section here is not intended as a comprehensive guide to troubleshooting computer
systems, but rather as a quick checklist to point you in the right
OK, something has gone wrong.
Let's run down the list of possibilities.
If you hit the power button and nothing
Is the power cord plugged in? Is it plugged in the other end
too? Check the switch at the back of the case. Make sure that you connected the
wire from the case power button to the right connector on the motherboard. Make
sure the power connector to the motherboard is in correctly. Check the floppy
power cable. Double-check all connections. You did use the risers,
If none of this makes a
difference, next step is to unplug everything from the motherboard with the
exception of the power cable, power button wire, video card, memory and
processor. If it still will not power up, it's likely that you have one or more
defective components. The most likely culprits are the motherboard or the case
If the system turns on, but does not beep or begin
to boot up:
check all connections and try again. Otherwise, the best thing to do in
this circumstance is to unplug everything from the motherboard with the exception of the power
button wire, video card, memory and processor, then test it again.
If the computer
successfully starts at this point, power off and reconnect one component at a
time until you find the problem. If you cannot get it to boot up successfully,
it is likely that you have one or more defective parts.
System turns on, beeps intermittently, does not
Check that your memory (RAM)
chip is installed correctly. Remove it and re-install it if
System turns on, gives a sequence of quick beeps,
does not boot up:
Check that your video card is
correctly seated in its AGP or PCI slot. The AGP slot especially can be
unforgiving of a card that is a tiny bit out of position.
There are a number of other error
codes indicated by patterns of beeps from the motherboard speaker, but the two
above are the most commonly encountered. For more information, see this PCSTATS
guide to Computer Error Beep Codes.
If you have got the system up
and running, but are experiencing some problems installing an operating system,
here are a couple of common issues:
Your system freezes intermittently while installing
Could well be a heat issue,
especially with AMD processors or older Intel ones. Check that the heat sink fan
is spinning and that the heat sink itself is firmly mounted and parallel to the
surface of the processor. Assuming you are using a stock heat sink from the
manufacturer of the processor, it should be more than adequate to cool the
system if properly applied.
You are having problems fully installing the OS due
to errors copying files and blue screens:
while copying the setup files, especially with Windows 2000 or XP, are a common
indicator of problems with your memory (RAM).
It's possible it could also be a hard-drive problem, but
if you are getting blue-screens also, especially any ones indicating that a
'page-fault' has occurred, it's time to pop the memory out and haul it back to
the store to be tested. And don't leave it there for the night
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