Filthy computer stops dead

By mucklucks · 14 replies
Jul 9, 2005
  1. I haven’t had a reason to post before. I’ve just been a pleased observer, following threads and learning things thru osmosis. So, hi & hello all! You guys run a helluva site. Lotsa Big congratches.

    Okay, so here’s my problem. My sister has used her computer in her clothing manufacturer business. Her machine specs follow:

    A 'Tiger Direct' assembled Computer with:
    AMD Athlon XP, 1900+ w/ QuantiSpeed Architecture
    KT266 Chipset DDR ATX Mobo Base System w/ Audio
    256 MB PC2 100 266 MHz Non-ECC DDR Mem
    80 GB Ultra ATA 7200 Samson HD
    ATI Expert 2000 Pro 32 MB Graphics Card
    CD R/RW Drive, 24x10x40 (Max)
    DVD Rom Drive 16x (Max)
    10/100 Ethernet
    56K Modem
    OS: Windows XP Home Edition
    PS: Sparkle Power Int’l, Ltd
    Model: FSP 250-60 GTV (PF)
    Max Output 250 Watts
    No overclocking

    The computer’s been running fine for 2 years. A week ago in the middle of writing email, it went dark. It has stayed dark. Wouldn’t boot even to a glimmer.

    I went over and opened box. Oh, wow! It was _packed_ with fabric snips and fabric dust. I mean packed. I took it out by the handful. One of its small fans was lying on its back with broken blades. It looked like an archeological dig.

    I did the obvious, gave it a Class-A cleaning. I bought a replacement fan and fitted it. And I prayed. I guess I got the wrong god.

    The system is dead, dead, dead. Pure nothing happens when the power’s turned on. Nothing but the hum of the PS fan.

    Took out PS out and shorted the green and black leads, and the fan does, yeas, run. (Thank you, Eddy Ressy, for a post with that clue a couple months back.) Anyway, I now assume that the PS is okay.

    Then I yanked the hard drive and hooked it up to my computer. It seems to be fine. I copied out all the data. But of course that doesn’t tell me how much damage the machine has suffered, nor in what section.
    After the above ... I stopped dead. Because I simply don’t know enough to diagnose farther. Obviously the machine overheated badly and probable over quite a period of time. But how to diagnose the mobo or the CPU or the...? I sure don’t know.

    And so I come to ask the knowledgeable.

    I promise that any and all suggestions/help will be exuberantly appreciated.

    Happy things to all,

  2. vegasgmc

    vegasgmc TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,377

    The older Athlons ran very hot and if the HSF was clogged the processor has probably burned out. You can get a Duron for about $40.
  3. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,188   +470

    What was the fan that was bad? Was it a case fan or a component fan?
  4. JimShady23

    JimShady23 TS Maniac Posts: 373

    Start with----

    You already said that you have a PC of your own, thats a great start.

    First try the video......Slap it in your pc and see if it posts (no need to load windows just see if the initialization screen comes up then turn it off.

    Blank screen = video card bad.... Posts = good

    Memory - Same deal, same end results as the video assuming your system is a DDR board.

    If they are ok next step is to order a new CPU --- If all your sister does is data entry vegasgmc hit the nail on the head, buy a duron $42
    it will perform just fine....and not run as hot as the palmino athlon she did have. To bad this didnt happen a week earlier had them on special for $29 BUCKS !!!! I just put a system togeather for an old lady with one in it and man was I impressed... Order a new heat sink for it also as hers will probably be damaged or will burn out soon due to it being stopped by the fabric.

    I am willing to bet that you dont have to go past the CPU step since you said that the PSU powers up and runs the fans via the "Case power button" wich means that there is juice going throught the motherboard wich means thats it probably isnt bad or in the worst case is partially toasted, but I have never delt with a moptherboard that was inbetween.
    (Smell the back of the fan on the PSU and see if there is a burnt smell. If there is it means that the PSU shorted recently and my be bad but if it powers up it should be ok but will need to be replaced in the near future.

    But if you slap that new CPU in and still nothing....Replace the motherboard

    Replace the motherboard nothing happens replace the PSU...Problem solved...

    Or just take the CPU, Memory and video card into a PC repair shop and tell them you want to know if they are damaged. No trying to fix them or sell you anything else just plain ol tell you if they work....Will probably cost ya $40 but if you dont want to take the time or just are plain ol worried about putting possible damaged parts in your machine then thats the way to go.
    If you did it, it would take maybe 10 minutes to do yourself and there is a little to no chance that they will hurt your machine if they are bad they just wont work.

    Just basically process and eliminate. The steps that I have posted give you the least expensive way of checking your componants.
  5. mucklucks

    mucklucks TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Test this-&-that; buy this-&-that

    Thanks for succinct and crystal clear advice, guys. It is appreciated, you bet.

    Okay, here's what I've done:

    Took the video card from broken machine and Dropped it into my machine. A-okay.

    Did the same with the memory card. It had different contacts than mine, but it fit, so I put it in. My computer hated it. From the second I turned on the machine it bleeped insistently till I turned it off. So I don't yet know how good the memory is. (My machine is happy as hell with its own memory restored.)

    Answering Mailpup, the broken fan was a system fan, not a case fan. It sits flat on the mobo between the CPU and the memory slots. There is a plastic ventilation grid about 1-1/4" square over a chip.(?) I would have to take out the mobo to get a look at the chip. If you need me to do that, I shall. Just let me know.

    Now, back to JimShady23's next question. With the PSU running, the fan breeze is as sweet as a morn in May. Not a wisp of smoke or burning.

