My PC just died

By Wyr3d
Nov 26, 2009
  1. Seriously, I built this computer from scratch a few years ago. The specifications aren't the greatest, but it served it's purpose rather well. After I put it together, it ran happily without fault, and even continuously - as in 24/7 while running programs overnight.

    Recently however, it just gave up. One day, it froze. And I don't mean BSOD or the programs running stopped. I mean literally froze up. The last movements of the program running were frozen in time plastered across the monitor, even the mouse cursor was in suspended animation.

    I shrugged, and switched it off. I figured maybe it had overheated, and seized up, right? After all, the only cooling system on board is the CPU's fan. After a while, I rebooted again, and everything seemed fine.

    For about an hour, tops. Then it seized up again. Now, I'm not a novice to computers, but if you start quoting graphic card speculations and brand names, I'll stare back blankly, as these things have never interested me. Oh, and I'm a computer engineer myself, by the way. You know how it is, you spend all day fixing other people's systems, you tend to go "meh" when it comes to your own.

    Back to the problem though. I took the entire system apart, and rebuilt it, after checking each component to see if something was obviously wrong. I couldn't find anything, although I may have overlooked something I suppose.

    What I'm thinking is, it's definately a hardware issue, but which part is "playing up" I just can't figure out. Now, I could list the specifications of my system, but I really don't think that's neccessary. All I really need to know is, which part is the faulty one.

    This is what happened after I rebuilt the system. It worked again. Well, for about 12 hours. Then it froze up. And that's pretty much how it's been. I switch the system on after it's been off a good few hours, and everything boots up nicely, and works. I can run even some hefty CPU draining programs without trouble, but if I leave it running for too long, it'll seize up again.

    I figured an overheat problem, right? That was my initial guess, anyway. But I really don;t think so. So an overheat problem, the CPU has to get hot first. And, as I staterd previously, I've had it pretty hot running hefty prorgrams without a hitch.

    Then again, sometimes (more recently) when I boot the system up, it'll freeze out before it even loads Windows. No chance of the CPU overheating in the first minute of booting up, is there?

    So now what? Faulty HDD? Always a possibility, but if that were the problem, it would crash out every time, right? At the same place, usually. But that's not happening either. It just freezes up either several hours after running, or almost immidiately,

    Power? Well, if the power sorce had faults, I wouldn't get it running very long at all right? If it was intermittant at all, then it would just shut off, and reboot in any case, rather than freeze up.

    So now what? That leave the RAM, the Motherboard and the other junk. The DVD drive and what have you. But if one of those was faulty, it would be that which had the problem, and not the system in whole.

    Besides, I tried disconnecting them all, and running the system without. Same problem as before.

    RAM. Well, as I have just the one stick of 1 Gig memory, if that was the problem, it would crash every time, and not randomly, right? I mean, 1 stick? If the fault lay there, it would be more obvious.

    Motherboard? Hmm, I certainly hope not. It's the only thing I can think of that might be causing these strange freezings, but I really don't see how, or why.

    My main problem is this: I'm not working at the moment, so I can't just take my system into the shop, and work on it there. Hell, if I could do that, I would have done so, and found which was the dodgey part, and wizzed it when the problem first occured.

    Also, in that I done have a lotta cash to throw around on buying parts to replace, so if I'm to replace anything, I want it to be the right one. I don't wanna buy another HDD, only to find that the problem still exists. Same thing for the Motherboard, CPU or any other part.

    So, I'm asking here: Does anyone have a clear idea as to WTF is wrong with this system? And yeah, sure it's a few years old, but it's not that. I've built PC's that have outlasted this one, and are still performing very well.

    To summerize then: Boots up, and either works for several hours before freezing time on the system, and locking everything out; or gets as far as "loading Windows" and sometimes not even that far, before crashing out.

    What I have noticed is, sometimes when it locks up the Monitor stay on, with a stillframe on the screen. And sometimes, it fades to black, and the light goes orange. In other words, the Monitors switches off.

