Beeps of death


K

Kroma

Hi,

My computer was running fine until Sunday evening when I found it sitting
there with a faint smell of burning and no image on the monitor.

It was still running so I rebooted only to hear 1 long and 3 short beeps.
It continued to reboot normally (as proven by my wireless music player
starting up). No image on screen though.

Apparently the beeps mean that there is a graphics card problem (Award
BIOS).

I have removed the card (an FX5200 - AGP) to look for damage but cannot see
any.

I have also heard that the problem may be the slot. I do not have a spare
AGP card to test though.

My next thing is to buy a new AGP card but cannot afford to buy one only to
find that it was the slot after all. If the slot has gone, I guess I will
have to buy a new PC as a new motherboard would mean an upgrade of memory,
CPU, Hard Drive, OS (OEM XP at the mo) etc etc.

Any suggestions?

Thanks,

Kroma (obviously from another PC)
 
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B

Bryce

Kroma said:
Hi,

My computer was running fine until Sunday evening when I found it sitting
there with a faint smell of burning and no image on the monitor.

It was still running so I rebooted only to hear 1 long and 3 short beeps.
It continued to reboot normally (as proven by my wireless music player
starting up). No image on screen though.

Apparently the beeps mean that there is a graphics card problem (Award
BIOS).

I have removed the card (an FX5200 - AGP) to look for damage but cannot
see any.

I have also heard that the problem may be the slot. I do not have a spare
AGP card to test though.

My next thing is to buy a new AGP card but cannot afford to buy one only
to
find that it was the slot after all. If the slot has gone, I guess I will
have to buy a new PC as a new motherboard would mean an upgrade of memory,
CPU, Hard Drive, OS (OEM XP at the mo) etc etc.

Any suggestions?

Thanks,

Kroma (obviously from another PC)

Free stuff:

- Try the video card from "another PC" in your machine.
- Try your video card in "another PC".
 
G

Grinder

Kroma said:
Hi,

My computer was running fine until Sunday evening when I found it sitting
there with a faint smell of burning and no image on the monitor.

It was still running so I rebooted only to hear 1 long and 3 short beeps.
It continued to reboot normally (as proven by my wireless music player
starting up). No image on screen though.

Apparently the beeps mean that there is a graphics card problem (Award
BIOS).

I have removed the card (an FX5200 - AGP) to look for damage but cannot see
any.

I have also heard that the problem may be the slot. I do not have a spare
AGP card to test though.

My next thing is to buy a new AGP card but cannot afford to buy one only to
find that it was the slot after all. If the slot has gone, I guess I will
have to buy a new PC as a new motherboard would mean an upgrade of memory,
CPU, Hard Drive, OS (OEM XP at the mo) etc etc.

Any suggestions?

The power supply is also suspect. It's failure, or partial failure, can
produce wildly different results.
 
P

Paul

Kroma said:
Hi,

My computer was running fine until Sunday evening when I found it sitting
there with a faint smell of burning and no image on the monitor.

It was still running so I rebooted only to hear 1 long and 3 short beeps.
It continued to reboot normally (as proven by my wireless music player
starting up). No image on screen though.

Apparently the beeps mean that there is a graphics card problem (Award
BIOS).

I have removed the card (an FX5200 - AGP) to look for damage but cannot see
any.

I have also heard that the problem may be the slot. I do not have a spare
AGP card to test though.

My next thing is to buy a new AGP card but cannot afford to buy one only to
find that it was the slot after all. If the slot has gone, I guess I will
have to buy a new PC as a new motherboard would mean an upgrade of memory,
CPU, Hard Drive, OS (OEM XP at the mo) etc etc.

Any suggestions?

Thanks,

Kroma (obviously from another PC)

Inspect the video card when the power comes on in
the computer. Is the fan spinning ? Chances are your
fan stopped turning, and the GPU got real hot.
It may not be the slot itself that is bad, but the
card.

Paul
 
J

Jon Danniken

Kroma said:
Hi,

My computer was running fine until Sunday evening when I found it sitting
there with a faint smell of burning and no image on the monitor.

Follow your nose. Where is the burning smell coming from?

Jon
 
K

Kroma

I don't have another AGP enabled computer to test on (or a spare AGP card)
so the simple and free swap test is unavailable.