    As a result of the above, I ordered a Duron 1.8. (Thank you vegasgmc & JimShady.) I also ordered a heat sink and a tube of goo to seal their union. But I shall take the memory to a buddy or a friendly computer repair shop that's handy, and test it. If the memory is bad, I'll put in new memory. If all works well then, back goes the Duron on delivery. Have I got things right?

    Obviously I'll reply fast-fast to any comments, and when I get more information I'll post it so you will know how things are going.

    Hey, I really appreciate your thoughtful, finely-tuned advice, guys. I give you a deep, appreciative doff of the hat.

  6. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,188   +470

    Thanks for the additional info, mucklucks. Here is my take. Since the fan that quit working (broke) appears to be the Northbridge fan on the motherboard, I'd say that chipset burned out. If so, that would mean you need a new motherboard.
  7. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Posts: 942

    That is extremely dangerous. Never ever ever ever EVER put components into a slot they are not mean to be placed into. Both the key and the pinout must be exact matches. You could have easily ruined both your board and your RAM by doing that... consider yourself lucky this time around.
  8. mucklucks

    mucklucks TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    To Soul Harvest re sticking wrong memory in my computer

    Your danger warning couldn't be more apt. I knew I was taking a chance, but since I have an up-to-date backup, and am still running an Athlon-7 500 computer, I didn't mind being forced to make/buy a new machine. But you are still right. How much easier to organize a ashift from one machine to another reasonably than to crash your present one then have to sort thru CDs. Thank you, and - Hey, I promise not to do it again. Ever.

  9. mucklucks

    mucklucks TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    To Mailpup re probable mobo burn out

    Whoops! That does make a difference, don't it? Well, I certainly do not want to buy the Duron when it arrives if the problem might be the mobo. Of course the CPU might be bad, too; but I think I better do one thing at a time.

    There isn't a quick (or slow, for that matter) way of testing a mobo, is there? Ditto with the CPU, right? I mean a relatively simple method without speccial diagnostic instruments.

    Next question. What would you think is the smartest order for testing the two possible duds? Should I get a new motherboard first, put it in and see if the machine works? Or should I replace the CPU first and do the same?

    And yet another (and final) question. Do you know a motherboard you might suggest that is reasonably inexpensive?

    Thanks. Bad news. But thanks again.

  10. JimShady23

    JimShady23 TS Maniac Posts: 373


    Either way your going to have to buy one or the other....A new motherboard if the motherboard is bad or a CPU if the CPU is bad.....

    As much as I would hate to reccomend this board I highly doubt your sister will need more for doing paperwork and the is a cheap alternative.

    If you didnt want to waiste ordering and trial and error time atleast just take the CPU into a PC repair shop and have them test it.....Very simple and wont cost you a lot.
  11. twizttid1

    twizttid1 TS Rookie

    If ABSOLOUTLEY nothing powers up... I'm 100% sure it's the PS.... so what if you connect 2 wires and a fan wires... what if some of the other connections or things fried in the PSU other than the power to the internal fan??..... Fact is PS are the #1 component that fails in all comupters.
    If the PS worked and the CPU was fried..... then you'd get the MOBO POST boot up and you should still be able to access the mobo bios.
    If the ram was toast you'd get the MOBO POST with errors and bleeps and blaps...
    If the MOBO was fried and the PS was OK, all fans off MOBO would work and Power light (on the MOBO itself) would be on.

    In my experience... all of what you've described points to a pooched PS. Swap it out or at least test it out on your own machine.
  12. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,188   +470

    I agree with JimShady that you could take the CPU (and/or motherboard) to a shop for testing. That would be easiest.

    I have a slightly different opinion regarding the motherboard. While I don't have a specific one in mind, I think you should get a better quality mobo. The reason is your sister needs it for business. For business, reliability is more important than low cost. For a business, the increased cost for a better motherboard is minor, in my opinion.
  13. JimShady23

    JimShady23 TS Maniac Posts: 373


    Thats why I said I would hate to reccomend this board....But I know your looking to go cheap as possible. But if you go up to atleast $40 your safe...Id advise to go with ASrock (Made by ASUS)...I have have been putting them in cutomers office PC's for over a year now and have not gotten 1 service call on them...

    twizttid1: We cleared the fact that it is most likley not the PSU about 10 posts ago. It fires up the fans and everything......Just no post.....
  14. Secondgunman

    Secondgunman TS Rookie Posts: 91

    Not alot to say...

    There is not alot more to say, even if the CPU works I wouls still look at getting a new CPU, mobo and RAM just pick up the chepest 754 CPU and mobo you can find and 2x256 of RAM that should not be more then $250.00 and will keep her working for years to come, if she has the system cleaned buy the sounds of it I would clean the system no less then every two months.

    My soon-to-be Wife's Grandmother does the same kind of work and a close call like that aswell. The system had about a ziplock sadwitch bag of lint and stuff in it when I cleaned it. Now I am making alot of side money cleaning and up grading comuters in her small town of about 1200 people mosly older people and farmers that do not know or don't want to have to fix or clean computers when there are tractors wells and barns to fix.

    The real problem I have is the older farmers allways want to feed me and not working on a farm anymore the farm food is making me fat, it is hard to say no to people that still keep shot guns at their back doors and cook so good...
  15. mucklucks

    mucklucks TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Okay, it's test everything

    Thanks all and everyone. Unfortunately all your advice is probably right. So I do what I do. I take the suspect parts over to a good (and nice) computer shop in the next town and tell 'em, Don't repair; just diagnose.

    I'll post results here when they come in so you can to see who wins the diagnostic prize. In the meantime, best things to all, and I hope Secondgunman's soon-to-be wife doesn't shun him after he's eaten a few more fees.

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