New PC for my parents

mlakrid

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#1
Hey everyone...

Ok heres the situation:
My father called me last night out of the blue complaining that his PC is having problems. He said it begain several weeks ago the symptoms are as follows:

He turns on the PC it will begin to boot get to the ASUS splash page, and the screen will go blank. The POST never begins or finishes.

If he turns the machine on/off a few times it is almost like the PC will reset, and the PC will boot normally with no seen ill-effects...

I was thinking it was most likely the MB or CPU... thoughts?

I thought it could be the HDD first, but they have not seen any loss of files or corruptions, and if it gets past the post it is fine...

I suggested he get a new barebones system and move the remainder of the system over to his new rig.

I suggested:
An ASUS P4? mobo with the highest processor available 3.4?, 2GB ram, and a seperate video card (none of that on-board crap) and then migrate all the data files back over to the new PC.

His main use of the PC will be for digital photography (mainly image manipulation and color correction)

I didnt see him needing anything more than a P4... none of the applications they use would use or require any of the dual core... and the cost is negligible for them $200ish vs several 5-700 for a new dual-core...

Thoughts, reccomendations?

Thanks!

Mike A!
 

kcnychief

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#2
In regards to boot problems, that normally may point to an overheated CPU. However, since it does eventually boot, that probably knocks that out of the equation. What you may want to do is try testing the power supply, or swapping that with another one. The power delivered to the necessary components may be having consistency issues.

Outside of that, I would strip it down to barebones. Such as CPU, Video, Hard Drive and RAM - nothing else (may be forgetting something, but that is bare minimum to boot I think). See how the system boots at that point, if everything is fine, add in components one at a time until you find what may be offending the system boot process. If the barebones rig still has the problem, you will more than likely need to replace the mobo.

Dual Core CPU's are actually relatively cost effective from what I have seen - and even if you go on the lower end of that scale the performance gain would be HUGE. If you are buying a PC these days you want to try and at least have some chance to handle applications and tasks coming down the road, and IMO a Dual Core Proc would set them up for Vista much nicer than a P4 would. Granted, I don't know the exact prices, but that is my .02
 

mlakrid

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#3
In regards to boot problems, that normally may point to an overheated CPU. However, since it does eventually boot, that probably knocks that out of the equation. What you may want to do is try testing the power supply, or swapping that with another one. The power delivered to the necessary components may be having consistency issues.
Yea I thought of that; but like you said it eventually boots ... ALSO, even if the PC has been off all night, he still has these issues when trying to boot (so highly doubt the heat issue)... which made me think (even more) it maybe a mobo or CPU... Dont have a spare PSU to test... EDIT: come to think of it my last rebuild left me with a PSU which he should be able to use...

Outside of that, I would strip it down to barebones. Such as CPU, Video, Hard Drive and RAM - nothing else (may be forgetting something, but that is bare minimum to boot I think). See how the system boots at that point, if everything is fine, add in components one at a time until you find what may be offending the system boot process. If the barebones rig still has the problem, you will more than likely need to replace the mobo.
I might try this although I dont hink I will see any issues... and this problem is hit/miss, and because of its inconsistency and Murphys Law added in, I doubt I will see any results...


Dual Core CPU's are actually relatively cost effective from what I have seen - and even if you go on the lower end of that scale the performance gain would be HUGE. If you are buying a PC these days you want to try and at least have some chance to handle applications and tasks coming down the road, and IMO a Dual Core Proc would set them up for Vista much nicer than a P4 would. Granted, I don't know the exact prices, but that is my .02
Yea I thought about that... I saw (on extremetech) the performance gains from a single to dual-core even from high-end single to low-end dual core there was a significant gain... maybe I will have him retool his barebones to a new dual-core on the low end to keep the cost benefit as high as possible while still going for the upgradability of both the new architecture, new CPU, and DDR2 all at the same time...

If anyone has any ideas, or knows of deals for the new dual-core Intels Im all ears...

Thanks!

Mike A!
 

ShepsCrook

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#4
Actually, it can be a number of things. CD/DVD drives can go bad and cause lockups in booting, or in system stability. Just because Windows will search or the Bios will search for the hardware and keep attempting to utilize it or initiate it even if it is bad. This is when it locks up.

BUT, more common issues are Ram, Motherboard or CPU. It's rare that a CPU actually goes bad. Have you tried removing the CMOS battery, and placing your settings back to default, as well as removing some ram or actually running Memtest?

I would strongly suggest those before looking into replacing parts.
 

kcnychief

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#5
maybe I will have him retool his barebones to a new dual-core on the low end to keep the cost benefit as high as possible while still going for the upgradability of both the new architecture, new CPU, and DDR2 all at the same time...

