General discussion

Is my motherboard dead?

My desktop computer died today and I think it's a motherboard issue, but I wanted to confirm that it wasn't something more simple like a power supply issue before buying a new computer.

Specs:
Dell Dimension E510
Windows XP Media Center 32 bit

My computer has not given me any problems or system errors for the last 4 years. While I was typing in Word, the computer proceeded to shut down, but not the way that it does when a power outage occurs. The programs shut down (firefox asked me if it wanted me to save windows, with 5 messages about this; another program I had open came up with an End Now screen), and then the windows splash came on the screen as it does when the computer is actually shutting down. At that point the computer turned off, and did not restart. When I pushed the power button, the button did light up green, the system made noise for about 5 seconds as if it was trying to turn over and boot, and the windows splash came on the screen briefly. After 5 seconds of this, the computer powered off. Pushing the power button after that did nothing, even after waiting an hour.

When I unplug the computer and then plug it back in, the power light does turn green for about 2 seconds and the computer sounds like it is starting, and then it turns off. Nothing appears on the monitor. This also happens if I turn off the power strip it is plugged into, and then turn it on again. So the power light turns green for about 2 seconds whenever power is restored to the computer, but just pushing the power button does nothing. I of course tried changing the outlet, but that was not the problem. Just in case it was a memory issue, I removed one set of RAM from the desktop and tried to power it on, and then replaced it and removed the other set. The same thing occurred as before - when the computer was plugged in again, the power light turned green for about 2 seconds and then turned off.

Any advice would be welcome before I buy a new computer. Thank you!!

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Comments
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The power supply is the usual suspect

You can try unplugging all hard drives, CD ROMs, etc. to see if power stays on. If it does, you plug things back in one at a time (power off each time) and try again. A marginal power supply will shut down if an overload is detected but this wouldn't mean any particular device was the culprit. Many builders use the smallest wattage power supplies they can get away with and, over time, their capability decreases. I'd go with the PS first but do a thorough dust bunny removal from the machine and pay special attention to the heat sink and fan assy.

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The money approach.

Think over "what could it possibly be starting with the cheapest part first?"

These ideas are not definitive. Some get uppity if the ideas don't work out.

1. The cmos battery. In many machines the usual CR2032 50 cent item (http://www.amazon.com/Handheld-battery-lithium-ion-pack/dp/B000X107GI for example) can cause machines to not boot.

2. The power supply. At about 30 to 50 bucks this is the next most likely.

The odd part of your story is that graceful shutdown. But the rest of the story is the usual. Type THE DEAD PC at google for more ideas.
Bob

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Power supply?

Thanks for the feedback. The only thing regarding the power supply that seems odd to me is that the green power light did come on briefly when I restored power to the system (by plugging it in or turning on the power strip), even though it did not when I pushed the power button. Could that happen if the power supply wasn't working? By the way, this morning it is not responding at all (no green light even for a second) when I turn on the power strip or plug it in.

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Let's say you want to test a power supply.

The symptoms do not mean much here. A bum motherboard could do anything so let's look at google. Use these words.

HOW TO TEST A PC POWER SUPPLY?

You'll discover how to power one up without much attached (we use a dead hard drive to provide a small load) and a Volt meter to check the supply levels.
Bob

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