Confusing Hardware Malfunction
by Helmuth45 - 2/4/13 4:51 PM
For a few days I've been struggling to find out what went wrong with my desktop. My config is:
Pentium E5300 Dual Core 2.6GHz
2 GB DDR2 800 mhz dual channel in 2 Syncron dimms of 1GB each
Geforce 9600 (I think it's GT) graphics card
Asus P5N73-CM with nForce 630i chipset
Western Digital HDD 200 GB with Windows XP and another WD 1000 GB with Windows 7 that depends on the first one to boot
My PC hadn't caused me any problems for months and a few days ago froze in the middle of loading something in a game (in win 7) and could not load windows since then.
But it's more than that, it seems to freeze on every type of system load, including Safe Mode, Win XP or Win 7. Most of the time it freezes as soon as I pick an OS after I start it but sometimes it starts loading win XP or 7 and freezes right before the screen should switch to desktop while other times it doesn't even make it to the choose OS menu.
It even froze in bios a couple of times or bootable software I tried on my USB stick such as MemTest and even gave me a few graphical artifacts but only in those situations.
Here is what I have investigated so far.
I tested the memory sticks one by one in each slot with no result bu then tested them again the same way in a different computer and they both ran just fine. I also tried a Kingston 2gb DDR2 800 from that pc on mine and still got no result. Also, if I'm not mistaking, MemTest found errors on all 3 sticks even though they all worked on the other pc. As I said MemTest barely ran and after finding a few errors it would freeze but one time it ran for an hour and found about 9 million errors on one of my sticks...
I tested my 200Gb drive on the other pc and to my huge surprise it worked without a problem and even booted my xp. I could have bet the old timer was a goner. I didn't test the 1000Gb drive in the other pc because I figured since it can't boot by it's self it wasn't that relevant and just left it aside unconnected.
I ruled out the graphics card because after switching my monitor to my integrated motherboard nvidia chip everything was still happening the same way. I didn't insist on reproducing the graphical errors with the onboard GPU mainly because I had also updated my Bios. Also, as I mentioned, I saw no graphical errors other then when the pc froze in Bios and MemTest. I tried resetting the Bios to factory settings too.
I even tested my computer with a different power supply and still saw no change. I tried a different monitor, mouse and keyboard aswell.
My conclusion is it could only be the motherboard or CPU and from all I've heard and seen CPUs tend to go out with a bang rather than degrade partially. Also I noticed the radiator on my motherboard's chipset was a bit loose. I detached it and found the conductor paste wasn't exactly evenly spread across the chip so I bought some, cleaned the chip and radiator best as I could and applied a new coat of paste that in a few hours was solid enough and the radiator didn't feel loose anymore. Of course that brought me no results either but it did lead me to think maybe that was the whole problem and the chip might be partially fried now.
The CPU fan seems to be working and bios tells me it's at 1200 rpm constantly and around 2000 during work loads, which was it's usual speed it seems. I have to admit I didn't keep it as clean as I should have though.
So right now I'm trying to find out if I need to buy a motherboard or a CPU. Of course, I could be completely wrong and it could be something else entirely.
So, if you have any ideas about this whole situation please feel free to take a jab at it, I would greatly appreciate any help.