Computer won't start

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Old 12-19-12, 06:18 AM
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Computer won't start

We had a power surge or brownout or something about an hour ago and now my wife's main computer won't start. Everything else in the house seems to be OK. Power tests good to the cord end at the machine.

It's a custom build with an Intel Core i7 CPU system running Windows 7.

It has two on/off switches - a rocker next to the power inlet and a pushbutton on top. If I switch the rocker off, unplug and replug the cord, and then switch the rocker back on, I see a momentary flash of the lights inside the tower, but then it goes deal again. This momentary light can only be repeated by switching off, unplugging, replugging, and switching back on.

Any ideas what we might try to quickly and inexpensively get this machine running again? Might there be some sort of internal circuit breaker to be reset?
 
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Old 12-19-12, 06:51 AM
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I've not had that issue with a computer but I have seen it with pinball machines. It's usually something in the power supply. When it first powers up it looks for correct voltages at several points. If it's (correct power) not there it shuts down A to protect itself and B knowing it's useless to proceed without the correct power. The good news is that computer power supplies are pretty inexpensive. Do you have any old computer lying around in the garage. Maybe you could get lucky and one of those supplies has the correct connectors to fit your current computer.

You could also open up your computer's case to see if the power supply, usually a separate box inside the computer's case, has a reset button or fuse. It will also give you a chance to smell and look for any blown or burned components.
 
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Old 12-19-12, 07:05 AM
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So far, this tower is only showing signs of powering up for a second or less. There's no time there to test anything.

We can check internals at some point. Right now she's working by connecting her laptop to our network and her stand monitor in place of the tower.

There is no external power supply. The tower is connected directly to 120V - but I assume you're talking about an internal power supply.
 

Last edited by Nashkat1; 12-19-12 at 08:33 AM.
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Old 12-19-12, 07:32 AM
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I have been there. There is one way you might get the machine to power up and stay on but at your own risk. Pull the cord, open the case and remove the big multi-wire power connector from the motherboard. Power up the supply again and re-insert the main plug into the board under power. If it works, it will work as normal until you unplug the machine or have a power outage again. If you really care about the machine, I would advise against doing this though. Pretty sure your power supply is toast and needs replacement.
 
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Old 12-19-12, 07:55 AM
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My first thought was the PS as well. Given that you built this PC, any chance you have another power supply lying around you can test?
 
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Old 12-19-12, 08:11 AM
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The good news is it is custom built so it doesn't probably use a bazaar shaped power supply with weird MB connector like some big name factory computers do. I've paid as little as 20 dollars for a power supply though I don't recommend that. One good tip is subtract at least 100 watts from any claims on the wattage of the new power supply. The specs are often fudged. Cheaper the power supply the more fudge you get.
 
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Old 12-19-12, 08:28 AM
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My first though also, was to look for a rest button on the power supply. They are sometimes a small red slider switch. But, even though it only stays on for a mili-second before shutting off, it only takes a mili-second for the system to check the voltage. I am betting on a reset switch or a complete power supply fixing your problem.
 
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Old 12-19-12, 08:36 AM
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Pull the cord, open the case and remove the big multi-wire power connector from the motherboard. Power up the supply again and re-insert the main plug into the board under power. If it works, it will work as normal until you unplug the machine or have a power outage again.
Thanks. Taking this under long-term advisement. My wife refers to this machine as her mainframe, so we don't want to do anything too risky.
 
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Old 12-19-12, 08:39 AM
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Given that you built this PC, any chance you have another power supply lying around you can test?
Mitch, I regret that I wasn't as clear as I would have liked. We didn't build it - we had it built.
 
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Old 12-19-12, 09:13 AM
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Thanks, everyone. It sounds like the consensus is coming to the power supply. Is there any advice as we go to get a replacement beyond opening the machine up and matching the existing PS?
 

Last edited by Nashkat1; 12-19-12 at 09:45 AM. Reason: Clarity
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Old 12-19-12, 10:00 AM
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Nashkat1 I know you are an electrical guy so, if you wanted to, testing the power supply with a multimeter should be a piece of cake for you.

This link (at end) identifies the signals.

Power supply unit (computer) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Below testing method:

How To Manually Test a Power Supply With a Multimeter

My PC (I built) was no-go once and with a multimeter I confirmed it was my Power Supply not asserting the Power Good Signal (pin 8).
 
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Old 12-19-12, 11:14 AM
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Thanks! About.com has been my favorite information service for more than a decade now, and Tim Fisher just became my new favorite Guide there. I actually found his pin table more readable when both were printed out.
 
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Old 12-19-12, 11:38 AM
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Bill check out my post #6. Power supplies on custom built should be the same usual generic size and shape with standard mounting holes. The main thing are the connectors but if you get a new power supply it should have connectors backward compatible with older boards. Some included connectors may just not be needed for your board.
 
