Desktop PC shenanigans



  • I'm listening to an album on Spotify on my Windows 10 desktop PC with the screen turned off and me relaxing on the bed. Suddenly the playback stutters then stops. I go back to the desk, turn on the screen, but there's no signal from the video card. The machine is on, power LED and keyboard LEDs are lit, but it does not respond to key presses, button clicks, the power button, nothing. The only thing I can do is hold the power button to shut down.

    Another time, I turned the machine on, and there was no video signal. I had to wait like 2 minutes before the motherboard manufacturer logo even appeared on screen.

    What's happening to my computer?



  • @marczellm

    Check HDD. Dying HDD can block the BIOS init like you described in your second case.

    Second culprit, CPU is overheating. Check the fan, is it stuck? If you have temperature sensors, check those.

    Third culprit, motherboard in general is dying.

    I'm not sure if video card could cause the machine to lock up as you described. Maybe I'm out of touch there, but I think not, so I'd skip messing with that.

    RAM would also either not work or cause blue screens / garbage. It wouldn't lock the boot, AFAIK.



  • @cartman82 said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    Check HDD.

    How?

    Once I had an old computer that started freezing up for several minutes. Windows shell was responsive, but I couldn't launch any program. After some minutes, normal operation was restored. I suspected the hard drive, so I installed two of these "hard drive health checking" programs.

    Both of those started checking the hard drive, froze up together with the entire PC, then after several minutes informed me that everything is OK with my HDD.



  • @marczellm

    SMART check.

    If that shows you reallocated sectors or other flags, well, there you go.

    If not, the disk could still be failing on a mechanical level. I have one just like that, and it seems you had too.

    As far as I know, there is no way to confirm this through software (if SMART returns all green). You just have to try with a different HDD and see how it acts.



  • @marczellm said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    Another time, I turned the machine on, and there was no video signal. I had to wait like 2 minutes before the motherboard manufacturer logo even appeared on screen.

    That part is an indication - though hardly a definitive one - that it probably isn't the hard drive, as most BIOS or UEFI setups will show that before checking the SATA connections. Now, as I say, it isn't definitive - if there is an electrical connection issue, with the drive or anything else, it could cause the whole system to glitch for a bit before the system re-rails itself - but it does seem to me that the drive is probably not the culprit.

    I doubt that it is a thermal issue either, as those usually have to build up a significant amount of heat before they cause an issue - especially if it is intermittent. However, it is also possible that if the fans are glitching and the mobo detects that, that it is pausing itself to wait to see if it re-rails, but IME most BIOSes/UEFIs will just shut down rather than risk overheating if that happens at boot.

    While you should run as many diagnostics as you can beforehand - CHKDSK, SMART disk reports, memory tests, video card tests - I think you'll need to open the box up, or have someone whose hardware expertise you trust do it.

    Make sure you unplug it first, of course. I want to think you'd know that part, but everyone makes mistakes, and a reminder is always a good idea.

    Have a can of compressed air on hand, and clean anywhere that might have a layer of dust, especially the fans and radiators - not only will the dust obscure things, it can actually cause problems in the fans, the radiators, and the hard disks. If you haven't used compressed air before, spray it in small puffs rather than one long one, and when the can starts to get cold, stop for at least five minutes to let the pressure equalize. Blow some air into the PSU, first from the outside vent, then from the inside vent.

    I would do a quick visual check to see if you can see any blown capacitors on the motherboard or the video card - it's really unlikely, as those would usually be showstoppers, but sometimes a cap which is not for a major component will cause odd glitches rather than an outright failure.

    Then I'd check the seating of the video card, the power connections, and the SATA connections.

    Check the fans for anything that might be obstructing the blades. That sort of thing is surprisingly common, and easy to overlook.

    Smell the power supply, and if you notice any BRS, try replacing the PSU. Again, this is usually a fatal problem rather than a glitchy one, but it is worth checking.



