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PC stuck at BIOS

DrascinDrascin Registered User regular
I normally hate to bother the fine people of the forum with my problems, but today I'm a bit at my wit's end, and kinda hoped that someone has ever had a similar problem to mine and can suggest a solution.

So I came back from a six months exchange study program, super happy to go back home to my own desktop... and when I turn it on, it doesn't work. The screen starts, and the checkup the system runs on startup starts... but stops after the processor and the next line (the one that starts CPUID). And... that's it. It does nothing else. The keyboard doesn't respond to attempts to go into BIOS setup or boot menu, and the system just stays there forever.

I've been trying to move RAM sticks around to see if one of them was causing an error, tried changing the connections of the hard drive, even checking some of the power source cables to see if they were fastened correctly, which is pretty much code for "I have no idea what is going on".

Basically, I have no idea what is going on. Does anyone have any ideas as to what this could even be caused by?

Steam ID: Right here.

Posts

  • GaslightGaslight Registered User regular
    You say you were gone for six months. Presumably your PC was not turned on at all that entire time?

    Was it plugged in to power? Do you have a surge protector of some sort? My first thought is that at some point during that six months there was a thunderstorm that fried some of your vital components.

    bowen wrote: »
    The bacteria in your poop exist everywhere.
  • DrascinDrascin Registered User regular
    edited June 2014
    I do have a surge protector, and from there it's behind a... uh, I actully don't know how the English name is. UPC? One of those things that normalize current and store some minutes of power in case of a power outage.

    Though apparently most if not all of the time it wasn't even plugged in, according to my mother, who stayed at the house.

    Drascin on
    Steam ID: Right here.
  • LD50LD50 Registered User regular
    Do you know if your motherboard has a speaker, and if not, is there a speaker in the case that is wired to the mainboard? If the motherboard is in working order it should be giving you some sort of beep code letting you know what's wrong.

  • DrascinDrascin Registered User regular
    It had a speaker. But it just gave a single beep, like it does when it starts up normally.

    And when I was fiddling wth the RAM I must have disconnected it by accident because I found it at the bottom of the case and now I have no idea where it was connected into.

    Steam ID: Right here.
  • LD50LD50 Registered User regular
    You're talking about the speaker right? There should be a set of tiny pins along the edge of the motherboard (normally the bottom edge closest to the front of the case, if the case were standing upright). There should be some labeling printed on the board itself telling you what each pin is for. Just slide the connector over the pins, and it should work.

    If the computer isn't giving you a error beep, and it's locking up after boot, my guess is that you've got a dead motherboard. It could be a few other things (not enough power from the power supply, or a bad processor), but the mobo being bad is more likely.

    Also, have you tried booting with only 1 ram stick in the slot closest to the processor, and all peripherals (hard drives/ssd's/cd drives completely disconnected? If you have both onboard graphics and a discrete card, remove the card too and try using the onboard graphics and see what happens.

  • DrascinDrascin Registered User regular
    I haven't tried some of those. Right now I have to go to bed (got to wake up tomorrow at six, and at least getting six hours of sleep would be nice), but I'll make sure to try those when I come back. Thanks for the ideas!

    Steam ID: Right here.
  • westomwestom Registered User regular
    edited June 2014
    Drascin wrote: »
    And when I was fiddling wth the RAM I must have disconnected it by accident because I found it at the bottom of the case and now I have no idea where it was connected into.
    Bad diagnostic procedure is to change things before collecting all facts. Unfortunately, making changes might exponentially complicate the problem. At this point you only want to get facts (ie beep codes) maybe by using different booting techniques.

    For example, you machine may boot differently when pressing any one Fx key repeatedly. Probably unique information might appear by repeatedly pressing the F2, F6, F10 or F12 key repeatedly until the machine puts text on the screen. Which key does what is unique to each computer manufacturer. Even the manufacturer name and model numbers is information to collect and report before making any changes.

