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 Help making computer repairs 
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Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:57 pm
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I have been having issues with my PC for a while now, and am planning on upgrading parts on it soon. But I can't do that if there is something shady in my system! I don't know if this is TOO off topic, but I haven't had any luck anywhere else. I tried asking at Super User, and just went in circles there. I tried asking at Tom's Hardware, they said it was my HDD (which I am 100% certain both of my drives are fine). So I come to you guys. What my biggest issues is that ever since I've upgraded my graphics card from a GeForce 8400GS to an ATi Radeon HD 4800, 1) My chipset get's extremely hot and 2) my PC will cut out under heavy load. I've already fixed issue 1 by getting a new case, but issue 2 is still present. And the funny thing is, after I improved cooling, the cut outs have become more sporadic than often. What will happen is that I will start a very intense program (let's use the Dolphin GameCube emulator as an example) and most of the time my PC will go for hours without any issues. But just today after about 15 seconds of emulation, the PSU makes 3 ticking sounds, and then the system shuts off. The PSU ticking was a common noise that happened before the cutouts, and I've used it as a warning to stop what I was doing. But before it would be a click every 10 seconds, but this time all three came within a split second. And the scary part is, they sounded more violent then the other times. It used to be three subtle clicks, and then shut off. But this time I was able to hear them through my NOISE ISOLATING ear buds! I don't know where to start with diagnosing where the issue is caused. I know the PSU is protecting against some form of short, but I don't know where the source is. For all I know, it could be that stupid chipset I've had issues with. I have also Googled for hours, but the only ticking sounds from the PSU are from the fans clipping some wires, or the system refusing to boot. My computer boots up just fine. It runs beautifully. And the last thing I want to do is wreck a Quad core Phenom I'm planning on getting. Does anybody here have any idea what could be the problem? Or at least how to find the source? Here are my specs if needed:

M3N78-VM motherboard

ATi Radeon HD 4800

4GB 800Mhz DDR2 RAM (only 3.3 GB usable)

Maxtor DiamondMax 21 320GB SATA HDD

Seagate Barracuda 1TB SATA HDD

450Watt PSU

AMD Athlon X2 2.5 GHz CPU (overclocked to 2.9 GHz, problem still persists even if OC is off)

Windows 7 32bit

As a last resort, I'm just going to get a new PSU and use the old one for a project or something. But I'd rather not.


Fri Oct 30, 2015 5:32 am

Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:11 am
Posts: 114
Location: Norway/Japan
It's a possibility your new graphics card draws much more power than the old one. As that's the only new physical element in the equation I would start there. 450 Watt PSU sounds a little low, but I have not actually checked what's typical. Do you still have your old graphics card? I would put it back and see if the problem persists.

-Tor


Fri Oct 30, 2015 5:57 am

Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:54 pm
Posts: 1640
Get a new and bigger PSU! (Or borrow one, if you can.)

I heard an amusing anecdote involving a series of failing and replaced PSUs - the root cause was air quality. When you work on carbon fibre, you leave conductive particles in the air, and computers don't like that. Possibly your lungs won't like it either, but that's another matter.


Fri Oct 30, 2015 9:56 am
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Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:43 am
Posts: 185
FloppidyDingo wrote:
I know the PSU is protecting against some form of short
Maybe the PSU is reacting to something happening elsewhere, but I'm not so sure -- it could be internal. Obviously I'm not there to hear it for myself, but I wonder if the sound might be arcing -- an electric spark -- as might occur from an intermittent connection inside the PSU. (Various types of bad connections are the #1 cause of trouble with electronic equipment.) A faulty solder joint is one form of bad connection, and solder joints can act up as a result of thermal stress -- and it's safe to assume your PSU is running hotter than before, so that's suggestive.

Plans A would be to upgrade the PSU, or try moving back to the old video card as Tor suggests. Plan B would be to attempt a PSU repair, but they're so cheap -- why bother!

