Basic Troubleshooting Guide (Please read before seeking help)

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engiNURD

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Ultimate Boot CD:
UBCD is a FREE, bootable CD image (ISO) that includes many common diagnostic utilities and more!


Below are some basic troubleshooting steps you should take if you run into problems. While the following steps may or may not solve the problem, they should at least help in narrowing things down.

Determine what the problem is...
  • Ensure that the BIOS and hardware firmware/drivers are current (supports your entire system).
  • Check (or recheck) all connections, both internal and external, and reconnect if necessary.
  • Visually inspect all components of your system. Check for any signs of damage or tampering.
  • Ensure that your hardware is free of dust, dirt, or debris. Clean what you can, and replace what you can't.
  • Perform a search, within the forum or on the Internet, to see if others have experienced your problems before.
  • If its a software/OS problem, you could Repair and/or reformat your OS installation (as a last resort).
    Software FAQ.
    Repair installation for XP:
    1. Boot to CD
    2. When you are welcomed to Setup, press ENTER to setup XP Now
    3. Press F8 to accept the EULA
    4. Select the partition that currently has your existing XP Installation
    5. Setup will detect the current installation, and ask if you'd like to repair it
    6. Press "R" to repair :D
    7. If setup does not detect your current installation, then you either chose the wrong partition or your current installation is FUBAR, sorry. :(
    Repair installation for Vista/7:
    Repairing a Vista or 7 installation is a bit tricky, since MS changed the setup. Setup now copies an entire image over to the drive, instead of a file-by-file copy. Therefore, in order to repair the installation, you must perform an upgrade. In order to upgrade, you will need an image/ISO that is newer than what's currently installed.
    1. Download the latest windows updates individually from MS website.
    2. Use VLite to integrate new updates with your current ISO.
    3. Proceed with the upgrade.
Here are some "quick fixes" ...
  • Reset your CMOS and/or replace the battery. (Follow the instructions listed in your motherboard's manual.)
  • Uninstall and/or reinstall the (suspected) hardware drivers. Use Driver Sweeper to remove any device drivers you will be replacing.
    Driver Sweeper 2.6.5 @ Guru3D
  • If you can, update the firmware/BIOS/driver. A new version may contain a fix for your problems.
  • Return all modified/overclocked parts to their stock settings.
  • Remove the suspected part(s) from your machine. Replace the part(s) if necessary.
  • Unplug any port headers (USB/Firewire/LPT/COM/etc).
  • Try another cable (PATA, SATA, power, etc).
  • Try another slot (PCI, PCI-E, DIMM, etc).
  • Re-seat your CPU. Remember to clean off the old Thermal Interface Material (aka Thermal Compound) and apply a new layer. To clean off the old TIM, use 90%+ Isopropyl Alcohol and a coffee filter (poorman's lint-free cloth; q-tips are also good for cleaning the edges of the CPU and/or grooves in a heatsink).
Narrow down the problem...
  • Run stress-test programs, at STOCK speeds, (e.g. Prime95, memtest86+, HD Drive Fitness Test, etc) to narrow down potential problem areas. More details listed below, in post#2:
    Rule out any basic hardware issues
    .
  • If you have spare parts, you can swap them in to help. Temporarily replace suspect parts with working ones and/or run the suspected part(s) on a known working system.
  • Run a "minimum" build. Attempt to power the machine using just the motherboard, CPU, one stick of RAM, one hard drive, and the GPU (preferably onboard). Add additional components, one at a time, until the full rig is reassembled or you run into a problem.
  • To rule out a short, remove the motherboard from the case and, on a static-free surface, attempt to power it up. Procedures and more detailed info below, in post#3:
    Back to basics… A Barebones bench test
    .
Seeking help...
When creating a thread for troubleshooting help, please provide the following info:
  • List what the problem is and/or what you need help with. Please be as detailed as possible. The more details you provide us, the less questions we have to ask, and the more details we can give you in return. Whenever possible, give us specifics like:
    • Temperatures of key components (e.g., CPU, GPU, northbridge) and/or the inside of the case -- also, whether or not you're overclocking and/or using exotic (i.e. water-) cooling
    • The voltages everything is running at
    • How long you've had your computer for
    • Whether or not you've tried diagnosing the problem already (e.g., from software, by finding a solution online), and (if so) what the results were
  • If you're getting a BSOD, please post the error code!!!
  • Be as detailed as possible, but also as concise as possible. We need to know everything, but we don't want to read a wall of text. :p
  • Tell us what you've done so far, and also report results of all efforts.
  • Again, please be clear and concise, and keep us updated.