    At this point, try to reconnect that speaker since it was reporting relevant facts. To get the machine back to exactly where it was before changed were made.

    Also not posted is every letter that does appeared on the screen. Since the last letter (where it stops) was important. Another fact necessary before making any chanages.

    Swapping RAM accomplished nothing. Since beep codes already reported whether that was relevant or not. If RAM was defective, then a specific beep code was heard. If no beep codes (other than the first one), then the computer never even got to the part where it even looks for RAM. Or RAM was just fine. Either way, any RAM changes could only exponentially complicate the problem.

    Try to restore that speaker. Then do not make any changes until all other facts are collected.

    That surge protector does not claim to protect from destructive surges. And can even bypass protection inside a computer if a critically important 'whole house' protector did not exist.

    UPS does nothing to normalize current or protect hardware. Its only purpose is temporary and 'dirty' power during a blackout. To give you time to only save unsaved data. It also does not claim to protect hardware.

    Once the system is back to reporting beeps and once important facts are collected, a first change will be connecting the computer directly to a wall receptacle. To eliminate the surge protector and UPS that can sometimes complicate solutions.

    Problem can be anything inside the machine. Many more items besides motherboard, PSU, CPU, etc. A list of suspect shortens only when specific facts exonerate or accuse each suspect. Never accuse any part until facts (ie beep codes, screen display, etc) say which are guilty, which are suspicious, and which are innocent.

    westom on
  • DrascinDrascin Registered User regular
    westom wrote: »
    Drascin wrote: »
    And when I was fiddling wth the RAM I must have disconnected it by accident because I found it at the bottom of the case and now I have no idea where it was connected into.
    Bad diagnostic procedure is to change things before collecting all facts. Unfortunately, making changes might exponentially complicate the problem. At this point you only want to get facts (ie beep codes) maybe by using different booting techniques.

    For example, you machine may boot differently when pressing any one Fx key repeatedly. Probably unique information might appear by repeatedly pressing the F2, F6, F10 or F12 key repeatedly until the machine puts text on the screen. Which key does what is unique to each computer manufacturer. Even the manufacturer name and model numbers is information to collect and report before making any changes.

    Again, pressing any key was doing nothing. I did point out that I tried to go into BIOS, and boot menu, and pianoing the F keys to see if anything happened. It didn't. It's basically locked up at that screen.
    westom wrote: »
    At this point, try to reconnect that speaker since it was reporting relevant facts. To get the machine back to exactly where it was before changed were made.

    Will try. Though it wasn't really reporting anything as such. As said, it gave the single beep of "everything is alright" before the computer locked up.
    westom wrote: »
    Also not posted is every letter that does appeared on the screen. Since the last letter (where it stops) was important. Another fact necessary before making any chanages.

    When I'm back home I'll see about writing down everything on the screen, then. It's not like it goes down or anything, it just stays at that screen forever, so it shouldn't be a problem.
    westom wrote: »
    Swapping RAM accomplished nothing. Since beep codes already reported whether that was relevant or not. If RAM was defective, then a specific beep code was heard. If no beep codes (other than the first one), then the computer never even got to the part where it even looks for RAM. Or RAM was just fine. Either way, any RAM changes could only exponentially complicate the problem.

    Try to restore that speaker. Then do not make any changes until all other facts are collected.

    That surge protector does not claim to protect from destructive surges. And can even bypass protection inside a computer if a critically important 'whole house' protector did not exist.

    Well, it does claim to do exactly that. How true it is might be up for grabs, granted, but it definitely says that that is exactly what it does.
    westom wrote: »
    UPS does nothing to normalize current or protect hardware. Its only purpose is temporary and 'dirty' power during a blackout. To give you time to only save unsaved data. It also does not claim to protect hardware.

