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Old 09-22-2009, 11:22 PM
ToeJam ToeJam is offline
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How can I tell if my Video Graphics Card is fried?

(I'm posting this from a different computer- just to nip the "How are you posting if your screen is blank?" questions).

Basically- I was listening to music on my computer late last night, when I heard a loud pop/snap sound through the Headphones and my screen froze. I did a hard reset on the computer (as neither was responding for a while- mouse, or keyboard). When I restarted my computer made the noises to load up- but my screen was black. After a while I got the message "No video input to monitor" - yet nothing had really changed. I had unplugged replugged the monitor plug into the computer, but nothing changed.

Basically: I currently have a computer that powers up, a monitor that powers up. But when I plug the monitor into the computer- the monitor says there's no input and after a while, it just goes to sleep. (I have an HP PC bought in 2003-2004 for those curious).

So, my questions:
-Based on the above data: Is it logical to say that my Video Card is the problem here?
- What else could it be?
- What should I do next? I certainly don't have the skills/know how to open up the computer and replace such things. So do I just buy a new one and try to install it manually? Or should I go to a repair man? Or should I go to like Best Buy and have them install a new one?

Basically- what Do I do now?
  #2  
Old 09-22-2009, 11:33 PM
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I'm not sure if it's necessarily the video card, I have odd issues overclocking (that I should make a thread about...) and something similar happens, it gets stuck before it even starts booting. It just sits there whirring idly, eventually the monitor gives up and sleeps. In my case I think it's a voltage issue, probably not on yours, but I just wanted to say the video card isn't necessarily the culprit (especially since the board usually has a rudimentary display built in that it defaults to).

It could be memory. Do something - turn on your computer and listen for "beeps" and tell us what they are, they should be easy to describe (i.e. "one long high pitched beep" or "a long beep and two short ones") these are called "Beep Codes" and are used to detect hardware faults. We can make guesses even if we don't know what you're using, from what I've seen the codes don't conflict too much. Of course, if you can remember what you used to see at boot that would be great too, for example mine says "Phoenix AWARD BIOS," so if you remember what type you had that could help a little more.

And also, you really do have the expertise to install a new card unless you're hilariously clumsy, nowadays it's approximately as hard as "find part that looks like it, push in release tab and remove. Now insert new card in same slot." It's only slightly more complex than swapping floppy diskettes really.

Edit: Er, does it sound like it's booting up, in other words keeps whirring and calming down and then sits idle after the bootup time or does it just sit there idle after you hit the power, not even trying (i.e. sounds idle like when you're sitting there doing nothing on it)?

Last edited by Jragon; 09-22-2009 at 11:36 PM.
  #3  
Old 09-23-2009, 11:04 AM
Turble Turble is offline
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If you can, try plugging your monitor into another computer and/or plugging another monitor into the messed up computer.

Installing a new video card is very easy, even for an absoluted novice. You will need to do a bit of research to choose the right one.
  #4  
Old 09-23-2009, 11:11 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Something other than the video card going bad could do this, because it prevents the video chip from working.

Last edited by Harmonious Discord; 09-23-2009 at 11:12 AM.
  #5  
Old 09-23-2009, 11:13 AM
IAmNotSpartacus IAmNotSpartacus is offline
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A description of the motherboard POST beeps would be extremely helpful.
  #6  
Old 09-23-2009, 11:35 AM
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engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is offline
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The fact that your computer made "noises to load up" doesn't mean that the computer is working. Fans and disk drives will spin up even if the motherboard is toast.

How old is the computer and how much are you willing to spend on it?
  #7  
Old 09-23-2009, 12:18 PM
HorseloverFat HorseloverFat is offline
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>I certainly don't have the skills/know how to open up the computer and replace such things. So do I just buy a new one and try to install it manually? Or should I go to a repair man?

If you dont have the skills to open the computer and replace it then you dont have the skills to install it yourself. I would go to a small mom and pop computer store before attempting to go to Best Buy or any repair shop associated with a large retail operation. More than likely they are the ones who will strongarm you into overspending.

Try to find one with a free diagnosis and estimate. Sometimes you can get this service and then you can decide if its worth buying a new one instead of going the repair route.

