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Powers up but will not boot

By jackk ยท 24 replies
Mar 1, 2008
  1. I have Compaq Evo 310 running XP 2. A few weeks ago it started hanging up more frequently than normal, with the only solution disconnecting the power.
    Yesterday after restarting, I got the DOS script saying that I was having a problem and should consider starting up in safe mode, or starting normally and going to a previous restore point. When I tried to start normally, I went bact to the DOS page.

    On about the third effort to restart, all I got was a screen with Cmpaq's name and "press F10 for setup, press F12 for network...." Pressing the function keys took me nowhere. Only way to proceed was to disconnect the power. Further efforts to restart continued to give me the same screen, and occasionally just Compaqs name without the note about function keys.

    I put the restore CD that Compaq provides in the D drive, and the introductory screen came up advising me that if I wanted to continue, it would reformat the hard drive and reinstall the hardware. Since that was not my choice yet, I started to move the cursor towards the cancel button when it locked up. Only alternative was to disconnect the power. On one more start, I got the introductry screen without the cursor, but on subsequent efforts, even the introductory screen would not come up.
    Now all I get is the screen with Compaqs name, which I assume is part of the boot proceedure. I do not get the note about the function keys. Fans run, lights on the drives flash,, but no action
    I disconnected the power to all drives (4), and tried to restart but got the same results. Just Compaqs name.
    I assume that this is not a C drive or software problem. I am a novice at this game, but my guess is that my problem could be associated with
    1. the bios chip
    2. the power supply
    3. memory chips
    4. mother board
    5. CPU
    Since I do not have parts to start switching pieces out, is there anything that I can do to elimanate some of the above, and hopefully locate the problem?
  2. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,325   +101

    I am going to make the following assumptions and if you feel the need to correct any of this, please do:

    If it makes it to a DOS prompt I highly doubt it's a BIOS programming error. Your system isn't locking up per-say (at least it wasn't) nor is it shutting off on you so I doubt it's a PSU issue. The same could be said for your CPU. There aren't any real clear signs of motherboard failure either. However it very well could be your RAM, or your HDD.

    The first thing I'd try to do is boot off the XP CD and into the Recovery Console. Run the commands: "fixmbr" and then "chkdsk /f /r" here (without the quotes). Try to boot your PC into Windows after this completes. If that fails to resolve your issue I'd try booting off your XP CD and running a repair install.

    If neither of those proved to be any use, try running Memtest86 for at least 7 passes.
  3. jackk

    jackk TS Rookie Topic Starter


    I'm sorry if I was clear enough in my previous post, but an early symptom was that the machine started in DOS. It has now progressed to a stage well beyond that. When I power up the computer, the fans start, and the HD lights blink, as if something is looking at them. However part of the time I get a black screen, and part of the time I get a black screen with a large orange word saying COMPAQ. I cannot go anywhere from there, or I don't know how to go anywhere from there.

    At an earlier stage , the screen with the large orange COMPAQ also had the option of going to setup by pressing F8 or F10, or going to a network boot? by pressing F12. Now this option does not appear. When it did appear earlier in this problem period, pressing the function keys did not produce anything. The machine does nothing except display this one word.The only thing I can do is disconnect the power and try again.

    I have put two different disks in the D drive to boot up. As my earlier post said, twice the introductory screen for the Restore disk by Compaq came up briefly, but would not run. It has not come up in the last dozen boots. After your post, I also tried the Windows CD but it was not run or found by the computer. All I get on the monitor is the word Compaq about half of the time. Then the machine produces nothing else, and I have no options except to turn off the power.

    I believe that the display of the word Compact, and then the options to go to setup, are in the earliest stages of booting off of the BIOS. My machine is now stopping after the display of the word, and before the display of the setup option. Is this correct? How can I progress further?

    Kind of sounds hopeless!!
  4. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,325   +101

    Nah, not hopeless :) you just have your work cut out for you.

    Lets start with the simple and free first ey?

    I would start by reseating and reconnecting all expansion cards as well as your RAM and any cables/connectors in the system. Be sure everything is totally seated and connected. Clear your CMOS battery and then post back with your results after attempting to boot after all of this.
  5. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

    This sounds like a hardware error.

