YADC (yet another dead computer) - opinions?

I built myself a PC in September, an i7-920, 6 GB of RAM, 1 TB drive, a nice system but nothing bleeding edge. I reused my video card, keyboard, mouse, and monitor from my existing system.

Today, while I’m looking at a browser page the screen goes black - though the monitor still shows the signal light instead of the power save. I power cycle it, and nothing happens. I don’t hear any post sounds, as far as I can tell I don’t get any post noises, and it doesn’t seem that the hard drive is getting hit (though honestly I wouldn’t swear to that). The screen stays blank - I don’t see the BIOS/boot order stuff displayed.

Examining the machine, I don’t see anything out of the ordinary, and I certainly didn’t hear or smell anything weird when this happened.

Prior to this the computer has given me almost no problems (the first week I had it, it wouldn’t come out of sleep mode - would go to sleep but I could not wake up. This problem was solved by me re-seating the battery on the motherboard, and has not reappeared since).

I haven’t done anything with it. I guess I’m going to re-seat the CPU, video card, and RAM, and check all the cables but assuming I do that and nothing changes, what’s the next step? After that is it just swapping out parts to see what’s broken? My guess would be either CPU or motherboard. Is there anything I can do to figure out what the problem is other than swap the CPU and then (shudder) the motherboard?

Welcome to the thrilling world of building your own computer!

(Is your power supply working for sure? Fans come on ‘n’ stuff when you power it up?)

when you re-seat the CPU make sure you replace the thermal paste. thermal paste loses a lot of effectiveness when you remove the heatsink from the CPU. i would also recommend thoroughly cleaning the fans and replacing any that seem like they are moving a little slow.

just for shits and giggles try another video card if you have one lying around.

Sounds like video to me. I’m betting if you power cycle the computer you hear it boot up and load off the hard drive, confirming that it’s video only.

Related to the video though, I’m assuming you ran power from your power supply to the video card, the PSU could be related, as could how well that power line is connected.

You’ll want to test the video card, monitor, and PSU in some way, or try to narrow down one or the other. Having or borrowing a spare video card would be ideal here.

I would bet on the video card as well. If it were a PSU issue I would think it’d shut off your PC along with the card when your monitor went black.

Good luck with the troubleshooting! As Skipper notes if you can borrow a spare video card, or have a crappy one laying around somewhere, toss it in and see what happens.

PSU seems ok, all the fans do start up and the lights light and all that.

I’m going to take the existing video card and see if it works in my backup computer, that’s an easy test. I don’t think I have another video card here, I think I got this one to replace the last one that crapped out. You never know, however, maybe I’ll find something old on the shelf.

Thx for the input.

Nobody thinks it’s the CPU or motherboard?

The motherboard is a definite possibility, but it’s something I’d look at pulling out last because it’s the biggest pain in the ass to deal with. Since you have a second computer you can avoid most of that though. Go test that hardware in your other machine.

Possibly dumb question: did you already test the monitor on another PC to make sure it didn’t die?

Definitely not video card. Dead video card will give you POST sounds (well, error buzzes).

No POST sounds means dead MB or CPU.

Power supplies that are no longer any good can still get a computer to boot. Some of the rails are dead/dying and some are fine.

Learned that the hard way. Safe mode would get me up to CLASSPNP.SYS, where it would freeze every time. Whatever part of the power supply was attached to the SATA power connectors had died.

Anyway, the power supply turning on is not necessarily proof that the power supply is A-OK.

My advice is to try replacing the power supply first, if it turns out that’s not it, you have a spare power supply for when the power supply inevitably dies. It’s been my experience that’s the part that breaks most often.

The Gallant speaks the truth. Power supplies are leaps and bounds more likely to fail than just about anything else in the computer, hard drives included.

Ok, so a bit more info: I had a spare video card sitting around and I swapped it in : lo and behold, it worked fine! So I think it must have been that old video card I re-used when I built this machine. I bought an new video card (hasn’t arrived yet) and figured I was out of the woods. So I’m happily puttering along… except that now, every once in a while, the video display just blanks out. Doesn’t really matter what I’m doing, could be playing a game, could be looking at a web page - the screen goes black - signal is still going to the display, just no image. I can fix this by powercycling the monitor.

This was happening every couple hours. However, it just started happening about every minute, and as of now, powercycling the monitor doesn’t fix it - the image comes on for a brief second, then turns off.

I guess my goal for the day is to get a power supply and see if that clears things up.

Wait … power cycling the monitor shouldn’t clear up a video card issue. If there is signal going to the monitor it will work. Can you check your cable going to the monitor, wiggle it and see if you can recreate the “black” screen symptom. Or barring that, try a separate monitor for an extended period and see if it’s okay.

That sounds kind of like an issue I have with my old Dell LCD. For my monitor (an old 2000FP), the inverter board is dying. It’s apparently a pretty common issue, since there are dozens of places online happy to fix it for me for slightly more than the monitor is worth.

Since I don’t use it regularly, I haven’t bothered to fix it, but you might want to do a quick google for your monitor and see if inverter problems are common with your monitor, too.

Replaced the power supply and I stuck the original video card back in but that didn’t solve any of the problems. So I connected the output of the video card to a crappy old monitor and everything seems to work.

At this point I have my built computer with a new power supply, using an old monitor. I’m going to put the original power supply back in and see if it’s still ok, and if so, then I’ll hook up a new monitor. If indeed that is the issue, everything should be hunky dory then.

Keeping my fingers crossed.

A (hopefully) final update: I purchased a new monitor and hooked it up to my original video card and everything seems ok. So I guess the bottom line is that the monitor was bad.

Total purchases:

  1. new video card (I’m probably returning this since I don’t need it)
  2. new power supply (ditto)
  3. new keyboard + mouse (while opening my computer to fiddle with the power supply, I broke the USB dongle for my Logitech MX1100 mouse - since I can’t live without that, and since I needed immediate gratification, I bought the wireless keyboard + MX1100 combo at Best Buy)
  4. new monitor (Dell 23" widescreen, very nice)
  5. new speakers (speaker bar to hang off the monitor)

Still running with the new power supply, going to reinstall the old one today but I am fairly confident that shouldn’t pose any problems. Yeah, I know, famous last words.

Sweet, PLO!!! (parts left over.) Now that leads to buying remaining parts and setting up a media server for the house. :)

Glad you got it fixed Charlatan. Good job sir.