Last edited by HorseloverFat; 09-23-2009 at 12:19 PM.
  #8  
Old 09-23-2009, 12:35 PM
robardin robardin is offline
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I'm afraid it sounds more like a failed motherboard than video card. When it's been my video card that's failed in the past, my hard drive would still "spin up", but I could hear it grinding away as though it were actually loading the operating system and booting up, as opposed to just spinning as part of powering up and then stopping. The easiest way to tell would be to drop in a video card and see what happens, if you had an extra one (which you don't seem to), and either knew how to do it or had a friend available would did (which you also don't seem to).

I hope not, for your sake, because motherboard failures are a pain. I had to do this myself earlier this year with a similarly vintaged Dell computer. Like me, you probably won't be able to get the same board you already have as it's not made anymore, and newer ones use different CPUs and memory chips and maybe even hard drive connectors and video card slots, and would require an operating system reinstallation to get all the drivers right. You COULD get an identical refurb motherboard on eBay for the same price as a new, modern motherboard... But then again, once you're going to the cost/trouble of doing a motherboard swap, why not upgrade in general? (Which is what I ended up doing)

One thing you might try though is to see if you're a (non-fatal) victim of static electricity. To find out, unplug your PC from the wall, detaching both ends of the cord (from the wall socket AND from the back of the PC), then ground your PC. You remove the case, touch the metal frame under the plastic case with one hand and something like a radiator or another Big Metal Thingy Around Your House That's Grounded with your other hand. You may or may not feel anything, but then replug it all in and see what happens.
  #9  
Old 09-23-2009, 03:46 PM
ToeJam ToeJam is offline
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-Okay. I'm going to try tonight to go back and turn on/off the computer to listen to the noises it makes. I only really noticed the Blue Light on it powers up, but didn't really pay attention to the noises afterwords. I'll try to record the noises, and come back tomorrow with the data.
-Alas, I do not have a spare monitor to try to use that. Though i did have a spare wire to a different monitor- I tried that one, but when I did that the screen was just black (so not even an "no input received" sort of comment. I'll check that too.

Anything else I should try to do?

-I just hope my harddrive is still preserved. If I get a new PC, would they still be able to transfer the Data over, or should I pretty much assume that it'd be lost? That's pretty much my greatest fear.

And I think I have enough technical know how to Open the computer at least and look at the insides. If it simply is an unplug/plug in replacement, I could probably do that.

And it's a system that was bought new in 2003 or so, and I believe running Windows 2000. It had been doing just fine for all these years, not really slowed down or anything (though it was definitely showing it's age....
  #10  
Old 09-23-2009, 03:54 PM
HorseloverFat HorseloverFat is offline
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Windows 2000? Just buy a new one. You can pull out your old hard drive, buy a USB enclosure, and get the data off.
  #11  
Old 09-23-2009, 09:05 PM
ToeJam ToeJam is offline
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Update: So I went and turned on my computer and listened to it. When I pushed the power button, the power light lit up, and it made a whirring noise- which seemed louder than normal. I Believe it's the Fan, which when I checked the back- yeah- the fan is spinning away.

However, it made NO OTHER noises. I let it run for about 5-10 mins, and all that's going on is the fan is just whirring away, but there's no other noises present. The power light is on, and the CD drive is able to eject if I push the button.
But that's all it is doing.

Does that help?
  #12  
Old 09-23-2009, 09:11 PM
IAmNotSpartacus IAmNotSpartacus is offline
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It isn't your video card. Well, it might be, but you've got other problems. Your motherboard should give a single beep when it successfully passes POST. No beep at all means either the board is shot or the power supply is shot. If it was bad memory it would give a distinct beep pattern. Power supplies fail more often than motherboards do in my experience.

Last edited by IAmNotSpartacus; 09-23-2009 at 09:12 PM.
  #13  
Old 09-23-2009, 10:16 PM
ToeJam ToeJam is offline
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Can the power supply fail, yet the fan, lights, and cd drive work?
  #14  
Old 09-24-2009, 04:11 AM
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It's simply a case of not having enough power, I think. I'm not really a hardware expert, but I think power supplies can degrade without having complete failure. There's still a chance if you want to feel around inside for a tiny (probably red) button that resets the CMOS in case you (somehow) messed something up there by accident and ended up screwing with the voltage requirements. But if it just stopped working after normal use I doubt it will do much good.
  #15  
Old 09-24-2009, 04:48 AM
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engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ro0sh View Post
Can the power supply fail, yet the fan, lights, and cd drive work?
Eh, it can, but it's not likely. Sometimes if the power supply partially fails, you can tell what part died by what is working and what isn't. Usually, hard drives use 12 volts for the motors and 5 volts for the logic, though a lot of them these days just use the 5 volts. The LEDs are usually activated by the motherboard, which mostly runs off of the 5 volt and 3.3 volt lines. The fans usually are powered off of the -12 volt rail, just to balance things out so that it has some sort of load. This is just generally speaking, though. There are exceptions. If you have one of these typical power configurations, you could lose only the 3.3 volt supply and everything except the motherboard would work.

