Updated: Help Identify Failing Hardware

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Jens Lyn IV
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Updated: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by Jens Lyn IV » Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:18 am

Greetings. My main pc is increasingly suffering a variety of problems, and I'm looking for advice on how to positively identify the relevant component(s).

Symptoms:
  • Power button occasionally unresponsive after normal shutdown; PSU switch must be cycled. First occurred several months ago, then again a few months later, and recently with increasing frequency. Now fails more often than not.
  • Since yesterday, many programs suddenly fail to start with generic "[program x] has stopped working" message.
  • Also since yesterday, Avast fails with a "memory could not be read" error upon reaching Windows desktop after bootup.
  • Cannot boot from USB stick even when expressly enabled and prioritised in BIOS. Onset unknown, only used for Memtest86+ immediately after purchase, not attempted again until now.
  • System log lists ATAPI errors starting in late August 2013. For at least the last several days, such errors have occurred during every boot. No errors with DVD drive unplugged.
Things I've tried:
  • Disconnecting hardware: USB devices, SSDs, HDD, DVD, all but innermost RAM stick (obscured by CPU heatsink). No effect on symptoms.
  • CHKDSK on HDD, no errors.
Things haven't tried, but can:
  • Boot from Windows DVD.
  • Install stock CPU cooler to access all RAM slots.
  • Update BIOS
  • Pay a shop to troubleshoot/repair
Things I can't try:
  • Test RAM integrity
  • Swap hardware from donor PC
  • Test my hardware in guinea pig PC
I suspect the motherboard is failing: ATAPI errors indicate a DVD drive, driver, or controller issue. Failing power button could be enclosure, PSU, or mobo. USB boot not working could be USB stick/formatting, USB controller, or BIOS. Otherwise stable programs suddenly failing could be registry or file system damage, RAM corruption, CPU faults, mobo, or any number of things. The only common denominator here seems to be the motherboard.

All hardware is less than 2 years old. Under Danish law, this gives me some options even with products whose warranty has otherwise expired since the seller is liable for manufacturing defects for 24 months. But I need to know for certain which part has failed before I request a replacement.

Is the above information enough
to conclude that the motherboard is faulty?
to rule out user error (e.g. static discharge damage)?

If not, is there something I haven't thought of trying/testing?

Thank you in advance.
Last edited by Jens Lyn IV on Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
Desktop: Fractal Design Define Mini, Seasonic X-400, Asus P8Z77-M Pro, i7-2700K, Noctua NH-C14, 16 GB RAM, Sapphire HD 7750 Ultimate, 256 GB Samsung 840 Pro, 120 GB Intel 510, 1 TB WD Caviar Green, Sharkoon Vibe Fixer, all fans Scythe Slip Stream, Dell U2412HM
Mummy's desktop: Lian Li PC-Q07A, Seasonic G-360, Intel DH77DF, Celeron G550T, Scythe Big Shuriken, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB Samsung 830, Dell U2212HM

quest_for_silence
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Re: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by quest_for_silence » Mon Oct 07, 2013 11:04 am

Jens Lyn IV wrote:If not, is there something I haven't thought of trying/testing?

Thank you in advance.


If you either have or can borrow a spare disk, known working, first of all I would try a fresh Windows installation on it.

After that, if fruitless, IMHO any further investigation requires some hardware pieces to swap.
Regards,
Luca

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sjoukew
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Re: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by sjoukew » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:23 pm

If your PSU would be bad and would give voltage fluctuations it can create all kinds of strange unreproducable behaviour.
You could try to reset the bios with the motherboard jumper and see if that changes anything but I suspect your conclusion that the motherboard is the problem is a correct assumption.

quest_for_silence
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Re: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by quest_for_silence » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:52 pm

sjoukew wrote:I suspect your conclusion that the motherboard is the problem is a correct assumption.

AFAIK the PSU is one of the most stable unit available, but at any rate without isolating any part from the system he can likely have a fortunate intuition, but probably he can not still make a really correct assumption.