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Old 12-19-12, 12:03 PM
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You can get power supplies just about anywhere. I would open up the case of your "main frame" and look at what you have. There might even be a label telling you exactly what it is if you desire to find an exact replacement. A quick search of Amazon, New Egg and many, many others will give you more options than you care to consider.
 
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Old 12-19-12, 12:16 PM
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Thanks, PD and Ray. Right now, we're planning on opening it up later tonight and being at Micro Center tomorrow when the doors open.
 
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Old 12-19-12, 01:23 PM
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The power supply is not static sensitive so you don't need to be too careful when handling it but I do ground myself before touching any of the boards inside the computer.
 
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Old 12-19-12, 05:41 PM
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I agree with everyone else probably the power supply did burn out and may have saved your wifes motherboard and other components. Micro Center isn't a bad place but I also agree about the advice for Newegg as they seem to have the highest quality power supplies at the best prices. At the same time though I also understand the need to have your computer up and running. If I were you I would also pick up a can of compressed air at the same time because even in the cleanest of home offices dust can build up inside the computer. Cleaning it too will help you see better and see if any of your components might be damaged. Trouble is with a power surge the damage isn't always visible. I wish you luck with your computer and I hope you post back your status. Happy holiday!
 
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Old 12-19-12, 06:32 PM
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Nash, just for giggles try unplugging the entire system from the power source for a few minuets then plug it back in. I have seen something as simple as that work sometimes.
 
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Old 12-19-12, 09:15 PM
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The tower is open, The existing PS is an Ultra X3 800W. Tower is blown and vacuumed out. We can remove the PS in the morning before leaving, or wait and do it after we have a replacement. The main concerns now are making sure that the new PS will fit the space in the case, which is a Corsair Config ID: 107291919, and have the proper connection ports for the 12 or so cables feeding out of it. Or come with its own bundle of cables that will feed the components this one is feeding.

We think.

Any sage advice or wake-up calls?
 
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Old 12-19-12, 09:28 PM
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Doesn't that computer have a manual transmission

Can't you just push start it



Micro Center
 
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Old 12-19-12, 10:02 PM
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And a 6-volt electrical system, no cat cracker nor EGR valve,,,

Don't I wish! This one looks like a hook job.

Thanks for the grin!

 
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Old 12-19-12, 11:57 PM
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Nashkat1 I tried looking up your case but either the model number isn't correct or that model is no longer being made. Most likely not being made. As you may remember I have built two desktop computers so far so I have had some good experiences with one brand and that is Antec. I have the Antec BP-550 which is their basic 550 watt power supply and a bit cheaper than an 800 watt power supply. Most Antecs have one fan and that is on the top and not the back of the power supply which actually adds up to more air flow in the case. My Power supply has a modular design too which means you can keep some cords off that you don't need and would be in the way of proper air flow. There are a few others that make a ps with a modular design like Antec but I don't have first hand knowledge of those. The Antec ps in my office has been running for two years without any problems at all. Here is a link to an 850 watt ps that really should work fine link: Newegg.com - High Current Pro HCP-850 850W TX12V v2.3 / EPS12V v2.92 SLI Certified CrossFire Certified 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply . Now a link to the rest of their Antec Power Supplies Newegg.com - Computer Hardware, Power Supplies .
I am sure you already know this but maybe your builder of your computer didn't think of this if you have a power supply with the fan on top. There is a right way and a wrong way to mount them. With a case that takes the power supply at the top(which I prefer as the power supply usually lasts longer) you have the fan facing down. If the power supply is mounted on the bottom it is facing up. Some cases are made so poorly that you could very easily goof and some cases will not allow for that. It all depends although just by looking at the stock of Corsair cases Newegg has that doesn't appear to be the case.
 
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Old 12-20-12, 04:50 AM
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Nash, Ron53 made a good point.

This is a Twilight Zone moment, but I just had an issue yesterday PM that was eerily similar. Here's the scenario:

On the front of my tower in one of the unused bay cover panels I have three small cooling fans mounted. Does a nice job of keeping things cool; okay, and it looks cool, too. Anyway, eventually the fans die of natural causes. I already had two dead ones and then the third stared whining over the weekend, so I figured I procrastinated long enough and ordered three new ones. Got them yesterday and wanted to do the R&R, but spousal unit was on the computer. No problem, pulled the panel out and was going to carefully cut the power wires so as to take the panel to garage and do the fan swaps, they're just mounted to the panel with 6-32 screws. Then I would power down and reattach the wires. Welllll, won't ever try that again (shouldn't have in the first place, somebody slap me); managed to get a ground and a hot together while snipping wires and the computer immediately powered down. Oops. Tried power switch. Nada. Tried cycling PS switch. Zip. Uh-oh. Pulled the PS out and took to bench and powered it up with the paperclip trick. Hmmm, fried MOBO? Nothing to lose by hooking back up. Re-installed PS and powered everything up. Worked 4.0. Shut back OFF and finished doing original fans R&R.

