P4 based PC booting incorrectly

I have an old P4 based PC, currently running Windows 7 Pro, which has just started booting incorrectly intermittently in a strange way, jpeg attached. Half the screen is black and the system just hangs and there is a low hum beat which comes and goes through the speakers. If you turn PC off, leave for a few minutes and try again every thing is fine. Next time I boot the black area on the screen has increased in size, at the moment about half the screen,  and everything hangs again. I just wonder if you think this is just the signs of an ageing PC or could it be a specific problem or component that is about to fail and could be rectified.Boot error screen
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Brian MurphyIT ArchitectCommented:
Have you tried going to BIOS.  How old is the CMOS Battery on the motherboard?
medcomputersAuthor Commented:
Hi Brian
Yes I have looked in the BIOS and everything looked OK. I made a change to the BOOT order in that it was set to boot initially from the DVD which I changed to the main HDD. CMOS battery is old but am I right in thinking that if I can get into the BIOS the battery is OK?
Having made these changes the PC booted properly, but on next boot we were back to square one as in photo.
It looks like it's your LCD Monitor is the problem.

Have you tried connecting your PC to another monitor to see if you have the same picture?
If you boot into safe mode is the display the same?  If so, it's your video card.
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Brian MurphyIT ArchitectCommented:
You can get to BIOS regardless.  Are your dates and times right?

I'm leaning toward TCI suggestion.  You might have a short in your LCD.  Connect a regular monitor, external.

If you change the "adjustment" of your monitor down or up I bet it makes a difference.

Probably old wires.
medcomputersAuthor Commented:
It is a fairly new monitor and I would be surprised if it is faulty. I will try to connect it to another monitor. I haven't tried safe mode but I will try that as well. I always find with intermittent problems on a PC that it can be very hard to isolate the fault. I will follow up on your advice and let you know what happens.
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
Check your resolution and frequency settings as well.   Seems like it is trying to go into a mode that the LCD or video card doesn't like.

It has been suggested that the video card is faulty.  Quite possible.  I'd definitely try a frequency setting of 60 Hz and see if that helps.
Check the electrolytic capacitors on the mainboard and video card for signs of leaking, cracking or bulging. Try another video card. Test the RAM using memtest 86+, and the HD using the manufacturer's diagnostics. You'll find both on the UBCD:


A P4 is old enough for the chance of a hardware failure to be causing this.
Brian MurphyIT ArchitectCommented:
Pretty sure TCI already covered but this does look like some type of short in the LCD wires.  You can easily disprove this as TCI suggested by configuring a standard monitor setup.  If the problem does not occur with that monitor your problem is your LCD monitor is tired.  It is just old.  Fed up.  Done.

Personally, I would remove it and the keyboard, glue the laptop minus the keyboard to a block of wood and use a USB wireless keyboard and a standard monitor connection.  I have a Dell 630 still working and must be at least 9 years old.  I have the remnants of a laptop glued to a block of wood and no keyboard with the LCD monitor removed, and the keyboard stripped off and it has worked for 8 years.

Have some fun.
Mal OsborneAlpha GeekCommented:
If the "low hum beat" sounds like 50 or 60Hz, then the problem is almost certainly leaking electrolyte capacitors in the PSU. If this is a "white box" machine, then a replacement should be pretty easy.
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Looks pretty as a failing video controller. And according to a description it a hardware problem. Is it an AGP controller or onboard video card?
in order to get better help - post some specs, eg PC model, or mobo model
regarding the bios battery, i consider the battery ok when i am able to save a change in the bios - or if it shows 3 V min - it's a CR2032 type -  cost= 1$
Danny ChildIT ManagerCommented:
If it was the monitor, it's surprising to me that it always would fail at the same point through the boot process.  

I would suspect it's to do with the graphics, whether onboard or a separate card - we don't know.  
If it's got onboard graphics, try booting with just one of the sticks of RAM, then the other, see if it performs better.
if it's got a separate graphics card, try a known-good one, or move that card to another system, or try any onboard mobo graphics instead.  

Try booting to Safe Mode With Networking (press F8 as it starts up) as this will revert to basic drivers and lower system stress all round.  
Also try a knoppix disk - and if that's fine, then it's a software problem (or local hard disk), so look at repair installs
could be a video ram error also - heat related, since it changes after reboot
medcomputersAuthor Commented:
Hi everyone
Thank you for all your suggestions. I think my PC has finally died. All I get now is a blank screen with the message "no video input". Something has completely failed but I'm really not sure how to isolate the problem or, more likely, problems. I managed to get into Safe Mode, the clock has always been correct but now I have nothing. I think I will just have to save your advice to help solve future problems whilst, in the meantime, try to build a new PC. If you have any other advice before I close the question please let me know.
I think a P-IV is too old to bother too much about. If a PC like that breaks down I don't think it is worth wasting too much time on it, and rather just get a newer PC.
i always like to know what's wrong with it
often it's a small thing, easily to be repaired

**Why did you not post the pc model ?

--> anyhow, in such cases you can use my article :
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)
medcomputersAuthor Commented:
Hi everyone

Apologies for delay in posting again. I have been considering what is the best thing to do and trying out some other old computers!
Like nobus I would like to see if I can find out what the problem/s are especially as I have some considerable data on the HDDs which I would like to access.
The PC is a Compaq Presario S4490UK but I have modified it quite a bit along the way. The monitor works fine with other computers so I don't think that is the problem.
I have looked at capacitors using link from nobus and I cannot see any obvious problems. It is very dusty and dirty inside and I'm wondering if it would be worth taking the whole thing apart and put it back bit by bit. It does have 4 sticks of memory but I have not had a chance to do it with just two sticks. I am going to try to follow guide by nobus re troubleshooting bad hardware but it will take me time.
In the meantime should I close the question and leave feedback now? Can I let you know what happens in the near future, once I have had a chance to rebuild my PC, after the question has been closed?
Thanks again for all your suggestions
What does the data on the disk matter? You have that on your backups. Even if you forgot to backup something, you can also connect the disks to another PC to read the data. You don't need that particular PC working.
first start by cleaning it out : blow the dust out, use a brush to remove dust
you can also disconnect parts, clean - and reseat them

here is how i handle disk problems :

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medcomputersAuthor Commented:
Hi everyone
Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I hope you feel my award of points to be fair.
Matthew DeLashmitt
did you find a solution?  and if so - what was it?
medcomputersAuthor Commented:
Hi nobus
I have done a preliminary clean inside and checked the motherboard for leaking capacitors. etc and it has started up again but I'm afraid if I reboot my problems will come back. When I get time I am going to follow your advice in the two articles you mention. I will take everything apart, clean and re seat, test memory and hard drives, etc. It will take me some time but I'm hoping I will be able to resolve the problems  by taking it step by step.
In the meantime I thought it best to close the question.
Thank you again for your advice.
tx for the feedback )- always good to know
and post results
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