    Just because it boots or partially boots does not mean your PSU is good. It needs to be checked with a tester tool AND a multimeter.

    Also run memtest 86+ booted from a floppy/cd to test your ram for at least 7 passes.
  6. jackk

    jackk TS Rookie Topic Starter

    cmos battery

    only one expansion crd, 2 ram , 2 cd/dvd, and 2 HD. all seem firm. All connectors checked.
    Will have to go to Compaq's site to find location of CMOS battery. How do you clear it? Does this need to be replaced periodically? Should it be?

  7. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,325   +101

    Tedster, nobody said it absolutely was not a PSU issue. He can't even get past the initial splash screen, how do you suppose he runs Memtest86?

    Jackk, you should see a small battery a bit smaller than a US quarter. Pop that out, and leave it out for a few minutes. Put it back in and try to boot again. It will set your BIOS to their factory default settings.

    I believe the CMOS battery generally has a written life of 10 years. However, this is not a case where I think your CMOS battery is failing. I just figure it's worth attempting because I can't tell you how many times resetting the BIOS has either helped or cured some random seemingly unrelated issue that I've had.


    The battery should look similar to this.
  8. jackk

    jackk TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Testing PSU

    How involved is it to test the PSU? I have a voltmeter but don't know where to start. It may be more complicated than I can do.
  9. jackk

    jackk TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I have checked all connections, etc and popped out the CMOS battery and reinstalled it. I started the machine, and main two differences are 1) the word Compaq no longer occurs, and 2) there is a slight dark blue haze along the two vertical edges of the monitor. Other than that,no action.
    Re the power supply; there is power to the CPU fan and the venting fan. Also to the D drive; the door opens and lights flash on startup. There are 3 or 4 lights in different places on the motherboard That's the limit of my ability to test the PSU.
  10. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,325   +101

    If you feel that the PSU may be a likely suspect, why not borrow one from another PC to try in yours?
  11. jackk

    jackk TS Rookie Topic Starter


    I only have two options for getting the use of a power supply. One it to buy one
    from some outfit that will allow a return. The second is to load my PC up into a car and drive about 5 hours to my daughters place. My son-in-law makes his living in software and would probably have one to swap out. He also suspects the power supply but only because it is less reliable than most of the rest of the computer.
    I guess my 3rd option is to take it some place that will evaluate the situation for a reasonable amount, if there is such a place locally.
  12. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,325   +101

    It's looking more like a PSU issue now as things are progressing, but it didn't initially. I wouldn't put all my eggs in one basket, however, it'd probably be cheaper to buy a PSU, try it out and then return it than it would be to pay for a repair service.

    Your call. Things like this can be caused by everything short of the Boogeyman himself.
  13. jackk

    jackk TS Rookie Topic Starter

    How critical is it to get right power supply

    The power supply in this computer is a 220 watt Compaq. It is fairly small. A search of the internet yeilded a few in the $70 and up range. One on Ebay was less that $35 with shipping.
    If I want to borrow one for testing purposes, how similar does it have to be? Does it have to similar in size so that it will go into the box, or can you just switch cables. Do I have to worry about the right connections? Do they all have the same outputs. This one has 5v, 3.33v,12 v, -12v, and 5.05vaux. It doesn't appear to have that many different colored wires coming off of it
    Thanks and thank to all of you who contibuted to this thread
  14. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,325   +101

    You generally want a PSU that conforms the same form-factor as your motherboard.

    What version of the Compaq Evo 310 do you have?

    What does the side of your power supply say exactly?
  15. jackk

    jackk TS Rookie Topic Starter

    lable data for PSU

    There is a lot of data and it is all upside down! identifiers are
    Compaq Series PDP 121
    Model HP-Q220PC3
    Part number 277919-001
    Replace with Compact Spare 277978-001

    vital statistics
    Input 110-127v and 200-247
    Output 220 w max

    +5v-11A +3.33 -15A +2v - 5A +12.8v-7.5A -12v-0.15A 5.05VAUX-3A

    Hope that this is what you need

  16. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,325   +101

    I could be wrong on this but it sounds like your current PSU conforms to the ATX standard to me.

