Here's the scoop:
About a month ago I upgraded to 750MB RAM, I may've done this with power on to the motherboard (something I'd've (<-- like that?) never thought I'd do). Anyway the result was the computer wouldn't reboot. It would turn on, run normally, the monitor would turn off by itself (no signal) and most importantly, no beep (that lovely computer is booting beep).
I took her in and she was diagnosed with a dead motherboard. Got the mobo replaced, she booted fine at the shop.
Came home and she boots, but only on the second or third try(!!!). Meaning, it chugs and runs, but no signal to monitor and no beep, until I turn it off and try again.
What's going on? Is it bad power? (old house) Or something worse? Could it be bad memory? The computer runs fine once it does boot but the lack of that beep, invariably, on that first boot, is making me extremely nervous.
By Jim Frazer on Tuesday, November 6, 2001 - 02:57 pm:
I hate to be Captain Obvious, but there is a question I have to ask before we get too technical: is your motherboard/processor speced to use 256+ MB chips? My old PIII-800 couldn't use anything over a 128MB chip.
Second, are you using 2 different speeds of RAM? Some mobos apparently have a problem powering down a 133 chip to 100 if it is over 256MB.
If the RAM was bad, you should be getting an I/O error saying something like "Unable to access I/O device. Abort/Retry/Fail/Continue". Either that or it will not properly display the total RAM and continue booting.
Just some random ideas.
By Tracy Baker on Tuesday, November 6, 2001 - 03:23 pm:
Depending on the operating system you use, it might not handle more than 512MB of RAM. Try stepping it down to 256MB and see if it boots. If it works properly, too much RAM is the most likely problem. That beep you aren't hearing might be due to the POST not being able to handle that much memory.
If that's the case, you probably were scammed on that new mobo. Can't imagine why you'd need that much memory in the first place, but you might want to consider updrading to Windows XP if you want to access it all without problems.
By Bub (Bub) on Tuesday, November 6, 2001 - 03:31 pm:
Sorry, here's the specs.
AMD 1 gig
3 sticks of CL3 Crucial PC 133 RAM
Tracy, you're right, I don't need that much RAM, but it was $30 and I had an extra slot... y'know?
I should just take it out...
By Tracy Baker on Tuesday, November 6, 2001 - 03:36 pm:
Windows 98's crappy vcache is the problem, most likely:
Hope that solves it...
By Tracy Baker on Tuesday, November 6, 2001 - 03:41 pm:
Oh, and here's a link to every article in the MS tech support database regarding memory problems and Windows 98 -- an indispensible resource for every gamer:
Don'tcha just love those elegant MS URLs? :)
By Bub (Bub) on Tuesday, November 6, 2001 - 03:51 pm:
Thanks Tracy, I followed the instructions and... it didn't work. I'll pry out the machine later on tonight, open her up and take that stick out, tell ya what happens.
Anyone else heard of anything like this before I do that? I know there's some computer tech shop guys here.
By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Tuesday, November 6, 2001 - 03:56 pm:
Does the problem go away if you run with only 1 stick of memory? You need to start removing things and get the minimal set of hardware to duplicate the problem.
By Jim Frazer on Tuesday, November 6, 2001 - 04:12 pm:
Yeah, what Wumpus said... start with 1 stick in. From that point on, you're in a nice round robin style try out of your RAM. These symptons don't sound like bad RAM, but it's worth a check.
Oh, carp.. Umm, you're running an Athlon 1-gig... Is your mobo a VIA266 or a VIA133 chipset? If it's a VIA266, your RAM is going to pretty well fail miserably. You may end up having to purchase some DDRAM.
By Bub (Bub) on Tuesday, November 6, 2001 - 04:15 pm:
Thanks, yeah, Jeff, I figued that was the next step. I posted because I wanted to rule out a power problem. I've got an old house with some pretty nasty wiring, so I tend to always jump to that as the problem first.
I'm working now, so I can't troubleshoot. But tonight I'll start removing sticks and see what happens.
Jim, VIA133 chipset. The memory is totally certified for this mobo.
By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Tuesday, November 6, 2001 - 04:30 pm:
"Thanks, yeah, Jeff, I figued that was the next step. I posted because I wanted to rule out a power problem. I've got an old house with some pretty nasty wiring, so I tend to always jump to that as the problem first."
