Desktop won't start at all, some advice needed.

By foycur · 28 replies
Nov 11, 2005
  1. I am trying to make a diagnosis on my system through speaking to my wife, so I will do my best to explain my dilemma

    My system is home built and has a Thermaltake Silent Purepower W0014RU ATX 480W Power Supply. Over the past several weeks, my computer would perform some spontaneous reboots in the middle of playing games (low res, low stress kids games that my son likes) and having other random programs open. I noticed that Madden 2005 wasn't as smooth as it had been, and sometimes the computer just ran slow (I have run diskeeper on it and it's not fragged).

    I made sure the drivers were updated for BIOS, graphics card, etc. I made sure that the chip wasn't overheating. It would hit about 50 C max during high intensity games like HL2 and Doom 3, warm but certainly not in the category of overheating. I have fans up the ***** in it, including a PC card with two fans that sits below My ATI Radeon 9800 Pro. My rig sounds like a helicopter taking off. The Mobo is a P4C800 Deluxe from ASUS, and the CPU is a P4 2.8 GZ with the heatsink and thermal tape that came stock with it. I'm not doing any fancy overclocking or anything with it, but one day when the computer booted I got an 'overclocking failed!' message during POST although I never messed with the settings in BIOS.

    So, I think it could be several things, and need some advice on how to narrow down the suspects. How can I tell if it's the PSU vs. CPU vs. something else? A colleague of mine suggested that I take the PSU out of the system, plug it in and try turning it on. If it doesn't run, it's obviously the PSU and Newegg will get it back. Is there a chance that it would run by itself but not connected to the rig? If that does happen, does that mean that there's something wrong with the mobo or the cpu? Perhaps my wife will let me trash this one and I can build my new Athlon dream system.

    You guys kick *****.
  2. Sharam

    Sharam TS Rookie Posts: 509

    Good choice of components including the power supply but it only gives you 18A on the 12V rail.

    Allow 1A for each HDD, 0.25A for each fan. 1.5 to 2.5 for optical drives, not sure how much your P4 draws. But it could be possible that the 12V rail on your power supply is running at max.

    I had a similar case with an ASUS A7N8X-E Deluxe, Barton 2500+ and your exact video card experiencing the same problem, it was the 9800Pro.

    Do you have the VPU recover enabled? Or the temperature monitor or system doctor that came with your 9800Pro (it is called doctor something or something doctor?!), in our case, the readings were not consistent and gave false alarm resulting in re boots and all.

    A message was displayed on the screen for a fraction of a second and then re boot or back to the desktop before we could read the fault. Disabling the "doctor monitor thingy" (sorry can not recall the name) took care of the problem. We did increase the threshold as well since we were sure the readings were not accurate.

    What version of Catalyst are you running? If you have that monitor program, un-install it. I have to call my friend and ask how we ended up solving the problem.

    Meanwhile, try unplugging your optical drives and a few of your fans just to see if the problem persists, if so, then you can be sure the power supply is good for your configuration but as good a power supply you have, I'd look for something with 20+A on the 12V rail considering your configuration.

    You perform the power supply test in case your system fails to boot which is not your case, and all you need to do is remove the ATX 20/ 24 pin connector, and all other connectors disconnected from your components, then locate the green wire on the connector and connect it to any one of the black wires using whatever you can come up with, plug the power supply in and flip the switch. This just proves the power supply powers up, you should be more concerned if you have enough juice on the 12V rail.

    I'll get back to you after I talk to my friend.
  3. Sharam

    Sharam TS Rookie Posts: 509

    WOW, last time I post this late at night :blush:

    Just read your subject line, so your system just will not power up.

    I get that message on my ASUS board as well even though this system is not over clocked! Apparently what ever that causes the re-boots triggers the wrong “echo” command or they don’t have enough in their “library” so defaults to that error message, all I do is enter the CMOS setup utility (BIOS) and hit F10 without any changes.

