Troubleshooting Desktop that won't POST - Update POSTing Now

Time to Mo Vaughn

RIP Dernell
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Mar 24, 2008
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I have Desktop PC that I built about 9 years ago that died today while I was on it. Was literally in the middle of browsing the internet when it just instantly turned off and wouldn't respond at all to the power button even being pressed. I opened up the case and noticed that it was unfortunately pretty dusty, so I took vacuumed it out as well as possible including unseating the CPU fan, put it all back together still nothing happens. Of course, I'm assuming the PSU at this point, so I disconnect that and try the paper clip test, which it fails immediately. My understanding is that if it passes the paper clip test, you may still have a bad power supply, but that if the fan doesn't move it's dead. Note: This is a 9 year old power supply, so I don't think it's like the modern ones that only have the fan turn on with higher draw.

Best Buy has a well rated Corsair available for curbside pickup today, so I picked that up today and just put that all together. Still nothing... The only thing I noticed is that with the new PSU if I do a full unplug from AC power, when I try to turn it on the CPU fan and case fan will turn for half a second before nothing happens at all.

The main purpose of this computer is as a Plex server for my kids content, so was hoping to get it back up and running quickly. I've even thought about building (or just straight up buying) something newer (and possibly smaller form factor since I don't game), but I know prices right now on components are insane, so I was hoping to get a few more years out of this.

What am I missing? What else can I do or test?
 

Harry Hooper

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Jan 4, 2002
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Don't kill me, but have you confirmed the electric outlet on the wall doesn't have a tripped circuit breaker? That could have easily happened when the first problem arose with the PC.

Here's a link to the troubleshooting checklist at Tom's Hardware: https://forums.tomshardware.com/threads/no-post-system-wont-boot-and-no-video-output-troubleshooting-checklist.1285536/


If you have to buy a quick replacement PC, there's always craigslist -- for example this one in Mass.: https://boston.craigslist.org/bmw/sys/d/arlington-hp-z230-tower-i7-xeon-core/7427170724.html

Dell sells the computers they get back off leases at dellrefurbished.com. They have a New Year's promotion on right now -- 40% off on PCs $699 and up and 30% off PCs under $699, with free shipping. or check out what's in the clearance section for $179
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

RIP Dernell
SoSH Member
Mar 24, 2008
5,706
Don't kill me, but have you confirmed the electric outlet on the wall doesn't have a tripped circuit breaker? That could have easily happened when the first problem arose with the PC.

Here's a link to the troubleshooting checklist at Tom's Hardware: https://forums.tomshardware.com/threads/no-post-system-wont-boot-and-no-video-output-troubleshooting-checklist.1285536/


If you have to buy a quick replacement PC, there's always craigslist -- for example this one in Mass.: https://boston.craigslist.org/bmw/sys/d/arlington-hp-z230-tower-i7-xeon-core/7427170724.html

Dell sells the computers they get back off leases at dellrefurbished.com. They have a New Year's promotion on right now -- 40% off on PCs $699 and up and 30% off PCs under $699, with free shipping. or check out what's in the clearance section for $179
My guess is that it is the CPU. RAM will usually blue screen or something and you ruled out the PSU.
Thanks for this I walked through the Toms Hardware checklist. Given this was already a working machine, I did try booting without RAM and I'm still getting no post as well as no error codes on the motherboard speaker, so that almost certainly means it can only be the Motherboard or CPU that have died. The only real way to test would be to have someone who happens to have a rig up and running with compatible CPU/Motherboard and do a quick swap of the CPUs. I jumped onto Newegg and found that I can get a refurbished motherboard for about $80-100, but wondering if that's really worth the money and effort given it's a 9 year old build.
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

RIP Dernell
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Mar 24, 2008
5,706
I wouldn't spend that much to fix a 9 year old computer. Nothing on eBay that's cheaper?
It's about the same.