Then invest in a good UPS .. and a quality computer power supply, while you're at it. Never underestimate the importance of the power supply for today's power-hungry systems. Particularly AMD systems.
By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Tuesday, November 6, 2001 - 04:31 pm:
Wanted to clarify on the UPS. Uninterruptibles aren't just for outages. They cover you from a whole host of power weirdnesses: fluctuations, overvoltage, undervoltage, etc.
By Jim Frazer on Tuesday, November 6, 2001 - 04:31 pm:
Okie, just making sure. It's hard to know what questions to ask when I'm not sure on what you already know. :)
I'm no tech guru or anything, just a hobby PC builder for friends and whatnot. Never run into a problem like you're describing. I've had a video card that was incompatible with my BIOS that showed similar symptons. It would boot after I cleared the CMOS, but as soon as I got everything set up, it would just blackscreen. No signal to the monitor, no beep, just as you described. But since you said this started when you swapped RAM and it does indeed work occasionally, I doubt it's the problem.
It sounds like your PC is at least recognizing that you have a video card since you aren't getting the dreaded multi-beep at startup.
A power supply that is failing should be a lot more consistant than this.
I'm stumped and I'm really not helping, so I'll just back out and let more knowledgeable types continue. :)
By Bub (Bub) on Tuesday, November 6, 2001 - 04:32 pm:
My power supply is fine. I can't recall offhand the brand and such but I know it was ranked the best at the time I bought it.
Um... UPS? I'm thinking United Parcel Service here. Is this a abbrev. for one of those backup batteries?
By Sean Moore on Tuesday, November 6, 2001 - 05:20 pm:
I had a problem like this once. It started off taking a try or 2 to boot. After a while it was 3 or 4 times, etc.
Eventually I took the computer in to find out what was wrong with it. I was told that one of the mounting screws on the motherboard was not in correctly and it was causing something to short out.
I ended up having to replace it.
By Bruce_Geryk (Bruce) on Tuesday, November 6, 2001 - 06:02 pm:
"Eventually I took the computer in to find out what was wrong with it. I was told that one of the mounting screws on the motherboard was not in correctly and it was causing something to short out."
I have the same problem with one of my machines. If I move it, it often doesn't POST the next time it's turned on. There's an intermittent short somewhere, obviously, which manifests itself when the computer is jostled.
By TonyM on Tuesday, November 6, 2001 - 06:26 pm:
I had a customer with a problem similar to that of Bruce's and Sean's.
If the case cover was off, the computer would boot up fine. As soon as I would put the case cover on, it wouldn't boot. I wouldn't even have to screw the case cover on.
The customer just decided to throw the case cover away rather than pay to have the motherboard and peripherals re-mounted or buy a new case.
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Wednesday, November 7, 2001 - 12:02 am:
I think we've narrowed it down, here, but I do just want to chime in with one thing: I've seen bad RAM cause any multitude of problems, and while only about 5% of the time does bad RAM cause the inability to boot, it's certainly not something to rule out altogether.
Ditto on the whole "Try one stick at a time" thing. That's the only way to go.
Also, if the motherboard isn't properly secured, it can cause shorts, which do all kinds of funky things. I had forgotten 'til someone else mentioned it, but that's a very real possibility, so I'd check that as soon as you get the case off. If you get real desperate, remove the motherboard from the case altogether -- but that's absolutely the last resort.
By Tracy Baker on Wednesday, November 7, 2001 - 02:08 am:
>I've seen bad RAM cause any multitude of problems
Yup. I got desperate one day and bought some PNY RAM at Best Buy, and the stick was bad. It caused all kinds of errors from random lock-ups to program crashes, to the system simply not booting. Bub has Crucial parts, so they're probably not the problem in this case, but definitely something to consider if bumping down to 512MB or less under Windows 98 doesn't work.
By Alan Au (Itsatrap) on Wednesday, November 7, 2001 - 06:12 pm:
I was having some problems with my RAM at one point. I eventually figured out the RAM chip was was loose in the socket, and that I really had to jam it in tight before it would work reliably. No idea if this would help with your problem, but I wouldn't rule out a mechanical solution...