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Windows 7: Help troubleshooting power/crash issue

19 Feb 2013   #1
tehinternet

Win 7 64
 
 
Help troubleshooting power/crash issue

Hi,

I've built around 15 machines in my life time and can usually troubleshoot them no problem, but my current, main machine is giving me trouble. I'm not sure where to start with troubleshooting and am looking for suggestions. Due to a variety of issues which all appeared at the same time I'm in a tossup between a Win7 issue or hardware failure or both.

It sucks because I just threw away spare parts last week, so I have no other mobo or powersupply to try swapping. I'd like to have this figured out before I start randomly purchasing new hardware to swap in.

Sorry for the rambling length, but it's detailing everything I've tried.

Here is the timeline of my odd scenario:

DETAILED PROBLEMS:
Problem 1. No Power) My machine was running great after about 3 mos. of a fresh 64-bit Win7 install on 3-year old hardware. Then a few days ago when I'd go to power it up in the morning, nothing would happen -- no fans/led's. That's weird because it was shutdown properly as it always is. There were no power surges or outages overnight.

-So first I tried unplugging the PSU from the motherboard and popped out the CMOS battery and let it set for 5-10 minutes. Reassembled and nothing.

-I then confirmed power outlet was working, unplugged power cable from PSU, turned off PSU switch, unplugged mobo, removed CMOS battery, the works. Also re-set the video card. Furthermove, confirmed all fans were working, not obstructed with dust-bunnies, etc. Gave it 5-10 minutes, then reassembled, and nothing again. That's weird.

-Finally I began to tear it down again, this time unplugging SATA & IDE drives and USB devices too. This machine has no newly added hardware. Oddly while I was unplugging USB devices, when I unplugged one of them the machine came to life WITHOUT me pressing the power button. Apparently it was in an 'ON' state with no LEDS or fans running and removing a USB device made it start up. This made me think the PSU might be dying. The USB was either a basic KB, mouse, or wirless KB/Mouse all which I've had for years.

Problem 2. Delay before BIOS posts) I reassembled hardware and the machine could then power on again, but now:

-When it boots there is a varying 5-45 second delay with no video before the BIOS posts. Then after posting it runs normally and goes to boot Windows. This is very odd because I've never experienced this delay before. Normally I'd see the BIOS post within maybe 3 seconds of pressing the power button. When this delay is happening the HD LED is on solid even with no HD's or USB HD's connected. Then the BOIS posts and every runs normally until Windows boots.

-I thought it was maybe due to resetting the CMOS to defaults, but I made sure that in the BIOS quickboot was on, my RAM timining was correct, the BIOS wasn't set to do anything 'weird', and even updated my BIOS and it still delays.

-I could maybe get used to this delay, but something doesn't feel right with it first not turning on, now this delay, and upcoming Problem #3 all happening in the same day. I'm wondering if there is an issue with the PSU or the MOBO now. I've also read that video cards can sometimes delay the BIOS from posting, so there even could be a problem with my GPU card. This doesn't really narrow it down.

Problem 3. Crash at Win7 logon screen) The machine wouldn't power up, then there'd be the delay before the BIOS posts, and furthermore now about 50% of the time Win7 will freeze right at the logon screen where you'd click on the user account to log in to. When it freezes there's either a corrupted white bar across the screen, I'll have a frozen cursor with a frozen blue spinning (non-spinning) circle, or I'll have the screen almost completely load but the red 'power/shutdown' button in the bottom-right of the screen won't be fully loaded and corrupted. It almost looks like it could be a graphical glitch as it crashes right there. No blue screen, reboot or power down when this happens. I have to manually restart or power down the machine via the physical buttons.

-Safe mode runs just fine any time I try it.

-When normal Windows mode freezes, sometimes it will work the next time, or sometimes it might take like 3 tries. Once I can get past this crash windows runs flawlessly. Also, once it's working, then it might be okay with a reboot or two when it boots windows normally, then it will get caught crashing at the log in screen again.

-I tried booting with no USB devices plugged in. That made no difference. I tried booting with only the main SATA HD plugged in, that made no difference.

-I tried running a memory test. It passes successfully. I tried running windows chkdsk, that ran with no problems found.

-I looked at the event viewer and examined crash dumps. In the dumps the reason for the crash is 'hardware'. When I look at event viewer there is a 'Critical' error detailing a loss of power/hardware issue when it crashes, but the timestamp is not from the time when the actual crash occurs, the timestamp is from when I manually reboot the machine and it boots windows again and it saw that it previously crashed. So event viewer not helpful and crash dumps very generically say 'hardware' when analyzed.


Problem 4.) Now this morning the weirdest thing happened. After leaving the machine on all night in Windows with no problems, after a reboot this morning it crashed at the login screen. Then after another reboot the machine booted with no video at all. I heard the standard single beep of the BIOS and then maybe 30 seconds and from HD LED activity I suspected windows loaded and confirmed it from another machine -- I was able to ping this problem PC and access a network share. So it booted both the BIOS and Windows fully with absolutely no video being displayed WTF? I of course confirmed the monitor cable was fully plugged in and screwed into place. This is starting to freak me out.