Have tried the nose test and there is a faint smell of burning from a
specific area near to the connectors but it is strongest a little bit away.
Cannot sniff test the motherboard as my nose is too short! :blush:)

Have now noticed that a single capacitor on the graphics card is a little
bulged - in fact there may have been a little leakage from the top. Could
it still function like this? What would be the likely cause of a bulging
capacitor?

Thanks,

Kroma
 
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P

Paul

Kroma said:
I don't have another AGP enabled computer to test on (or a spare AGP card)
so the simple and free swap test is unavailable.

Have tried the nose test and there is a faint smell of burning from a
specific area near to the connectors but it is strongest a little bit away.
Cannot sniff test the motherboard as my nose is too short! :blush:)

Have now noticed that a single capacitor on the graphics card is a little
bulged - in fact there may have been a little leakage from the top. Could
it still function like this? What would be the likely cause of a bulging
capacitor?

Thanks,

Kroma

It will function for as long as it takes the electrolyte to drain
and dry up. You're a victim of "capacitor plague".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague

The fact that there is a burning smell, means there could be
collateral damage. In other words, when the capacitor fails,
it can kill MOSFETs or coils next to it. If enough current
is drawn, it might even be possible to burn a trace in the
motherboard. The power supply, while it may have overcurrent
protection, will engage that overcurrent feature at a
very high current. If the faulty component draws less than
the magic current number, the power supply will happily
continue to burn the defective component.

If the GPU loses power, it is also possible for all of the
AGP bus drivers, to be working into a short circuit. So
in theory, even the Northbridge on the motherboard, could
be damaged. The fact that the computer boots, suggests
it isn't that bad.

That is the thing with bad caps. If you detect a problem
early enough, only the capacitor itself is a victim. If
you force the machine to keep running, and ignore the
symptoms, then the damage becomes more expensive.

See if you can borrow an AGP card. It is only fair to
inform the person you are borrowing it from, that it
could get damaged when inserted in your motherboard.

Since the "bottom of the barrel" video cards are pretty cheap,
you may be able to find a new one for test purposes, at about
$30 or so.

To do maintenance on a computer, does require a certain number
of spare components on hand. You can trade the purchase price
of a test video card ($30), versus the prices a repair shop might
charge to do the testing for you. Unless the shop has cheap
pricing, getting the card yourself will be cheaper.

Paul
 
C

CBFalconer

Kroma said:
I don't have another AGP enabled computer to test on (or a spare AGP card)
so the simple and free swap test is unavailable.

Have tried the nose test and there is a faint smell of burning from a
specific area near to the connectors but it is strongest a little bit away.
Cannot sniff test the motherboard as my nose is too short! :blush:)

Have now noticed that a single capacitor on the graphics card is a little
bulged - in fact there may have been a little leakage from the top. Could
it still function like this? What would be the likely cause of a bulging
capacitor?

This is virtually useless.

If you want to post a followup via groups.google.com (or
equivalent), ensure you quote enough for the article to make sense.
Google is only an interface to Usenet; it's not Usenet itself.
Don't assume your readers can, or ever will, see any previous
articles.

More details at: <http://cfaj.freeshell.org/google/>
 
K

Kroma

Kroma said:
I don't have another AGP enabled computer to test on (or a spare AGP card)
so the simple and free swap test is unavailable.

Have tried the nose test and there is a faint smell of burning from a
specific area near to the connectors but it is strongest a little bit
away. Cannot sniff test the motherboard as my nose is too short! :blush:)

Have now noticed that a single capacitor on the graphics card is a little
bulged - in fact there may have been a little leakage from the top. Could
it still function like this? What would be the likely cause of a bulging
capacitor?

Well, just thought I'd post to update anybody with similar problems.

I've been logging into the graphic-card-less PC remotely for the last couple
of weeks, so I knew that everything non-graphics-related was fine and, as
far as the AGP slot is concerned, it would seem that I was very lucky.

I ordered a new graphics card which arrived today (costing GBP 23) - based
on an Nvidia 5500 chip (a stage up from my old one). The advantage is that
this one has a fan rather than just a heatsink.

I installed it in seconds, switched on the PC and everything was fine. I
had to reinstall the drivers (I thought that this step wouldn't be necessary
as it is the same family of card as my old one but maybe running it without
a card somehow 'self-uninstalled' the old drivers).