    If I am correct, this PSU should be plenty good enough for you. Compare it to your current PSU and post any differences or questions.
  17. jackk

    jackk TS Rookie Topic Starter


    I assume that the 5Vsb of FSP is the same as the 5 VAUX of Compaq. Is this correct?
    The only concern I have is the mounting of this unit. It is basically the same length and width, but it is quite a bit less deep. The Compaq is 4 inches or 102 mm deep, the FSP is 86 mm. The way the screwholes are predirlled in the Compaq, I think that I will be lucky if one will be usable. Is there any problem on drilling holes in the case? Other than preventing metal particles falling inside the case. Also the vent hole in the case is larger and a poriton will have to be blocked to prevent dust from entering. I believe thta Newegg is good about the return these items, though I have never had to test them
  18. jackk

    jackk TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I forgot to telll you that my unit is te D310m, and I believe that the m denotes that it is the Microtower version
  19. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,325   +101

    As positive as I'd like to tell you I am as to whether or not 5VSB=5VAUX, I can't. That said, according to this page, your PSU is indeed of the ATX form factor.

    If it is of the ATX form factor, the screws ought to line up (I'd imagine) even if the PSU isn't of the same physical size. Unless, they've done some twisted OEM crap that they love pulling from time to time. If that were the case though, I'd highly doubt they would be able to call it an ATX PSU as they are.

    Drilling holes in the case to mount the new PSU is absolutely harmless (and hopefully uncalled for), however, you may want to consider removing the motherboard and the components fitted on it.

    Hopefully someone else will hop in and let us know whether or not a standard ATX PSU would work for you, but, Newegg is indeed great about returns from my understanding. You'll probably be stuck paying the return shipping as well as a possible 15% restocking fee.

    If worst comes to worst, your PC will explode and you'll have a great reason to upgrade to a non-proprietary system :D. I kid, I kid.
  20. jackk

    jackk TS Rookie Topic Starter

    holes lining up

    The reason I say that the holes may not line up is that the existing PSU is deeper (approx 102 mm vs 86), and the vertical distance between the upper and lower holes in the Compaq is greater than the height of the Newegg unit. I might be able to get both lower holes lined up or both upper holes, but not all 4 holes.

    Unless someone comments about the differcn is VAUX vs Vab, I will order the Newegg today.

    Thanks a lot, and I will post my results when I get the new one tried out.
  21. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,325   +101

    The holes aren't placed in a proportionally larger distance from one another just because the PSU itself is bigger. They are all going to be the exact same distance, on the same exact spot on the PSU. At least, they should be for a true ATX unit.

    Good luck and hopefully the PSU is indeed your problem :).
  22. jackk

    jackk TS Rookie Topic Starter

    You are right. I checked out ATX PSU's on several sites, and they are all the same size, 85 or 86 millimeters deep. However, my Compaq unit is about 15 mm larger /deeper than the ATX standard size, about 101 millimeters, and the holes are drilled very near to the edge. The upper an lower holes are dilled further apart ,about 96 millimeters, than the ATX unit is deep. Therefore there is no physical way that all of the holes will fit

    In my brief search of the internet, all of the PSU's in the 200-300 watt range are ATX compatible, and therefore 86 mm deep. I think that I can ascertain whether the PSU is the problem with the unit you suggested, and if it is, I'll worry about the differences in size.
  23. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,325   +101

    As long as it powers your system, mounting it by a physical alteration of the chassis shouldn't be a problem at all. Just be sure to run with that initial assumption and concern of the metal filings getting on the other components, that would be bad ;).
  24. jackk

    jackk TS Rookie Topic Starter

    plugged in the new PSU today, and no change.
    Tested the Monitor on my portable and it is OK,
    Removed the 2 RAM boards, and installed them separately, no change

    Any other ideas?
  25. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,325   +101

    Strip your system down to just the motherboard, RAM, CPU and PSU. Clear the CMOS and try to boot. If you get nothing and you know the RAM and PSU are both okay, it's either the CPU or motherboard.

    Of the two, I'd go with a motherboard failure if it comes to it.
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