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No post after power off, cured by changing RAM

Vadim Rapp
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Last Modified: 2020-09-28
My motherboard Gibabyte Z97-D3H, has developed an interesting pattern.

Whenever I power it off, when I power it on later, there's no post beep. Instead there's  some ticking, one per second, I'm not sure where exactly it's coming from. Power cycling does not help, but it's always cured by removing one of the two installed 4GB memory sticks. After that, it successfully boots into Windows 10. I shut it down, put the memory stick back, and then it boots successfully and works.

I wonder if anybody ever saw something similar, and what is the culprit - the power supply, the motherboard itself, or perhaps that low-level integration with Windows 10.
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Check whether there is dust accumulation, and reseat both modules making sure good contacts.

Reseat all components,PCI-e cards if any as well.
William FulksIT Services Analyst
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Commented:
You may have some bad RAM. It will sometimes work and other times not. Download Memtest86 and let it run a full test.
https://www.memtest86.com/ 
Robert RComputer Service Technician
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I would disagree with bad ram modules. Often they will manifest when enough ram is consumed triggering a bsod panic related to memory.
It will not be as an intermittent situation.
One way to test it, is use one stick at the time to see whether use of a single stick gets thisbahavior.
Robert RComputer Service Technician
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I agree with you Arnold, if the ram is not seated properly a thing called chip creep can occur due to the heat fluctuations, causing the chip to slowly creep out of the socket, if the wings that lock the module are not properly locked in place, it may recognize the module but the heat and cold cycles can (ie the system is cold when you first start it up and after using a while the system board generates a lot of heat. If you are positive that the ram modules are fully seated and the ram is locked in place and this continues to happen after reseating the ram. Then it could be faulty ram slots.  You can test this by testing system by removing one stick of ram, and test the remaining ram module in one slot for a day or so then put the same ram module into the other memory slot and test it for a day or two. If you dont have any issues with the single stick of ram in either slot you know two things that the ram slots are not causing the problem neither is the ram that is currently in the system causing the issue.  Try swapping the ram that you pulled out and run the same test on both ram slots, if the issue still does not cause problems, then you know that the second ram stick is fine as well. Are both ram sticks a matched pair? ie run at the same speed, same size, and same manufacturer? 

William FulksIT Services Analyst
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Here is the manufacturer's list of supported memory types. Might be worth checking:

https://download.gigabyte.com/FileList/Memory/mb_memory_ga-z97-d3h.pdf 
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Guys, once again: after ram module is reinserted, it works fine. But if I power cycle the computer - without touching ram module that worked fine right now - it won't post.

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Robert RComputer Service Technician
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You have not answered our questions which can help troubleshoot your issue.  Has this happened after a recent upgrade to your system, or the system was working fine and there were no upgrades to the system before this started happening. 
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Commented:
Robert R - to answer your question - I did not completely power off, including turning off power supply, for quite a while. In fact I did not even shut it down for quite a while, I always suspend, or restart computer. Now I did it and it happened. No recent upgrades.

Arnold: 
does the power supply have its own on/off switch? 
yes

without opening the box or touching anything else try turning it off, and hit the power button to drain remnant power.
then switch the power supply back on, and see if it powers up. 

This is exactly what leads to the failure, and then removing the memory fixes it.
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...just tried to shut down without power off at the power supply - the problem did not occur, it then started successfully.
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Does the issue relate to a hard poweroff,off on the power supply?
Versus shutdown wihtin the OS.
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are both ram modules the same?
to me itcan be caused by different things :
-powersupply  - check the voltages, or test with another PS
-Bios setting  -  check if there is a setting for dual channel, or voltage setting
-overclocking  - try without overclocking
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the ticks may actually be beep codes. is there a number of them ? 10 short beeps would be "memory error".

have you tryed exchanging the ram rods ?
do you manage to boot by removing either of them ?
this seems like a dual channel not initializing properly issue but we're all fishing in the dark.
maybe try to move one of the rods (or both) to a different slot so it does not start as dual channel.
don't worry about the performance penalty. that will likely not be noticeable on a desktop.
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it may be best to run a ram test; i use memtest86+ from  https://www.memtest.org/ 
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The ticks are certainly not beep codes, the sound is very soft. When the computer eventually starts successfully, there's also one tick, immediately upon pressing power button, but then it goes ahead and in 2-3 seconds beeps when the post is complete. When it does not, this soft tick is ticking every second, but there's no post. So it looks like it's trying over and over again and can't get through.
I understand that this problem is probably impossible to solve "theoretically" - I thought perhaps someone already saw something like this. Since all the hardware is absolutely the same when it eventually works, I'd think that this is related to Windows 10 interfering with the BIOS, trying to make it boot faster, and something fails; but when the hardware changes significantly, by halving the memory, it does not try that.
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See if you can identify the source of the ticks, whether it is coming from the Power Supply, or there is a protective relay that does not kick in.
When you hit the button, windows 10 is no where in the picture.
Consider it this way, you get in the car, and the car does not start. you open the hood, and look around like we all do, you go back and the car starts.
now you drive to your destination and hit road work related reroute.
Now you run into this day after day. Then one morning, the car starts without an issue, and there is no road work related reroute.

