Computer stopped working, need help figuring out what happened and what to replace

By Diremon ยท 13 replies
Jun 23, 2010
  1. Um, first, specs, I guess:
    NVIDIA Vanta/Vanta LT
    Antec SL300S 300-Watt Power Supply (I think)
    Case looks like this:
    Samsung SP09802N, 80GB.

    No clue about the rest, instruct me on finding out?

    Ok, so here's what happened:
    It was running fine, and then it shut off. Descriptive, I know.

    The first time it crashed was on Saturday after a Realtor came in and had a look around the house. I was on it for a couple hours, and then I shut it off for dinner. I went back on, and I think about 10 minutes later, it shut down. (By shut down, I mean sudden, no warning. Power outage kind of thing.) I think I waited a while, and then I tried it again, and it worked for the rest of the night. The next day, and after that, it got worse, lasting anywhere between 2 seconds (lol, died half-way through the start-up beep) and I guess 3 hours. Now, today, the longest it would run is about 30 seconds.

    I have no idea why it's doing this. Help with diagnosing the problem is greatly needed.

    For a little background information: This is not the first time it has randomly shut down like this. Before, at night, I would shut off the power bar for the computer because all the little lights irritate me. (I love total darkness when I'm sleeping.) The next morning, it would run for a little while and then shut off, unless I waited after turning on the power supply again. I have since stopped doing this, so, unless it's coming back to haunt me, I don't think it's the problem, even though the symptom is the same.
    Actually, the last time I ever did that was not-so-recently now (about a couple of weeks ago), and when I turned it on, it, very nearly literally, exploded. The first morning, I heard cracks and snaps, and I figured they were coming from somewhere else (no hearing aids on in the morning), and they stopped and it ran fine. The next morning, I had my hearing aids on this time, and I realized that the noise was indeed coming from my computer. I peeked inside it (I leave the one side off because the fan gets too noisy with it on) just in time to see a horrific flash accompanied by an especially loud crack. I can't remember exactly what I did (I was too startled to remember) but I think I switched off the power bar to turn my computer off (it stopped loading, but was still running), turned the bar back on, but didn't touch my computer for a couple hours. o.o In case you're wondering, the flash came from somewhere in the top right corner of the inside of my computer, which I now realize is where the plug connecting the motherboard and the power supply is. (I have since had a peek at this, and it seems completely undamaged.

    Another possibility why this is happening (the other one being something is shot) is a virus. Well, I honestly don't know. Do viruses randomly shut off your computer? I do admit I probably could use an upgrade in terms of anti-virus, I currently only have/had the free Avira.

    My brother suspected over-heating, but it crashed after 2 seconds this morning, after it had been off all night, and nothing ever felt hot in there before, and I leave the side off.

    Um..... that's all the relevant incidents/information that I can think of. I'll gladly try and get you more information, since I realize this probably isn't enough, especially in terms of the specs. Just realize that if it requires running the computer, I'll be lucky to get 5 minutes out of it. If I had to guess, I'd say something is up with the motherboard or the power supply.

    So.... I realize that fixing this probably means replacing some parts, something I was planning on doing soon anyway. If anyone wants to suggest products, I need the input. I for sure want to replace the case. My current one will have the fan going nuts within 5 minutes of running, so I have to leave the casing off. Um, does the CD drive come/go with the case? And anyone laughing at that video card I have, I'm getting that replaced for sure, I think I already have a replacement, though. (My brother's, after he gets an even better one. His has HD, definitely a step-up - nay, a giant leap up - from mine.) Also, I might replace the motherboard or power supply, or both, so I need suggestions there. I have 1G of RAM and no idea if this is good or bad, and I very sincerely hope I don't need to replace my hard drive. Um..... that's all I can think of, but I'm probably missing something.

    tl;dr? My computer is shutting off randomly, it might be the power supply or motherboard, and I'm looking to upgrade.
  2. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    AT this point, it could be anything... and you have not yet told us the brand, model, and configuration so it is difficult to guess as possibilities. Need hard drive brand and age, etc. as well.
    Is your 1 GB of RAM in one module or two... if two, remove one to test, then change, and remove the other module and test.
    Why did you suspect the video card?
  3. Diremon

    Diremon TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Brand, model, and configuration? Of what? I'm sorry, as far as I know, the motherboard has something to do with Asus, that's what is printed on part of it. I'll try and look at the hard drive, too. But I don't know how old any of this is, I bought the computer a year ago or something from my friends, and I don't know how long they've had it for.

