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Built a PC - it reboots (cold/hard reboot) at random times

Posted on 2006-11-26
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-26
Built this new Intel 2.6 celeron PC for a friend and all seemed well when it loaded an old version of XP on his 250g HDD - the next day i installed xp fresh and put on all his apps and after a while we noticed that it just rebooted at random times (like the reset-button was pressed - although not the case). I thought one of the PCI cards might be loose so I oushed them in harder but still no joy. i eventually removed all the cards but it still happens. on thing i did notice is that it happens when i ejected the DVD-RW drive more often than it did with no cause. time didn't permit me to test out this w/o the drive attatched and i haven't heard from my friend yet but just wanted to see what you guys thought. i'm pretty sure everything on the mobo is connected properly as i followed all the instruction guides, etc
Question by:Ryan_R
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Expert Comment

ID: 18016310
When it used to happen to me, the CPU was overheating.  Could also be the video card overheating..
LVL 15

Author Comment

ID: 18016527
video is onboard
i was also thinking cpu - but it's brand new, and it has a heatsink/fan on top of it as it's supposed to

if i go over there again i'll run a few checks to see what the cpu temp it and the fan rpm is

any other ideas in the meantime?

Accepted Solution

megs28 earned 248 total points
ID: 18016567
Run the PC with a known good PSU.  Unstable power will cause PCs to reboot.
Test the memory.  http://www.memtest86.com/
Reseat the CPU.  What temperature is it typically running @ when it reboots?
Look through the event viewer, is it dumping memory?
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Expert Comment

ID: 18016979
There are quite a few causes for this behaviour whereas the easiest to check is the software.
As you probably are aware of, the early XP versions without ServicePacks are open for attacks like for instance Sasser. Sasser uses a flaw in lsass.exe and causes random reboots.
Update all ServicePacks and perform Antivirus scan if you haven't already done so...
Start your system in safemode (F8) during startup, and see if the problem remains.
If the problem persists the you might want to go for Firmware Updates to the drives (as many as it takes) :-)
If the software is excluded on that level then you should move on to your BIOS.
Check what manufacturer of motherboard you have and find a Flash for it. Usually these FlashBIOS utilities are available from the manufacturers website and are relatively updated. Flashing BIOS should only be adviced if you are familiar with computers, which I guess you already are so it should be a childs-game for you :-)
Heating and ESD damages are otherwise culprits when it comes to rebooting systems..
LVL 15

Author Comment

ID: 18017067
sp2 was integrated on the cd
haven't yet run memtest - but i did advise my friend to try one RAM stick at a time to see if either module was bad
i didn't notice anything in event viewer other than that some services not starting due to the fact that i removed the pci tv tuner card.
i haven't run the benchamrking tool yet so i can't say what temp the cpu is running at.
LVL 93

Expert Comment

ID: 18017675
i suppose the pc can be underpowered, check what you need here, and allow for a margin :
it can also be a bad DVD drive.
check the cpu temp in the bios, after a shut down too .
 here some temps : http://www.heatsink-guide.com/content.php?content=maxtemp.shtml

Expert Comment

ID: 18018154
Hi, i had the same problem with my PC, and i found taht it was a heating matter, even if i had a powerfull fan on the CPU, i've noticed taht there were not much thermal paste on the CPU

So i had to purchase a thermal paste, unkown brand, and it didn'T do the job, after that i purchased an arctic silver5, and the system never overheated again, and didn't reboot since that time

You can perform a CPU burning test using  HOTCPU, and check your CPU temperature (MOBO and Hard drives) using speedFan


Assisted Solution

DAQLD earned 252 total points
ID: 18024007
Hi Ryan R .... as you can probably gather from the responses, there's a bit of trial and error here in resolving this.

My five cents worth ....

My gut feel is that your suffering either a crook power supply unit (PSU) or mismatched memory.

I've only just resolved an issue (similar-ish in symptoms to yours) posted here on EE by replacing the PSU with a quality unit as found here > http://www.coolpc.com.au/catalog/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=17&products_id=1319

My mismatched memory suggestion comes from an experience that I had with (what I think) was ECC and NON ECC memory. To this day, I swear to God that the memory that I purchased for this particular upgrade was the correct match for the MB. Googled over and over to confirm. All ok. But ... install the upgrade memory = reboot at will. Uninstall = fine .... Reinstall = reboot at will. Alas, this experience has become the eighth wonder of the world ....

Further, and this may be of secondary assistance to you - to compliment the installation of the PSU as described above, I also cleaned / prep'd and renewed the compound on the cpu and hs using http://www.coolpc.com.au/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=1305. Additionally, I replaced all the ribbon cable with http://www.coolpc.com.au/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=775 or similar (i.e. Sata and floppy). I felt that these later two steps were both inexpensive and easy to perform and would perahps remove any other anomalies if they existed.

I understand the purchase of the PSU on speculation of resolving the issue is a risk - but the upshot of it is if it does not resolve your problem, you have a quality PSU for your current box and it's highly likely to be transferrable to your next one. The prices in these links is AUD and no, it's not a plug for coolpc.com.au - this is merely where I purchased my goods from and hence, my only reference point.

Hope there's something here that helps - all the best.


Expert Comment

ID: 18027855
Before proceeding with a hardware revamp, you may wanna make sure that software is not the issue. Since you said that everything was ok when you installed the old XP version, I'm assuming it's alread SP2. Try reinstalling XP SP2 and update to the most current service packs. Don't install anything yet and see if it reboots when you eject the DVDRW. If it reboots, either you are using an infected OS installation (pirated?) or it is really a hardware problem. If it doesn't reboot, try installing your drivers one at a time, checking the DVDRW eject each time to see if it will reboot at will. Then try installing your apps, again one at a time. If indeed it is a hardware issue, then go ahead and follow the advice from previous posts.

Hope this helps.
LVL 15

Author Comment

ID: 18033497
Well you're all right in what you say (I would have suggested the same stuff).

I caught up with him quickly last night and he said that he swapped his SATA cable for his 250g HDD and no more probs anymore....

Anyone have any thoughts on this? I'll split points with you guys later.

Expert Comment

ID: 18033528
Other than referencing my "secondary assistance" suggestion - nope.
LVL 15

Author Comment

ID: 18041745
Oh - and I saw him again last night and noticed that he hadn't put back in the other half of his RAM - when i asked him about it - he said it was fried so I think that was more the issue than SATA cables

will close this now
LVL 15

Author Comment

ID: 18041760
points were given to those who made reference to the faulty RAM - if any were left wondering.

enjoy your week

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