.8a, and those motherboards can probably be purchased for less than $100.  You would need to replace the power supply as well because Dell used proprietary units, but a very good one like this costs $36: http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproductdesc.asp?description=17-153-006&DEPA=0
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by:GTKINC
ID: 13481249
Thats for the exact same board.  Only problem with using an aftermarket board is that the front panel usb ports won't hook up to the aftermarket motherboard.  i don't use those so i guess it wouldn't matter.  So could I just put in a new power supply then another aftermarket board like you mentioned?  I believe it is a micro board.
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by:GTKINC
ID: 13481282
Another question to caveat one of my earlier responses, with some Dell power supplies, why is it that when i hook them to a power tester it reads bad.  It reads bad because it says that it doesn't have any 5v current.  Is this normal for these types of power supplies?
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by:Callandor
ID: 13481519
Yes, you don't need to spend full price for a Dell motherboard, you just need to match the cpu support and form factor.  The P4 1.6 is easy to support because it runs at 400 FSB, the slowest of all P4 bus speeds.  If it's a micro board, just look for micro-ATX form factor, such as found in Shuttle computers.

If you look at the specs for this power supply http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproductdesc.asp?description=17-153-006&DEPA=0, notice that the -5v line is 0.3a, which is pretty low.  The +5v is a lot higher, but if you want to see a comparison of Dell pinouts versus standard power supplies, see http://www.informit.com/articles/article.asp?p=31105&seqNum=4
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by:GTKINC
ID: 13481867
I apoligize.  The CPU is 1.7 However I don't think it matters.  I believe it is still 400FSB.  At least the Dell site says so.  Thanks.  I'll try another board in the morning and let you know if that was the problem.  Is that processor a 478?  if I look at Dell's site they say socket N.  
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by:Callandor
ID: 13483109
It's a socket 478.
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by:GTKINC
ID: 13498226
it was the mother board.  After extensive selective interchange, I determined that the power supply went bad which in turn caused the motherboard to function improperly which lead to its demise.  Also noticed some resolved issues by replacing Dell's cables (space cut out of ribbin cable)  Chose to go with a used board in a new case.  Used all old parts except for board, power supply and IDE cables.  Works great.
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by:Callandor
ID: 13502616
Great! And I hope you didn't have to spend a lot of money for it, either.
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