What about booting from a memtest86+ dvd?
Regards,
Luca

Support SPCR, use these links when you buy: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg

CA_Steve
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Re: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by CA_Steve » Mon Oct 07, 2013 1:48 pm

Feels like a mobo issue to me...like your BIOS is corrupted. Clear the CMOS and see if the BIOS reset fixes the problem. Might be a good time to see if there is an update and do that at the same time.
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Zolishoru
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Re: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by Zolishoru » Mon Oct 07, 2013 8:52 pm

I wouldn't exclude the power supply; a failing +5V stand-by line can produce similar problems.

Jens Lyn IV
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Re: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by Jens Lyn IV » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:18 am

Thank you very much for your advice.

I don't think I've quite exhausted my list of potential guinea pig PSU donors. I'll keep trying until I find one. Mummy has a compatible PSU in the PC I built her, but she lives an hour away by bus so I'd be depriving her of her PC for several hours. Still, I should be able to eventually rule out (or confirm) a faulty power supply.

If it's the motherboard, I'm tempted to skip trying to return it and just buy a Z77 board from Asus. I like their fan control, an a Z chipset will also let me try my hand at undervolting and perhaps overclocking...
Desktop: Fractal Design Define Mini, Seasonic X-400, Asus P8Z77-M Pro, i7-2700K, Noctua NH-C14, 16 GB RAM, Sapphire HD 7750 Ultimate, 256 GB Samsung 840 Pro, 120 GB Intel 510, 1 TB WD Caviar Green, Sharkoon Vibe Fixer, all fans Scythe Slip Stream, Dell U2412HM
Mummy's desktop: Lian Li PC-Q07A, Seasonic G-360, Intel DH77DF, Celeron G550T, Scythe Big Shuriken, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB Samsung 830, Dell U2212HM

Jens Lyn IV
Posts: 61
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 3:17 pm
Location: Denmark

Re: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by Jens Lyn IV » Tue Oct 08, 2013 12:16 pm

Update: powering it with a donor PSU (thanks mummy) made no difference. As expected.
Desktop: Fractal Design Define Mini, Seasonic X-400, Asus P8Z77-M Pro, i7-2700K, Noctua NH-C14, 16 GB RAM, Sapphire HD 7750 Ultimate, 256 GB Samsung 840 Pro, 120 GB Intel 510, 1 TB WD Caviar Green, Sharkoon Vibe Fixer, all fans Scythe Slip Stream, Dell U2412HM
Mummy's desktop: Lian Li PC-Q07A, Seasonic G-360, Intel DH77DF, Celeron G550T, Scythe Big Shuriken, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB Samsung 830, Dell U2212HM

Jens Lyn IV
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Location: Denmark

Re: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by Jens Lyn IV » Thu Oct 10, 2013 2:34 pm

I'm up and running again on a nice Asus P8Z77-M Pro. Will update gallery thread soon.
Desktop: Fractal Design Define Mini, Seasonic X-400, Asus P8Z77-M Pro, i7-2700K, Noctua NH-C14, 16 GB RAM, Sapphire HD 7750 Ultimate, 256 GB Samsung 840 Pro, 120 GB Intel 510, 1 TB WD Caviar Green, Sharkoon Vibe Fixer, all fans Scythe Slip Stream, Dell U2412HM
Mummy's desktop: Lian Li PC-Q07A, Seasonic G-360, Intel DH77DF, Celeron G550T, Scythe Big Shuriken, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB Samsung 830, Dell U2212HM

edh
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Re: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by edh » Fri Oct 11, 2013 12:25 am

So the motherboard was faulty then? That might explain the wide range of errors found.
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Jens Lyn IV
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Re: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by Jens Lyn IV » Fri Oct 11, 2013 10:54 am

Yes, that must have been it. All was back to normal the first time I fired it up with the new board.
Desktop: Fractal Design Define Mini, Seasonic X-400, Asus P8Z77-M Pro, i7-2700K, Noctua NH-C14, 16 GB RAM, Sapphire HD 7750 Ultimate, 256 GB Samsung 840 Pro, 120 GB Intel 510, 1 TB WD Caviar Green, Sharkoon Vibe Fixer, all fans Scythe Slip Stream, Dell U2412HM
Mummy's desktop: Lian Li PC-Q07A, Seasonic G-360, Intel DH77DF, Celeron G550T, Scythe Big Shuriken, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB Samsung 830, Dell U2212HM

Jens Lyn IV
Posts: 61
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 3:17 pm
Location: Denmark

Re: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by Jens Lyn IV » Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:52 am

It would appear that the motherboard was not the culprit. Once again I have been suffering inconsistent cold boot failures. Sometimes it would fire up immediately, sometimes there would be a delay (~10 s) between pressing the power button and the first signs of life, sometimes nothing would happen and I would have to cycle the switch on the PSU casing. Now it's completely dead.