    Except on the parts that it does. I mean, it might well be false advertising, but that it helps protect the PC from spikes and surges and normalizes excessively variable current is right there on the box.
    westom wrote: »
    Once the system is back to reporting beeps and once important facts are collected, a first change will be connecting the computer directly to a wall receptacle. To eliminate the surge protector and UPS that can sometimes complicate solutions.

    That was the first thing I did, yes, mostly to rule out it being a problem in the surge protector or UPS. Didn't seem to chage anything.

    Steam ID: Right here.
  • westomwestom Registered User regular
    You reported it put some letters on the screen. That means it started to execute the BIOS. That did not report where it was in the BIOS when it stopped. The speaker might have said more if repeatedly pressing one relevant Fx key (which one is unique to your machine - a name that was not provided).

    Does not matter that it stops. Matters is where it stops. Speaker beep codes (that might not occur when not pressing the Fx key) might report that. You also did not mention another important change - that you plugged it direct into the wall.

    What is probably happening: the BIOS must literally talk to every internal device (ie Ram, speaker drive, video screen). Then load drivers one at a time for each device. If it gets that far, then the disk drive light indicates at least one access. A defective device caused it driver to not load properly and crashed the BIOS. Pressing the appropriate Fx key means all loaded drivers are listed as loading. The crashed one is the last one listed thereby saying without doubt which one of so many parts is defective. However if the BIOS did not even get that far, then something different (maybe even the power system) is defective. Power system is more than a PSU. Having the speaker connected an not outputting other beeps with the appropriate Fx key pressed was an important fact. Getting the machine back to original conduction (restore speaker) is needed to get important facts (such as it did not beep other codes).

    BTW, an adjacent protector only claims to protect from a type of surge that typically does not overwhelm protection already inside a computer. Yes it does claim protection. But only from an anomaly that does not do damage. They forget to mention it can even make surge damage easier from a completely different anomaly - another type of surge - if you do not have a 'whole house' protector. They even forget to mention another threat created by being undersized - fire. If you had surge damage (and nothing yet says that), then an adjacent protector can (in some cases) bypass protection that is standard in a computer PSU. Protector manufacturers forget to mention, for example, how its hundreds of joules somehow absorb or block surges that are hundreds of thousands of joules.

  • DrascinDrascin Registered User regular
    edited June 2014
    That is interesting stuff to know about surge protectors. Thanks for the info.

    And I did say that the last part that appeared in the text was the processor and then the CPUID line, which was the las line to appear. Does that mean the processor is a suspect or am I not understanding you right?

    Anyway, back to business. I managed to find where the speaker was connected. It just was hard to see because it had a four pin female plug so I was looking for four pin connecters, and it actually was set in half of a seven pin connecter instead.

    Also put back everything the way it was, as you said: rams in their original slots, graphics card connected again, hard drive in original sata port, all that.

    And now what I get is rather different. It still turns on, takes a moment, the speaker does its single "everything is fine" beep... but now I get a motherboard picture screen that didn't show before. It's a colorful Gigabyte presentation screen, and at the bottom there's controls: Tab for "post screen", whatever that means, Del for bios setup/q-flash, f9 for recovery, f12 for boot menu, End for q-flash. And mashing keys, or at least the F keys, while turning it on still does nothing. The problem is that since I don't get the checkup anymore I can't tell you what the CPUID line said exactly. So it seemsthat indeed you were right and I might have complicated this for no reason with my nervous impatient fiddling. Sorry.

    Drascin on
    Steam ID: Right here.
  • AiouaAioua Ora Occidens Ora OptimaRegistered User regular
    Drascin wrote: »
    That is interesting stuff to know about surge protectors. Thanks for the info.

    And I did say that the last part that appeared in the text was the processor and then the CPUID line, which was the las line to appear. Does that mean the processor is a suspect or am I not understanding you right?

    Anyway, back to business. I managed to find where the speaker was connected. It just was hard to see because it had a four pin female plug so I was looking for four pin connecters, and it actually was set in half of a seven pin connecter instead.