I'm at a loss as to what was up.
 
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Old 12-21-12, 12:41 PM
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Heh, heh. I kinda figured you might show up not long after I declided the DW's mainframe looked like a hook job.

Scary story - glad you got it resolved so handily.

Update

The PS has been replaced, everything hooked up, one crooked hard straightened, and the system fired up...

Except it didn't. Zero, zip, nada. Lights and fans, drives spinning, no signal to moniter.

Further research is indicated.
 
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Old 12-21-12, 12:47 PM
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My Power supply has a modular design too which means you can keep some cords off that you don't need and would be in the way of proper air flow.
Thanks, Hedge.

I had my hand on an 850W modular PS - I forget whose - and elected to go for a 1kW that was $40 cheaper. If I had known then how much easier that would have been, plus getting power to two empty HD slots she was hoping to fill, I'd have bought it in a heartbeat. Lesson learned.
 
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Old 12-21-12, 03:15 PM
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Sorry that you didn't see my post earlier and that I didn't get a chance to post it until late. I have been planting some crape myrtle trees our power company gave us. Well now that you know you can use an Antec or another brand with a modular design at some other point in the future.
On to your other problem though. You say you don't have any video I am not sure if you are using integrated video on the motherboard or whether you have a video card. If you are using integrated video try taking a video card out of another computer and putting it into the one that doesn't have any video. Make sure you unplug each computer though before proceeding, I am sure you know to do that but it doesn't hurt to remind you. If after you put the card in and then close the case with the power on and if the computer still doesn't have video then I am afraid the motherboard may be completely fried.
In that case you have two options look for the same motherboard on Tigerdirect if it isn't too old or on ebay if it is. The second option being take the hard drive out of the case and buy an external enclosure and then use another computer to copy those files. If that is fried too then you are completely out of luck unfortunately. Tigerdirect has some nice kits and more kits than most online retailers do so I advise looking there if you decide to build your own computer. Myself I built both of mine out of separate components as I just liked it better that way. So whatever way you want to go as far as building it yourself just let me know and I can give you some advice on what I like the best. Most likely though unless your case is real old I would say reuse it if you can't repair the old motherboard or at least replace the video portion. Anyway keep us posted. Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!
 
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Old 12-24-12, 10:32 PM
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Yeah, me too.

Anyway, we brought the tower on the road with us and our youngest son revived the patient yesterday. Turns out the pair of 4-pin connectors I couldn't find a place for needed to replace a single 8-pin connector in the far corner of the MB that was originally fed by a cable that was buried under the bundle of cables coming out of the new PS.

Did I mention that I really prefer modular PSs now?

So now we're waiting for four jumpers with the proper ends to arrive tomorrow, and it should be ready to go as intended - both graphics cards, both DVD drives and all six hard drives. Sheesh!
 
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Old 12-24-12, 10:59 PM
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I think I know what you are talking about the place for the second processor. Most newer motherboards now have a fixed processor and one you install or in your case have someone else install.
I had actually never seen a modular ps before building my first office computer and now I wouldn't advise anyone to build or repair a computer without a modular ps. I really like them as the wires you don't need are out of the way as I said in my last post. But with that many hard drives you just might need all of the wires. Sounds like it was built for possible gaming and not for just watching video. When I built my living room desktop I put in a 1.5 tb hard drive and for now that is all I think I need. They make those SATA drives though in various sizes so maybe you could get bigger sized drives and consolidate things a bit. It sure would make it much lighter in case it ever needs servicing again. Just a thought anyway.
 
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Old 12-25-12, 09:33 PM
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The smallest hard drive in it is the 500G SSHD which is the boot or system or "C:" drive. My wife was thinking to save a couple of bucks when she spec'd that and didn't stop to think about how many programs insist on writing to that drive.

The open hard drive bays are 2 and 6, now that I re-aligned one that had gotten stuck at an angle. She's already bought the larger SSHD and another regular HD to go into those bays. I'll install the power connectors when they arrive - hopefully tomorrow - and we'll fire it up with the four drives it has now. When we get home we'll add the two new drives and she can start mirroring her OS onto the new SSHD.

Yes, it does look, walk and talk like a gaming machine, and she consciously modeled it on the Acer Predator which is now her "other" computer, but that's not because she's into online games. It's because these machines allow her to manipulate the images and other elements for her work in an acceptable amount of time and at the level of quality she wants.
 
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