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hardware troubleshooting procedure?

By peegeenyc ·
I have an XP Pro workstation that is crashing and freezing at random times. after updating drivers and checking through most obvious things I did a clean install of windows on a clean drive. it has just frozen again, so - it must be a hardware issue, right?
where do I start - power supply, memory video card?
whats the best procedure to track down the culprit?
I ran a memtest on it but there's 4gb ram, so it takes all night and then was stopped at 75%.. (?)
should I pull the ram sticks down to jsut one and try it from there? disconnect bits and pieces to see what happens or?
how do I tell if its the power supply?

any help gratefully received, thanks, paul

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by TheChas In reply to hardware troubleshooting ...

It just might be too much RAM.

I recall reading that XP won't make use of more than 3GB of system RAM.

PC power supplies seldom die part way. But, verify that the cooling fan is working properly.

You can buy power supply testers that just plug in in place of the motherboard. If you get all green lights with a tester, 90% probability that the power supply is fine.

To check the power supply further, requires load resistors and an oscilloscope.

Also, check the CPU fan.

Assuming the power supply is fine, RAM and CPU are the next things to try.

Then, the system board.

Chas

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by peegeenyc In reply to

dont think its too much RAM. I've had 4gb on the system for 2.5 years so, cant see why it would suddenly be the amount thats a problem. I've pulled two sticks, run memcheck on these two, then will run for a while with just these. if it still freezes, then that's not it, I guess.
cpu fan is good, I don't have a UPS or power supply conditioner on the system - should I?

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by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to hardware troubleshooting ...

Well a UPS wouldn't do any harm but I would first testing the system components with the Ultimate Boot CD available from

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/

You can download an ISO Image and burn a CD from it.

Then set your computer to Boot from CD and run the various utilities they will test everything one at a time with you choosing what you want tested.

While over all I do agree with Chas that Power Supplies seldom perform erratically I have seen a few go low on the 5v + rail which has caused a lot of problems with loosing the MBR's on every HDD. If you have a system monitoring utility run it to check the Voltages and Fan Speeds and if the voltages are below specs replace the PS with a good one that can handle the load that you are putting on it. With 4 GIG of RAM I very much doubt that you have just a CD/DVD burner and 1 HDD installed. Get one of the better known brand names like Antec or Evermax (that's what I think they are called.} Personally I only ever use the Antec ones because they are very good and don't generally give me any problems + I get them wholesale which helps no end and they are the only ones that the suppliers this side of the pond sell on the better PS instead of the underrated no name brands.

Col

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by peegeenyc In reply to

very helpful thanks.
checked out my diagnostic software and for the PS voltages and it says:
+3.3V is at 3.28V; the +5v at 2.88v (!?); and the 12v at 11.13v
that 5v rail is quite worrying at 2.88v. is this a big red light? and so should replace the power supply probably?

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by sgt_shultz In reply to hardware troubleshooting ...

so after your memtest failed you reran it on a known good machine with 4gb? yes? to see if the tool worked as you expect? and to see if the ram made *that* pc crash?
man, that the ruling out software the hard way. (rdl) plus i don't think it is ruled out yet maybe.
maybe it is bed pw supply but could it be bad part pulling down the supply?
if me i would take out half the ram and see if any effect stability, on 5V. if no, i would swap in other half and retest. if yes, i would swap out half of installed ram to locate bad one.
to try to answer your question:
i'd start with the ram since i had a questionable test result on it.
i swap video card in pretty early if i had a spare of late if i didn't to rule it out as that is fastest most thorough way to rule that out (the ram on it especially i think).
i in my mind, could be, but not highly likely is, mobo after all these years unless you are forgetting to mention a recent lightning strike. think you are forgetting to mention many relevant details.
but i thought mobo wasn't supposed to boot up if 5v not right. so what is up with that ?

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by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to hardware troubleshooting ...

While the 2.8 V DC on the + %V rail is way too low let it run for some time before you actually change the PS and see if it improves. Some of those M'Board utilities are not overly accurate and both the 3 & 12 V rails are OK that 5 V Rail is way too low but also it shouldn't be working if it is that low either so the measuring utility could be wrong.

Try the Ultimate Boot CD which is nearly all a NIX as these are a bit more reliable in actually diagnosing things.

Col

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by TheChas In reply to hardware troubleshooting ...

Like Colin (HAL 9000), I find it hard to believe that the 5 volt power supply would read bad with the others being good.

Not impossible, just not likely.

The way the motherboard monitors the voltages is not as accurate as a hand held meter.

If you have a multi-meter, and know how to use it, you can check the +5 and +12 volt power on any drive power connector.
The black lines are ground.

If the voltage measures low on the drive connector, replace the power supply.

If the voltage measures good with a meter, but still reads bad with the motherboard utility, I would strongly suspect the motherboard itself.

Take a close look at the cylindrical parts (filter capacitors) near the CPU socket and power connector.

If ANY of these parts look like they have a bulge in the side or top, have leaked a liquid from the base, or are discolored, you have bad filter caps, and NEED to replace the motherboard.

At 2 1/5 years old, you are near the tail end of a batch of bad capacitors that ended up in a number of motherboards.

Chas

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