Help: No boot screen or anything on start up

By madagascaradam ยท 11 replies
Oct 7, 2009
  1. Hi, I'm trying to repair a computer and unfortunately, it seems to be getting worse. I'm doing some development work in rural South Africa and when people learned I can fix (most) computers, they started bringing me lots of them and I fix them for free. One somewhat decent (comparatively) computer was brought to me yesterday and they complained they had viruses. That's very normal here. When I went to boot, it got to a windows login screen and mentioned some memory errors, etc., etc., and kept giving warnings of various types. I thought maybe some windows files were missing or corrupted, so I rebooted and tried to boot from CD to go to the Windows XP recovery and repair console. Apparently it wasn't in the right boot priority order and skipped any options to load from CD, so I tried again to reboot and load the BIOS. Unfortunately it was password protected and no one knew the password so I couldn't change the settings to allow it to boot from CD. So, without too many other options, I decided to reformat the hard drive and re-install windows by plugging the hard drive into another computer. That went just fine, apparently the hard drive is working just great. However, when I plugged the hard drive back into the original computer it would load the BIOS and everything else and then automatically reboot. It would then get as far as the "choose type of boot" screen where you can choose "safe mode", "last known good configuration", etc., but none of those options allowed the computer to continue to load windows, they always simply restarted the computer.

    So, I decided to find a way to refresh the CMOS or BIOS and that might be where I ran into trouble. I unplugged all power connections from the power source and from the mobo. I even unplugged the CPU for a few minutes before putting it back. I unplugged the RAM, basically everything. I took out the little mobo system battery and I let it all sit unplugged overnight (except the CPU, that was only for a few minutes).

    This morning, I replugged everything and then I went to reboot. The power lights come on, the system and CPU fans are working, but NOTHING is happening on the screen, no BIOS, no blinking cursor, nothing. I tried several different monitors just to be sure. They all act as if they're not receiving any signal. As far as I can tell, the hard drive and CD drive aren't responding to anything either.

    The motherboard is a Gigabyte GA-8I865GME-775 . Since looking around the internet, I tried to do the "CLR_CMOS" thing by putting the little jumper on it for 30 seconds and more. I've tried it multiple ways, with the power off, with the power plugged in, with the power turned on, etc. I'm still getting nothing, no signal, on the screen.

    Please give me any advice you can! I don't think their computer was functional before they gave it to me, but at least they could see some windows screens and stuff even if they couldn't get it to do anything. I'd like to return it in full working order, but at least not worse than it came! Any help would be greatly appreciated!
  2. Ididmyc600

    Ididmyc600 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,415


    first off , you cant load XP on one machine and then put it in another machine, unless the configuration of both machines is identical, if you try this it wont work (and your fixing computers) as NT based OS's create a HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) when you load them, this is checked by windows on boot up and stored in a file called HAL.DLL.

    As for the dead Mobo issue, its possible you have corrupted the BIOS,

    or and this is probably the reason,

    Are you saying you took the CPU out of the motherboard completley, if so did you remove the fan and heatsink when you did and then when you replaced it did you reapply thermal paste to it (after carefully cleaning off the old stuff) or did you just put it back in.

    Did you check you didnt bend any pins on the CPU...

    My advice is to stop fixing PC's at least until you have a better understanding of how to fix them
  3. gguerra

    gguerra TS Guru Posts: 319

    Thermal paste or the lack there of will not prevent the PC from working. Most likely candidate is a bent pin on the CPU if you did in fact remove it.. "Newer" CPU's such as Core 2's do not have pins. Pentium 4's and such do have pins. Remove the CPU again and carefully inspect all the pins to make sure they are straight. Make sure you insert it back into it's socket correctly (look at the corner that is missing a pin) and line it it up with the socket. As for a corrupting the BIOS that is doubtful. If in fact you cleared the CMOS by jumpering it you can then set it to boot from CD and install XP correctly.
  4. madagascaradam

    madagascaradam TS Rookie Topic Starter

    To Ididmyc600:

    Actually, I have loaded XP on one machine and loaded it on other machines (certainly not identical) several times. Obviously it doesn't work perfect and there's some issues of re-installing drivers and things like that, but this is the first time I've tried and not had it boot all the way through at all. Maybe it shouldn't have worked for me in the past, based on what you said, but it did. However, from what you're telling me about the HAL.dll, these two machines must've been more different than the other machines in which I've done this before. Anyway, it wasn't my first idea, but I couldn't find any way to change the boot priorities because of the password protection on the BIOS.

    And no, I don't have any extra thermal paste and I didn't clean off the old thermal paste. I simply re-installed everything (heatsink, etc.) just like I took it apart. And I didn't bend any pins on the CPU because it's one without pins. I'm pretty sure it's not a Core 2, but the motherboard says it's "Dual Core Ready" so I guess that's why this one is without pins. And I re-installed it in the correct alignment because it's got two little grooves in the side (kind of like a RAM stick) so that it can only be installed in one direction.

    And your advice sucks. If you want to come here and repair computers for free with your vastly expansive knowledge and pretentious attitude, then be my guest. You'll get quite a lot of requests at first but when people realized you're a *******, I'm sure they'd stop asking. The simple fact is that there are no computer stores within a several hours' drive from here and most people here simply don't have the money to take publicly available transport to one of those "nearby" computer stores and they certainly can't afford to pay anyone who even has the (limited) level of knowledge that I have. They don't even have running water here. But they've got electricity and a few people have computers because this is South Africa and that's one of the contrasts left over from Apartheid. So, you make do with what you've got. So far I've repaired about 25 computers (including both software and hardware issues) since I've been here, and that's just on the side of what I regularly do. Almost none of them were PCs that any American would still consider touching and certainly not repairing, but it's what the privileged few here have. Sometimes something is better than nothing.