    Also put back everything the way it was, as you said: rams in their original slots, graphics card connected again, hard drive in original sata port, all that.

    And now what I get is rather different. It still turns on, takes a moment, the speaker does its single "everything is fine" beep... but now I get a motherboard picture screen that didn't show before. It's a colorful Gigabyte presentation screen, and at the bottom there's controls: Tab for "post screen", whatever that means, Del for bios setup/q-flash, f9 for recovery, f12 for boot menu, End for q-flash. And mashing keys, or at least the F keys, while turning it on still does nothing. The problem is that since I don't get the checkup anymore I can't tell you what the CPUID line said exactly. So it seemsthat indeed you were right and I might have complicated this for no reason with my nervous impatient fiddling. Sorry.

    OK!

    My next step would be to unplug the hard drives entirely to see if you can even boot into the BIOS options.
    Try mashing Tab during startup, that should move past the graphical splash screen to give you the info. I'm wondering if its even recognizing your keyboard. Are you able to toggle the num lock light on and off?
    If the keyboad works as well as Tabbing through the splash screen, see if you can get into the BIOS with Del.

    life's a game that you're bound to lose / like using a hammer to pound in screws
    fuck up once and you break your thumb / if you're happy at all then you're god damn dumb
    that's right we're on a fucked up cruise / God is dead but at least we have booze
    bad things happen, no one knows why / the sun burns out and everyone dies
  • DrascinDrascin Registered User regular
    A quick check shows that keyboard does indeed not work. I went and grabbed another keyboard that I know works (because my father had been using it to write this morning) to make sure the problem was the recognition and not the keyboard. It was. Basically, it does not seem to recognize the keyboards, neither through PS2 nor USB.

    Steam ID: Right here.
  • AiouaAioua Ora Occidens Ora OptimaRegistered User regular
    Drascin wrote: »
    A quick check shows that keyboard does indeed not work. I went and grabbed another keyboard that I know works (because my father had been using it to write this morning) to make sure the problem was the recognition and not the keyboard. It was. Basically, it does not seem to recognize the keyboards, neither through PS2 nor USB.

    Ouch. This is looking worse. Your mobo might be toast.

    Next thing I would do is get ahold of the mobo's manual. See if there are jumpers or something that will let you reset or reflash the BIOS to default. You might also want to try replacing the mobo battery. Those are cheap at least.

    life's a game that you're bound to lose / like using a hammer to pound in screws
    fuck up once and you break your thumb / if you're happy at all then you're god damn dumb
    that's right we're on a fucked up cruise / God is dead but at least we have booze
    bad things happen, no one knows why / the sun burns out and everyone dies
  • westomwestom Registered User regular
    edited June 2014
    Aioua wrote: »
    See if there are jumpers or something that will let you reset or reflash the BIOS to default. You might also want to try replacing the mobo battery. Those are cheap at least.
    Do not, I repeat, do not reflash a BIOS. BIOS software did not change. If a defect exists elsewhere, then a program that reflashes the BIOS can sometimes crash. Then you have a permanently damaged motherboard that has no damaged hardware; only corrupted BIOS software. IOW we are at the collect facts step. Fixing (making changes) comes later.

    What do you do when doors stick in your house? Do you plane down all doors? Or do you first inspect the foundation to locate the defect there? Obviously planing the doors would only be curing symptoms. A defect (the foundation) remains and gets worse. So you plane down the doors again next month? Or first find and fix the actual problem.

    You have a similar situation. The foundation of a computer is its power system That is more than just a PSU. Using numbers from a meter and one minute labor means the entire power system can be indicted or exonerated without speculation. If indicted, then your other symptoms were only ghosts. Instructions to do that one minute of labor can be provided if you buy (ie $15 in Walmart) or borrow a meter. Meanwhile, let's return to what you observed.

