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Discussion Starter #1
Hello and thanks in advance for any help and advice.

First the system specs:
Intel P4 2.8gHz
Abit IS7 Motherboard
2gb Corsair value-select DDR400
ATI X1300PRO 256MB
DVD-ROM (currently removed for troubleshooting)
SoundBlaster Audigy soundcard (currently removed for troubleshooting)
Network Card (at work and can't remember the manufacturer)
Windows XP Pro, SP2

History:
I built this machine myself a few years ago and it has not had any real problems in that amount of time. The only real issues it has ever had was getting a bit hot from time to time and a previous video card going dead. I have used this system primarily for gaming and have logged a lot of hours on it.

A few nights ago I was playing a game that had a memory leak issue and decided to power off the machine to take a short break and clear up the leak. When I came back to the machine it failed to boot, or even get into BIOS, but all fans, system lights, HDD, DVD-ROM, etc. powered on. If I continued to power it off and power it back on, I occasionally could get into BIOS and even more rarely into Windows. I am now experiencing the following symptoms.

Symptoms:
First, when I was able to get into BIOS I noticed that the CPU was reporting a very high temperature (90 degrees C). At that point I pulled the plug on the system, removed the heat sync and fan from the CPU cleaning them all thoroughly. I carefully reseated the heat sync and fan. When the system does get to BIOS now, I am seeing very reasonable CPU temperatures.

Second, now the system will boot 1 out of every 20 attempts to turn it on. When it does this, I can usually get all the way into Windows, browse the internet, transfer over a large file block (5gb of data to see if the HDD was failing), and let the system sit for as long as I have patience for. As soon as I try to play the game it gets partially through loading screens or even into the game world (mmorpg) before freezing or hard rebooting.

At this point as I noted above I have cleaned out the system. Removed the DVD-ROM, sound card, and network card to take it out of the equation. Swapped out the video card, and have since put the card listed above back into the system since it made no difference. And moved some files from across my home network to see if data access was causing the HDD to fail. I have also done my best to ensure that the MB is not touching metal anywhere and causing a short.

As I browsed the forum here I read people with similar problems, so tonight I plan on removing and reseating the RAM and resetting CMOS to see if that makes any difference. I am also planning on unplugging and reseating the power supply connection.

My fear is that I overheated the machine and fried something since it appears that the motherboard or CPU are having the issue, but in all my years of computing I have not experienced this problem. If it failed every time I would not have any hope and I am not ready to queue the taps mp3 yet.

I apologize for the long post, but if anyone sees anything I am missing or has any ideas for troubleshooting this issue I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks!
JDean
 

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Discussion Starter #3
No, I haven't tried another PSU yet as I don't have a spare one of the same wattage laying around, but it would be pretty easy to buy one and return it if it didn't solve the problem. I guess I hadn't really thought to go there since the system was seemingly getting power.

I know its about 3-4yo at this point. As far as brand and such, I can't remember off the top of my head and I am at a work. I will have to post that when I get home.

And thanks for the welcoming.:smile:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I will borrow one from Fry's on the way home tonight and let you know what happens.

Thanks for the advice.
 

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Well... I tried a new 430W PSU and it booted first try, but... froze as soon as it got into Windows and never POSTed again.

So I pulled the MB battery for 30 minutes and moved the jumpers to reset CMOS and still nothing. I also removed all the RAM while doing this and reseated it.

The fans and such still come on, but nothing else... ugh.

Thanks again for the suggestion.
 

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Disconnect CD and hard drives. Leave only 1 RAM stick installed.
Clear CMOS - start the computer and enter BIOS.
Watch the temps and voltages.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks yet again for the suggestions...

Tried these steps and still get randomly (though more frequently) into BIOS. I even tried each stick of RAM. When I was able to get into BIOS it would freeze occasionly in the menus. When it held steady I saw CPU temps ranging from 55 degrees C to 61 degrees C and the system temp was 46 degrees C. The CPU voltage was 1.34v and the DDR voltage was 2.60v. Though the CPU temp slowly crept upwards the voltages stayed steady.
 

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maybe I missed it but did you get a new bios battery? if not, give that a try.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Actually, though I forgot to mention it, that was the first thing I did last night before trying the new PSU. I could try it again, but I followed those instructions very carefully.

Do you think its worth doing it again?

Thanks for your tenacity.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Took a bit of doing, but I was able to get back into Windows and take the following screenshots.

One item of note was that for quite a while I couldn't get into BIOS so I started poking around. After I pushed the heatsink down firmly (getting beneath the fan and fan housing) it suddenly came to life. It didn't feel as if it reseated or somehow changed its position. I don't know if that is coincidence, but as you can see the temperature actually went down once it got into Windows and idled for a few minutes.

As of submitting this reply, it still hasn't reset itself.
 

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Looks OK.
The CPU could be a little cooler, but run the computer for a while.
Sometimes the thermal paste needs to "settle".
And - make sure the heatsink is mounted correctly.
See what the temps are after 10-15 minutes of gaming.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Attempted to play twice. The first time I didn't have all the RAM back in the machine and the CPU was really being taxed. It climbed over 60 degrees C and froze as I was alt-tabbing between the game and SensorsView. On a whim I added an additional fan into the mix blowing into the case (since I had the side off and airflow wasn't as good as it could be) and added all the RAM back. I was able to play the game for a few minutes, but noticed the temp was getting around 60 degrees C again so I exited.

The heatsink appears to be seated properly, but I am wondering if I should remove it and add additional Thermal Compound to make sure I have good coverage and proper heatsink to compound to CPU contact?

It definitely feels like you have pointed me in the right direction, though I am not sure how to cool it down further.

Thanks for your continued help.
 

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Yep, when this problem first occurred cleaning the entire computer thoroughly was the first thing that I did. When I had the heatsink off I made sure that there wasn't a spec of dust buildup on it anywhere. I also removed the CPU fan from the heatsink and cleaned it thoroughly. I took the video card out an did the same.

As far as the thermal compound is concerned, I tried to only use a "grain of rice" worth, but the instructions also said to twist the heatsink to spread it around. With the way it seats I couldn't twist it.

On a side note, I had to take a break this afternoon from working on it and it has idled in Windows for the past 3 hours seemingly staying at the same levels as the screenshots I attached previously.
 
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