    I dunno if this might contribute something to the solution, but I figured I should throw it in, just to be thorough.

    Anyone? Coz seriously, it's got me stumped. I've fixed other peoples machines without much struggle before now. You know how it is, a problem is usually easily defined by it's actions. But this one? I just don't get it. It seems to change what's wrong, and I dunno why.

    And no, it's not a virus, or spyware or any of that junk. I'm not some layman. I checked for these first. Unless it's some super-virus that's passed by air, and undetectable.

    Currently running Avira, by the way. The best free Anti-virus available to date. Unless AVG topped them again. I also had Super-Anti-Spyware running for a while, just to check, but I uninstallede again after it found nothing.

    Super-Anti-Spyware is a great free software, but I don't like the delay it puts on the boot up. Um, what else? I suppose I should list the components, coz you'll prolly want to know for some obscure reason or other. Although truely, I don't see why this would matter - unless you go for "typical faults of X brand"


    CPU - 3.3 Ghz Athlon
    Motherboard - AsRock 775i65g
    HDD - Maxtor Diamondmax 20 (80 Gig)
    RAM - Elixer (1 Gig)

    GUI - Windows XP Pro Server Pack 2

    That all you need? I hope so. Yeah, okay so the Processor isn't top-notch, but like I said, it does what I needed it to do. At least, it did. The motherboard is an AsRock, yes. Despite what people say, I find no fault with AsRock. It's a good board, and has served me well for a few years at least.

    Some people have issues with it's supposed "randomly restarting when you first boot" but mine never did. At least, not til I started having this other problem. The HDD is only 80 Gig. Yes. I know. I don't exactly cram it full of junk though - I have an external HDD to store junk if I really need to, so a smaller HDD is more works fine.

    And the RAM, well you got me there. I always intended to upgrade to 2 Gig at least when I got around to it, but meh. I never got around to it.

    And finally, why XP s2, right? Well, I like s2. It runs well enough. The issues that XP had were pretty much all covered by s2, and I don't like the was s3 hates almost everything driverwise. And Vista? Don't even get me started on Vista. I run Vista on my laptop, and it bugs me no end.

    Um, that's enough ranting I think. I thank you all in advance for your time, and understanding, and all efforts made to help a guy out who just can't seems to put his finger on the problem. Why is it when it's someone else's problem it's easy to solve, but when it's your own it's like WTH? lol

    Thanks again,
  2. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    Thanks for the book of info :)

    Yes Ram and or Hard Drive can lock up after time, if they are faulty
    Think of the hardware as only having one error in one place, that when accessed will then fault
    Memory issues: Hard Drive and Ram, can also mean Video Card Memory, but it does sound like a "memory" issue ;)

    Start by running Memtest on your Ram, info here:
  3. Wyr3d

    Wyr3d TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Yeah, I figured if I listed as much information as possible, I would have to keep answering Um, okies then. I'll try the memory test on my system - if I ever get it to run again. The last few attempts it's been seizing up before even getting into Windows.

    So, so long as it's not the board, or CPU I'm happy, I guess. It's cheaper to replace a componet part than the whole system - as that's what you kinda tend to have to do if your board, or CPU goes. Finding a replacement to fit everything you got is a serious headache - especially with older stuff like mine is

    Um, does anyone have a different theory, or are we all agreed on this?
  4. Wyr3d

    Wyr3d TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Okay, so here's the trouble. I downloaded the ISO you provided, and made a bootable CD with my Laptop here. I set the speed to a relativley low one (16x) for the burning just in case, and when it was ready, stuffed it in my Tower, and fired her up.

    Now here's what's happening. If I boot my Tower PC and leave it alone, it runs fine. It's quite happy to humm away doing nothing - or perhaps just navigating files and folders. But the moment I attempt anything too hefty, it dies. The Monitor switches off, and goes orange, or just freezes up as before.