Though check power states in the BIOS settings.
This is what I am missing from your situation. Does this happen when you flip the power switch on the PS for a hard power off? versus in windows hitting shutdown and then flipping the switch.

Try the other , disconnect the HDD/CD/DVD and see what the system does.
Ticks could be power being provided but something is not letting the process advance.
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> When you hit the button, windows 10 is no where in the picture.
I sure understand that, however I imagine that Windows 10 might have put BIOS in some special mode, and that mode is causing the trouble. Likewise, before Windows 10 the only way to enter BIOS was by pressing certain key on the keyboard during powering on. But now Windows can restart computer into BIOS, without you pressing anything. So it apparently does have a say in the process. Besides, there are now those accelerated boot modes, where you won't even manage to press the button if you try to, and initiating BIOS entry from Windows is the only way.

>Does this happen when you flip the power switch on the PS for a hard power off? versus in windows hitting shutdown and then flipping the switch.
Yes, exactly. If I perform shutdown and then press the power button, the computer starts OK. If I perform shutdown, turn off the switch on the power supply, turn it back on, and press power button, then this problem happens.

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Vadim, what about my suggestions?
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Guys, I appreciate all the answers and suggestions, but like I said, I hoped that perhaps someone already saw something like this problem and knew the definite reason. There's no real urgent need to troubleshoot this issue, since (1) it happens only when I power off the PSU, which is probably once in several months if not years; and (2) I know what to do when this happens. Since between these power off's / problems it all works like a clockwork for months, and when it does happen, it's with only one very narrow scenario, I think it's pretty safe to assume that there's no problem with any particular component, and it's only about some very special combination of conditions.- I was only wondering what it was.
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it is quite unlikely this is windows related since the bios would perform a regular short post before running anything wondows related. you can boot repetitively a live cd or just the bare machine woth no disk just to make sure. the windows optinisation are mainly about hibernation disguised as boot.

sorry we never encountered the exact same issue. at least you have means to debug whenever you feel like it
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>>  when I power off the PSU, which is probably once in several months if not years    << that points to a ps problem - just like i suggested
test with another one plse - don't let problems grow on you - till you have so many you can't resolve them anymore
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There is no such as things as the same problem, as you would have to much a system for system.
The suggestions is when a situation of this nature occurs what and how to determine the underlying cause. At least I find that it requires to identify the problem before a solution can be made.
I.e. you could guestimate what the cause might be. In your foray into troubleshooting, you pulled/reseated the memory. the step is to presume the memory is bad, and replace it. if the issue remains, you know the memory is new, so that is not the issue. replace power supply. Issue gone? yes, good. no, something else is at issue now is it the MotherBoard? .......
The trade off is time or expense.
Robert RComputer Service Technician
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If it is a powersupply issue, you may be waiting for the powersupply to fully fail before you replace it. I guess if you are fine with the performance and don't mind reseating the memory when ever you have to do a full power shut down, then I guess we will leave that up to you. But I do think it is a hardware issue as others do in this thread, and if it is running flakey, it is just a matter of time when reseating the memory is not going to resolve the issue as some thing will totally fail and you will then have to go through the routine of replacing each component with a known good component, until you find out which item is at fault and the system boots up properly. 
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i don't agree with Robert.  if a PS starts to fail, how do you know it won't burn other devices??
imo you must remedy each problem wjen it arises -  and the method to do that is reasoning and ELIMINATION
i have had PS that burnt devices, and VV - so be careful
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I spent more time with it today, and in fact the variety of the ways it fails is much larger than just one scenario. I also posted this problem at Gigabyte forum, at https://forum.gigabyte.us/thread/9867/after-complete-power-cured-swapping , and here's the copy of the last post with the amazing adventures and observations.