I tried moving to a different wall outlet. It didn't make any difference, but I noticed some discoloration around one of the sockets in the old outlet. I'll have an electrician look at that, obviously. Until now, this was the only outlet I'd used.

Also, I now remember that someone mentioned an unusual slant to one of the heatsinks in my PSU visible in this image in my gallery thread. I thought nothing of it at the time, but I'm beginning to suspect the PSU once again. The faulty AC outlet complicates matters, however.

I don't expect much in the way of advice, but I thought I should update this since my original conclusion has been proven wrong.
Desktop: Fractal Design Define Mini, Seasonic X-400, Asus P8Z77-M Pro, i7-2700K, Noctua NH-C14, 16 GB RAM, Sapphire HD 7750 Ultimate, 256 GB Samsung 840 Pro, 120 GB Intel 510, 1 TB WD Caviar Green, Sharkoon Vibe Fixer, all fans Scythe Slip Stream, Dell U2412HM
Mummy's desktop: Lian Li PC-Q07A, Seasonic G-360, Intel DH77DF, Celeron G550T, Scythe Big Shuriken, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB Samsung 830, Dell U2212HM

Jens Lyn IV
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Location: Denmark

Re: Updated: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by Jens Lyn IV » Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:30 am

The electrician has cleared my wall outlet of any wrongdoing.

I am almost certain that the PSU is at fault. What I don't know is whether it has taken anything with it; I've had none of the strange errors I suffered last time, so maybe this motherboard survived the ordeal. I hope to borrow a PSU and find out soon.
Desktop: Fractal Design Define Mini, Seasonic X-400, Asus P8Z77-M Pro, i7-2700K, Noctua NH-C14, 16 GB RAM, Sapphire HD 7750 Ultimate, 256 GB Samsung 840 Pro, 120 GB Intel 510, 1 TB WD Caviar Green, Sharkoon Vibe Fixer, all fans Scythe Slip Stream, Dell U2412HM
Mummy's desktop: Lian Li PC-Q07A, Seasonic G-360, Intel DH77DF, Celeron G550T, Scythe Big Shuriken, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB Samsung 830, Dell U2212HM

bonestonne
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Re: Updated: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by bonestonne » Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:08 pm

A digital multimeter could have cleared your outlet quickly. Output would need to be between 110 and 120VAC consistently.

A bad PSU can cause all sorts of issues, such as not starting, to not restarting consistently. This is something most notably seen on low quality power supplies (Bestec is one of the worst offenders), but something you can see on anything. A voltage regulator or capacitor goes bad, and you have problems. If you changed the necessary current draw or input (such as moving the PC to another house or replacing the motherboard), then you could see it start to behave for a brief amount of time, but then start back up with the same old problems again. I had a customer with this problem, and while it had problems at his home, it did not immediately display the same symptoms at the shop. After a day of being turned off and on again, it started to have more and more trouble. For reference, the electrical wiring in the shop was finished earlier this month. It's fresh and very consistent, compared to a house with older wiring that may experience a drop on occasion.

It's very rare to see a power supply take other components in my experience. I've seen a power supply take out a motherboard, as well as a graphics card, but those are the only two cases that come to mind immediately. Taking a quick peek at your gallery thread, I see the picture you mentioned with the heatsink at an angle, and that could mean any number of things. Considering the unit has been functioning for nearly a year without problem, I'm hard pressed to say it's truly related. I would be more likely to suspect bad capacitors or voltage regulators.

If you bought the part new, it may still have a warranty. Worth checking into an RMA before that year is up.
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Jens Lyn IV
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Re: Updated: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by Jens Lyn IV » Sat Jan 18, 2014 4:33 am

I'm in the European Union; this gives me 2 years of warranty. As far as I can remember, no component has yet celebrated its 2nd birthday.

Oh, and (single phase) AC is 230 V here. The electrician measured the outlet after replacing the cover and found it nominal. I do wonder how it got hot enough for the plastic to suffer discoloration - the plug is pristine, no charring at all. I may never know...