  • @marczellm said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    ... I go back to the desk, turn on the screen, but there's no signal from the video card. The machine is on, power LED and keyboard LEDs are lit, but it does not respond to key presses, button clicks, the power button, nothing. The only thing I can do is hold the power button to shut down.

    That happens with my machine (the non-responsive part), but only when told to restart (from bios, or from OS, no difference). Shutting down intentionally works, but restarting it leads to the OS ending properly and then the machine just.........waiting. Sucks for updates though. I have to do it manually.

    I think it started when I replaced the graphics card. Maybe a power supply problem?



  • @ScholRLEA said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    That part is an indication - though hardly a definitive one - that it probably isn't the hard drive, as most BIOS or UEFI setups will show that before checking the SATA connections. Now, as I say, it isn't definitive - if there is an electrical connection issue, with the drive or anything else, it could cause the whole system to glitch for a bit before the system re-rails itself - but it does seem to me that the drive is probably not the culprit.

    Hmm... that's a good point. You might be right.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    Hmm, speaking of, my brand new gaming PC has troubles turning on, Pre-POST (The display comes on, but no image).

    Like, most of the time it doesn't even power on, and 4/5 times when it does, it gets stuck.

    Other than that it seems fine.

    I'm willing to bet it's an issue with the SATA power cables, for some reason the case's drive mounts extend past the drive so the power connectors are unable to properly slot into the drives (they're the kind that have the power wires running parallel to the actual connector, which is normally absolutely fine assuming the drive's port is at the end of the drive).



  • @marczellm I've seen this kind of bullshit caused by a stealth "upgrade" to an Intel display driver. Maybe check in Device Manager and see if you can roll your display driver back to an earlier version?

    At first sight it seems implausible that a Windows video driver could have any impact on your machine's power-up behavior, but Windows 10 does this fast-start thing that relies on hibernating the kernel; depending on your BIOS that might mean that power-up is actually equivalent to waking from a sleep state rather than going through the usual POST.

    If there's no display driver issue, next most likely cause for the symptoms you describe is a failing PSU.


  • :belt_onion:

    @flabdablet said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    Windows 10 does this fast-start thing

    I have seen problems with Wifi, Ethernet, Bitlocker, ... all of which related to this. And apparently after the last update something was broken. I asked few people who had problem to do a cold shutdown and the problem was fixed afterwards!



  • @dse said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    do a cold shutdown and the problem was fixed afterwards

    I wound up pulling the battery out of my laptop this afternoon because of a mouse (at least mouse not working was the symptom; I have no idea what the root cause was) problem.

    Mouse movement was fine, responding to mouse-over events and stuff, but something was stealing the click events. The only thing that responded correctly to clicks was the task bar. Clicking on any window, even the start menu, didn't work. Clicking anywhere in the active window actually took focus away from that window and gave it to ... I don't know what; nothing visible. And clicking on a window that didn't have focus did nothing at all.

    I had to navigate using the keyboard to reboot, and it didn't help. So I :fa_windows: and Tab and my way to the power menu again and did a shutdown instead of reboot, then pulled the battery out. I don't know if that was necessary, but it worked.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @HardwareGeek said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    @dse said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    do a cold shutdown and the problem was fixed afterwards

    I wound up pulling the battery out of my laptop this afternoon because of a mouse (at least mouse not working was the symptom; I have no idea what the root cause was) problem.

    Mouse movement was fine, responding to mouse-over events and stuff, but something was stealing the click events. The only thing that responded correctly to clicks was the task bar. Clicking on any window, even the start menu, didn't work. Clicking anywhere in the active window actually took focus away from that window and gave it to ... I don't know what; nothing visible. And clicking on a window that didn't have focus did nothing at all.

    I had to navigate using the keyboard to reboot, and it didn't help. So I :fa_windows: and Tab and my way to the power menu again and did a shutdown instead of reboot, then pulled the battery out. I don't know if that was necessary, but it worked.

    I have the opposite problem. Apparently Synaptics doesn't like Chrome, and very often the mouse is unable to be moved. Tap-clicking and right-clicking (either by the double-finger tap or pressing down in the bottom-right of the pad) work fine, just movement and scrolling is borked....