    My RAM is in 2 modules. Are you talking about the memtest? Because I've done that before, and it was fine. And I didn't suspect my video card, I just mentioned that I had other, unrelated problems with it. (Sorry if that wasn't clear.)
    And I found a random pic of my motherboard. Probably doesn't help, though.
  4. Ritwik7

    Ritwik7 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,672   +9

    Random shut-downs may be a result of faulty PSU, overheating of components or even damaged motherboard or other components.

    Replacing the motherboard battery may, on occasions, help.
  5. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    We are not getting into heavy duty stuff yet...
    But you have a home built computer with an very good ASUS board that worked well for year and is about two years old... perhaps a tad more... appears to have a good CPU coolere.
    So it is time for a few things to give you trouble... I would start with the video card, based on age... so if you have not replaced it, that is probably a good step to take... based on your notes.

    Later you can consider doubling the memory
  6. Diremon

    Diremon TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Oh, if you know it's a very good ASUS board, does that mean you know what it is? :D
    And I just discovered what kind of power supply I have. I saw an Antec logo, and "Model: SL300S" and I think it's this one:
    Antec SL300S 300-Watt Power Supply

    Um.... still looking at the hard drive.

    And I'll see if I can borrow my brother's vid card to see if that makes a difference.
  7. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Well, it is not great by today's standards, but I don't see any cheap or troublesome components. the board is good. I was mainly looking for defective stuff.

    The Antec is good, but underpowered if you run a high end video graphics card. Once you get it running, I would get a power supply that matches the video graphics card... 500 watts or higher... remember that a quality power supply is much more important than a high powered one, and there is ample information you can find with a gurgle search.
  8. Diremon

    Diremon TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok, some more information:
    My case looks VERY much like this, except the side panel doesn't have the vent holes.
    And I saw "2004" stamped on it. x.x

    My hard drive is Samsung SP0802N with 80GB.

    And my brother's video card that he's replacing is "ATI Radeon 9550/x1050"

    EDIT: And I just realized that "Socket 754" on my motherboard actually means something. xD *looking up MBs*
    That's it!
  9. Diremon

    Diremon TS Rookie Topic Starter

    And now, most miraculously, I am posting from my broken computer, wondering how long it will last. Anyways, I tried testing the two pieces of RAM, and the first time, it died after 2 or 3 seconds, then I tried the second one, and, well, it's still running. x.x; When it first started with the second one, it did some file verifying thingy (If I had to write down something from it, I chose "CHKDSK"), repaired, deleted, and moved a bunch of... thingies, and then restarted and.... yeah. Here we are. What does this mean?
  10. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Good work. Thanks for the update.
  11. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,967   +2,524

    Power supply issues can be intermittent such as you describe. Since the Antec in your machine is a light weight, you might consider upgrading to either of these; or

    The Corsair is the better deal ATM, if you're willing to wait for the rebate.

    The power output of a PSU decreases with age, and since you're dealing with installing video cards, a liitle more "juice" might be just the thing.
  12. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,182   +469

    So you are saying the first RAM module was bad and the second wasn't? If so, then you just replace it. RAM often has a lifetime warranty so you might be able to return it to the manufacturer using their RMA process. If you bought the RAM in a two stick set, you may have to return both sticks as a set.
  13. Diremon

    Diremon TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Did I say my computer was working? Yeah, the next morning it was totally gone. :-/ Won't do anything now when I press the power button, and nothing changed since the night I posted my last post. I tried unplugging and plugging stuff back in, and turning off the power supply on the computer for a while... totally dead. :( Thanks for the advise, captaincranky and mailpup. I'm going to take the computer to my dad's so he can have a look at it. I'm really thinking it's the power supply. x.x;
  14. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,182   +469

    Thanks for the update. You might be right. It does sound like the PSU. Let us know what you find.
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