Quote:
The PSU ticking was a common noise that happened before the cutouts
Did it happen before you put in the new video card? PSU's don't usually make noise, of course. Besides arcing and fan obstructions, the only other cause that comes to mind is a sound made by the switch-mode power circuit inside. Normally it runs at ultrasonic frequencies, but "chirps" and other audible sounds can be produced if the circuit is starting & stopping rather than running continuously. In your case that seems unlikely, though, because you said the sound got noticeably louder. IMO an arc might do that -- but noise from the switch-mode power circuit wouldn't get louder; just more frequent, perhaps.

HTH! And pls answer the question, btw :)

ETA: it's also possible for an electrolytic capacitor (as found in the PSU) to arc internally, producing a "snap" noise. And the caps would also be subject to increased thermal stress, so...

I realize I'm bouncing all over the place here, but troubleshooting in person is hard enough. Doing it remotely based on 2nd-hand observations is, like, harder!

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Fri Oct 30, 2015 12:57 pm WWW

Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:40 am
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Location: Canada
What's the quality of the line going into the power supply like ? Is there another device on the same circuit ? Could it be a home wiring problem ?

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Fri Oct 30, 2015 3:22 pm WWW

Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:33 am
Posts: 165
FloppidyDingo wrote:
sounds from the PSU are from the fans clipping some wires, or the system refusing to boot. My computer boots up just fine. It runs beautifully. And the last thing I want to do is wreck a Quad core Phenom I'm planning on getting. Does anybody here have any idea what could be the problem? Or at least how to find the source?


Is this a home build?

I had a computer problem for years that I couldn't figure out. I was talking to a tech and he said that sometimes you just have to pull everything out and swap parts until you figure out what is wrong.


Fri Oct 30, 2015 7:18 pm
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Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:57 pm
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Tor wrote:
Do you still have your old graphics card? I would put it back and see if the problem persists.

Dr Jefyll wrote:
Did it happen before you put in the new video card?


I've tried that a while back, and it only cut out once after about 3 months of usage. And that was when I tried to type something in the YouTube search box.

BigEd wrote:
Get a new and bigger PSU! (Or borrow one, if you can.)


That's going to happen whether this PSU is faulty or not, since I'm going to be getting myself a Quad core Phenom II 965! I just want to fix this issue before I wreck anything important.

Dr Jefyll wrote:
PSU's don't usually make noise, of course. Besides arcing and fan obstructions, the only other cause that comes to mind is a sound made by the switch-mode power circuit inside. Normally it runs at ultrasonic frequencies, but "chirps" and other audible sounds can be produced if the circuit is starting & stopping rather than running continuously. In your case that seems unlikely, though, because you said the sound got noticeably louder. IMO an arc might do that -- but noise from the switch-mode power circuit wouldn't get louder; just more frequent, perhaps.


The arcing was also one of my thoughts. I might test run my PC with the PSU case open (and be VERY careful) and see is there is anything that looks suspicious. If there is something arcing inside, then I better fix it right away before that spark jumps onto one of the supply rails and EMPs my entire system. I've heard about that happening before, and I'm not letting it happen to my PC!

Dr Jefyll wrote:
it's also possible for an electrolytic capacitor (as found in the PSU) to arc internally, producing a "snap" noise. And the caps would also be subject to increased thermal stress, so...


I've actually talked to one of my friends about this, and he said I may have blown a capacitor, or will blow one soon. BTW, what is the recommended operating temp for PSUs? My rule for computer parts is that "If I can keep my hand on it, it's fine." And my PSU doesn't get that hot, even when my PC is working double time.

robfinch wrote:
What's the quality of the line going into the power supply like ? Is there another device on the same circuit ? Could it be a home wiring problem ?


The PC is connected to a power strip, with the following things attached with it: my monitor, a lamp, the power transformer for my speakers, and two chargers. I'm not too sure about the power quality, the wiring at my home is a bit sketchy. Have half the house on one breaker! So it may actually be the wiring...

Chuckt wrote:
Is this a home build?


Yes.