It is much more likely that your CPU or motherboard is dead (or both - one may have killed the other when it went). On newer motherboards, if the CPU is fried you'll still get beep codes. Systems of your era this didn't always do this, though.

Even if the power supply was the initial failure, it could have easily killed the motherboard when it died.

A new power supply will cost you 30 bucks and isn't likely to fix the problem. If you have to pay someone to put the power supply in, the labor charge will be more than your system is worth. A new motherboard will cost more than the system is worth, and would require you to upgrade to a new power supply anyway. There's also a good chance it wouldn't even fit in your system. The cost of a replacement motherboard, new CPU, memory, and a power supply if you buy them all as parts is pretty close to the cost of a new system.

Your best bet is to bite the bullet and get a new computer. I know that's not what you want to hear, but really, it's what you need to do. This thing ain't worth fixing.
  #16  
Old 09-24-2009, 05:25 AM
SenorBeef SenorBeef is offline
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The first thing you'll want to do for a mysterious hardware failure is to clear the CMOS. This is something you'll have to consult your motherboard manual for most likely. This comes in the form of a set of 3 pins with a jumper that connects 2 pins. In order to clear the cmos, you disconnect the power supply from the wall and change the jumper to the opposite pin, so that it's now connecting the middle pin with the previously unconnected one. Leave it like that for a minute - hitting the power button a few times can discharge any residual charge - and then switch the jumpers back to the original position. If you know the specific model of your computer, you may be able to find a manual online, and it will contain diagrams with the locations of this jumper.

If that doesn't work, you'll want to ascertain that you have a PC speaker/beep code speaker hooked up. Is there normally a single short beep about 5 seconds after you hit the power button on a normal boot?

If not, there will be a set of pins on the motherboard that say PWR/HDD/RESET SW/SPEAKER.. at least they should be labelled. The motherboard manual should cover this too. You want to make sure that there's actually a wire plugged into the SPEAKER part. Some cases don't come with this anymore, which is frustrating. If not, you'll need to acquire one on your own. I can help you find one at an online specialty shop for a few bucks if you need it... when I needed one I ripped it out of an old case.

If you can't get beep codes - the most likely candidate is a broken motherboard, but not necesarily. My video card died recently under mysterious circumstances, and my motherboard did not properly give beep codes, which is weird because it's a very high quality motherboard. I actually went through the steps of replacing the motherboard, only to find that the new one properly gave out beep codes, and indicated that it was a video failure.

Do you have any other computers available that are known to be working? The next step would be to swap out a compatable video card with yours and see if it works. A mom and pop repair shop will be able to do this easily, but I have no idea what they charge for the priviledge. Or you can do it yourself, it's pretty simple and I'm sure there are step by step guides with pictures on the internet.

There's a chance you may have integrated graphics on your system - I couldn't tell you without knowing the motherboard - in which case you wouldn't have a video card, and may not have a slot for a replacement. If that's the case, you'd most likely need to replace the motherboard, although that's not 100% sure to fix the problem.

Last edited by SenorBeef; 09-24-2009 at 05:26 AM.
  #17  
Old 09-24-2009, 01:00 PM
ToeJam ToeJam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
Your best bet is to bite the bullet and get a new computer. I know that's not what you want to hear, but really, it's what you need to do. This thing ain't worth fixing.
I have a feeling this is probably going to be the route to go....
So my followup Q:

How can I save my harddrive/memory on the computer? I have documents and photos and all that stuff in the computer- is there any way to retrieve them and still keep them onto a new computer?

Is it tricky to do or am I doubly screwed?
  #18  
Old 09-24-2009, 01:03 PM
HorseloverFat HorseloverFat is offline
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Like I wrote above. Open the case. Pull out the hard drive. Buy a USB enclosure. Put it in it. And plug the USB into the new computer. You'll probably find you documents under c:\documents and settings\username\My Documents or Desktop


Also note there are two types of hard drive connectors: SATA and PATA/IDE. Take your drive to the computer store and ask someone to help you find the proper enclosure.