    When you first power on, keep tapping the maybe F2 key until the BIOS performs some action. If that does not report something, then do same from power up for the F3 key. Which Fx key were you pressing to make that strange response? And, BTW, what exactly is the manufacturer and model for this computer? Apparently a screen announced the relevent keys are TAB, DEL, F9, and F12. More on that later.

    When first powered on, a power controller turns on the PSU and then does numerous hardware checks. If it decides the system is stable, then it turns on the CPU (Intel or AMD chip). The CPU then executes a very complicated program called the BIOS which is unique for that manufacturer. First BIOS does a hardware inventory. Then it start enabling hardware devices one at a time. For example, first enabled devices can be a beeper, video controller, and keyboard. After it enabled the video card, it put up an introduction message (ie CPU ID announced what type CPU it found during inventory). At this point it has not even looked at or used RAM. Once it has enabled the keyboard, then it starts looking for any pressed keys (ie TAB, DEL, Fx key) in case you want the BIOS to do something different from normal.

    Speaker beeps can occur at many parts of the BIOS program - usually when the BIOS is obstructed by a defect. For example, your BIOS may have found a defect before it even looked at RAM. So it would never beep a RAM error code even when all RAM was removed.

    Review presented options. TAB might mean it says when it starts to enable each device. IOW if BIOS crashed while enabling the PCI bus, then software that crashed would be the last one listed. So we know which device(s) are suspect. Again, what your TAB does will be unique to your not yet listed manufacturer.

    No reason to disconnect disk drives (which is only another change that can create other problems). BIOS does a hardware inventory, enables all devices, and even verifies RAM with or without disk drives connected. Disk drives remain mostly irrelevant until the BIOS finishes doing everything else. Last thing a BIOS does is boot Windows from the drive. Disconnecting drives does not change what the BIOS does or discovers. But can cause other complications.

    Don't press F9. Your BIOS software in an EPROM should not have changed. Makes no sense to fix something without first discovering the fault. F9 and F12 are more ways to boot the computer. From F12, you can probably boot from a USB memory stick, boot from a CD-Rom, or Boot from the Network card. F9 probably permits access to the Windows 'we will fix the Windows' software. Explore with these. Learn what they do or report. Again, to first learn what currently exists.

    First step is to collect facts. Press TAB. Watch and record what does load. And note if, where, and what happens when BIOS apparently crashes. See what can be learned from F9 and F12. And, also monitor the disk drive light to determine if the BIOS does try to access the drive. All example of collecting facts without making any changed. BTW, all this can act intermittent or strange if a marginal defective exists in the power system. Only a meter can identify that suspect.

    Is this due to a low battery? A definitive answer would be provided by that meter. Or later, we might remove the battery and 'feel' its charge with a tongue. Removing a coin cell battery (probably a CR2023) would not create that much a change. It creates little risk, and in rare cases could explain your symptoms. And it is easy. But without numbers using a meter (or an experienced tongue), we would never know if a defect was really eliminated. Getting tongue experience is a useful tool should you intend to be an informed repairman.

    That should make one night's work interesting. If nothing else, learning how a computer really works.

    westom on
  • DrascinDrascin Registered User regular
    edited June 2014
    Tapping every F key in successive attempts does not really bring any result or change. Same with Tab or Del. It just remains stuck at the Gigabyte screen forever. I really get the feeling that the computer is not even recognizing the keyboard. So it maybe doesn't even reach the "activate keyboard" part of the routine.

    It really does look like I'm going to have to get that meter. Well, today I'm going to be heading into the city so I can take it to a repairman who is something of a acquaintance, he should have the necessary tools, I imagine.

    Drascin on
    Steam ID: Right here.
  • westomwestom Registered User regular
    Drascin wrote: »
    It really does look like I'm going to have to get that meter. Well, today I'm going to be heading into the city so I can take it to a repairman who is something of a acquaintance, he should have the necessary tools, I imagine.
    Set the meter to 20 VDC range. Attach its black probe to the chassis. With the computer off but connected to AC mains, touch the red lead to a purple wire where it connects the power supply (PSU) to the motherboard. IOW push the probe into that nylon connector or use something like a paper clip to make the connection. This should read about 5 volts. But record and report here all three digits.

