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Boot/Power Supply/Motherboard Issues


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dlarson14 dlarson14 is offline
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08-Jun-2012, 11:09 PM #1
Boot/Power Supply/Motherboard Issues
Tech Support Guy System Info Utility version 1.0.0.2
OS Version: Microsoft® Windows Vista™ Home Premium, Service Pack 2, 32 bit
Processor: AMD Phenom(tm) 9600 Quad-Core Processor, x64 Family 16 Model 2 Stepping 2
Processor Count: 4
RAM: 3069 Mb
Graphics Card: ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT, 256 Mb
Hard Drives: C: Total - 465674 MB, Free - 322761 MB; D: Total - 11264 MB, Free - 4581 MB;
Motherboard: ECS, MCP61PM-GM
Antivirus: Norton AntiVirus Online, Updated and Enabled

I have been have strange issues with my PC that lead me to believe there is a bad hardware component, and I need help figuring out which one exactly. I can't remember which one started first, but these two issues seem to signal the beginning of the end and started quite some time ago. First, the computer was unable boot from the hard disk. It would try and load and load and never get anywhere. It displayed some text about AEM new component detected or something like that. I had the text written down, but the paper is gone (it was about a year ago that this started). Sometimes it sounded like it was reading the CD-ROM drive. I would do random things like just restart it, restart and immediately open the CD-ROM tray, and eventually it would boot. Then it eventually stopped booting at all, so I put in the Operating System disc and just booted from that. The second problem that I recall that began around the same time was that the fan would "bark" whenever I clicked on My Computer or something similar caused the fan to kick on. It is literally a bark, so much that I convinced myself the neighbor had a dog that would bark once at random times while I was working.

These two issues occurred over the past year. I have always had issues with the display adapter/driver/graphics. Certain games wouldn't start, or would crash, just dumb things. But a new issue was that when I viewed a video or streamed a program online in full screen mode, occasionally the computer would freeze and lock up. I would just hold the power button, turn the PC back on, and go back to work. I assume this is in conjunction with my on-going struggle with the display adapter and not related to the bootup issues.

Then I noticed that a hard drive disappeared from My Computer. This computer has two 500 GB hard drives. One is partitioned for recovery purposes. The C: drive has all of the Windows files, programs, everything. The D: drive is the partitioned drive for recovery. There should be another drive listed that has my music, photos, videos stored. I can't find it anywhere. In the BIOS menu when I have it search for a connection on the several slots 4 of the 5 empty slots are immediately scanned and it says nothing found. In one of the slots the scan takes several seconds, but it still returns with nothing found.

Now the crux of the issue began within the last month. The computer was freezing/crashing on more occasions while running RAM and CPU intensive programs (I.E. playing the Java based game Minecraft while running a server of Minecraft accessible by friends). The computer now has bootup issues every time I start it. Sometimes it just gets stuck on a screen, the Gateway (BIOS option) screen, the Boot from CD screen, a black screen, etc. Other times the screen gets all jumbled. Sometimes it freezes here, other times it just shuts down and tries restarting again. Other times, without the screen being jumbled, the PC powers off and back on immediately. Other times, maybe most frequently, Windows loads to the choose user screen. I pick myself and the desktop loads, then it shuts off and powers back on. Any time, including all of the above examples, the computer shuts off and turns back on automatically it gets stuck on the BIOS option (Press 12 for BIOS Menu) screen. I then manually shut down the computer (hold power button) and turn it back on after a couple seconds. At this point it usually loads Windows fine. All of the above ultimately results in me restarting twice before the computer works.

Now once I get in to Windows and it doesn't shut down right away I have almost no issues. The fan still barks and it sometimes locks up, but I can do pretty much anything if I make it past bootup. The blue screen of death has appeared a couple times during those bootup issues. At one point the computer ran Startup Repair V2 and was unable to fix the problem. I copied down the resulting log but I don't know if that provides any information. If somebody would like that I would be happy to type it up, but its a little long. The computer also ran a System Disk test or something, which included a bunch of tests like disk failure diagnosis, boot manager diagnosis, system boot log diagnosis, etc. This returned 1 root cause -- "unspecified changes to system configuration might have caused problem". Repair Action -- "system files integrity check and repair". Result -- "Failed. Error code = 0x2". Time taken = 510997 ms. Once Windows loads it always asks if I want it to search for solutions to the problems and comes back with no solution found, possible issues with RAM, system board, CPU, power supply.

I know the most-likely answers are an issue with power supply, an issue with the cables, an issue with the motherboard, or an issue with the CMOS battery. I've built computers before so I can fix most of those issues myself. I have very limited time though, so I'm hoping someone can help me narrow down the problem. I'm also hoping someone can help me keep repair costs down. Although this computer has had its issues, especially with graphics, it is pretty amazing. It was $350 five years ago, 2 500 GB hard drives, it has a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray/HD-DVD drive, tv tuner adapter, fast processing, a lot of pretty awesome stuff for that cheap. I know you usually get what you pay for, but this has been one of the best desktops I've worked on.

If anyone can help me I would greatly appreciate it. Help both with diagnosing the specific issue as well as cost-effective repairs. Thanks for everything in advance!!

- Douglas
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09-Jun-2012, 02:00 AM #2
Test RAM first.

Memory Testing (including bootable CD's and floppies):

Memtest86
MemScope (Floppy and CD images.)
Roadkil's RAM Test
Microsoft Memory Test (floppy or CD ISO image)

If you have enough memory sticks, you can test them by removing one at a time and see if the problem disappears.

