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Hardware Malfunction - Memory Parity Error

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by cgheilman, May 17, 2009.

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  1. cgheilman

    cgheilman Thread Starter

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    Hello all,

    I have a Dell Dimension 8400 (3.0Ghz P4 HT, 512MB RAM 80GB HDD) that gets the following error message every time it boots up.

    "*** Hardware Malfunction
    Call your hardware vendor for support
    *** The system has halted ***
    NMI: Parity Check / Memory Parity Error"

    It goes to the Windows XP splash screen, then the error message shows up. I can boot up into safe mode, though. I took out each piece of RAM individually to see if that was a cause, but it was not. Next, I ran the non-interactive Dell Diagnostics, but I didn't get any errors (the tests included SMART tests and verifying the hard drive). I also tried to update the BIOS, but I couldn't do it from safe mode.

    My final step was replacing the ATI x300 graphics card with an EVGA PCI graphics card. I was able to boot up the entire way onto my desktop, but after 30 seconds, the hardware malfunction blue screen came up, and now I don't get past the splash screen without the error.

    Does anyone have an idea about what the cause of this problem is? I'm stuck!

    Christian
     
  2. musikman1

    musikman1

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    Wow, thanks for the complete problem description, it sure helps narrow down the possible culprits.

    This is just spitballing, but I would look at one possible culprit, and cry about the other..

    BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE: ONE MORE thing would be to pull out everything off of the motherboard EXCEPT the CPU, RAM and Video and see if it will boot and hold power for you. If not:

    1) PSU - try a different PSU, your system is acting like the PSU is flaky and dropping power. You don't have a huge configuration, if it were me, I'd try dropping a 420W - 450W PSU, which wouldn't be terribly expensive. If you want to insure quality, check for the 80 Plus or 85 Plus certified type PSU's. I've personally found Antec, Corsair or Enermax to be very reliable.

    2) You've tested the RAM, the CPU is passing the POST (I'm assuming), and you've swapped out the video.. The only thing left would be a failed motherboard.

    If this is the case, the probability is high that if the PSU went flaky and was powering on the low side, that it would cause all of the power oriented leads on the mobo would run VERY hot, to the point where it would damage some of the circuitry, causing the symptoms you listed.

    If it was just the mobo going to mobo heaven, that could work in reverse, a blown mobo circuit would cause a short that would backup and take the PSU with it.

    I've been a tech since the DOS 2.1 days (I know, the olde pharte!), but in my experience, it seems that when EITHER a PSU or a mobo goes south on you, it never goes along, it always takes other victims with it.. usually RAM or an HDD (if the system had been powered on for awhile before expiring), and a controller card (video or whatever) when the untimely death occurs upon powerup.

    I wish you luck with your system!

    Rick
     
  3. cgheilman

    cgheilman Thread Starter

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    Thanks for your feedback, Rick! This computer has been used for accounting software for a small business for 5 years, so they've decided to get a new computer, but I'm still interested in saving it (if I can!)

    I have a bit of a dumb question, but I have an eMachines T3410 with a 300W ATX-300-12E power supply that works -- will this power supply fit (and will it tell me if the PSU is the problem) in the 8400?

    Thanks!

    Christian
     
  4. musikman1

    musikman1

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    Yo Christian,

    Thanks for the note. Hmm.. regarding that REALLY old original ATX power supply (an e-machines upgrade from their original 250W model), don't worry about installing it in the 8400 case, it's not powerful enough to run the computer, but it IS powerful enough to see if the mobo is still good.. MAYBE..

    You need to check and see if the main power coming out of the power supply will match your 8400 mobo. If it will, then unplug EVERYTHING from the 8400 mobo except the video (if this video requires the extra power and it's got a Molex connector, you can still proceed, if it needs the newer 4-6 pin GPU type, you can't use this power supply to test).

    Having ONLY the mobo and video (and a mobo speaker or buzzer would be nice), power it up and check and see if you get the video of the POST and the "no keyboard" error stop.

    If you DO, there's a SHOT that the mobo still works, but you can't check it without a 400W-450W power supply in order to put everything back in it (in my experience, will run you about $50).

    The problem you MAY run into now, is that the new power leads from the new power supplies intending to run the new mobos may not fit, work, or be wired correctly for your old system. Better possibly to look for an older ATX PSU. I have a couple of 420W's here, drop me a note if you want to go that route.

    Rick
     
  5. cgheilman

    cgheilman Thread Starter

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    How do I check to see if the main power out of my old PSU will work with the 8400 motherboard? Also, if I'm able to get everything to work, should I unplug the hard drive to test?

    The small business that uses it recently ordered a new computer, but it won't come in for another week. Is it safe for them to boot into safe mode and still use their accounting software until the new computer comes?

    Thanks for your help! It's greatly appreciated.

    Christian
     
  6. musikman1

    musikman1

    Joined:
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    RE: Will that PSU work?

    I really don't know, as I'm not "hands on" familiar with the 8400.. The PSU is a standard original ATX PSU, so IF the 8400 uses an old-style PSU, with the master power plug to the board, it just might work.

    Then again, it might melt either the PSU, the mobo OR the wiring in your wall.

    I'll give you this warranty. If it breaks anything, I'll guarantee that you will own all of the pieces. :)

    RE: Take out the HD?

    Just to test, yes, just leave in the Video only just to see if you can get thru a POST test to the "No Keyboard - Press F1 to continue" (I always loved that error message..

    I wish I could be more help to you Christian, but it's one of those things that if I had it here, I could look at it and tell you, but trying to do dissimilar equipment test procedures over the net is a bit daunting.

    Rick
     
  7. cgheilman

    cgheilman Thread Starter

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    Sorry to bring back an old thread, but the computer has been turning on and working fine for the past week - it'll start up and work with no problem. No blue screen of death or anything.

    Does this mean that it's definitely a faulty power supply? Any help is appreciated!

    Thanks!
     
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