Dying older machine

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Dying older machine

Postposted on Fri Apr 06, 2012 8:19 pm

Well, I'm pretty sure tonight was the last gasp, but I thought I might come here to see if anyone has any ideas. First, the specs. It's the computer I built many, many moons ago from recommendations here on TR.

    Original CPU: Athlon 64 3000+
    Upgraded CPU: Athlon 64 x2 3800+
    GPU: XFX 8600GTS
    RAM: 2x512, 1x1GB Corsair PC-3200
    Motherboard: Gigabyte K8NF-9
    HDD: 80 GB Western Digital SATA150

It's been running Windows 7 x86 and Ubuntu 10.04 x86 lately. So here's what it's been doing: Will boot and run just fine and dandy, totally stable through days of Memtest, Prime95 torture testing, playing video games, etc. Then, if I turn off the system or hibernate it, many times it will refuse to boot. A lot of times, I have been able to revive it by removing the power plugs and data cables from all devices and removing the graphics card. The other day, however, I mistakenly put the computer into hibernate mode instead of sleep mode from Windows 7. Any attempts to revive it have failed. I have used multiple variations of the PSU and video card from my current computer, as well as the old A64 3000+ CPU. It refused to boot. Game over, man, it's game over! (For the motherboard, I think). Anyone have any ideas?
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Fri Apr 06, 2012 9:54 pm

As I understand it, you have tried swapping power supplies and video cards from another computer... That's a good first step in isolating the problem.

replace the battery. reseat everything, including memory and processor. leave the drives disconnected (for now). make sure the power supply is starting and outputing the correct voltages when you try to start the computer (assumes you have a voltmeter). If you have a known good power supply and it won't power on* or the PSU starts and you have good voltages but you don't get a BIOS boot screen, it's new MB time.

*the power supply is switched by a soft power on/off circuit on the motherboard. The power supply provides a 5V standby voltage to power this circuit. You can have a perfectly good power supply that "won't start" because the motherboard soft power control circuit is dead (as in mostly), deader or really really dead (as in smoking crater where the IC used to be). If the power supply works in another computer (as you imply you have tried) then I would tend to call it "good" and place the blame somewhere else, although I do check the voltages before declaring a power supply "good".

For what it's worth, if you find the motherboard has kicked the bucket, toss the power supply too. It's my experience that motherboard failures are either:
1. thermal
2. bad power
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Fri Apr 06, 2012 10:39 pm

From reading your post it looks like the problem is your mother board. If the memory runs memtest, prime95 doesn't crash your system and you can use your gxf card for games, and the system sometimes refuses to boot, it's likely a motherboard problem. You could also try swapping out your power supply first and see if that works, but I've seen problems like this in the past that end up being the motherboard.

If it is the board, you can likley buy a new one for not a lot but then you'd have to swap all the part out, and in the end you'd still have an older, though still functional, system.
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Fri Apr 06, 2012 10:47 pm

From reading your post it looks like the problem is your mother board. If the memory runs memtest, prime95 doesn't crash your system and you can use your gxf card for games, and the system sometimes refuses to boot, it's likely a motherboard problem. You could also try swapping out your power supply first and see if that works, but I've seen problems like this in the past that end up being the motherboard.

If it is the board, you can likley buy a new one for not a lot but then you'd have to swap all the part out, and in the end you'd still have an older, though still functional, system.
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Sat Apr 07, 2012 1:52 am

I once had a case power switch go bad. That was a simpler fix than a new motherboard. You could try swapping the reset and power switches for a quick test.
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Sat Apr 07, 2012 7:35 am

Okay, so, I took JAE's advice this morning. However, the result is roughly the same. Fans spin up, but I don't get an 'on' computer. No beeps for having no video card or RAM, etc.. Out of curiosity, I swapped the switches back and received the same result. So I don't think it's necessarily a broken switch. :(

Then I decided to plug everything back in, plug in the Keyboard and mouse, monitor, etc. and turn it on. Same result. Fans spin up, but nothing comes out. No beep for successful boot that would suggest a problem with the video card displaying an image to the monitor.
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Sat Apr 07, 2012 9:36 am

CampinCarl wrote:Okay, so, I took JAE's advice this morning. However, the result is roughly the same. Fans spin up, but I don't get an 'on' computer. No beeps for having no video card or RAM, etc.. Out of curiosity, I swapped the switches back and received the same result. So I don't think it's necessarily a broken switch. :(

Then I decided to plug everything back in, plug in the Keyboard and mouse, monitor, etc. and turn it on. Same result. Fans spin up, but nothing comes out. No beep for successful boot that would suggest a problem with the video card displaying an image to the monitor.