If anyone has any ideas, or knows of deals for the new dual-core Intels Im all ears...

Thanks!

Mike A!
Sounds like a good idea, and I would try to stick with DDR2 as DDR3 won't have a long shelf life with DDR4 soon approaching :dead:
 

mlakrid

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#6
Actually, it can be a number of things. CD/DVD drives can go bad and cause lockups in booting, or in system stability. Just because Windows will search or the Bios will search for the hardware and keep attempting to utilize it or initiate it even if it is bad. This is when it locks up.

BUT, more common issues are Ram, Motherboard or CPU. It's rare that a CPU actually goes bad. Have you tried removing the CMOS battery, and placing your settings back to default, as well as removing some ram or actually running Memtest?

I would strongly suggest those before looking into replacing parts.
If it were a CD-ROm or DVD it would lock up only after the POST, when trying to initialize those items... it locks up BEFORE it gets to the POST...

RAM: could be... but I have only had one time when a RAM issue that did not give me memory errors, and I did find it using memtest

I say CPU, because back in the day, I had a cyrix 6x86 that was "going" bad... to my dismay I bought a new mobo thinking exaclty what you are now, and I bought it for no reason.. :(

as for the CMOS... resetting the defaults will do very little to help isolate this issue... Im open to other ideas as well...

keep them coming...
 

kcnychief

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#7
I still blame the PSU, would be good to see some results after that is tried :D

Not saying it can't happen, but I haven't run into a PC before that won't even POST because of a bad Optical Drive. I have only seen those errors appear after the POST, but even then haven't seen them stop the PC from booting. Worst case scenario is when there is a disc in there that it can't read and it goes bezerk. Even had a CD explode once, that was a GREAT time :D

Again, not saying it can't happen just because I haven't experienced it, just seems a bit odd to me.

Mind explaining the technical explanation as to how that would prevent a PC from POSTing?

I love hardware problems (I know, I have issues), but they tend to be tough to pin down and rather interesting. I enjoy challenges :cool:
 

mlakrid

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#8
I still blame the PSU, would be good to see some results after that is tried :D
I will try the PSU, and will see how it goes... I may install asus probe to see what the voltage levels are... EDIT: I know it isnt a true voltage reading, and not very accurate; however, it should get me in the ballpark, if I see one of the voltage rails dropping too low then it could quite possibly be the PSU..

Not saying it can't happen, but I haven't run into a PC before that won't even POST because of a bad Optical Drive. I have only seen those errors appear after the POST, but even then haven't seen them stop the PC from booting. Again, not saying it can't happen just because I haven't experienced it, just seems a bit odd to me.
NO, NO... I didnt say it wouldn't... I think you were talking to SHEP?
Because I said:

If it were a CD-ROm or DVD it would lock up only after the POST, when trying to initialize those items... it locks up BEFORE it gets to the POST...

Mind explaining the technical explanation as to how that would prevent a PC from POSTing?
Got me, ask him... LOL
 

LeeJend

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#9
Power supply or MB gets my first vote. But, you really need to isolate the bad part before you try and do a bare bones upgrade or you are just wasting money.

I assume this is an Intel Only household but you want to keep it cheap anyway? (There was a Intel slam hidden in there.)

I just got my computer at work refreshed today. Dual Core 3.4 ghz, 2 GB RAM, SATA drive. Definite improvement over my 2.4 gig P4, 1 GB RAM, but, it is no faster than my XP3800 AMD64 at home for desktop applications. Think entry level dual core AMD if it is the MB. And for what your dad does more ram is more valuable than faster CPU. On the other hand depending on what editing software he uses dual core may be the way to go. Video and photo editing were the first applications to start coding for dual core optimization.
 

Techno Child

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#10
Is there a new firmware update available for your mobo? Bios update? It sounds like something old emachines are famous for when they have defective mobos installed. The crazy thing is that it works and doesn:t work randomly BEFORE the post which is really strange. Now this did work perfectly before correct? If so, I would really like to hear what the problem was once you figure it out because it makes no sense right now.

Good Luck :)
 

American Zombie

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#11
I would go into the bios and turn off the Asus splash screen. There are messages that appear even before POST but with Asus screen on you will not see them.
 

ShepsCrook

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#12
Actually, I've seen a DVD rom and CD rom prevent a bios post. So it is entirely possible. It's a rare event, but it does happen. The main reason is is that the Drive is usually causing a short in the system which causes it to crash, not display or lock up.

I doubt it's that, I'm just stating that there are many different reasons for this sort of event.
 

bush dogg

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#13
Along with the other suggestions above I would look around the cpu/pci slots for bad capacitors (swollen tops or brown sludge on them).
 

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