    On this system (ASUS board) either the connector or the plug on the motherboard or the power supply is loose, I was pulling gently on one of the wires and the system re booted, sometimes when I press the power switch nothing would happen till I just touch or wiggle the connector a bit. It hasn’t happened enough times for me to go in and find out if it is the plug or the connector.

    In your case I would look for shorts, are your 5.25” drive bays above your motherboard? If not, do any of your optical drives come too close for comfort to the motherboard almost touching one of the components? What about the PCI slots, the cards or the fans, do you use the USB card that ASUS includes with the motherboard which is built up side down in my opinion? does anything look like they are touching, even the brackets at the back too close to the motherboard, is your motherboard to close to the back of the case? Your I/O shield, is it sitting tight against the back pannel connectors.

    Once you are back at home, disassemble and re build the system, I hope if it was a short it didn’t end up killing or “hurting” one of your components.

    I like to be sure so if I were you, I would take the board out of the case, after disconnecting everything, place it on the box that it came in, and try booting with only the processor; heat sink and fan included of course, the memory and the vid card with only the power switch connected . If it still refuses to go through the POST, remove the power switch from the front panel connectors and short the 2 pins labled power switch on the mother board with a flat head screw driver just in case the switch is bad.

    I would check the plug for your 9800Pro and the hard drive for loose terminals, while at it check all of them, if you have SATA check its connectors as well, they don't really have a locking mechanism.

    It has been a long day, so I have to check this when I'm fresh and awake tomorrow.

    Let us know
  4. foycur

    foycur TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 114


    Thanks a bunch for all this advice. You are da man. Just FYI, I am running the omega drivers for the 9800 pro and they're updated, and I did change to the omega drivers about two weeks ago because I thought the little quirks I was seeing in the graphics were due to the drivers.

    I hadn't thought about the amperage on my 12 V rail. I figured a 480 W power supply from thermaltake would be adequate for the job, but maybe not. Lesson learned: just buy the biggest quality power supply you can afford, because it's not worth the potential headache. It has been running for a little less than a year without any problems, so maybe the PSU did go kaput. I haven't added any new hardware to the system, except for two new Kingston 512 mb ddr memory sticks about two months ago. I haven't run memtest on them, so I'll have to check that out too.

    I like the idea of just taking everything apart, rechecking connectors, and trying to boot it back up. I'll have to be sure I dont' have any extra motherboard mounts on my case that don't line up, maybe they're causing a short somewhere. When my wife told me it wasn't even making an effort, I just assumed it was the power supply gone bad. Good thing I bought it from newegg.

    I think my next system will be an A8N-SLI deluxe mobo with an AMD 64 processor with some NVIDIA action. I just have to learn what all the new vid cards are now.

    One other quick thing: I see people reporting minidumps on here and they seem quite useful. Where do i look for those?
  5. foycur

    foycur TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 114


    I grabbed a PSU from work (a generic 200 W dell) and tried plugging that into the motherboard. It powered up all nice! So, the power supply goes back. the Amperage on the 12 V rail is 18 Amps too. I was afraid to try using my voltmeter to check the bad PSU for fear of electrocuting myself. Thanks for all the suggestions, they taught me a lot.

    One final question: any good repair/troubleshooting books out there worth owning?
  6. Sharam

    Sharam TS Rookie Posts: 509

    That is good news.

    I don't know of any good books, but you have the Internet, there are some good guides here as well as other Forums in addition to all the articles out there.

    I have an "e-book" you might be interested in, it is about 6MB, would make a good attachment, if so, PM me.

    I try to approach things with common sense and logic, experience comes in handy especially when you can see the problem.

    As soon as I read “Dell power supply” I thought … NO ….
    Heard horror stories but never experienced one myself. Something about non standard pinout on some motherboards and power supplies. Like I said, I have yet to see one.

    Let us know what power supply you get.
  7. foycur

    foycur TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 114

    I had no intention whatsoever of leaving a Dell power supply on my home built system, how could you think that of me?? :)

    I got an RMA from NewEgg and will just get a replacement for this power supply. The PSU has generally gotten rave reviews from its users, and I am willing to give it another shot.