I'll be borrowing a PSU today (thank you Mummy), hopefully everything will be back to normal and I can rule out all other components.
Desktop: Fractal Design Define Mini, Seasonic X-400, Asus P8Z77-M Pro, i7-2700K, Noctua NH-C14, 16 GB RAM, Sapphire HD 7750 Ultimate, 256 GB Samsung 840 Pro, 120 GB Intel 510, 1 TB WD Caviar Green, Sharkoon Vibe Fixer, all fans Scythe Slip Stream, Dell U2412HM
Mummy's desktop: Lian Li PC-Q07A, Seasonic G-360, Intel DH77DF, Celeron G550T, Scythe Big Shuriken, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB Samsung 830, Dell U2212HM

Jens Lyn IV
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Re: Updated: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by Jens Lyn IV » Sat Jan 18, 2014 1:09 pm

Everything works with Mummy's PSU plugged in.

I was initially gutted to find that the damned thing was 2 years and 6 days old when it finally died. However, Seasonic offers a generous 5 years of warranty for this product, so if the dealer won't help me I should be able to obtain a replacement directly from Seasonic.
Desktop: Fractal Design Define Mini, Seasonic X-400, Asus P8Z77-M Pro, i7-2700K, Noctua NH-C14, 16 GB RAM, Sapphire HD 7750 Ultimate, 256 GB Samsung 840 Pro, 120 GB Intel 510, 1 TB WD Caviar Green, Sharkoon Vibe Fixer, all fans Scythe Slip Stream, Dell U2412HM
Mummy's desktop: Lian Li PC-Q07A, Seasonic G-360, Intel DH77DF, Celeron G550T, Scythe Big Shuriken, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB Samsung 830, Dell U2212HM

bonestonne
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Re: Updated: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by bonestonne » Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:37 pm

Whoops, that whole "across the pond" thing. Once you get yourself set up with an RMA from SeaSonic, you should be all good to go.
|Dual Intel Xeon E5-2680v2--Xigmatek SD1283 DK-II|Asus Z9PA-D8--HR-05 IFX|128gb DDR3-1600 ECC RDIMM|300gb DC SSD, 640gb, 1TB, 2TB HDDs|nVidia GTX660ti 2GB|Antec HCG-750|NZXT Source 210 Elite|M-Audio ProFire 2626|Art TubeOpto8 with Smooth Plate Tube Swap|Avid Artist Mix x2|
FartingBob wrote:A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.

Jens Lyn IV
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Re: Updated: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by Jens Lyn IV » Sun Jan 19, 2014 12:00 pm

I wrote Seasonic EU an email Sunday afternoon; the reply came within 5 minutes. So far I can't complain.
Desktop: Fractal Design Define Mini, Seasonic X-400, Asus P8Z77-M Pro, i7-2700K, Noctua NH-C14, 16 GB RAM, Sapphire HD 7750 Ultimate, 256 GB Samsung 840 Pro, 120 GB Intel 510, 1 TB WD Caviar Green, Sharkoon Vibe Fixer, all fans Scythe Slip Stream, Dell U2412HM
Mummy's desktop: Lian Li PC-Q07A, Seasonic G-360, Intel DH77DF, Celeron G550T, Scythe Big Shuriken, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB Samsung 830, Dell U2212HM

Jens Lyn IV
Posts: 61
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 3:17 pm
Location: Denmark

Re: Updated: Help Identify Failing Hardware

Post by Jens Lyn IV » Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:49 am

The replacement arrived a couple of days ago while I was on holiday; it's the updated platinum version with lovely flat ribbon cables and another 2 years added to the warranty. :)
Desktop: Fractal Design Define Mini, Seasonic X-400, Asus P8Z77-M Pro, i7-2700K, Noctua NH-C14, 16 GB RAM, Sapphire HD 7750 Ultimate, 256 GB Samsung 840 Pro, 120 GB Intel 510, 1 TB WD Caviar Green, Sharkoon Vibe Fixer, all fans Scythe Slip Stream, Dell U2412HM
Mummy's desktop: Lian Li PC-Q07A, Seasonic G-360, Intel DH77DF, Celeron G550T, Scythe Big Shuriken, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB Samsung 830, Dell U2212HM

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