Shutting Down – Again and Again My Life 20 APR 2010

Aaargh, so frustrating! I mentioned a while ago that my newish PC back at home kind of packed up on me some time back, completely losing its video output as a start.

Listening to it and plugging it into various other display sources, I concluded that the onboard graphics must have gone and so looked around on the Internet before settling on a new graphics card which I subsequently ordered from Take 2 for around R500.

A short wait and the card arrived, which I eagerly plugged into the board, proclaimed “There, that should fix it” and hit the power switch, only to see… well nothing. The new graphics card had not solved the problem, meaning that my diagnosis had obviousy been wrong. Doh!

So anyway, this weekend I made some time to try and sort out the issue, taking the machine completely apart and giving it a good dust out, as well as checking and tightening all the connectors and screws that I can find!

With a “Well, maybe this will sort it out”, I hit the power switch and lo and behold, all of a sudden I had video out again – awesome except for the fact that it only lasted a minute or two before the machine without warning simply lost power.

Booting it up again, it became apparent that this was now the new problem and that the video outage had most likely simply been symptom of this new problem.

The losing power thing seems to happen completely at random – it can happen as the machine is still booting up, it can happen while Ubuntu is still busy starting up, or it can strike just as you start thinking that the problem has sorted itself out and open a website to check what might be causing the problem.

At first I thought that maybe the power supply wasn’t pushing out enough power and that the devices were too much for it to handle, so I systematically began unplugging components but to no avail.

So out came the screwdriver and back into the box I dove, giving everything another good dust-over before removing the Power Supply Unit (PSU) and completely taking that apart, cleaning every bit and piece as I came across it.

Slapping everything back together again and hitting the power button proved to be completely… futile.

Sigh. So the power was still coming and going sporadically so I had to make the call as to whether I thought it the PSU or motherboard which is the problem child. Looking at the board I couldn’t see any problem, no popped capacitors or anything like that and so hopped into my car and drove through to Computer Mania at Somerset Mall where I slapped down R600 and bought a nice and shiny 600W power supply that comes with a giant fan and looks pretty damn spiffy.

Back home I installed the new PSU, booted the machine up and yay, “Seems like that sorted it out” – until the machine shut itself down again just ten minutes later.

So the problem still isn’t solved and my ability to diagnose hardware issues lies in complete tatters. Chantelle keeps urging me just to take it in and have it fixed, but my pride as a man simply won’t allow me to do that.

It’s now a personal challenge for me, and one that is bringing no end of frustration. The question now of course is – should I look at the RAM as being faulty or is it the whole damn motherboard itself?

Decisions, decisions…

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.