PIII system trouble, Advice needed.

By Calgon ยท 14 replies
Sep 27, 2006
  1. Hi guys I'm new here just wondered if anyone has any advice for me.

    I've been experiencing alot of problems on my PIII - Win98SE machine my specs are as follows:

    PIII 450MHz
    MSI-6183 Motherboard
    Intel 810i chipset w/ onboard sound and onboard graphics
    128mb of RAM
    Voodoo4500 PCI
    Maxtor 80GB hard drive(bought about a year ago)
    Zonet ZEN3200 Fast Ethernet Adapter
    Pioneer DVR-108

    So onto the problems Ive been experiencing:

    The problems have been random so it made it hard to determin where the problem is and it started at the end of a hot summer(Im pretty sure its a hardware fault).

    The first signs of a problem were random system freeze-up with the only remedy being a hard reboot, it's something that seems to happen on pretty much any program(so I re-intalled them to start with then windows itself *not a re-format but not ontop of the old directory either* which did no good). Whilest trying to find the source of the problem I tried removing my Voodoo card and switching back to the onboard chipset the display was severely scrambled at anything over safemode settings(this is now disabled in BIOS).

    More problems have crept in since then(the freeze-ups are still here and "doing my head in" too, thats why Im writing this in notepad :) ), my mouse can sometimes become unresponsive but not the keyboard which I found strange, it has reported the mouse as not present at start-up on occasion(not happened in a while though) and also I had the bad CMOS Checksum error(replaced battery already). Videos now seem to cause it to freeze up alot, Audio has began to cut out on its own(not just on videos, music and games too) and it returns on reboot, occaisonally after a reboot the sound will be back but play very slowly(even the windows start-up sound).

    All of the above problems happen in all games, media players ect that I have tried but freeze-ups happen in most programs.

    Once or twice I've had a BSOD with the following error message: "A fatal exception 0D has occurred at 0028:C00010CE in VXD VMM(01)+ 000000CE"

    I think that's it for the problems, I'll list all of the the things I've already been through to save time:

    Individual Programs where this happens most:
    Tried repair, reinstallation(including windows as I explained) and updated where possible, checked for viruses, Spyware and Hijacks... everything looks fine here.

    Configured system to the most optimal settings:
    DMA is enabled, already have RamBooster which works really well(not that I was running low anyway), set the Virtual memory myself rather than let windows manage it as before(300mb), Defragged hard drive and swaped the IDE cable out for a faster ATA66-100 cable.

    Drivers and firmware:
    Updated my motherboard bios and its intel-810 chipset drivers, DVD burner, Video card(voodoo4).

    I also cleaned the Video card's fan of all dust and made sure it was spinning properly, CPU(PIII 450Mhz) cleaned fan and heatsink(seems ok, it was geting noisey but its gone quieter since the clean), downloaded thermal monitor software and enabled it in my bios, the CPU temp wont display but the harddrive temp does(seems to hang around 30-40)

    Took it out removed any dust from it,Ran it through a dos based testing program... nothing found.

    Hard Drive:
    Tested it with Maxtors Utility tool, it didnt seem to find much, just a few minor errors which it said it fixed successfully.

    Sytem resources seem to hang around 80-90%(Free) at the time of writing this.


    I am thinking its my motherboard causing the problem here(possibly my CPU too... if I was buying a new motherboard I think finding a cheap combo rather than tracking down a PIII board would be safest, just incase it is failing too) with all that Ive checked, it could well have just started to fail after the hot summer we had here.

    Before I do look into buying a new motherboard though I wanted someone elses input incase Ive missed something(I would like to build a new Core 2 system and pass this one onto my relative eventually but I dont want to waste more money than I need to and I will need to save up for a while before I start on that).
    Any thoughts from any experts here would be appreciated.


  2. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,406

    On thing you haven't mentioned, and is a likely suspect, is your PSU. Have a look in your bios and see what it is reporting for the voltages on the +3.3v, +5v and +12v rails and let us know.
  3. Calgon

    Calgon TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Yes I have thought about that too once the audio was playing slowly, I wasnt aware of being able to check the voltages in this bios/board, I will have a look though and let you know.


  4. Calgon

    Calgon TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ive had a look, doesnt seem to display them anywhere in the bios. The fan on the PSU is functioning fine though, the fans on the CPU and card seem to be getting enough power and Ive not noticed any problems with the DVD writer (even though Ive not been using it much... system freez-ups can create alot of coasters :( ).
  5. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,406

  6. Calgon

    Calgon TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ah Ive used speedfan for temperature but not voltages before(this bios has the option for "SMART for hard disks" only, I think it says thats how it reads them so thats all it displayed), I reinstalled just now to check but nothing was displayed.