Last edited by HorseloverFat; 09-24-2009 at 01:04 PM.
  #19  
Old 09-24-2009, 02:04 PM
Translucent Daydream Translucent Daydream is offline
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Originally Posted by Ro0sh View Post
I have a feeling this is probably going to be the route to go....
So my followup Q:

How can I save my harddrive/memory on the computer? I have documents and photos and all that stuff in the computer- is there any way to retrieve them and still keep them onto a new computer?

Is it tricky to do or am I doubly screwed?
Don't worry, this isn't a big deal. Once you get the USB enclosure that everyone is talking about, the drive ends up being like a big floppy disk. You might take a while finding everything you were wanting, but its no big deal techwise.

Good luck.
  #20  
Old 09-25-2009, 09:27 PM
Rucksinator Rucksinator is offline
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Since it's a 5 or 6 year old PC, buying a new one is most likely your best bet.

The problem is that a hard drive enclosure might cost ~$50. You might be able to just put the old PC's hard drive in the new PC as a 2nd hard drive, depending on whether or not the new PC has IDE and SATA connectors, but that's going to take just a tiny bit more technical expertise, a bit more than I'd be comfortable recommending to a newbie. There's also the chance that you'll need to set the BIOS to not try to boot off the old hard drive.


But I'm curious about something.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ro0sh View Post
(I'm posting this from a different computer- just to nip the "How are you posting if your screen is blank?" questions).

Basically- I was listening to music on my computer late last night, when I heard a loud pop/snap sound through the Headphones and my screen froze.....
Did the music quit when you heard the pop? Or did it keep playing?
  #21  
Old 09-26-2009, 10:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IAmNotSpartacus View Post
It isn't your video card. Well, it might be, but you've got other problems. Your motherboard should give a single beep when it successfully passes POST. No beep at all means either the board is shot or the power supply is shot. If it was bad memory it would give a distinct beep pattern. Power supplies fail more often than motherboards do in my experience.
Not all computers beep. In fact, the last one I had that did was a 486.

As for the OP: if you are wanting for money, you don't really need to get a fancy machine. Don't let someone trick you into buying more computer than you want or need. You were already happy with what you had, right?

Heck, unless you use your computer for gaming (no, solitaire doesn't count) or graphics editing, you'd probably be fine with a used/refurbished model, if you can get one cheaper than new.

If you do have enough money, I'd suggest looking into a laptop. The benefits of being able to carry your computer around will usually outweigh the cost in performance. And, as I said, you probably don't need that much performance anyways.

Of course, you'll have to use the USB method with the laptop, as your old hard drive is not going to fit inside. But it sounds like you were going to do that anyways.

You could also enlist the help of a friend who has a little bit of technical know-how to install the hard drive inside their computer and let you copy the files you want to keep on a CD or something. If I were there in person, I could show you how. It's not as hard as some make it sound.

But I bet you'd not be asking on here if you had such a friend.
  #22  
Old 09-27-2009, 01:35 AM
ToeJam ToeJam is offline
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Originally Posted by Rucksinator View Post
Since it's a 5 or 6 year old PC, buying a new one is most likely your best bet.

The problem is that a hard drive enclosure might cost ~$50. You might be able to just put the old PC's hard drive in the new PC as a 2nd hard drive, depending on whether or not the new PC has IDE and SATA connectors, but that's going to take just a tiny bit more technical expertise, a bit more than I'd be comfortable recommending to a newbie. There's also the chance that you'll need to set the BIOS to not try to boot off the old hard drive.


But I'm curious about something.....



Did the music quit when you heard the pop? Or did it keep playing?
Everything just froze up with the Pop. - Mouse, keyboard, and yes the sound as well.

I'm thinking about both these options- to get the enclosure or to get a new computer. If I got a new computer it would not be a gaming computer that's for sure....

I'm just wondering if I could go to a chain (Like best buy as that's the only place I've really gotten computers from- that or online), and just see if I can use their GeekSquad Service to maybe stick my old computer's HardDrive as a 2nd one into a new computer. I like that idea quite a bit and it's more appealing than just having the enclosure. But I'll have to think about this.


