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New Computer Goes Black After a Few Minutes

Posted on 2013-01-15
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Last Modified: 2013-01-19
Hi folks!

I built my wife a brand new PC for Christmas. Unfortunately, it is having problems right out of the gate.

Specifically, at seemingly random times, it appears to just "die." In other words, the screen goes black, the keyboard and mouse have no power (as indicated by the lights going off), and not even the buttons on the front of the PC like reset and power will respond. You have to power off the system with the switch built on to the power supply and then turn it back on. However, when this happens the system still has power, as all of the fans in the system continue to spin.

I've tried running various diagnostic tests, but I can't nail down a problem because it keeps happening at random times, even during the tests, regardless of what device is being tested. I can't get a single consistent test result to pin the problem on. I've tried shuffling the RAM sticks, trying it with only one stick of the pair, etc., and that makes no difference. I added additional fans in case it was overheating. Nothing.

Any suggestions? I know I've gotten some bad hardware that I need to exchange, but I can't even isolate what hardware it is. I don't know if it's CPU, RAM, power supply, motherboard, etc. I've never seen this set of symptoms before.

Thanks,
Ithizar

Specs of System:
AMD FX-8350 Eight Core 4 GHz CPU
MSI 760GM-P23 ATX Motherboard
Ultra LSP-750 750 Watt Power Supply
Cooler Master Elite 430 Mid-Tower ATX Case
Patriot Gamer 2 Series 16 GB DDR3 1333 MHz RAM (2 x 8GB)
Transcend SSD-320 64 GB Solid State SATA Drive
Western Digital VelociRaptor 250 GB 10,000 RPM SATA 6 Gb/s Hard Drive
Floppy Drive & USB 2.0 Card Reader Combo Drive
LG 12x Internal Blu-ray Combo Drive (SATA)
ZOTAC GeForce GTX 660 2 GB DDR5 PCIe Video Card
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Question by:Ithizar
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14 Comments
 
LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:Thomas Grassi
ID: 38779921
Which OS are you running?

If Windows have you checked the power setting in control panel?

You might have a hibration issue

Check you system board settings for power options also.

Do you have a ups connected to the computer?
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Author Comment

by:Ithizar
ID: 38779935
I am running Windows 7 Professional x64. I've checked the power settings, but it's not happening on any consistent schedule. It happens at random. Also, if I boot a diagnostics disc, completely separate from Windows, it happens there too.

No UPS. Just a surge suppressor.
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:dbrunton
ID: 38779948
Hmm.

Test on another screen.  I suspect the screen is faulty or the video card, one of the two.
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LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:Thomas Grassi
ID: 38779956
Boot up in safe mode and let it run awhile and see what happens
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LVL 29

Expert Comment

by:ScottCha
ID: 38779970
I would disconnect the:

Western Digital VelociRaptor 250 GB 10,000 RPM SATA 6 Gb/s Hard Drive
Floppy Drive & USB 2.0 Card Reader Combo Drive
LG 12x Internal Blu-ray Combo Drive (SATA)

and see if you still have the problem.  these aren't necessary components and will at least rule them out.
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Author Comment

by:Ithizar
ID: 38779974
Test on another screen.  I suspect the screen is faulty or the video card, one of the two.
But if it were the screen or the video card, why would the keyboard and mouse lose power when it happens? The lights on the keyboard, and the optical mouse, go out the moment it occurs. Also, the buttons on the front of the case -- reset and power -- which work normally, no longer work at all.

Boot up in safe mode and let it run awhile and see what happens
Doesn't matter what it's booted into. Normal mode, safe mode, a LiveCD, a diagnostic CD. Eventually it happens regardless.
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LVL 29

Expert Comment

by:ScottCha
ID: 38779983
If you have an extra video card lying around you can swap it out and see if that is where your problem is.

Same thing with the power supply.
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LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:Thomas Grassi
ID: 38780005
If a card try that first but I am betting that it is either the CPU or the mother board.

Do you have on board video? try that and remove the card.

One other thought. How about the memory? have other memory you can try

Still betting on the cpu or mother board at this point
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:dbrunton
ID: 38780017
But if it were the screen or the video card, why would the keyboard and mouse lose power when it happens? The lights on the keyboard, and the optical mouse, go out the moment it occurs. Also, the buttons on the front of the case -- reset and power -- which work normally, no longer work at all.

True.  Didn't read your initial post correctly.

Can you check your BIOS and see if there are any power saving options or hibernate options enabled.  If so then disable them.  Also check and see if there is a BIOS update for the motherboard.
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LVL 12

Accepted Solution

by:
kadafitcd earned 350 total points
ID: 38780134
With the power going out to your mouse and keyboard and the power and reset buttons it points to either the Motherboard or the Power Supply.  I have been doing warranty replacement calls for the last 6 years.  This is one of the most common issues.  I would go ahead and exchange both parts if you bought them from the same place. That way you will save on shipping by shipping them together.  If you bought them at a local store then take them both back there.  I wouldn't risk changing out one or the other by themselves as if you have faulty parts they can cause problems with other parts.  Do both at once it will save you headaches.
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LVL 15

Assisted Solution

by:Perarduaadastra
Perarduaadastra earned 150 total points
ID: 38780182
If you're handy enough to have built this machine then you've probably got a spare SATA hard disk lying around... in which case, I suggest the following:

Remove everything from the computer except the PSU, optical drive, RAM, CPU, and heat sink. Install your spare SATA hard disk. Connect your monitor to the onboard graphics port. Install your Windows 7 Pro 64-bit but don't activate it, as you've presumably done this already. Let it download and install all the updates it wants.

Let it run for a while to see if it's unstable. If it is, remove the optical drive and try again. If the trouble persists then you know that it's a problem with a core component of the computer, and I'd be inclined to suspect either the PSU or the board.

If the barebones configuration runs OK try adding one component at a time, beginning with the graphics card, and running it to see if it falls over again. Continue in this fashion until the problem returns; the most recently added component is likely to be the culprit.

Keep in mind that this could take quite a while to work through, and kadafitcd’s suggestion will save you a lot of time although you’ll lose the satisfaction of identifying the exact cause of the problem.
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LVL 91

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 38781669
it looks like a mobo problem to me
but try restting the Bios, or clearing it by removing the AC and battery for a minute
i always use the minimum setup as described in my article for troubleshooting :
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Components/Motherboards/A_1945.html                  (Short-overview-of-how-to-troubleshoot-bad-hardware-when-a-pc-does-not-post)

in case your disk has problems,  :
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Hard_Drives/A_3000-The-bad-hard-disk-problem.html
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LVL 28

Expert Comment

by:burrcm
ID: 38782123
Such diagnostics are not overly difficult, but must be done in an orderly manner.

First, remove all from the case. It is possible that there is an issue with a standoff.

1. Fire the system up on a sheet of cardboard or a wooden table, Mobo, video card if used, 1 stick of RAM, PSU. No HDD. Is it stable in bios?

2. Yes? Add a hard drive - install an OS.

3. No? Update the bios. Try again.

Once it is OK at a point in time, add items until it fails. If it has failed already, then the culprit should be easy to identify.

Chris B
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Author Closing Comment

by:Ithizar
ID: 38796923
Thanks to everyone. I ultimately took the advice to just RMA the most likely culprits, but I appreciate all the suggestions!
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