    Do same for a green wire both before and when the power button is pressed. Also note its behavior as that switch is pressed. Voltage should drop and stay down within two seconds. Report those two three digit numbers.

    Do same for the gray wire. There should be a longer delay after the power button is pressed. Report those three digit numbers.

    And finally measure any one red, orange, and yellow wires. These should start at zero. Report what voltage these rise to within two seconds and if they rise with the same observed delay. The above three digit numbers from those six wires means a next post can report on the entire power system - indicted or exonerated.

  • RBachRBach Registered User regular
    I think people are making this more complicated than it needs to be. If you haven't already, disconnect power from your hard drive and try booting. If it gets any further (say, to a message saying no operating system detected or something similar) then you have your answer (and I hope you have a backup). If nothing changes reconnect the drive's power. I've had failed hard drives lock up the BIOS like this on multiple occasions.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • westomwestom Registered User regular
    RBach wrote: »
    If you haven't already, disconnect power from your hard drive and try booting. If it gets any further (say, to a message saying no operating system detected or something similar) then you have your answer (and I hope you have a backup).
    Apparently you did not read how a BIOS works. Obvious at the start, BIOS never got anywhere near to looking for a drive. Question was at what point or why the BIOS is stopping or crashing.

    First, if how a computer works was unknown, then the above thought process was new and therefore appeared complex. Described was a simple analysis that an informed tech does immediately. Second, as discussed earlier, make no change (ie disconnect drive cable) until facts are collected. Changes can exponentially complicate a problem.

  • RBachRBach Registered User regular
    Dude, it's a hunch. One that will be harmless if it doesn't pan out and will save him the hassle of getting a power meter he'll (probably) only use this once. Taking the CMOS battery out has more of a chance of having unforeseen consequences than that.

    It'd be one thing if this were an intermittent issue: it may be some time before we truly know (well, can assume) that the issue's been resolved. But it's not, and it happens immediately on bootup. In the time you typed your response to me and I typed mine to you he could have knocked that possibility out.

    Besides, depending on what data he has he may want to take the drive out, pop it in an enclosure, and copy some things/access it from another computer.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • westomwestom Registered User regular
    Dude. A hunch is called wild speculation. Taking hours to solve what can be learned in minutes. How the uninformed operate. Read (become informed) before posting. Yanking wires on wild speculation does what?

  • RBachRBach Registered User regular
    Of course it's speculation. It's low risk, high reward speculation based on previous experience with very similar situations. Chances are if he's already been futzing about with cables he's wound up trying things with the hard drive disconnected, anyway, and it didn't pan out. But if by chance he hasn't it's worth a shot.

    I'm not saying don't do more testing/collecting of data, but I think we've got enough to make some educated guesses and see how it goes. Either way, it's worth getting a power supply tester of some kind. They're very nice to have and in this instance I'd say the PSU would be the next most likely culprit.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    RhalloTonny
  • DixonDixon Screwed...possibly doomed CanadaRegistered User regular
    I would disconnect everything that is not mandatory for it to boot past the splash screen.

    All HDD's, Optical drives, any cards in your expansions lots. See if anything there is causing a hang up, if still nothing remove the RAM and see if you can get the error code from the speaker which is usually some quick beeps after another to let you know there is no RAM in the mobo. If it doesn't give you this beep then the board is in trouble. If it does, put 1 RAM stick in and try it in different slots. Even better if you can a compatible RAM stick from another unit.

    You can also try taking out the CMOS battery out (Looks like watch battery) and leaving it out for about 15 seconds.

    I mean you can also take out the CPU and inspect it for any damage but still at that point if the CPU is done it can be a pain to get a replacement depending on the Socket and may not be worth it

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