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MB lights go out... machine runs, but can't switch users...???

Posted on 2006-07-10
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Last Modified: 2010-04-25
I work with computers all day, but I must admit I'm a bit stumped with this problem regarding my home computer. Perhaps some of you hardware experts have some insight here.

I've got an MSI 865 PE motherboard with an AMI bios (v3.3) and a genuine intel 2.8 Ghz CPU. The problem is that, occasionally, the motheboard lights (power, etc on the front of the case) just go blank. When this happens, the computer will continue to run pretty much alright as long as I don't try to log out, and back in or switch users. I can still shut the machine down, but it takes awhile for it to complete the shutdown. This also only seems to happen when the machine has been idle for at least a few hours. I've tried disableing hibernate, suspend, hd shutdown and monitor shutdown in XP power save settings. Nothing has seemed to change this.

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance,
DK
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Question by:Danoklas
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 17079948
Maybe a bad, low powered PSU, or too much dust causing the ventilation to be bad?
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Expert Comment

by:JasonLattin
ID: 17085837
I agree with rindi,  it sound like a Power supply issue.  Have you recently added new hardware to the machine? PCI carsds, AGP? Or has it always done this?  You may need a power supply with more watts.
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Author Comment

by:Danoklas
ID: 17087127
The only addition I've made recently (that being several months back) was upgrading from an CD writer to a DVD+/-RW. However, I honestly don't recall when this problem began.

Here's what I have running...
- P4 2.8 Ghz w/ 800 mhz FSB
- 2 Case fans (front and back)
- 512 Mb 400 Mhz RAM
- 128Mb GForce 5500 at 8x
- Onboard audio and NIC
- Seagate 80 Gb 7200 rpm ATA
- OEM 52 CDROM
- Internal Liteon DVD RW

The case in an Antec SLK2600AMB with a 300 Watt PSU.
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Expert Comment

by:JasonLattin
ID: 17100281
It really seemd to be PSU issue.  I would replace it to see if it corrects your problems.  I would even recomend upgrading to a 350 or 400W to be on the safe side.  
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Author Comment

by:Danoklas
ID: 17100539
Shouldn't an underpowered PSU pretty much turn up right away when you try to boot, or are you thinking the problem occurs only when the draw is sufficient to cause an under-voltage or low current at the MB?

Also, any particular brands you'd recommend or avoid in particular?
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Expert Comment

by:JasonLattin
ID: 17102355
The PSU might have been overworked for a while and is starting to give up.  Its hard to say why it would be failing, or if that is the true root cause.  As for brands, I just wouldn't go with a no name.  I've used Asus before and haven't had any problems.  Also, a website like pricewatch might be a good place to look to see what the price ranges for particular PSU would be.

http://www.pricewatch.com/power%5Fsupply%5Ffor%5Fcase/

One other thing is that you want to make sure that you get the correct power supply for your type of motherboard (AT/ATX)
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Expert Comment

by:aviandragon13
ID: 17164974
I totally agree that you should try a bigger power supply first. If you have a friend who has one you can borrow, try installing a larger supply and then powering down your computer. Does it speed up the process at all? I know from experience that an overworked power supply can cause shutdown to take an eternity. My computer used to take about five minutes on average to shut down. I was never really sure why until I upgraded my power supply from 300W to 500W. Now it shuts down very quickly. Try another power supply and post back if that does not help. Good luck.
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Author Comment

by:Danoklas
ID: 17167237
I just installed a 350Watt Antec PSU on Friday night. I'll post back after a few more days to see how things go.

DK
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Author Comment

by:Danoklas
ID: 17309994
Sorry, I've been so long to reply (work, out of town, etc).

Things seem to be better with the 350W PSU, but it still does occasionally have the same problem. I'm beginning to wonder whether it's something with the MB. Unfortunately, for now, the problem mystery remains, although not quite as frequent.
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Accepted Solution

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rindi earned 125 total points
ID: 17389865
Maybe you should also try using another HD with installed OS on it. That way you can test if it's a software or hardware problem.
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Author Comment

by:Danoklas
ID: 17389928
That's actually not a bad idea. I have access to both imaging software and spare HD's here at work. I'll have to give that a try... unfortunately I don't know when I'll have the time do get that done and reply here (modorators, please be patient ;-)
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Author Comment

by:Danoklas
ID: 17533820
Well, here's the latest. I brought home an HD from work this weekend planning to put it in and install XP. Then I realized that we haven't seen the problem in several days, perhaps even a week or more (haven't kept track). I'll keep an eye on it for one more week before calling this solved.
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Author Comment

by:Danoklas
ID: 17634783
Here's an update.... the problem persists. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find any rhyme or reason to when it happens and when it doesn't. It just seems pretty random. However, I have noticed that when the MB lights are out USB devices won't work properly either. Our USB printer won't print (windows just shows an inspecific printing error), and if I plug in a USB joystick, it's just not acknowledge.

I'm beginning to suspect the motherboard is just dying. Unfortunatley I won't be able to spend money to replace it unless it really gives up entirely (recent car troubles ate up the funds).

Any other advice for me, gents?
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 17670458
One more thing you can test is the RAM, using memtest86+ which, along with other usefull tools is on the UBCD.

http://ultimatebootcd.com
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Author Comment

by:Danoklas
ID: 17714789
UBCD didn't turn anything up. I'm beginning to suspect that it is, in fact, a software problem. I have a second HD in the machine with windows and a few other things installed (Flash, Java, etc.). I just keep having to switch back to the old HD so we can get to our email and such until I can take some more time with it.

What I'm hoping to do is run on that HD and a very basic installation for a couple days to see if anything happens. If not, I'll reinstall the AV/Firewall software (ZoneAlarm) just to see if that might be the culprit. I'm hoping to get a good run at it over this weekend.
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Author Comment

by:Danoklas
ID: 17788123
Well, I finally had a weekend to try out a new HD with a fresh Windows installation, including software we use regularly. I could not duplicate the problem with the new HD, so at this point I'm pretty well convinced it's a software problem. I'm going to simply do a clean installation of everything and hope that's the end of it.

Thanks to all!

DK
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