Spent more time with it, and saw big variety of all kinds of weird behaviors, details below. Cleared CMOS, removed the battery (measured, and it's 3.2V), and this did not have any effect.
About the ticking sound. When I power it on and it's working, there's one tick, immediately upon pressing the power button. Then there's silence for 2-3 seconds, then the beep of the post, and then it boots up.
When it does not boot up, the ticking sound repeats every 2 seconds. So it appears that it can't get through some obstacle, and is trying over and over again, and the tick is the 1st step in that effort.

Now the things I saw. 

Does not boot. Removed one RAM. Still does not. Removed another. It gave the beeps as expected. Inserted one RAM into another slot. Now it booted.
Powered off PSU, powered on, pressed power button. No reaction at all, the fans are not spinning, completely dead. (I should have mentioned that when it's "ticking", the fans are spinning). Powered PSU off, waited a minute, powered on, pressed power button, now it works.

It starts Windows. Shut down, and insert PCI card. Power on. Ticking, and no post.

Move PCI card to another slot. Now it boots. Suspend (not shutdown), move PCI card to the first slot where it just did not work. Resume. It works.

Yet another: at some point there was the beep of the post, and it gave out some video signal, so the monitor turned on although it was still black. But then the system did not start. In about 10 seconds the board shut down, restarted in several seconds, and tried again. It did it then about 5 times, then I turned it off. In fact, this already happened once before, as I recall, and back then after 3-4 self-restarts it did get through and started.

So it looks like it's not some particular isolated defect in isolated place, but rather, either the board can't handle powering off, until there's some change in the hardware configuration, or it learned to play hide and seek with me.

Maybe it's the power supply?

I should mention that when it starts, there's absolutely no problem, everything is working, no crashes, and it works for weeks and months - with no shutdowns, only suspends/sleeps.
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What is the power rating on the power supply. A tick sounds like a relay click, that does not close the circuit to power up the rest of the power supply.
Ticking sounds often originate when there is not enough power applied across a fan to turn it.

A power supply is likely lower cost investment.

Do you have/use modular power supply which are somewhat more expensive?
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i suggested it could be PS - bad voltage
how many ram sticks? and are they the same?  if not, that can also cause weird problems
did you run a memtest? as suggested?
also - in such case - remove/disconnect all devices not needed for booting- to eliminate possible influences

in your case - don't look further for the "golden" tip- but proceed by eleiminating things, and devices, and test ram

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still leaning towards faulty ram initialisation, or maybe the psu that has a hard time handling the initial power surge. more things start at the same time when you shut it down entirely.

but other things come to mind such as faulty bios tables that get properly repopulated when you move a ram stick, since that would trigger a redetection of plugged hardware.

can you try without a hard drive plugged in ?
remove as many useless devices as you can and try repetitively just to see if  you reach post properly.

can you confirm that moving the ram sticks is the only thing that worked ? does trying multiple times end up working ? do moving other thing such as the hard drive do the same ?
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you can use my article as a guide 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)
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> can you confirm that moving the ram sticks is the only thing that worked ?

No, if you read the big description - there are at least 3 ways it fails: (1) fans spinning, ticking, no progress; (2) nothing happening at all in response to pressing power button; (3) post succeeding, but failing further, self-restarting over and over. #2 seems to be cured by waiting 2-3 minutes. And at least once #1 was cured by moving PCI card to another slot, although before and after the same card worked OK in the same slot.

And yes, I already tried it with absolutely everything disconnected, except M.2 storage. Like I said, there's no single culprit component..


Memtest - will try next time it happens. Right now it's up again, and I'm reluctant to go through all this. I ordered another power supply, so I will run memtest no later than it arrives.

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M2 storage, or whatever disk drive is the one thing I am expecting you to remove in order to rule out PSU issues during the initial power surge.

sorry i missed the part where moving PCI slots also got it to work.
it is still unclear to me whether retrying a number of time solves the issue at some point or not.

have you tried disabling the quick POST setting in the BIOS ? the quick post bypasses some of the hardware detection and will easily get confused by corrupted tables or faulty rom. moving hardware around forces parts of the normal post to be performed and also performs some sanity detection which allows the board to cope with some hardware issues ( such as disabling a few blocks of faulty ram or a bugged feature in your disk controller ). even if it does not solve the issue, it might also display some meaningful warnings when it does boot.
Robert RComputer Service Technician
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One other thing I might suggest, is the computer plugged directly into a wall outlet, or a power bar? If it is a power bar, does the power bar have surge protection? If you dont know if it has serge protection, and it looks like a cheap power bar than I doubt it has serge protection.  

