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Thread: Computer acting up, what could it be

  1. #1
    Relentless Bughunter Senior Member FactionHeir's Avatar
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    Default Computer acting up, what could it be

    Hello,

    Got a problem since a while and figured that maybe its time to post about it.
    Few months back it started. Got into windows and right after the welcome screen, the screen would go black. Somestimes, it would get stuck like this forcing me to hard reboot. Other times, it would go to the desktop and no problems. And yet other times, it would flash between desktop and black screen a few times. After the stuck in black times, I sometimes got a windows error message (critical error) on my next boot, which pointed to my graphics driver having a problem.
    So I wiped that one off and reinstalled it (even redownloaded it - its an old driver but the best driver for my card and of course directly from the manufacturer). So far so good. I don't get the black screen quite as often now.

    However, what happens now is, rarely (yes, rarely) once I get to my desktop, there may be some distortions, like the wireless popup message saying I'm connected getting discolored and forcing me to hide and then reshow my systray to clear the "artifact" (or just run an application that overwrites that space). Or like today, I go from welcome screen to a few seconds black screen to my desktop to find that the welcome screen is semi imprinted onto my desktop. Had to change color and back to fix (well only took that anyway).

    In addition to the above, and that may be unrelated, once in a while, very very rarely, turning on my laptop results in it not even going to the boot screen, just stays black at the very start (i.e. right after pressing power button). Happens often when I forget to turn the power on and it relies on the battery, but also when the power is on, just more rarely. Can reproduce this almost 100% though if I turn on the powersupply and immediately press the laptop power button - I always thought that's due to the electrical surge going through the laptop because when I turn on the powersupply, I always notice a few seconds later that the lights on my laptop go on and then off again quickly.

    I think the problem is mainly paragraphs 1 and 2 and 3 is probably nothing, but I figured I'd include it just in case.

    System details:
    Dell Inspiron 9400 (BIOS A09)
    Dell 0YD479 Mainboard
    Intel Core 2 CPU T7400 (L2 4096KB) @2.16GHz (actual 2.11)
    WinXP MCE 2005 SP3
    NVidia GeForce Go 7900 GS (101.19)
    2048 MB (332.5MHz) Dual Channel DDR2 RAM
    Last edited by FactionHeir; 05-14-2009 at 10:43.
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  2. #2
    Mr Self Important Senior Member Beskar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    I suggest running Memtest86+ , this will check if there is a memory fault.

    I remember having problems with my computer keep repeatedly point the error to my graphics card and it turned out that all the time, it was that one of my ram dimms was faulty.
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  3. #3
    Relentless Bughunter Senior Member FactionHeir's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    Did a full Dell Diagnostics check and the memtest86+ 2.11 as well, but found nothing.

    Maybe because the problem only ever occurs when just getting into windows when its about to load the desktop and all kinds of programs?
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    Amphibious Trebuchet Salesman Member Whacker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    Clean out your case real good.

    Here's how I do it. I have a 120 psi air compressor with the lil air nozzle on the hose. I'll take the side off my case, then stick wire ties or twisty ties in all of the fans so they don't rotate. This step is VERY important. After that, carefully start to work through your entire case. Be VERY careful doing this, as it is entirely possible to dislodge stuff and/or knock caps off of cards and boards. If in doubt, hold the nozzle a good distance away from the board and slowly move in closer as you get a better feel for things. Some key areas that often get missed are inside of the power supply (you don't have to take it apart), deep inside of some heatsinks such as behind attached fans, and inside of video cards. The last part is probably more relevant to you, as it sounds like you've got some heating problems.

    Canned air will work, but not nearly as good as a carefully used air compressor.


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    Honorary Argentinian Senior Member Gyroball Champion, Karts Champion Caius's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    Some recommend that thing girls use to get their hair dry.




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    Amphibious Trebuchet Salesman Member Whacker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    Quote Originally Posted by Caius View Post
    Some recommend that thing girls use to get their hair dry.
    Not enough air pressure. Canned air would be better. You need a very powerful concentrated stream of air.