I'll keep an eye on things but I suspect that the bulging capacitor had been
coming on for months without any side effects until it caused something to
burn. I honestly had no reason to suspect that anything could be wrong.
I've now read that Leadtek (the manufacturer of my old card) had a spate of
bad capacitors a few years back - I expect that I am a victim of this.

Anyway, thanks to those who helped and boo-hiss to those who made sarcastic
comments :blush:)

Thanks again,

Kroma (and his working PC)
 
P

Paul

Kroma said:
Well, just thought I'd post to update anybody with similar problems.

I've been logging into the graphic-card-less PC remotely for the last couple
of weeks, so I knew that everything non-graphics-related was fine and, as
far as the AGP slot is concerned, it would seem that I was very lucky.

I ordered a new graphics card which arrived today (costing GBP 23) - based
on an Nvidia 5500 chip (a stage up from my old one). The advantage is that
this one has a fan rather than just a heatsink.

I installed it in seconds, switched on the PC and everything was fine. I
had to reinstall the drivers (I thought that this step wouldn't be necessary
as it is the same family of card as my old one but maybe running it without
a card somehow 'self-uninstalled' the old drivers).

I'll keep an eye on things but I suspect that the bulging capacitor had been
coming on for months without any side effects until it caused something to
burn. I honestly had no reason to suspect that anything could be wrong.
I've now read that Leadtek (the manufacturer of my old card) had a spate of
bad capacitors a few years back - I expect that I am a victim of this.

Anyway, thanks to those who helped and boo-hiss to those who made sarcastic
comments :blush:)

Thanks again,

Kroma (and his working PC)

Yes, uninstalling the old drivers, and then reinstalling, is a
good idea. The installer may do something different for each
installed card (different files or registry entries). Removing
the old driver and running the installer again, will then
give the right results for your new 5500.

The capacitor issue affected many companies, but some seemed
to buy a lot more of the bad ones than other companies. One
motherboard company even lost a class action lawsuit about it,
and had to repair a bunch of their products.

http://web.archive.org/web/20050123032427/http://abitsettlement.com/

Paul
 
G

Gerard Bok

I ordered a new graphics card which arrived today (costing GBP 23) - based
on an Nvidia 5500 chip (a stage up from my old one).
I installed it in seconds, switched on the PC and everything was fine. I
had to reinstall the drivers (I thought that this step wouldn't be necessary
as it is the same family of card as my old one but maybe running it without
a card somehow 'self-uninstalled' the old drivers).

You may care to know that the proper way to change a videocard is
as follows:
- First: switch the video back to 'generic VGA'
- reboot (to make sure the PC only uses VGA)
- replace the video board
Which should then boot in VGA mode also.
- Install the drivers for the new video card.

If you fail to follow this route you may end up with video
drivers that keep getting started by Windows without the proper
hardware to run on. Which wastes both ram space and boot time.
And doesn't do much for system stability :)
 
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B

Bryce

Kroma said:
Well, just thought I'd post to update anybody with similar problems.

I've been logging into the graphic-card-less PC remotely for the last
couple of weeks, so I knew that everything non-graphics-related was fine
and, as far as the AGP slot is concerned, it would seem that I was very
lucky.

I ordered a new graphics card which arrived today (costing GBP 23) - based
on an Nvidia 5500 chip (a stage up from my old one). The advantage is
that this one has a fan rather than just a heatsink.

I installed it in seconds, switched on the PC and everything was fine. I
had to reinstall the drivers (I thought that this step wouldn't be
necessary as it is the same family of card as my old one but maybe running
it without a card somehow 'self-uninstalled' the old drivers).

I'll keep an eye on things but I suspect that the bulging capacitor had
been coming on for months without any side effects until it caused
something to
burn. I honestly had no reason to suspect that anything could be wrong.
I've now read that Leadtek (the manufacturer of my old card) had a spate
of bad capacitors a few years back - I expect that I am a victim of this.

Anyway, thanks to those who helped and boo-hiss to those who made
sarcastic comments :blush:)

Thanks again,

Kroma (and his working PC)

Glad to hear your worst worry was not fulfilled!

I prefer a video card without a fan ... they all seem to get noisy or
just silently fail long before I plan to replace the machine.
 

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