Chuckt wrote:
I had a computer problem for years that I couldn't figure out. I was talking to a tech and he said that sometimes you just have to pull everything out and swap parts until you figure out what is wrong.


I don't really have the parts to do that. Maybe my school will lend me an old computer to do some diagnostics like that...


Tried another emulation today. Was able to play an entire round of Smash Bros Melee without issues. This is getting really weird... Almost as if my PC is bipolar or something. I just don't know... :?


Sat Oct 31, 2015 4:55 am
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Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:57 pm
Posts: 65
I think I may have found the answer to my problem. It might not be the PSU, but instead that frickin chipset. When my PC cut out again, I opened it up and almost burnt myself on the chipset heatsink. So I ghetto-mounted a CPU fan I had lying around over it, and so far no cut outs. Let's see how long this lasts when I put it under some ULTIMATE STRESS TESTING!!!! If this works, then I'll have to get an even BETTER case, or a clip mounted fan or something not so hastily put together. Does anybody have an idea of what I should buy for this thing? Motherboard model is on the first post, chipset model GeForce 8200m. Let's see where this takes us...

EDIT: So it is confirmed. My problem is overheating, and a lot of it. Especially the chipset. My extra fan improved the results, but didn't eliminate the problem entirely. The chipset still get's very very hot. So I'm going to get a new case, a new chipset cooler with a fan, and some arctic silver thermal paste. Aaaaaaand some bigger fans, and more of them as well. 200mm ones, intake and outtake. With insane RPM. I don't care about noise, I just want this thing to last longer than five years. I don't want it to end up like my laptop (a couple of components turned to ash due to overheating, don't know how but they did).


Sun Nov 01, 2015 5:13 am
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Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:43 am
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So, the snapping noise remains a mystery? (Maybe for a joke someone put some raw popcorn on your chipset! :lol: )

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Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:00 am WWW

Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:33 am
Posts: 165
FloppidyDingo wrote:
I think I may have found the answer to my problem. It might not be the PSU, but instead that frickin chipset. When my PC cut out again, I opened it up and almost burnt myself on the chipset heatsink. So I ghetto-mounted a CPU fan I had lying around over it, and so far no cut outs. Let's see how long this lasts when I put it under some ULTIMATE STRESS TESTING!!!! If this works, then I'll have to get an even BETTER case, or a clip mounted fan or something not so hastily put together. Does anybody have an idea of what I should buy for this thing? Motherboard model is on the first post, chipset model GeForce 8200m. Let's see where this takes us...

EDIT: So it is confirmed. My problem is overheating, and a lot of it. Especially the chipset. My extra fan improved the results, but didn't eliminate the problem entirely. The chipset still get's very very hot. So I'm going to get a new case, a new chipset cooler with a fan, and some arctic silver thermal paste. Aaaaaaand some bigger fans, and more of them as well. 200mm ones, intake and outtake. With insane RPM. I don't care about noise, I just want this thing to last longer than five years. I don't want it to end up like my laptop (a couple of components turned to ash due to overheating, don't know how but they did).


If your computer is overheating, shouldn't you be using water cooling instead of just a heat sink?

http://www.newegg.com/Water-Liquid-Cool ... ory/ID-575

http://www.frozencpu.com/cat/l1/g30/Liquid_Cooling.html

The links are to give you examples or ideas and don't take my word for it but there isn't a good wikipedia article on the subject.


Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:08 am
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Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:57 pm
Posts: 65
Dr Jefyll wrote:
So, the snapping noise remains a mystery? (Maybe for a joke someone put some raw popcorn on your chipset! )


Haven't been able to find out the noise. Either 1) The chipset got damaged from the heat and something from it is drawing too much power / shorting out, 2) the PSU is also overheating since it's doing more exhaust work than the case exhaust, or 3) There is popcorn somewhere in there :D . Let's hope it isn't the first one.