    I actually found a great website after I left that message about the books that had flow charts and text on how to powershoot the computer when it won't boot. I don't have the link now, I think I just googled "psu troubleshooting" or something that effect. How I wish I bought stock when their IPO came out.

    I'll keep you posted on how the new PSU works. Thanks a bunch, again!
  8. Sharam

    Sharam TS Rookie Posts: 509

    I never thought you were going to keep the power supply and knew you were just testing but if the pinout were different (I still don't know if this is true, but read it somewhere on the WEB), your motherboard would have not liked it very much.

    I have a decent power supply, but if were to make my tower a "DVD Burner tower" with let's say 4 X DVD-RAM drives, 2 X SATA drives, 4 X case fans and the rest of the gang in the tower, my decent power supply would not be good enough for this config.

    I remember reading a NW 2.8GHz draws about 10.1A. That should mean about 120W for the processor alone. (Interestingly the NW 3.06GHz is about 9.7A) Looking for the chart I once searched days to find.
    Your Plextor needs 2A, so you have 12A just for the two which leaves you 6.
    2 hard drives and four fans take another 3A ... Should I go on?

    I am not surprised you experienced problems running games. With your configuration, at full load even the excellent power supply you bought, would start running pretty hot till it dies.

    I would look for more than 18A on the +12V and at least 25A on the +3.3V, your 9800 consumes about 16.5A off the +3.3V rail. Your 480 shows 30A on the +3.3V which is plenty and 40A on the +5V, that is enough as well (till you plug all sort of USB non-powered devices requiring 5V)

    I see 2 different power supplies, one in your sig and another in your post!

    Can you ask if they would upgrade at the same time? I don’t think they would say no to more money.

    Here is part of the chart, I found it:

    Northwood 2.0GHz 8.145A
    Northwood 2.4GHz 8.505521A
    Northwood 2.2GHz 8.53526A
    Northwood 2.6GHz 9.292188A
    Northwood 3.06GHz 9.707813A
    Northwood 2.8GHz 10.1175A
  9. foycur

    foycur TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 114

    Dude, all that electronics stuff makes my head hurt.

    I already sent it back with an RMA number, does NewEgg do stuff like upgrades? I'd gladly pay the difference if it meant getting something like a 550 V or a 600 V power supply. The more the better?

    I was thinking about my case and wondering if I really needed all those extra fans. It's not like it runs real hot or anything. It's a big case and has a nice big 120 mm fan in the back to get air out.
  10. foycur

    foycur TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 114

    This is the PSU that I have, I took the link directly from NewEgg.

    I will have to educate myself a little better on the PSU issue. When I bought this, I used a program online that calculated your PSU wattage needs and it came out to something like 330 W. I figured the 480 supply would be more than adequate, even after installing a couple of fans. I never realized that the amps make a big difference.
  11. Sharam

    Sharam TS Rookie Posts: 509

    It is today's processors that use the +12V heavily and the video cards (3.3V) as well as the motherboards with all the features and requirements.

    Your power supply would be an excellent choice for a PIII system.

    Some manufacturers started using 2 separate 12V Rails, usually one with 10A the other with 15, 16 or 18A, the ones I’ve seen at least.

    I was working on a system last night; it had a 400W power supply, CHIFTEC HPC-420-302 DF, this 400W PSU interestingly has exact same spec as your 480W. I tried looking for a better picture of your power supply to see how ThermalTake has arrived at 480W, I don’t doubt them; just want to see the diagram.

    CHIFTEC HPC-420-302 DF:
    +3.3V 30A; +5V 40A; -5V 0.3A; +12V 18A; -12V 0.8A; +5VSB 2A

    This unit can supply a maximum of 99W on the +3.3V rail and 200W on the +5V rail, However, the two rails cannot together exceed 220W of total output. The +12V rail can output 216W. Combined, the three rails can supply a maximum total of 400W.
    With the other three rails total of 21.1W, the Max Load is 420W as per the sticker.