    So, maybe you didn't want a socio-economic geography lesson, but there was no point in your replying if you weren't going to offer some help. At least you quickly edited your post a little so you sounded a bit less like an all-knowing jerk.

    To gguerra:

    I appreciate the response. Obviously a little thermal paste isn't going to make an instantaneous difference because if I'd never removed the CPU in the first place, it'd still have the same thermal paste... but I definitely appreciate your reinforcement. As I said, I've already looked (several times actually) to be sure I lined up the CPU right and it really only goes in one possible way because of those little grooves in it.

    I'm not sure I cleared the CMOS right (since I've never manually done it before), but I did try all the possible ways referred to on the internet and the mobo manual, both with the jumpers and with the mobo battery. From responses I've received on several other forums, I'm afraid that what might've happened is there might've been a small spark that I didn't notice or some electrical discharge like that which messed something up on the mobo or CPU. Though I made sure to unplug all the power supply stuff first, I can't think of anything else that could've happened that could explain why I'm basically getting no response from the computer like I am and I wasn't wearing any static-proof gloves or things like I could easily get back in USA.

    Unfortunately, unless you've got any other ideas for some things I could try, I think I'm going to have to consider this one a loss. I certainly feel bad, but with all the memory errors, the guy's computer wasn't exactly in working condition when he brought it to me. Hopefully he can find another second-hand computer that just needs a hard drive or power supply or RAM (a common condition for most computers around here, but the relevant parts are usually old enough that they can't be bought in stores even if they had the money) and we can patch together a new one for him.
  5. gguerra

    gguerra TS Guru Posts: 319

    When you have a dead PC like that it's going to be (but not always)

    1. Bad motherboard
    2. Bad Power Supply
    3. Bad RAM
    4. In rare cases, bad video

    In all my years of working on PC's (25+) I've never seen a corrupted BIOS like you describe so I doubt that is the case (There's always a first time). The only way of course to find the problem is to start swapping parts.
  6. madagascaradam

    madagascaradam TS Rookie Topic Starter

    So none of those are bad CPU. Does that mean if only the CPU were bad, it'd still give a monitor signal?

    But bad RAM could actually prevent the monitor from receiving any signal at all? If so, I do know one other computer I have access to that takes DDR RAM and I could try this RAM there to see if it responds, if you think it's worth a shot. If the RAM is bad, I'm not sure where he could buy a replacement, but at least we'll know what we're looking fore.

    As for bad motherboard, well, I can't very well swap that.

    And there's no video card, just on-board video. Have you ever heard of or seen on-board video become broken in a short time like that?

    Finally, if it is one of those things that are broken, do you think a beginning-to-fail stick of RAM would give those "memory" errors I mentioned on its first boot and then eventually just fail all the way? And if not, is there anything I described that would give you another clue as to how I might've messed it up? Is it that easy to get a damaging shock without noticing it (particularly when all power supplies are disconnected)?
  7. gguerra

    gguerra TS Guru Posts: 319

    A CPU will very rarely will go bad and yes it would prevent anything else from working including video. If you are getting memory errors then yes that would be an indication of bad RAM and yes bad RAM would prevent the system from booting up at all. Start with the basics and just connect the power to the mother board and the monitor to the video, no hard drives or CD/DVD's remove the memory and re-insert it, power it up. If it dont work then try swapping the RAM and/or PS. if that dont work it's going to probably be the motherboard.
  8. madagascaradam

    madagascaradam TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well, I tried the RAM in another computer. Although the sticker on the RAM says 256 MB, only 192 MB registered in the other computer. But still, it was some and it worked alright, so I'm guessing that's not the overall problem. I guess it's probably the motherboard. :-( Thanks for trying to help though!
  9. Ididmyc600

    Ididmyc600 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,415

    Errr beg to differ, if the paste is missing then the CPU overheats and burns out and then the PC wont work, it would turn on and do nothing at all...your symptons, as for insulting you, well you fooked the PC with a lack of knowledge and then come here looking for answers from people who help you for nothing.
  10. gguerra

    gguerra TS Guru Posts: 319

    I beg to differ. The thermal paste missing and causing the CPU to overheat and burn out certainly does not happen instantly. His problem was that the PC never worked even from the point he turned it on.
  11. madagascaradam

    madagascaradam TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well, I'm trying to help a guy fix his computer for nothing and yeah, I'm asking for someone to help me diagnose it for nothing. Welcome to the internet, a lot of stuff's free, particularly help and advice. And again, that's something that you apparently think you're too knowledgeable to offer, so why do you even bother posting (or even looking) in a thread that says "Help..."? If you don't want to help, please don't clutter a thread asking for it.

    And yeah, thermal paste is a great long-term solution, but as gguerra stated, it makes no sense that it would instantaneously fry a CPU, and from the time I plugged everything back in there's been no monitor signal and all the symptoms I described. If it worked for a few minutes or even a few seconds and then stopped from that point on, I'd let you know, and then you might be right in suspecting an acquired problem like overheating. But as it is, that's not the case. From all my digging around and from all the *helpful* advice I've gotten from others, it seems that either the motherboard was ready to go kaput anyway or, maybe more likely, there was some sort of unnoticed electro-static discharge somewhere along the way. I don't know for sure, but I'd definitely rather listen to people who are trying to help than people who think they know too much to be any good to anyone else.
  12. Kcircyrd

    Kcircyrd TS Rookie Posts: 216

    I side with Ididmyc600.
    But the problem appears to be a memory issue.
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