On Fri, May 23, 2008 at 11:47 AM, Tim <ignored_mailbox(a)yahoo.com.au> wrote:
On Sat, 2008-05-24 at 00:08 +1000, David Timms wrote:
> Yes, and shoot it with the heat gun and so on. But is there some
> software designed to do stress testing ?
I've often asked something similar from PC shops, as their testing
seemed to comprise of just seeing if it'll boot and stay running for
half an hour...
Yes, people do not realize how hard it is to pinpoint a hardware
problem. Many are under the impression there is some magic involved
and results should be instant and/or provide instant "Star Trek" style
solutions. We are not quite there yet , especially as far down the
totem pole as your average pc repair shop. I try to use the computer
as much as possible but time is money and you can easily run up a bill
that exceeds the cost of a cheap machine quite quickly. However if you
feel you have a genuine hardware problem then I would do the
following. The order will vary depending on where you think, based on
your observations, the problem lies.
0. Always observe proper static handling precautions!! I cannot stress
this enough. You will cook your board and never feel a thing.
1. Do not expect instant star trek style results, this isn't the
2. Alan's recipe is as good a way to start as any I have seen or heard.
3. Make sure to start as close to bare board as you can get. Unplug
everything you don't need to boot your OS. So everything but the
harddrive,video card, RAM and CPU ( if you have on board video , use
that instead of the high end 512mb nvidia/ati card for testing, video
cards these days suck up alot of power and mine ruined a power supply
for me because i did not check the spec and the card needed more
power than my 500watt was capable of delivering over a 12V rail.)
4. I have seen many people say they ran memtest86 for one to three
hours. I personally like to leave it running all night, though of
course people will say they are not in a hurry and then call two hours
later to see if its fixed yet. I have noted many of the more
experienced folks on this list recommending 24 hours or longer for
memtest86. It seems like a long time but peace of mind is priceless so
keep that in mind.
5. Reconnect devices one at a time and use the reattached device i.e
cd burner to read and burn cd's, a bad cdrom can hold up the boot
process or cause other weird behavior. Remember it could easily be a
failing IDE controller on the motherboard. Try, if you have one, a
separate controller card. Same goes for USB. These boards where
absolutely everything is integrated onto the board may make for a
slight speed advantage but can be a real pain in the ass when
something starts to fail.
6. Be careful if you find alot of dust built up inside. Dust can cause
static damage and reckless removal of dust can kill your machine quite
quickly. Sometimes the dust is the only thing holding it together : )
Never keep the compressed air closer than 6 or 8 inches, blow the dust
off at odd angles, you don't have to get all the dust out in one go.
Let things settle or at least do not blow the air directly onto the
board from 3 inches away. Do not blow out a massive amount of dust and
plug it all back in and power on. Let it settle, a little patience
goes a long way here.
7. Of course swap out RAM and CPU if possible. Most bioses have menus
where you can check temperature. Intermittent problems are often
caused as the temp increases. Maybe remove, clean, reapply thermal
tape or paste to heatsink. If your using alot of high end gear, like
sound cards or especially video cards, do not stack them in adjacent
PCI slots if you can avoid it. If the air in the case isn't moving,
the temperature climbs quickly. Many low end machines do not include a
separate case fan and often have 24 pin power connectors on the board
but the powersupply is only using a twenty pin plug. I have seen this
in some eMachines models, it probably won't be an issue until you
start adding more RAM, upgrading processors,adding drives etc.
8. Remember that your powersupply says 500 watts but that is peak
output, you don't run a race car wide open all the time.
9. Always observe proper static handling precautions!!
I think that only something from the board manufacturer could do
Only they'd know exactly how their combination of hardware should
perform, and I can't seem them releasing something that probed their
hardware completely, it'd just aid in reverse engineering.
They do make POST code readers. I like the one I have access to but it
is less useful than I originally thought it would be. Sometimes
finding the codes for your bios&board can be a real pain. Also they
are most useful when the board won't POST which usually means they are
good only for confirming suspicion because if board components are
failing your better off, financially anyway, buying a new board.
> I'm talking about a machine that has had swaps to power
> ram, ram slots, is clean, reinsertion of cards etc, yet nothing
> definitive is showing up.
Tends to point the finger at motherboard or CPU...
I hope you always took anti-static precautions during handling. But
it's just as easy for it have been zapped before you ever touched it,
and it took "this long" for the problem to appear. Static damage is
like that - mostly not instant, just weakening something for a later
Excellent point that many do not realize. There is a mistaken notion
that if it works then everything is tip top.
All comments, criticisms, questions, pointing out of incorrect info
welcome and appreciated.