If the fans spin up, clearly your motherboard gets the signal from the power button. If you know what you're doing you can even manually short the power pins with a screwdriver or a pair of pliers. That's the same thing as power button press. I would reset CMOS just to be sure but most likely your mobo has gone to a better world.

One thing you can check for physical damage on the board are the capacitors. All of them have to have perfectly flat tops. If any tops are swollen or puffy - there is your problem. I've seen several Dell systems from that era with the same issue.
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Sat Apr 07, 2012 9:53 am

I second Synchromesh.

Swap the Cmos battery (you can get em at walgreens).
Clear the cmos etc.

I had a similar issue and it turned out to be a corrupted cmos profile.
Leaving the machines clear cmos jumper in place for a day allowed the machine to boot with the "safe settings" profile and allowed me to get the machine back up and running.

On the other hand its too bad it suddenly fixed itself like that. I almost got the wife's ok to upgrade to a core i5 :D
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Sat Apr 07, 2012 9:03 pm

The caps are fine; that was one of the first things I checked for. None leaking, no unreasonable bulging going on. I'll try the trick with a new CMOS battery tomorrow, didn't have time to stop at the store today. Trying to tire out a 3 year old chocolate lab is tiring!
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:31 pm

So I finally got around to getting an extra CR2032 and resetting the CMOS with the new battery. Still no go. I think it's dead :(
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Sun Apr 15, 2012 6:10 pm

I would guess the board most likely, however, in a case like this, my last ditch effort is to simulate a fresh build.

1)Board out of the case sitting on a cardboard motherboard box or similar,
2)Remove and re-install CPU and HSF
3)Remove and re-install ram. (start with 1 stick in the first recommended slot per the manual) Have spare ram.
4)Onboard video only or low power video card.
5)Clear CMOS and u can even leave the battery out.
6)Install power supply, and have a spare handy to swap.

See if u can boot to BIOS using a screwdriver on the pwr pins; if not, try it with different ram / different ram slot, and also different PS.

If none of that works, most likely is is the board, but only way to test is to have a spare board.

However, once in a while the above worked for me, and I was never able to track down the exact problem.
(Dirty ram slot, maybe the CPU somehow shift in the socket, power supply connectors needed to be removed and re-inserted, something in the case shorted out, etc...

Works comes to worse, time to sell AS-IS and move on.


Good luck and let us know.
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:47 pm

Dposcorp: Actually, when I swapped in the A64 3000+ for the X2 3800+, I did a full rebuild at that time. Didn't improve anything :( I might try the screwdriver to PWR pins trick though. I kind of doubt it'll help since I already swapped the buttons to check for broken switches, but it's worth a shot.

Thanks everyone :)
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Sun Apr 15, 2012 8:56 pm

I'm agreed that it's likely a dead mobo...but to be sure, you could try doing a completely cold boot. Remove the PSU power cord, remove the CMOS battery, wait 5 minutes, then try to boot it up.

The fact that it did this when you set it to hibernate sounds like coincidence.
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Sun Apr 15, 2012 9:38 pm

I've had this happen with machines when the P4 power connector was loose / plugged in backwards / corroded, etc.

You don't get any error beeps, as the board shuts it self down as a saftey before it initialises.
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Sun Apr 15, 2012 9:41 pm

I love that people call it a "P4 power connector" just because Pentium 4s were the first CPUs to suck so much power that they required a second connection. :lol:
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Sun Apr 15, 2012 9:48 pm

You swaped CPU's, full rebuild, even changed the CMOS battery - again, very likely the mobo. Do you have another AM2 mobo to try?
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Sun Apr 15, 2012 9:57 pm

It's a 939 mobo. I just recently sold all of mine off otherwise I'd send him one for the cost of shipping. :(
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Mon Apr 16, 2012 3:18 am

The good news is that you're just in time for an Ivy Bridge upgrade.
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:46 am

I agree with everyone else in that it is most likely the mobo. However I did want to chime in and say that I was never able to successfully get a s939 mobo to behave properly in sleep mode or hibernation. I thought it was a design flaw as I remember it being pretty prevalent across many forums. Most people just disabled any type of sleep and called it a day. I also remember that maybe coolnquiet had something to do with it. If enabled it would mess up your sleep mode. so no power saving enabled in bios and no sleep or hibernation....just oc the crap out of it and live with increased energy costs!

