Desktop broken after USB power surge, still starts up but that is all

Posted on 2006-11-04
Last Modified: 2008-02-01
(I would set the difficulty to 500 points, but i do not have enough points for this. Sorry! But please still awnser)

Hello. My name is Tom Forbes.

I have had a HP pc for about 2 years now.
I was in my study with my PC recently, and i needed to get some work of my Pen Drive. Now i have 4 USB ports, all filled with;
Speakers (powered off USB)
and extra slot for my iPod or memory stick, always filled.

I just put my memory stick in, and a balloon popped up on the Icon section of the taskbar, saying somthing along the lines of:

"Power surge
Usb port 'somthing' has taken to much power"
(i cannot remember all of it, because i did not pay it to much attention).

As i read it, the screen started flickering (it was a CRT one), and going realy slow. i moved the mouse and it moved in jolts, sort of Start, Stop, Start, Stop ect.

Then the screen went black. The PC was still on, but there was no display. I have a grpahics card that i brought, so my first assumption was that that had blown. i took it out and tried again, but same result. Nothing.

I have taken it down to a local 'computer guy' down the road, who works for a company called Systematic.

They had a look at it and poked around with it, but were stumped. They had no idea what was wrong with it.

I have tried:
New monitor
New Graphics card
New Hard Drive

The only clue is this:
I set in the BIOS that when the power is cut turn back on as soon as it is restored. It no longer does this.

I have taken the Hard drive out and tried it on another PC, and it is flawless. No damage, no data loss.

I think it might be the motherboard, but i wanted to know if anyone out there has any ideas.

p.s i will be ENTERNALY in your debt if you can awnser this question.

Thanks, Tom
Question by:Tomforbes10

Accepted Solution

ko16776 earned 43 total points
ID: 17873760
Just firing from the hip here, Tom.  Have you tried powering up the PC with no USB devices attached?  That's the first thing I would do.  I have seen some USB devices in the past that were failing that have caused a power surge and will not allow the PC to boot.  So take them all out and give it a shot and let us know the results.
LVL 26

Assisted Solution

PCBONEZ earned 41 total points
ID: 17873787
It may be the mainboard but there's also a possibility (and more likely) that a failed power supply caused this.
(Or something else failing that overloaded the WHOLE power supply. (Video card?)
It would be unusual for overloading a USB port to kill more than the USB port.
The voltages being out of range would account for the power surge messsage.

I would try a different PSU before anything else.
Test with the system stripped down to Mainboard, CPU, memory, keyboard, and video card.
(No drives or anything else.)
If everything you have in there in this configuration is good it should boot to a screen saying it can't find and operating system or boot device or something to that effect.
LVL 70

Assisted Solution

garycase earned 41 total points
ID: 17873800
Well ... let's look at the cause of the problem:  "... Speakers (powered off USB) ..."   It amazes me how many devices are made to be USB-powered that have power draws at (or even above) the maximum USB spec of 500ma.   There are MANY examples of "fried" USB controllers that are simply caused by drawing too much power.  The two most common items that IMHO should simply NOT be powered by the USB port are speakers and external hard drives.   Both work ... but both draw nearly max power all the time (or even over) => it's like always running your car at the red line (NOT a good idea).

Now the question is whether or not that did OTHER damage to the motherboard.   In most cases, it will simply "fry" the USB controller and not hurt anything else.   So step #1 is to do as ko16776 noted:  unplug ALL USB devices and see if the system will boot.   However, some PC's these days don't have PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse => is yours one of those?   If so, you'll have to leave at least the keyboard plugged in ==> but if you have PS/2 ports, you should get a PS/2 keyboard and mouse and try booting with NO USB devices.

IF the PC boots okay in that configuration, then the problem is almost certainly a blown USB controller chip.   The only way to truly resolve that is with a new motherboard (unless you have excellent SMD soldering skills and the right equipment ... which for most folks is unlikely).   However, you can simply leave it like it is ... and add a simple USB v2 PCI card (~ $10) and you'll have USB ports again :-)  [ ]
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LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 17873808
... just reviewed your question again => and surely the local PC shop already tried the "no USB devices" bit;  so it's more than just a USB controller issue.  But, as PCBONEZ also noted, it's unusual for a USB power overload to blow more than the controller chip ... so I'd rate your likely problem as: (1) most likely:  the power supply; and if that's not it, then (2) the motherboard (you were simply unlucky enough that more than the USB controller got "fried").

Author Comment

ID: 17873992
They proberbly have tried it...

It boots, its just the screen (even if it is plugged in) does not read the PC. it is as if it is not plugged into the visual output port.

My PC does have a keyboard and mouse port, just i dont have one that pluggs into them....

They have done a voltage check, and it says its normal voltage....

If this helps, here is the link to the HP model page:
LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 17874063
"... It boots ..." ==>  Okay.  Do you get a display with the on-board video (instead of the video card) ??

"... My PC does have a keyboard and mouse port, just i dont have one that plugs into them ..." ==>  Then borrow one or buy one;  they're VERY inexpensive these days [for example: and (the keyboard is PS/2; the mouse is USB but comes with a PS/2 adapter) ]

Try clearing your CMOS memory => the most reliable way to do this is to unplug the PC;  then remove the CMOS battery (small round "coin cell" battery on the motherboard) for about ten minutes;  then replace it, plug in the PC, and see if that helps.

Also, even without a PS/2 keyboard or mouse ... try booting with NOTHING plugged into the USB ports and see if your monitor displays anything at all (like a "Keyboard failure" message).   Try that with the monitor connected to the video card and to the onboard video.  [Note:  Do NOT "hot plug" the monitor --> turn the PC off before changing the connections]


Author Comment

ID: 18094061
Yes, it could be called abandonded. I am not interested in it any more.

I kinda.... dropped the PC out of the window and then burnt it and shot it.

Fix that!

Thanks for all the comments though. Much apreciated.

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