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    Relentless Bughunter Senior Member FactionHeir's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    WOuld a vacuum cleaner do?
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    Amphibious Trebuchet Salesman Member Whacker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    Quote Originally Posted by FactionHeir View Post
    WOuld a vacuum cleaner do?
    Not really. You're looking to push a lot of air in a very concentrated stream to dislodge that dust. Vacuum cleaners are a bit dangerous due to static discharge anyway, I would never use one inside my computer case.

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    Stranger in a strange land Moderator Hooahguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    try doing a system restore. i had your problems as well, and even after dell fixed my fan and heatsink, which was broken, the problem persisted. then they told me to try a system restore, and so far, so good. at least for the past week.
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    Relentless Bughunter Senior Member FactionHeir's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    The first thing I do after formatting any of my PCs is to disable system restore. So yeah, I don't have any restore points

    I haven't gotten around to opening it and cleaning it yet, need to get time to buy a magnetic screwdriver first.

    Also, it seems odd to me that its a one-off thing (that happens very frequently now) just when going into windows. Sometimes with a slight delay meaning when I first move the mouse.
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    Amphibious Trebuchet Salesman Member Whacker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    Have you sacrificed to the Power Supply gremlins in the past 6 months? If not, then this is undoubtedly your issue.

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  12. #12
    Relentless Bughunter Senior Member FactionHeir's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    Huh?
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  13. #13
    Boy's Guard Senior Member LeftEyeNine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    Well he means you may be needing a new power supply to overcome your problem, if I'm not wrong.

  14. #14
    Amphibious Trebuchet Salesman Member Whacker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    Quote Originally Posted by LeftEyeNine View Post
    Well he means you may be needing a new power supply to overcome your problem, if I'm not wrong.
    Or just a Bad Joke©.

    Fractionhair, have you cleaned out the PC thoroughly using prescribed measures? Are you still experiencing these problems? You haven't mentioned anything so far about what you've done or what the status is...

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    Relentless Bughunter Senior Member FactionHeir's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    No haven't yet as described in post above with magnetic screwdriver and all
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    Amphibious Trebuchet Salesman Member Whacker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    Ermm... Why do you need a magnetic screwdriver? Why wouldn't just any old one do?

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    Relentless Bughunter Senior Member FactionHeir's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    When I cleaned out my old laptop, one of the screws fell in and it was very difficult to get it out again.
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  18. #18
    Amphibious Trebuchet Salesman Member Whacker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    DOH!

    I just realized this is a laptop!

    OK, the cleaning bit still applies, but let's try some new angles. First off, have you noticed any usually hot areas of your laptop while gaming? Is the heat coming out of the exhaust almost too hot to keep your hand there? Are there areas of the laptop top or bottom that eventually get too hot to touch, or are uncomfortably hot when you touch them?

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  19. #19
    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    Does it feel awkward to touch your laptop in certain areas? Does the air seemingly fill with electricity when you do that? do you feel violated afterwards?


    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Sorry, I couldn't resist. I do wonder though, if it's a heat problem, then why would it only happen at the start? And if it's a heat problem, do you happen to have an NVidia card in your laptop? I mean they do supposedly have quite a big failure rate due to bad material, depending on when you bought it. Whacker should know more about that.


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    Stranger in a strange land Moderator Hooahguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    Quote Originally Posted by Whacker View Post
    DOH!

    I just realized this is a laptop!

    OK, the cleaning bit still applies, but let's try some new angles. First off, have you noticed any usually hot areas of your laptop while gaming? Is the heat coming out of the exhaust almost too hot to keep your hand there? Are there areas of the laptop top or bottom that eventually get too hot to touch, or are uncomfortably hot when you touch them?
    if this is the case, buy a cooling pad. theyre not too expensive and do wonders.
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    Relentless Bughunter Senior Member FactionHeir's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    Got a cooling fan (2 fans) below it already with about 1cm space or so in between. Regularly dust that one.

    Ever since I got the laptop, the back of it usually gets very hot very quickly (well, I can keep my hand there, but its uncomfy of course), so that hasn't changed.
    Top part of keyboard sometimes heats up too, I imagine its a knock on effect from that part being next to the back anyway. Not uncomfy hot (outside of making my fingers sweat), but quite warm.
    Last edited by FactionHeir; 06-03-2009 at 09:00.
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    Well as long as you register it as "hot but not too bad to hold" (which I gather is at ~40 degrees Celsius or in English: a good hot bath temperature) your PC should not suffer from that too badly.