    The above example is just in case your +3.3V is at max as well but I doubt that.

    Check the sticker on the fan, if no sticker; take 0.25A off for each fan.
    So, to gain 1A you need to disconnect 4 fans.
  12. foycur

    foycur TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 114

    So i guess i understand now when I see power supplies with dual 12V rails. Needs more juice on the rail to power the bigger mobo and video cards.

    I would be open to advice on a power supply to put into my system. with my mobo, cpu, and vid card, what would you recommend? you certainly seem to know psu's more than me at this time. I'm here to learn, so learn me.
  13. Sharam

    Sharam TS Rookie Posts: 509

    2 X 12V rails from the main.
    I now see units with 4 +12V rails.

    I don't check tomshardware that much any more but here are some recent articles.
    In the first link, I like the first PSU minus the audio thingy, or the second unit, the last one is almost like yours.
    I don't like them lowering the +5V output from 40A to 30A on some models.
    Power Supplies Get Smarter

    Live Stress Test - Power Supplies Under Full Load

    I recently bought this for a friend Antec TRUE550

    I don't have a favourite PSU, as long as the unit does what I need it to do for the job, I'll buy it. but I do like the ones with detachable cables
  14. foycur

    foycur TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 114

  15. Sharam

    Sharam TS Rookie Posts: 509

    That is a nice PSU, the one I got my friend has only one +12V rail at 30A, the one you are showing is better.

    You get a 2A increase on the +3.3V, -12V to 1A is good as well, the +5V is at 40A then you get 38A total on the +12V.

    If you happen to get this and find out it is not what you want or it didn’t solve your problem, I'll buy it from you any where you are :) Even the 380W model would run your system, but if you can, get the 550W
  16. foycur

    foycur TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 114

    I found out that newegg will take an rma item, charge a 15% restocking fee, and then refund you. I think I will do that and pick up that power supply.

    The only thing that I am wondering about is what exactly is a 'dual rail'? My motherboard has a 20 pin connector and a 4 pin connector. Are there some other connectors that I need to be aware of, or will this work with my p4c800 deluxe? i'm assuming that it will....
  17. Sharam

    Sharam TS Rookie Posts: 509

    The 20 pin connector you are talking about carries wires with different voltages, some of which your motherboard regulates. Out of these 20 wires, 3 are +3.3V, 4 are +5V, one +5VSB, one -12V, and only one +12V ***these numbers have nothing to do with number of rails*** your 4pin 12V is just a direct source of +12V for later AMD and Intel processors.

    All components that require +12V, receive the +12V from the same “output source” as in the case with your old power supply.

    Let’s say you plug your fridge, microwave, toaster and the coffee maker to the same receptacle in the kitchen, then you go to plug in your electric stove to the same receptacle and you blow a fuse. Assuming the kitchen receptacles including light fixtures are all connected to the same output from your electrical box in the basement, you now need to use an extension cord and get power from your living room receptacle; you most probably can plug your stove as well as your TV, stereo and the DVD player to the second output.

    You now have 2 separate sources for your 110V needs.

    Dual +12V rail just means the power supply has two separate dedicated +12V outputs internally and I was wondering if the wires coming out of the power supply are marked with +12V1 and +12V2, like two separate bundles of wires and connectors. So you could balance the load. I’ve only seen them on-line so I don’t know, just thinking out loud! May be the PSU handles it automatically!

    The PSU you are going to get, has 2 X +12V outputs +12V1 at 19A and +12V2 at 19A. (12V X 19A = 228W max each but perhaps not 456W combined, you have to look at the sticker). That is 38A which is sweet.