  • @Tsaukpaetra said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    I have the opposite problem.

    I am occasionally unable to move the mouse pointer, but that's just lag due to something bogging the system down so much that it can't respond to events timely. This was something I've never seen before — that I can recall, anyway.

    I was writing and debugging a python script, and I wanted to open Character Map to look up the Unicode code point for the █ character (I was trying to generate a simple bar graph/histogram thingy on a system with no python graphical libs of any sort installed). I clicked the Start button, typed "char", and Windows showed "Run Character Map" as a search result, but I couldn't click on it to run it. Brokenness ensued, as previously described.



  • @dse said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    do a cold shutdown and the problem was fixed afterwards

    Windows doesn't fast-start on restart, only on shutdown, so shutdown -r -f -t 0 or simply selecting Restart from the menu should both work as well.

    There's one condition that I've seen fixed with a proper shutdown followed by actual removal of power: nVidia nForce Ethernet adapters seem to stay partly powered up from the backup 5V rail, most likely to allow them to support wake-on-LAN. Sometimes they can get themselves so internally locked up that they disappear entirely from the PCI bus, and actual power cycling is the only thing that brings them back.



  • @HardwareGeek said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    something was stealing the click events. The only thing that responded correctly to clicks was the task bar. Clicking on any window, even the start menu, didn't work. Clicking anywhere in the active window actually took focus away from that window and gave it to ... I don't know what; nothing visible. And clicking on a window that didn't have focus did nothing at all.

    That's generally caused by Windows believing that a modifier key like Ctrl or Alt is down when it's up, having missed the key-up event from the keyboard, so it interprets clicks as ctrl-click or alt-click. Sometimes that's triggered by one of the accessibility keyboard shortcuts (long press on right Ctrl is one I've seen cause trouble) and usually all that's needed is to press and release each of the modifier keys. Where there are duplicate modifiers, like left and right Ctrl, you need to hit both; sometimes separately, sometimes together.



  • @flabdablet said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    press and release each of the modifier keys.

    Makes sense, and it sure would have been a lot more convenient than rebooting twice. Even if it didn't work, it would be negligible effort. I'll try to remember that if I ever run into the problem again.



  • @Tsaukpaetra said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    Hmm, speaking of, my brand new gaming PC has troubles turning on, Pre-POST (The display comes on, but no image).
    Like, most of the time it doesn't even power on, and 4/5 times when it does, it gets stuck.

    Since you describe it as a gaming PC, is your PSU dimensioned appropriately, especially for your graphics card?

    Your GPU takes 75 watts, plus 75 watts per 6-pin additional power plug, plus 150 watts per 8-pin additional power plug. This ramps up way more quickly than any other component.



  • @Tsaukpaetra said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    my brand new gaming PC has troubles turning on, Pre-POST (The display comes on, but no image).
    Like, most of the time it doesn't even power on, and 4/5 times when it does, it gets stuck.

    Does it by any chance have a Corsair CX series PSU? I've seen one of those do exactly that. I've also seen the same PSU make its PC restart instead of powering down.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @PleegWat said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    @Tsaukpaetra said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    Hmm, speaking of, my brand new gaming PC has troubles turning on, Pre-POST (The display comes on, but no image).
    Like, most of the time it doesn't even power on, and 4/5 times when it does, it gets stuck.

    Since you describe it as a gaming PC, is your PSU dimensioned appropriately, especially for your graphics card?

    Your GPU takes 75 watts, plus 75 watts per 6-pin additional power plug, plus 150 watts per 8-pin additional power plug. This ramps up way more quickly than any other component.

    Unfortunately I didn't build it myself. That was probably my bad.

    This is the build config I ordered:


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @flabdablet said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    @Tsaukpaetra said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    my brand new gaming PC has troubles turning on, Pre-POST (The display comes on, but no image).
    Like, most of the time it doesn't even power on, and 4/5 times when it does, it gets stuck.