(And I do have a laptop currently- it's just I used the two for entirely different purposes and never got around to backing up the old computer which i've always kept as my "Classic" computer at home while the Laptop was used more for taking notes during class and the like- but all my papers and actual work is on the old computer.)
:sigh:

I'll see though. Thank you ALL though for your suggestions and help, and I'll keep trying to figure out this issue. I appreciate you all pitching in with comments and the like.
  #23  
Old 09-27-2009, 02:45 AM
SenorBeef SenorBeef is offline
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You probably won't need an enclosure. You'll need 1 IDE-PATA port on the motherboard. Since these can handle up to three devices each, and you should at most have 1 IDE-PATA hard drive and 1 dvd burner with the new system, you can plug it into the new computer.
  #24  
Old 09-27-2009, 09:15 AM
yoyodyne yoyodyne is offline
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Originally Posted by SenorBeef View Post
You probably won't need an enclosure. You'll need 1 IDE-PATA port on the motherboard. Since these can handle up to three devices each, and you should at most have 1 IDE-PATA hard drive and 1 dvd burner with the new system, you can plug it into the new computer.
Nit: IDE ports handle up to two devices each.
  #25  
Old 09-27-2009, 11:07 AM
SenorBeef SenorBeef is offline
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Right. Master/slave. How did I come up with 3?

There's a chance your computer could come with only one IDE/PATA port, which means (assuming your current hard drive is PATA, which is likely based on the date) you could hypothetically be without a port to use for the hard drive. You could use a bridging device rather than a USB encloser if that were the case.
  #26  
Old 09-27-2009, 12:02 PM
IAmNotSpartacus IAmNotSpartacus is offline
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Originally Posted by BigT View Post
Not all computers beep. In fact, the last one I had that did was a 486.
Say what? Motherboard POST beeps are totally common and typical. I've had myriad computers since my 486 and they've all sounded POST beeps. Perhaps try connecting the mobo's internal speaker or enabling POST in BIOS if it somehow was disabled?

Last edited by IAmNotSpartacus; 09-27-2009 at 12:02 PM.
  #27  
Old 10-04-2009, 11:47 PM
ToeJam ToeJam is offline
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Well, just as a followup- I took it to a random OfficeDepot dealio where they'd diagnose the problem for free: That lady opened up the computer and pointed out my Heatsink was laying on top of my motherboard. That's not where it goes. Apparently it had fallen off the wall (the heatsink lube perhaps had falled away? she postulated) and that also one of the clips that holds up the HeatSink was broken.

She wasn't sure about the motherboard's state though and said she couldn't fix the heatsink w/o the lube and to try best buy or somewhere else to get the lube and she'd have a friend coming by the next day to possibly look at it.

So I took it to the BestBuy GeekSquad who said they don't sell the Heat Sink Lube (est. cost: 12 bucks), but that they'd put the Heat Sink in for 50 bucks (boo!), and for 99 bucks they'd back up my hard drive in case if anything gets lost (basically they'd cover their asses for 99 bucks insurance).

So I said fine to the heat sink portion. And left, they called me back within 8 mins of dropping off the computer to point out that apparently my Motherboard was fried along with the Heat Sink problem. So they'd not be able to fix the computer and they wouldn't charge me for the service since it'd do no good.

So that's that:
My Motherboard is fried. I think my Hard Drives are intact and safe though (according to OfficeDepot and the Geeks). so I've just got them for now.... And I'll probably look into buying a new computer- and see if I can just transfer this hard drive into the new computer.

Is that the right move? Any one have another other comments or suggestions?

If Not, thanks for all the help you guy's have given me, I appreciate it!
  #28  
Old 10-05-2009, 12:12 AM
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Find a local mom & pop type computer shop (one that has been around for a few years, at least) ... they depend on doing quality work at a fair price to survive ... and they know what they are doing.

If you were the do-it-yourself type, a tube of thermal paste is about $10 at Radio Shack. On top of that, you would need very detailed instructions to replace the heatsink to see if the thing still works ... don't how somebody could tell you the motherboard was fried just by looking at it unless it was actually visibly burnt and/or smelled burnt.

Forget the big box stores for this kind of thing ... you've had a taste and it wasnt' good, huh? You got lucky, though; it didn't cost you anything. $50 is obscene to install a heatsink, it is a 5 minute job for someone who knows how ... and the $99 deal doesn't actually cover anything; if they waste your hard drive you are just out of luck.
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