    It comes down to this, if you were to plug all your 12V to +12V1 rail at 19A (of course if they are distinguished you would obviously not do this), you are basically back to square one but you have 19A instead of 18A
  18. foycur

    foycur TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 114

    So if I'm understanding you correctly, it's almost like adding another power receptacle to the wall in the kitchen. You're not putting all the 12V juice through one rail, it gets split within the PSU. It's got nothing to do with the number of connectors. Those should be the same. I think I get it.

    If I did the wiring in my house, I'd look like this! :hotbounce

    Thanks, man. I appreciate all the help. I will let you know once I get this baby put in how things are running.

  19. blue_dragon

    blue_dragon TS Rookie Posts: 190

    ive skipped ahead of all the reading bu i personally dont recommend a thermaltake psu
  20. Sharam

    Sharam TS Rookie Posts: 509

    Yes, no change in the connectors.

    I think one rail is dedicated to the motherboard, you can tell us when you set yours up.


    I believe he is getting an ANTEC!
  21. foycur

    foycur TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 114


    Things didn't quite go exactly as planned, but in the end have turned out very well. Newegg wouldn't let me trade up, just replaced the thermaltake psu. I happened to be out shopping on 'black friday' today here and wandered into circuit city. They had, sitting right there in front of me, an Antec 480W TruePower 2.0 power supply, with a 50$ rebate! It ended up costing me 50 bucks, I just installed it, and the computer booted up quicker than it ever did with the Thermaltake!! I could not BELIEVE (yes, I'm shouting because I'm p.o.ed that I didn't buy an Antec sooner) how much faster it booted up. I also picked up an IDE ATA 250 GB hard drive for sixty bucks. I'm going to give Madden '05 a run now and see how things are looking. The fan runs a lot quieter too, I guess because it's larger. Yay!! :bounce:

    Thanks so much for sticking it out with me and taking the time to explain stuff. Now I truly understand the importance of an underpowered system. Now, got any suggestions for a good external hard drive to back up stuff?? :D
  22. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,666

    Now you need to change your sig and specs again for the new PS, lol.

    Sharam, I now consider you the go-to guy for PS questions, lol. Good reading here, don't have anything to comment on though.

    *thinks to himself, I'm going to go count up my own parts and PS specs...*
  23. foycur

    foycur TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 114



    how do you read minidumps? I installed my PSU, and everything has gone well. However, my system started to spont. reboot again. I sent a couple of minidumps on a thread and someone gave me an idea that its either my video memory or my system memory. How do you tell??
  24. Sharam

    Sharam TS Rookie Posts: 509

    I have never used minidumps, someone else should help you with that! It is just that I have never needed to look for one up to this day. Found lot of info on them just using Google.

    Good turn around on the power supply.

    Re boots could point to faulty RAM, just check any memtest. At the same time try under clocking your processor (if it is set to 200MHz lower to 133MHz or even 100MHz just to see how things run making sure your RAM follows your FSB).

    Is the BIOS on your 9800 the original? Are you using RAM sink or have you done any modifications?

    Can you give me your 9800's part number from the PCB if possible?

    Since you haven't replied, should I assume you have already fixed this? I hope so :)
  25. foycur

    foycur TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 114

    What I did was take the two older RAM sticks out and have left them out. I was just talking to a friend of mine today at the gym who suggested putting the RAM sticks back in and underclock it, the same as you have suggested. I think the P4C800 Deluxe can handle a 400 MHZ FSB for memory, but maybe it drops a bit when all four DIMM slots are occupied. Since those RAM sticks have been taken out (and uninstalling ZoneAlarm Pro), the errors and problems seem to have stopped. I just was playing Far Cry at 1024x768 with the graphics ramped up and it didn't hiccup even once. Madden 05 plays without any lag. I think that when I have some time I'll pull out the tower and put them back in while lowering the RAM bus a notch or two on the BIOS. My BIOS is updated, as well as the Catalyst drivers.

    My monitor is ancient (it's an old MAG CRT monitor, I have delayed getting an LCD monitor due to ghosting issues that I know once existed and due to the fact that my three year old would probably push it over). Can a monitor affect the quality of the card?
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