If you are running Vista or 7, tap F8 on boot and choose the memory diagnostic, or if you can boot up, go to Start > Search and type:

mdsched.exe

Choose to run a memory diagnostic on next boot. Or, you can boot from the DVD and run it from there.
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09-Jun-2012, 08:57 AM #3
In addition to testing the memory, I would also open the case and give the board a VERY close inspection with a bright light. Look for any leaking, bulging, or discolored capacitors. With a system that old, you may have a board that is failing.

Next there is a bios update that addresses issues with the even numbered amd cpus ie 9600, 9700, etc. This was fixed with the release of the -50s ie 9850, etc. Since that is a gateway mb, you would need to see if gateway has an update AND you need to know which bios you are currently running. Here are some pics of failed capacitors; see if you have any that look like these.
Attached Thumbnails
Boot/Power Supply/Motherboard Issues-bad-cap.jpg   Boot/Power Supply/Motherboard Issues-badcaps-choyo.jpg   Boot/Power Supply/Motherboard Issues-badcaps-tayeh-4.jpg  
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05-Jul-2012, 10:40 PM #4
First of all, thanks for your responses and help. I apologize for not responding promptly.

I've done a few things with the computer, but the issue is entirely resolved. To respond to your posts, I ran the windows memory diagnostic tool multiple times and it found no errors. Do I need to download or purchase any of the other memory tests? I also very carefully looked over the motherboard and saw no evidence of faulty capacitors.

Prior to seeing your responses I did a little work inside the case. I switched around the power cables and serial ata cables. The first time I moved the cables the computer booted and attempted to install Windows. I assumed this meant the previously invisible hard drive had returned and was the primary hard drive the computer was attempting to boot. I switched around the cables again (both actual cables and ports on motherboard) but was unable to duplicate the result. I thought that either the cables or one of the ports was bad but all combinations ended up the same as before. Just as before I posted, when looking in the BIOS menu the invisible hard drive would show up as a blank on one of the ports (as opposed to NONE). When I searched for attached hardware I heard the hard drive powering up and spinning, but only while BIOS searched. It would eventually return with No Hardware Found and the disk apparently stopped spinning. It was cold to the touch, where as the main hard drive felt a little warm. I tried every combination possible and I have to conclude that there is not an issue with the ports, ata cables, or power cables.

Some time had passed and one day while using the computer I noticed the hard drive magically reappeared when I clicked on My Computer. Everything that was previously stored on this drive was still there. It seemed to work just fine again. I do not believe I ran a test checking for errors on the drive, but I can't be positive. I was also working on bringing an old laptop back to life at the time, so some of the stuff runs together in my mind. Well, as I noted above, the hard drive eventually disappeared again, and it won't come back.

After messing around with the cables and while checking for capacitor issues I replaced the battery on the motherboard. I checked the number and happened to have a replacement battery lying around. This was after the hard drive reappeared and days before it disappeared.

At the time I posted up to sometime around when I replaced the battery the computer issues where fairly consistent. It would usually fail during bootup or shortly after. At some point these issues has become rare. It hasn't crashed in quite a while. The computer will still not boot without the cd-rom. I don't know much about the CMOS battery, so I have no idea what role it plays in this. Could it have fixed something? Is there something I can do to stop needing the cd to boot? Do I need to install something off the disk? Is the battery related to that? Oh, and I checked with the Gateway website and it says that my BIOS is up to date. The computer is running Phoenix Technologies, LTD 6.00 PG, 12/14/2007. Two things I found curious in msinfo32: the computer has 3GB of RAM, but only 841 MB are available; and it says the Boot Device is \Device\HarddiskVolume2. Is this the partition for recovery? Should this be the boot device?

Again, thanks for all your help. I hope this is still an open thread that will get noticed.
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09-Jul-2012, 02:39 PM #5
Just to be clear, the issue is *not* entirely resolved. I apologize for the typo.
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18-Jul-2012, 10:11 PM #6
Is this something I can expect a reply to? Did I wait too long to respond? Is there a solution?
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18-Jul-2012, 10:34 PM #7
Have you tested your ram and if so, what was the result?
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19-Jul-2012, 11:43 AM #8
I ran the Windows Memory Diagnostic and it showed no errors. If I need to download one of the other RAM testing programs I can. I figured I would ask before dling a bunch of stuff though. I removed the each RAM stick one at a time and nothing really changed. However, after just fiddling with things and replacing the battery on the motherboard, the computer is back to somewhat normal condition.

My main concerns at this point is getting the computer to boot without the CD-Rom and getting it to recognize the missing hard drive. If I had the opportunity I would remove the hard drive and test it on another computer, but for now I am stuck with the single desktop and can't test the drive. I was hoping there was some other explanation than the drive was just going bad. If I can get some assistance on either of these two issues I would greatly appreciate it. However, I understand if there is not much that can be done without physically testing the hard drive and/or motherboard.
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19-Jul-2012, 12:20 PM #9
Quote:
I am stuck with the single desktop and can't test the drive
Why not? Just download the drive maker's diagnostic. Most have a dos or boot ver that runs from bootable media ie CD or flash drive so no need for an os to even be installed.

Next since you removed the cmos battery, have you checked your boot order in the bios? It should be CD or optical drive as the first boot device followed by the hard drive.
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