Chuckt wrote:
If your computer is overheating, shouldn't you be using water cooling instead of just a heat sink?

http://www.newegg.com/Water-Liquid-Cool ... ory/ID-575

http://www.frozencpu.com/cat/l1/g30/Liquid_Cooling.html

The links are to give you examples or ideas and don't take my word for it but there isn't a good wikipedia article on the subject.


And if those don't work I could use a Phase Changer tool cool the stupid thing :lol: ! But I'm not going to be using a normal heatsink, but a heatsink with a fan attached. I really don't feel comfortable putting water anywhere near my computer. Knowing my luck, something bad might happen.


I have found the best way to keep this thing cool in the meantime: Take off the side panel. Managed to play several rounds of Smash Bros AND half a day in Pikmin (a game day, not a real day unfortunately) until the first "Click of Death" happened. Managed to stop the emulation in time before a cutout happened. The chipset is no longer scorching hot on idle, which is good.


Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:26 am

Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:33 am
Posts: 165
FloppidyDingo wrote:
And if those don't work I could use a Phase Changer tool cool the stupid thing :lol: ! But I'm not going to be using a normal heatsink, but a heatsink with a fan attached. I really don't feel comfortable putting water anywhere near my computer. Knowing my luck, something bad might happen.


I have found the best way to keep this thing cool in the meantime: Take off the side panel. Managed to play several rounds of Smash Bros AND half a day in Pikmin (a game day, not a real day unfortunately) until the first "Click of Death" happened. Managed to stop the emulation in time before a cutout happened. The chipset is no longer scorching hot on idle, which is good.


I took Economics in college. What happens if you own a business and you have to spend what you can't afford to stay in business? My professor said you can't afford not to. In the same way, you can't afford not go get water cooling.

You might keep blowing the CPU until you get water cooling. It is basically a car radiator with a fan and you need it. The only other thing you might be able to do is put the computer in front of an air conditioner.

I'm a big fan of Pikmin. I like the challenge mode in Pikmin 1 and I finished it in 15 days. I heard someone finished it in 14 days but I'm not sure if that is possible.. I like the battle games in Pikmin 2 and the bosses rock in that one but I never saw the last video since I can't get all of the mini games perfect. Pikmin 3 is fun but I think Nintendo ruined it by getting rid of the map and changing the controls. I got to the last level of Pikmin 3 but I never desired to finish it.


Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:01 am
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Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:57 pm
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Chuckt wrote:
You might keep blowing the CPU until you get water cooling.


Oh, it's not the CPU that's overheating, it's the chipset. So that makes things a lot more difficult to fix, especially with this board. The graphics card gets in the way of just about any heatsink I try to fit. The CPU cooler doesn't help either. But yeah the CPU is fine, the highest it's ever gone was 75C. I COULD water cool the chipset, but that is some tight space to fit the hoses...

Chuckt wrote:
I'm a big fan of Pikmin. I like the challenge mode in Pikmin 1 and I finished it in 15 days.


It COULD be possible, you'd have to be very very efficient though. I'm currently on day 21 and have 23 parts, so I have lot's of headroom. I sometimes get 2 parts a day, 3 if I'm lucky. But Pikmin was my second favorite game of all time, Super Mario Sunshine being the first. Sadly, I can't emulate that game without the sound breaking :(


Tried running Blender, which used to cause INSTANT cutouts, but now it stopped. I'm getting somewhere. Maybe I should water cool the chipset to be on the safe side.


Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:31 am

Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:54 pm
Posts: 1640
If taking off the panel helps, it must be that your case fans are not doing their work. Is everything clean? A dusty fan moves less air. Do the case fans spin when they should?


Mon Nov 02, 2015 9:21 am

Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:11 am
Posts: 114
Location: Norway/Japan
I agree with Ed, something's not right there. The cooling should get *worse* with the panel off. PC motherboards are normally designed with panels in mind, the panels are part of the equation for getting as much of the airstream as possible over the hot components, with the highest possible airspeed. Taking the panel off will disrupt both of those factors. That's why you will often see a label warning against running equipment for more than a short time with panels off.

-Tor


Mon Nov 02, 2015 2:13 pm
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