    However that funny thing with your power supply is rather more worrisome.

    If you can't get to POST screens something is seriously not good with your PC (disconnected, burnt out, crucial pieces of hardware not coming online properly, or otherwise not OK); if you have intermittent powerfailures it suggest the culprit is either in the power regulating circuits of some component (very bad) or the battery (bad but replace-able).
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  23. #23
    Relentless Bughunter Senior Member FactionHeir's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    Screenshot of how desktop usually looks like after the mini black screens:




    Haven't managed to get the welcome screen stuck screenshot just yet.
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  24. #24
    Stranger in a strange land Moderator Hooahguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    pity you erased system restore because i was having the EXACT problem you were and system restore fixed it and now it all good.
    Last edited by Hooahguy; 06-08-2009 at 03:25.
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  25. #25
    Stranger in a strange land Moderator Hooahguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    Quote Originally Posted by Tellos Athenaios View Post
    Well as long as you register it as "hot but not too bad to hold" (which I gather is at ~40 degrees Celsius or in English: a good hot bath temperature) your PC should not suffer from that too badly
    if you use Realtemp you can easily monitor the heat. i average around 35-55 degrees celcius. sometimes when im playing crysis it will get to 60. but the max is around 30 degrees more than that, so its fine, but still, a cooling fan is good to have. remind me to buy one soon.
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    Relentless Bughunter Senior Member FactionHeir's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    Didn't have any high hopes on that, but I created a restore point yesterday and restored today. Issue still happens.
    In fact, while it got to the welcome screen while restoring, it flashed to black for a while, so it does suggest that it has little to do with software being loaded and more to do with something going on within 20 seconds of getting into windows (variable 5-20).
    Want gunpowder, mongols, and timurids to appear when YOU do?
    Playing on a different timescale and never get to see the new world or just wanting to change your timescale?
    Click here to read the solution
    Annoyed at laggy battles? Check this thread out for your performance needs
    Got low fps during siege battles in particular? This tutorial is for you
    Want to play M2TW as a Vanilla experience minus many annoying bugs? Get VanillaMod Visit the forum Readme
    Need improved and faster 2H animations? Download this! (included in VanillaMod 0.93)

  27. #27
    Stranger in a strange land Moderator Hooahguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    did you try a reinstallation of the OS?
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    Relentless Bughunter Senior Member FactionHeir's Avatar
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    Default Re: Computer acting up, what could it be

    Hi guys,

    Thought I'd give you an update. Did the cleaning and problem persisted. However, a few days back I needed to reboot my router because the internet was a bit sluggish. Actually turned it off and back on, but forgot the turning it back on part
    So my laptop boots up, no black screens just yet. Turn on router and just when my router is about to connect to the net (and right at the time it would be broadcasting its own signal to nearby receivers i.e. my laptop) I get a quick black flicker and the graphically distorted message as per screenshot.

    So I did a bit of testing....connected to my router via LAN cable and turned my internal wireless card off. Since then. I've not had the problem again (though if I turn the card back on and go wireless, it comes back obviously).

    Interesting part about this is that the wireless card is one of the very few hardware pieces that Dell Diagnostics does NOT check, which is why it didn't flag up.

    Now I do wonder why a problem with my wireless card was causing those graphical issues including critical system failures. And of course what I should now do about the inbuilt card - could it be just a driver error or is the hardware likely damaged? Note that after the black screen etc my internet otherwise worked just fine (with the exception of getting a 1 second lagspike every 1-2 mins) and I didn't get any other problems. It was limited to boot/first connection to router only. First - because if I turn the router off and back on after a while without rebooting my laptop, I would not get the black screen issues.
    Last edited by FactionHeir; 08-21-2009 at 11:54.
    Want gunpowder, mongols, and timurids to appear when YOU do?
    Playing on a different timescale and never get to see the new world or just wanting to change your timescale?
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    Annoyed at laggy battles? Check this thread out for your performance needs
    Got low fps during siege battles in particular? This tutorial is for you
    Want to play M2TW as a Vanilla experience minus many annoying bugs? Get VanillaMod Visit the forum Readme
    Need improved and faster 2H animations? Download this! (included in VanillaMod 0.93)

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