===================
The guide was extracted from the Gen[H]ard FAQ, originally compiled by tiraides. Last updated by engiNURD on 2009-NOV-10.

NOTE: To keep this thread clean, please do NOT discuss in this thread directly. Instead, please post any suggestions/comments/questions in this discussion thread:
GenHard Sticky Discussions...
 
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engiNURD

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Updated Links and revisions.


To help rule out any basic hardware issues, run these tests and report results in your thread:
 
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engiNURD

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Back to basics… A Barebones bench test:
If you followed a build guide, this should have been one of the first steps to assembling your computer. If you did not do this prior to building, it may help rule out several issues. Possible common symptoms:
  • The system does not POST (ie. the system powers on, but does not complete POST (Power On Self Test)).
  • The system powers on for a quick second or two, then powers off.
  • The system powers on, but you don't see anything on the screen.
  • The system does not power on at all.
  • The system was working fine, but not after you moved it from one location to another.
  • The system was working fine before you cleaned out all the dust.
  • The system was working fine before you installed a new (or replaced an) expansion card.

A Barebones bench test - Procedures to follow if your system does not POST:
It would help to have spare parts. If you don't have any, try borrowing from a friend.
  1. Setup everything OUTSIDE of the case, with the mobo on top of its cardboard box.
  2. Plug in only the essentials:
    • PSU
    • CPU w/ HSF
    • Single stick of RAM in the slot closest to the CPU.
    • Video card (if no on-board) along with its molex or PCI-E power connector if needed
    • System Speaker/Buzzer (if no on-board)
    • Monitor
    • Keyboard

  3. Clear your CMOS (Reset the BIOS) by following the instructions in your mobo manual. Some boards have on-board reset switches instead of a jumper. Make sure you have an updated BIOS, and that your board supports your CPU.
  4. Power on the system using a spare power switch or by shorting the two power switch leads for a few seconds or less (typically done with a screwdriver). Some boards have on-board power switches.
  5. Be sure you have a buzzer connected, to hear any POST error beeps. If you have an LCD on-board, it should give you a POST error code either in addition to or in place of a beep error code. Some Asus boards would "voice" these codes via the on-board audio line-out, in which case you'd need a regular speaker or headphones.
  6. If it won't POST, try different DIMM slots. If it still won't POST, remove all RAM and make sure you get error beeps. If not, then try known working RAM and make sure your RAM is compatible with your motherboard.
  7. If you do get error beeps but it still won't POST, try another slot for the vidcard (PCI-E, PCI, or AGP, depending on your card) if another is available.
  8. If not, or the other slot did not work, remove the videocard and listen for error beeps. If you get error beeps with a single stick of RAM and no vidcard, try another known working video card.
  9. If it still won't POST with known working RAM and Vidcard, remove the RAM and Video card, and listen for error beeps. If no beeps, try re-seating your CPU. Be sure to properly clean and re-apply thermal compound (see above for a few more details). If you do get error beeps, then its either the vidcard or RAM.
  10. If re-seating the CPU/HSF does not get the system to POST, then its most likely an issue with your CPU, Mobo, or PSU. CPU's rarely go bad, so try a known working PSU that's capable of powering your system.
  11. If another PSU doesn't help, you can try another motherboard (spare or borrow from a friend).
 
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