Although the issue is more a more leaning toward either the power supply or the motherboard, I would not rule out a bad power bar or a faulty serge protector, if you are using one.  This is easy to eliminate as far as your testing goes, if the computer works well with out powerbar, it could be a bad power bar.... If you are using a power bar with out serge protection, you definitely should invest in a one that has serge protection. As the power bar with serge protection will protect your computer investment.  When a computer does experience a power serge, the power supply takes the brunt of the power serge or the damage, but the motherboard can also be affected by the power serge as well. If you dont use a power bar or a serge protector, you should invest in one. The only thing that should not be plugged into a serge protector is a laser printer, at least thats what we used to tell our clients when I worked for Dell hardware support.
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we can discuss it till eternity -  he has to test it
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nobus - today I finally ran memtest, after computer had been working nonstop for these 2 weeks. No errors.
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can you remove fast boot ?
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No fast boot.

Today I power it off, then powered back on, getting mentally ready for the new round of adventures, but everything worked.
Then I replaced PSU for the new one. With the new one it powered on without a problem.
In both cases I did not push my luck by trying it several times. So maybe it's gone forever, or maybe not.
So far, so good.
The reason I posted this question was mostly to find out if anybody ever saw something similar, i.e. to find out if this strange problem is unique or perhaps well known.

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not specifically like that. But the troubleshooting is applicable to determine where the issue might lie.
If you had another system, a swap of power supplies to see whether the issue follows the power supply would conffrm.... the issue. if not, further hunting is needed.
Robert RComputer Service Technician
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Yeah, I really think it may be a flakey powersupply one ready to die soon. Many of us have suggested a bad powersupply, including me. But I also mentioned that if you have the computer plugged into a bad power bar, or one that does not have surge protection this can cause issues as well. Do you have your computer plugged into a power bar with surge protection? If not you should.   If it is connected to power bar and you are still having issues I would bypass the surge protecting power bar to see if it resolves the issue. If it works by bypassing the power bar then you know that the power bar is defective. 
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it still can be the mobo, supplying a voltage  that's on edge of failing
is there no setting in the bios that shows the voltages? it may help in troubleshooting.
and i would continue the search, because i have never seen a problem vanishing ( unless it was software) without coming back to bite you -  and these problems tend to get worse
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The reason I posted this question was mostly to find out if anybody ever saw something similar, i.e. to find out if this strange problem is unique or perhaps well known. 

can't tell something usual but i have seen similar but not identical issues a number of times and learnt to consider them as pre-fail conditions on laptops as they would usually die shortly after. don't ask why. on the other hand, i have seen desktops working like this for years.

i still possess one that has not managed a cold boot in about 15 years but still gets through if i wait for a few seconds and reset it a couple of times. it is mostly unused, though. in this specific case, i know for a fact the issue is with either the mother board or the CPU as i had enough spare parts to change everything else.

i have seen a similar issue arise on a desktop after adding a bunch of disks. in that case, the issue was with the power unit. symptoms where slightly different : the destop would simply reboot after about a second and completely power off after a variable amount of time. maybe that is what actually happens when you hear a clicking sound...

i'm pretty sure most of us have a couple similar but not identical experience.
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With this motherboard, yet another little mystery was in it occasionally giving long and very elaborate series of beeps when it apparently did not like something - and that something was somewhere between the video card and RAM. 8 short ones, then 1 long, then 2 more short. Almost like a song. The search on Gigabyte forums plus contacting Gigabyte itself in order to find out their meaning, brought zero results.
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ok - but it also means there is something going on with that board
i would install the latest bios and drivers and see if it cures one or more problems
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Sure it does have the latest bios. I even re-flashed it, just in case some bit accidentally changed from 0 to 1 :-)
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i suppose latest drivers also installed?
and you tried changing settings in bios - just for testing if it helps ?
 it looks like a board problem, so there may be no solution, except swapping it  here 100$:
https://www.ebay.com/p/216102302 
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>>  A failing board manifest during normal operation  <<  i do not agree; lots of boards work fine, until you start a specific software, that uses devices, softwares that weren't used before
but ├╣easuring the voltages ( or checking them in the bios) is always a good idea
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does your motherboard use shared ram for the video card ? it would seem likely the graphic chip fails to initialise, possibly because of intermittent faulty ram or just becausd the allocated range probably changes at random
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no disagreement on the checking voltages, the issue is that the system does not power up when the voltage or more likely current (Amp) issue might be in play. I.e. the PS does not generate enough current to power up the electronics.
I often associate a clicking sound where the fan is the only moving part with either the fan not having enough going through its circuit to turn, (ref. ticking when trying to start a car with a dead battery) or a relay that does not actuate fully.
I had an issue with a power supply that within the BIOS voltages were within range while the 3.3 VOlt was flactuating not in tenths but in multiple tenths of a volt when observed for 5 minutes.
The system will function, and at different intervals, it would reset. rebooting, ..
drops in voltage across memory triggers a kernel/OS panic. replaced PS, issue went away.
Will see if the replacement of the PS in this case will achieve the same result.
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But I wonder, how moving one RAM stick to another slot, or back, or inserting or removing PCI card would result in the PS being able or not to power up the electronics? PS is not aware of any of that.
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IT likely had nothing to do with the RAM, but while you were tinkering within, other things were going on.
This is why asked whether you would try to turn the switch on the power supply and let it sit.