My s939 would go into sleep and then never come out....fans spinning but no display activity. Very similar to what you report. The only thing that worked for me was to pull out the psu power cord and wait 5 minutes with the clear CMOS jumper in the clear position. Then switch the jumper back and power up the pc. Any less or no CMOS clear would net me a no boot with fans spinning but no display.

Good luck! And maybe last ditch effort would be to try a different brand gpu. So if amd(ati) try nvidia or vice versa.
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:34 am

ryko wrote:I agree with everyone else in that it is most likely the mobo. However I did want to chime in and say that I was never able to successfully get a s939 mobo to behave properly in sleep mode or hibernation. I thought it was a design flaw as I remember it being pretty prevalent across many forums. Most people just disabled any type of sleep and called it a day. I also remember that maybe coolnquiet had something to do with it. If enabled it would mess up your sleep mode. so no power saving enabled in bios and no sleep or hibernation....just oc the crap out of it and live with increased energy costs!

My s939 would go into sleep and then never come out....fans spinning but no display activity. Very similar to what you report. The only thing that worked for me was to pull out the psu power cord and wait 5 minutes with the clear CMOS jumper in the clear position. Then switch the jumper back and power up the pc. Any less or no CMOS clear would net me a no boot with fans spinning but no display.

Good luck! And maybe last ditch effort would be to try a different brand gpu. So if amd(ati) try nvidia or vice versa.


Weird! My s939 machine, which for now is still my main rig has never had any troubles with hibernate or sleep mode. It has cool'n'quiet enabled and way back when I used to run WinXP, it worked fine (no hibernate or sleep issues) and same with Kubuntu now, it's just fine. I've used hibernate on this machine a lot over the years as well! I will say that since maxing out this motherboard to 4GB RAM I have had the odd lock up here and there that I've never had before, but that's a different issue (RAM tests as fine).

I guess where others didn't, DFI got sleep and hibernate to work properly.
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:44 am

Hmm maybe it is only when oc'ed (and with coolnquiet) that it screws up sleep/hibernation??? At stock it might be ok, but I have 2 s939 dfi nf4u mobos here that refuse to go into sleep. Ymmv I guess!

I do know that populating all 4 ram slots has a detrimental effect on stability though for sure! I could never get my ddr500 to it's rated speed with all 4 slots. Even ddr400 settings weren't completely stable...
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:45 am

have you tried the "DFI long bios clear"?
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:24 am

My first guess was caps as well, as I have a similar Gigabyte NF4 SLI board with swollen caps, but its still running, so I use it for a testbed PC for questionable used video cards or other hardware I buy. Talk about an odd mix - it has an AMD 3500+ Venice in it and I popped a GTX260 into the box to test the card. Talk about CPU bound !

One other thing to try would be a different mouse or keyboard, and if using PS2, try USB or vice versa. I spent a good chunk of the day yesterday testing out a shelf full of my questionable hardware, so I feel your pain on this one. I can test any hardware that you have as well if you do need a similar config to test anything that is determined to be a possible culprit.
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Re: Dying older machine

Postposted on Tue May 29, 2012 1:04 am

Wow. You said you had an older machine, but it looks like you're a good generation ahead of me.
I'm typing this on an AthlonXP/nforce box I built about a decade ago now, I guess. Still works great.
Got 2 more just like it. I guess it will come in handy when you need to salvage parts, I guess.

Anyway, these are some good guesses as to what's going on (yeah, if I had to guess, I say it was probably the motherboard).
But, why guess when decent multimeters are so cheap? Especially if you have a Harbor Freight where you live. That way, you can test the power supply rails and see if they're within spec.
http://www.harborfreight.com/catalogsea ... multimeter
Or, if you build/repair enough PCs, it might be worth it to get a power supply tester. You can pick one of those up for less than $20 as well. Beats the hell out of buying replacement PSUs or mobos unnecessarily. :wink:
http://www.google.com/search?q=power+supply+tester.
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