I did order a 2 bay hard drive dock off Amazon this morning. I had an ESATA to USB3 for the 2.5" drives, but typically just dealt with larger drives by connecting them directly within my desktop. This will at the very least allow me to install plex on my laptop and connect to the files sitting on the HDDs which gives me more time to figure out what I actually want to do next with this. It's insane how much even a few year old graphics cards are. If I were to upgrade a rig, one thing I'd like to be able to do is transcode 4k content on the fly, which my current couldn't handle. My two primary monitors are 2560x1440, so unless (or until) I upgrade those to 4K there's really not much stress on the card since I don't game.
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

RIP Dernell
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Mar 24, 2008
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So I was ready to return the new PSU to Best Buy since it appears that wasn't the issue, but given the fan would spin with the new one I just put the old one to test that I had the exact same behavior. It appears that in my haste to do this well everything is still in the case, which is mounted to the underside of my standing desk I must have missed some cables. With only the Motherboard and CPU connected to the PSU, it will fully POST (I was also an idiot and didn't realize that I wasn't seeing it for a while since my monitors were connected to my graphics card).

However, If I plug any other cable into the PSU (graphics card, SATA power for hard drives). Then it will do the thing it was doing earlier where the CPU fans spin for half a second, but it never turns on and never shuts down. Now I'm thinking I've got a short somewhere.
 

AlNipper49

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Apr 3, 2001
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Mtigawi
Try the paper clip trick to see if they old PSU is really busted (plenty of YouTubes). I forgot to mention that before. It does sound like you have a short or something fucked up. I really do smell a CPU issue though, you almost never see shorts and you see a CPU issue now and again. This behavior is consistent with that
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

RIP Dernell
SoSH Member
Mar 24, 2008
5,706
Try the paper clip trick to see if they old PSU is really busted (plenty of YouTubes). I forgot to mention that before. It does sound like you have a short or something fucked up. I really do smell a CPU issue though, you almost never see shorts and you see a CPU issue now and again. This behavior is consistent with that
No worries. I mentioned in the first post that the first PSU failed the paper clip test and I 100% have different behaviors with only plugging in the motherboard and CPU power (old PSU resulted in no response or movement of any fans or any noise).

The fact that I'm now getting a full POST makes me lean toward a short or the motherboard. I've been fucking around with plugging in and unplugging stuff while it's still in the case. So I guess I'll actually have to take the time to pull it all out.
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

RIP Dernell
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Mar 24, 2008
5,706
Additional progress made. Apparently my new power supply hated all the cables from my old power supply, when I replaced them with the ones from new CPU it is now running and attempting to boot from my SSD.
 

Harry Hooper

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Jan 4, 2002
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Additional progress made. Apparently my new power supply hated all the cables from my old power supply, when I replaced them with the ones from new CPU it is now running and attempting to boot from my SSD.
Keep going. Oh, the suspense!
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

RIP Dernell
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Mar 24, 2008
5,706
Keep going. Oh, the suspense!
I did get it to boot this morning. I think once it would actually boot (or the initial shut down) had slightly corrupted the disk. Took three or four powering on attempts with varying results from it entering windows recovery mode to the new windows blue screen.

Granted it now boots with 90% of the peripherals disconnected and the motherboard on the floor of my master bedroom, so I've got some with to do to get it all back together and I'll be carefully testing each component I connect to make sure it continues to boot.
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

RIP Dernell
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Mar 24, 2008
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Dealing with a few more weird problems:

1. If I have a RAM stick in the 4th dimm slot, my motherboard is giving me an error 55, which is memory not installed. If I do the first 3 slots it's fine, if I switch them, I can get them all to POST.
2. I can no longer get my HD to boot. I was able to get it into repair mode one time (by using F8). Now when I do that, it is freezing before the repair mode menu works. I guess my best bet is to create a separate recovery USB and try to use that to repair the SSD boot drive?

I seem to be taking two steps forward and one back. This from a computer that's pretty much run with no issues (left on 98% of the time) for 7+ years.
 

Harry Hooper

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Sorry, it's hard to imagine a media server without a disc drive. Is the SSD being detected properly in the BIOS?
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

RIP Dernell
SoSH Member
Mar 24, 2008
5,706
Sorry, it's hard to imagine a media server without a disc drive. Is the SSD being detected properly in the BIOS?
The desktop does actually have a disc drive. Though I don't think I've used it in 5+ years. But nothing else in my house has a disc drive, so no real way to create a boot disc.

It detects the SSD and will attempt to boot from it, but most of the time on start up (or trying to enter repair mode) it will show the windows icon, spin, and then freeze there permanently or just shutdown.