    Does it by any chance have a Corsair CX series PSU? I've seen one of those do exactly that. I've also seen the same PSU make its PC restart instead of powering down.

    Corsair SFX, but it's entirely possible this one might be affected as well. I'm not sure what's to blame, but when it does work there's a three second delay between pressing the power button and hearing the PSU actually click on.



  • @HardwareGeek said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    Mouse movement was fine, responding to mouse-over events and stuff, but something was stealing the click events.

    Something like this happens to me occasionally. Then I notice that my notebook (like, a paper notebook that I use for taking notes) or something has gotten shoved onto the keyboard and is pressing CTRL. :headdesk:



  • @boomzilla said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    something has gotten shoved onto the keyboard and is pressing CTRL.

    :headdesk: I have a good idea of what may have happened. Not the keyboard; I have a second mouse attached, because raisins, and it is not at all unlikely that one of its buttons was being pressed. I have now unplugged the second mouse.



  • @HardwareGeek I've had that problem on linux with a gaming mouse. It has a mode switch which allows the windows driver to assign different meanings to the extra mouse buttons based on mode. Linux insisted at all times I was in the middle of a drag operation with the 10th, 11th, or 12th mouse button depending on which mode was active.


  • sockdevs

    @PleegWat said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    12th mouse button

    …how many buttons do you need?


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @RaceProUK said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    @PleegWat said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    12th mouse button

    …how many buttons do you need?



  • @RaceProUK

    Windows supports:

    1. left
    2. right
    3. click wheel
    4. wheel up
    5. wheel down
    6. wheel left
    7. wheel right
    8. back
    9. forward

    The USB mouse standard supports more, probably 16. Gaming mice with extra functions typically use the extra buttons allowed in the standard and read them with a custom driver and macro interface. The linux default driver supports more buttons.


  • sockdevs

    @PleegWat said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    @RaceProUK

    Windows supports:

    1. left
    2. right
    3. click wheel
    4. wheel up
    5. wheel down
    6. wheel left
    7. wheel right
    8. back
    9. forward

    Is what my mouse has, and that's enough for me.

    Well, OK, it does have one more button that alters the DPI of the LED sensor thingy, but that's not a button press sent to the PC.

    Also, my mouse is pink, and that makes it more awesome than your mouse :P



  • @RaceProUK Mine is a R.A.T.. I bought it because I like how it lies in my hand; apart from the mode switch (which I don't use) and a DPI selector it has a single extra button, marketed as 'temporary super resolution' but actually controlled by the driver. I use it as push-to-talk.

    I must yield to a pink mouse though; mine is black with electric blue highlights.



  • @PleegWat said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    the 10th, 11th, or 12th mouse button

    If I were on a real computer, I'd post a "Well there's your problem" meme image, but it's too much bother on mobile.



  • This is a complete shot in the dark.

    Are there any old peripherals attached?

    My machine stopped booting up after an old (more than 5 years old) USB hub died.

    Husband discovered it booted when not attached to anything that wasn't necessary and we narrowed it down to the USB hub.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @Karla said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    My machine stopped booting up after an old (more than 5 years old) USB hub died.

    Yeah, I mirror this experience. A cheapo china USB hub melted in my car (it was part of my car PC build) and... bad things happened....
    Luckily it wasn't USB-Killer-levels of bad, but it basically mean all external input (BT keyboard, USB backup keyboard, touchscreen) was nonfunctional.

    Good times. I got really familiar with the last set playlist for a few months until I had time to take it apart and replace it.



  • @Tsaukpaetra said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    A cheapo china USB hub melted in my car

    Pray I do not melt it further.

    Inside a heated shower head. (suicide shower) – 13:12
    — bigclivedotcom



  • @Karla said in Desktop PC shenanigans:

    This is a complete shot in the dark.

    Are there any old peripherals attached?

    My machine stopped booting up after an old (more than 5 years old) USB hub died.

    Husband discovered it booted when not attached to anything that wasn't necessary and we narrowed it down to the USB hub.

    I'll try next time to unplug this old USB Audio interface that keeps crapping out.


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