    Same thing happens when I try to run that Memory test disk. It dies. Monitor switches off, and freezes out. So, it seems, I can't run the test software, as it won't let me run much of anything anymore. As soon as the CD-Drive kicks, in the Power fan, and CPU fan speed up, and everything goes off.

    So, any other ideas? If it is the memory, I can't check it in any case. It's not the HDD drive though, is it? Coz if it was, this wouldn't stop the CD-Drive running this software.

    Argh. I'm going around in circles here. Now I'm thinking it's either the Motherboard again, the CPU or the Power. Or maybe all three? Um, help?
  5. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    With the extra information I'm now thinking Power Supply
    You will need to remove all internal cards and blow out any dust (sometimes even BenchTest the motherboard)
    Looking at your board it only as AGP, so I would be reluctant to spend too much money on this definite hardware issue)
  6. Freak

    Freak TS Rookie

    Pc freeze then dia's?

    HappY NEW year too all may it be a great one.

    Hi Wired.

    Ive had a simular problem. Only difference is that wen my pc 'Hanged' and then just went off it did not go on 4 at least 3 ours. I tried a new psu and it work as normal until my rig just froze and 'hanged' i replased my 1gig ram with a 2 gig. Resetting my overclocked settings to standard. And it hasent done it again. Untill my psu just diad again. Meaning a nother 750w psu down the drain. Yet it was a few months later that my 2nd psu diad. Got a even bigger psu and a smaaler psu for the cooling. Works like a bomb. Hope i could help.

  7. Wyr3d

    Wyr3d TS Rookie Topic Starter



    Sorry it's been a while getting back to this, but I was testing out a theory. Y'see I stripped my system down to the basic compents after it's latest crazy antics. Coz reading back through what I've written, and seeing the odd results, I got to thinking why is it that this problem seems to be migrating from part to part?

    Initially, the problem seemed to be a memory of HDD issue. But I checked into this, and the RAM is fine. That leaves only the HDD. But then, if that was the case, why didn't it crash every time?

    This really bugged me, to the point where I posted here to ask others ideas as to what was going on. In the meantime, I got to stripping down the system, and rebuilding it over.

    Still couldn't find anything, set the system up again, and everything works fine. Well, for a time at least. Plus, there's that issue with the CD Drive, remember? The drive itself is working fine, but when I tried running that program, it cacked out.

    So that would imply there's a problem with the CD Drive (not the CD itself, I checked it on my laptop) But this is unrelated to the other problems, and usually a CD Drive issue results in it not working, not a freeze of the system.

    As I said in my last post that leaves the Motherboard, the CPU or the Power. But wait, if it's either of the first two, I'm seriously screwed, as it'll be fun looking for a CPU to fit this old model, and vice versa lol

    First it seems like it's the HDD, then it's the CD Drive that freezes the system. But, at other times, the HDD has booted perfectly, with no trouble whatsoever, and the CD Drive works as well. So what's the connection?

    It has to be the Power, right? I mean. The Power sullpies to everything, so it's only really that which could alternate such an effect. So I need to replace that, well if it's that the Power is intermittant, then every time I booted, the system should have developed some problem, right?

    But that wasn't the case. Sometimes, everything went up without a hitch.

    Then it hit me: What if it's not the Power itself, but just one of the connections? Y'see my PSU has a fair number of connections to it, and as my system has the HDD, a DVD and 2 CD Writers, that's most of them used up.

    So when I stripped down my system this next time, and yet again I found it working, I left it. MY DVD, and CD Drives aren't connected. Just what I need to run the system. And ya know what? It's been running without complaint since.

    While it's true I'll have to replace the Power eventually, I'm happy that I got it working for the time being. And happy also that I finally isolated the problem. Well, I say "isolated" - I'm still not sure which connection is the dodgey one - but as least my system works again til I can replace it.

    As for the DVD and CD Drives, I don't really need them running on my Tower - I still have my Laptop after all (DVD/Blu-Ray/CD Writer woohoo lol) so it's no biggie.
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