The power supply has a load that it sees, the better one have short protection, and the like.
When the power supply is turned on, it commonly biases the 5v for USB depending on the motherboard.
Identifying the source of the clicks ..

Has the issue you experienced with the OLD PS manifest with the new?
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you never checked the voltages?
Robert RComputer Service Technician
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we also dont know how the system is plugged in.... directly to power outlet or via power bar, it could be a bad power bar giving intermittent issues.  I have asked that several times but I have not gotten any response. is it working fine with the new power supply?
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> it could be a bad power bar giving intermittent issues.

I would be highly unusual if intermittent issues were happening exactly the second I press the power button after having unplugged the computer, and never ever for months when this computer is working without being shut down, like a clockwork. Yes, it's plugged directly into the wall outlet.

Now, after I already did it about 5 times with the new power supply, and nothing bad happened - it looks like it was power supply indeed.
Robert RComputer Service Technician
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Commented:
Now that you resolved the issue and found that it was a power supply you can go ahead and close this question and award points to all the people who have helped resolved this issue. There were a few people including myself who has suggested that you replace the power supply. To protect your power supply investment I would make sure you buy a power bar with surge protection.   when power surges occur they dont always totally fry the power supply, but it weakens the circuitry. Making trouble shooting difficult, until the power supply fully fails it is often difficult to know where the problem is, as in your case.  The investment in a surge protector may seem like a waste of money but it is designed to take the brunt of the power surge, and may often kill the switch to protect the computer, then all you need to do is reset or turn the switch on the power bar fully, then turn it back on again. You can tell I am very adamant about power surge protectors. But working in the computer industry for over 15 years people who use surge protection have less powersupply and motherboard failure issues when their system is plugged into a powerbar with surge protection.  I would use a surge protector in any electronic device that is left plugged in continuously, such as your computer, monitor, tv, dvd player, Roku box, microwave, etc.  
Seth SimmonsLead Systems Administrator
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No comment has been added to this question in more than 21 days, so it is now classified as abandoned.

I have recommended this question be closed as follows:

Split:
-- arnold (https:#a43131845)
-- arnold (https:#a43121911)
-- Robert R (https:#a43121629)
-- arnold (https:#a43121659)


If you feel this question should be closed differently, post an objection and the moderators will review all objections and close it as they feel fit. If no one objects, this question will be closed automatically the way described above.

seth2740
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i know the question is closed but in case you are interested

But I wonder, how moving one RAM stick to another slot, or back, or inserting or removing PCI card would result in the PS being able or not to power up the electronics? PS is not aware of any of that.

the power supply is powered on by the mother board by connecting the green cable that is in the middle of the biggest plug on the motherboard and the ground.

whenever the motherboard stops shortening the green and the ground, the power supply stops. the power supply has no concept of reset. it just stops and starts. the rest is all in the motherboard's logic.

when initialising anything fails during the very early POST steps, the motherboard simply powers off the ups, or sometimes power cycles it. that depends on the motherboard.

when initialising fails at any later steps but before the screen can display anything, you end up with beep codes.


... so basically, it is not really about the UPS doing anything by itself. the motherboard likely failed to initialise either the cpu, or the gpu due to the inability of the ups to cope with the power surge, and acted accordingly.

a failing ups will cope or not cope quite randomly based on the temperature and other environmental factors such as previous usage ; likewise the motherboard starts many things in parallel which tend to take various amounts of time to startup hence the random-like behavior.

most likely exchanging ram sticks had no incidence other than stopping the ups for a little while and letting various components ( but maybe not all ) cool down.
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