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PCstats Q & A - Hot Potato - PCstats Q & A - Hot Potato
Thu, February 17 2005 | 4:23PM | PermaLink Feedback?

Our last Q & A of the week comes from Carlin via the reader feedback page. Remember to try our friendly forums for help too. Have a good weekend!

Q: My computer's power supply blew up recently (I can identify with your dead PC article for sure), so I went and bought a new one and installed it, but my system no longer powers up. From what I've read, I'm assuming that the power supply damaged some of the other components of my system. What's the best and safest way to test these components out? My friend has a similar system, and he's said I can test my components out on it, but I don't want to kill his system too.

A: Unfortunately, the only 100% safe way to test your parts is to take them into a computer store and pay the nice man to risk his hardware for you. Otherwise there will be an element of risk involved, since if any of your components are seriously damaged they could play havoc with your friend's system too. It's actually not that likely that a dead power supply will destroy components besides the motherboard, but it certainly does happen.

Before you start plugging your stuff into your friend's computer, make sure you've run through all the possibilities on yours first. Remove all unnecessary PCI cards and unplug all your drives, then attempt to boot again. If this fails, remove one of your RAM modules (if you have more than one), then alternate until you have tested all the memory modules individually. Finally, yank the videocard and see if you at least get a beep error code when you power up. If nothing works at this point, you at least know that either the board or the processor are dead (though your other components could still be malfunctioning too). In my experience, processors rarely get damaged in these situations, so it's going to be the motherboard 95% of the time.

If you have decided to test your components on your friend's system, make sure you do so one part at a time. There's no particular order that you need to test the parts in, but you'll probably want to get the processor and memory out of the way first. Also unplug your friend's drives from the motherboard and power supply while you are testing!

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