    Do you really think the symptoms point to the PSU? I wish I could test it with someone elses before I buy a new one but I cant think of anyone who I could borrow off. Maybe I could buy one anyway but one that could be used in my future system(can you do that or would it be to great of a voltage for this machine?) and if it isnt the cause I could put the old one back no probs and go ahead looking for a cheap CPU-mobo combo.
  7. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,406

    Well, we are talking about a somewhat dated computer ;)

    So it is also a good posibility that your motherboard is failing. When you look at the capacitors on the board, are any swollen or leaking?

    You don't by chance have a voltmeter to test the PSU with do you?
  8. Calgon

    Calgon TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hmmm Ive never thought about checking that, Ive just had a good look in the case with a torche and spotted one(they look like small batteries wired to the board right?) with fairly noticable amounts of a rusty brown substance on the top side of it. There was another which was not so noticable, neither look that bad but if that constitutes a leak then any leaks are bad right?

    I do have a small electronic multimeter for voltages but how would I go about testing a PSU with it?

    We are getting closer to identifying the fault now it seems, thanks for your help so far,

  9. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,406

  10. MetalX

    MetalX TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,388

    Not trying to push you into anything... but sounds like it's time for a new system. If you are still using such an old system I guess I can assume you don't play games and if that is the case you can buy or build yourself a new system for about $350 US or less. However, if you want to keep using this system, perhaps a new motherboard is in order.
  11. dmill89

    dmill89 TS Guru Posts: 475

    if you have some soldering skills you can desolder and replace the bad caps without too much trouble. you can probably find replacements at radio shack or any other electronics supply store.But as others have stated it's probably time for an upgrade anyway.

    Here are some components for a good quality low-cost system for general computing.
    Motherboard: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16813130542 $50
    CPU:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16819103639 $70
    Ram: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16820134030 $100
    Case:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16811119068 $45
    Powersupply: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817104954 $50
    DVD RW:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16827152058 $30
    HDD:you can reuse your old 80GB or if you want SATA or more space : http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16822144415 $55

    Total:$345 If you reuse your current HDD or $400 If you get a new one

    not bad for an Athlon 64 with 1GB DDR2. the socket AM2 motherboard will allow for future upgrades. Also this system will be vista ready and a good video card will make it vista premium compatible (so you can use the nice visual effects in the vista interface).
  12. Calgon

    Calgon TS Rookie Topic Starter

    DonNagual yup thats what it looks like(I was pretty sure it was dead after having a good look at it), I may aswell test the PSU too to make sure it's ok though, thanks for the link.

    I will try and find a cheap CPU-mobo combo since Im strapped for cash and also this system will be passed on eventually, so I'd have to get it working anyway. I hope to build a new system sometime late next year, I've been impressed with what Ive heard of Intels Core2(Conroe) so maybe I'll build a system for that, to keep me going for a good while on Vista.

    Well that's, that then I've finally found the problem, thanks for the help guys.
  13. Calgon

    Calgon TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I've now tested the PSU with a digital multimeter and the help of that guide, all the readings seemed about right so thats one less thing to replace.

    Also, opening the case and looking from another angle to remove the cables, I noticed yet another leaking capicitor which looks like the worst one, its leaking from the bottom and has spilled onto the board slightly. So thats 3 in total, Im not sure its worth going through the effort of soldering new ones to the board, who knows how long the others will last now...

    Ah well, this place has been a big help, maybe this thread will be of use to someone else, some day too. :)

    kind regards,

  14. Calgon

    Calgon TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hi again, although we found the source of the problem here, due to financial problems and other commitments Ive not yet replaced anything.

    I am about to do that though and I was wondering if my PSU would be able to handle a socket 754 sempron+64, it checked out ok when I tested it with the digi multi meter(230V is what is on the label btw). The board needs a 20 pin power connector(got that) and 4 pin 12V power connector(P4 I think... not got that), I know there are adapters for using a 4 pin(inline) HDD/DVD power connector for it but Im just wondering if anyone else has tried it here or whether I just really have to buy a new PSU for it(trying to save money... might eventually buy a new PSU for it later down the line if it's possible to wait).
  15. dmill89

    dmill89 TS Guru Posts: 475

    Chances are you will need a new PSU as most P3s had about 200w and a modern system should have at least 300w. Post the total watts, and the Amps on the 12v rail so we can tell you for sure. Also the output of a PSU decreases overtime as the capacitors loose their effectiveness so If it is more than 5 years old you should probably replace it anyway.

    Here is a link to a decent cheep PSU:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817104901 $30
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