What went wrong with my computer?

It has been a weird few weeks with my home computing situation. I had been running a Dell Dimension desktop with Windows ME (go ahead and laugh) that I bought new in December, 2000. (Still laughing? Good.) Over the last several months, it was becoming more and more unreliable, and often took several attempts to properly boot up.

A friend of mine recently bought a new computer, so he was getting rid of his old tower. My roommate told me to take it – it might be a couple years old, but would certainly be newer and better than mine. The new one has an Athlon XP 1700 processor, and my roommate instructed me to purchase a 100-GB hard drive, 512 MB of RAM, and a DVD burner for it. I’ve been using my old monitor, keyboard, and mouse, and for the last few weeks, it’s been running like a dream.

However, since I started using the new computer, my monitor would occasionally make a hissing or buzzing noise, like there was an electrical short. I figured it was getting ready to go on me, since it was also going on six years old, and last night it finally did. Wouldn’t even turn on, so I had to manually shut down my computer by hitting the power switch (since I couldn’t see the commands to do it the “right” way).

I woke up early today and bought a 17" flat panel monitor from Comp USA. It seemed like a great deal after the rebates, so I came home, plugged it in, set it up…

And when my computer booted up, there were no icons on the desktop – a common problem with my old Dell, but the first time it has happened with the new one. It wouldn’t let me reboot normally, so I hit the power switch to turn it off and on again, and now the brand-new monitor tells me “No Input Detected.” I hear the fan running and all that, but it’s not booting up at all now! Could the new hard drive be fried, or perhaps the old motherboard (since that was a used component)?

I am so frustrated right now! I kept a computer running for 5+ years, and now everything is going wrong at once. I also tried to save a few bucks, and look what happened. So computer experts, what do you think my problem is (aside from being cheap and not knowing enough about hardware troubleshooting)?


When you first power up the computer, do you see anything on the screen (memory checks, dell logo, etc)?

The first time, it went to my usual desktop, minus all the icons. When I rebooted, I’ve been getting absolutely nothing ever since. The monitor tells me “No Input Detected” and then fades to black, like there’s nothing there at all.

Fried video card would be the most likely cause. Running a card at a refresh that the monitor can’t handle can do in the monitor. The monitor may have had a component failure and fried the video card. There are a lot of things that can go wrong. The power supply may be rated to low for the draw on the new components. Ect.

OS on new machine?
Video board issues?
BIOS issues?
Installation disk included with new monitor (usually PNP)?

Oh, I had bought a brand-new video card too, for the computer I basically rebuilt to be my new one. So the new video card fried the old monitor, and the new monitor may have fried the video card?

I have Windows 2000 on the new computer, and there was no installation disc with the new monitor I just bought. I’m afraid I don’t know anything about BIOS, though.

I suggest you turn off the power supply and remove and reseat the cards and memory. The computer may also be hanging at the beginning because the memory fails. I’m not going to be able to help you beyond this point.

In unscrewing the monitor cable you probably jostled the PC and unseated the video card slightly. Open the case and reseat the video card and memory modules.

OK, happy ending. Thank you for your help, everyone. Apparently it was a combination of jostling the video card inside when I plugged in the monitor (the slightest tap to this new/old tower has caused other problems, making me think I need to rearrange the components) and having something in Active Desktop mode, which my roommate says is very bad. He got my icons back, and said that it was just a freaky coincidence that it happened the first time I tried a new monitor out.

Anyway, the new 17" monitor had a dead pixel in the center of the screen. Normally I’m very easygoing about minor imperfections, but I figured it was brand-new and my first monitor purchase in six years, so I might as well have a perfect one. I took it back to Comp USA, where they were very nice, and I just happened to be there during a one-hour sale where I could get a 19" monitor from the same company for the same price (after two mail-in rebates, natch). So I got my computer working again, and I have a bigger (yet flatter) monitor than ever before. Thank you again to everyone who tried to help me this morning!