SUMMARY OF PROBLEMS:
1.) PC didn't appear to be getting power one day and then came to life on its own after unplugging a basic USB device

2.) The BIOS has a 5-45 second delay before posting and then after the delay posts normally and goes to boot windows.

3.) Windows is not crashing about 50% of the time at the login screen.


THEORIES:

1.) The PSU could be failing. But in the BIOS the monitor of it's voltage levels are all in range whenever I look e.g. 5.05v/12.025v/etc. Also in windows the ASUS monitor program show proper power levels. BUT if the PSU is failing when when I do get into Windows does it run fine for 24+ hours with no crash. It only crashes at the logon screen. There's evidence both for & against PSU issues. I unfortunately can't check the voltage right as it crashes since I'm neither in Windows fully or the BIOS.

2.) The Motherboard could be failing. While I have has PSU's die in the past, for me a mobo dying would be weird. I've confirmed the RAM is okay. It is weird that removing a USB device started the machine though. Nothing major making me think it's the mobo.

3.) It could be my graphics card. When windows crashes the graphics are glitchly looking and it might be causing the delay before the BIOS. Also doing a full boot with absolutely no video displayed is very odd, but it also could be a PSU issue maybe.

4.) I could be Win7 messed up, but why did Win7 only start acting up after various hardware abnormalities (not powering on / delay in bios / no video displayed from card)


MY HARDWARE:
PSU: COOLER MASTER RS-350-AMSR 350W ATX12V Power Supply
GPU: ECS NR9800GTE-512QX-F GeForce 9800 GT 512MB
RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel
CPU: Intel Pentium Dual-Core E6500 Wolfdale 2.93GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor
MOBO: ASUS P5G41C-M LX LGA 775 Intel G41 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
HDD's: 3x WD20EARS 2TB SATA Harddrives || 1x Western Digital AV WD1600AVJB 160GB 7200 RPM
SDD: 1x Intel 160GB SSD drive. Can't remember exact model. This is what Win7 is installed on.
USB: Basic wired KB, Logitech MX518 wired mouse, Logitech wirless KB/mouse combo




NEXT:
-When I get home today I'm going to try booting off of on-board video with the graphics card removed to try and rule out my video card.
-While the majority of my hardware is 3 years old, I just realized that my PSU is 8+ years old. This is hopefully the root cause. If it still crashes or has delayed boot with the graphic card removed, I think I'll replace the PSU.

What do you guys think? Anything else I should try? Thanks.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
19 Feb 2013   #2
roy69

Windows 7 64bit home premium
 
 

At a guess I would say that your gfx card or PSU is causing the problem. Check all the cables are connected securly to your mobo and that your gfx card is secured properley. Booting from your onboard gfx seems like the right way to go.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Feb 2013   #3
tehinternet

Win 7 64
 
 

Thanks for the reply. I didn't mention it in my OP but I have confirmed (several times) all cards are set properly and all cables connected properly. Will update results of booting w/o graphics card when I get home in about 6 hours.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

19 Feb 2013   #4
tehinternet

Win 7 64
 
 

Well I believe I figured it out. It's the power supply. I just got home and I was going to try and boot it up again with no drives or gfx card connected, but surprise the Mobo wasn't getting any power again full circle all the way back to when this issue first began.

So I tried swapping the PSU with one I borrowed from work today. It was from a small PC and the yellow & black cable with 4 pins (square connector) that also plugs into the Mobo didn't even reach -- still this pathetic PSU at least spun the fans unlike my problem PSU. So I went back to the original PSU and this time it decided to start again normally. That was enough sketchiness with it only working sometimes for me so I removed it and am ordering a new one right now.

TO further confirm it was dead, I took out my PSU by itself, plugged it into the wall, and then manually started it by connecting wire from Pin 13 to Pin 14 of the ATX plug causing it to start up in replace of the switch which connects to the motherboard. Got out the trusty voltmeter and 5V was at 5.15v, nice, but 12v was only at 11.95 (could be better). But then after powering it down it again wouldn't start at all. 30 minutes later and it's still dead. Case closed.

If anyone ever comes across this thread, here were my symptoms of a dying power supply (I think I saw them all here) which are tricky to diagnose sometimes:
1.) Well working machine suddenly won't power on
2.) Machine powers on by itself after removing a USB device. (weird as shit)
3.) Win7 64-bit freezes 50% of time at the login screen with various graphic glitches.
4.) Encountered a 5-60 second delay when powering it on before the BIOS posts which was very strange. Doesn't do this with the PSU I swapped in
5.) Saw it boot all the way to windows successfully with absolutely no video being outputted.
6.) Manual stimulation (lol) of the PSU no longer turns it on.

Well the bright side is, when it died, it died in my hands.

So I'm very confident it was the PSU. If once I get my new one from NewEgg it's not, I'll resurrect this thread.
Thanks!

-tehinternet
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Feb 2013   #5
roy69

Windows 7 64bit home premium
 
 

Glad you got it solved, diagnosing problems like this with no spares can be a pain, keep us informed when you get the new power supply.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Help troubleshooting power/crash issue




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