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Verifying good hardware


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#1 kilgorecemetery

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 04:11 PM

This is kind of a general hardware troubleshooting post. I recently received several computers of questionable working order and had tried to build a working computer out of the most promising 3 computers. after a couple days of trying to test stuff my question is this: What is the best way to verify if say a motherboard or video card is working properly? Is there a better way than just plugging it in and hoping for the best? I want to be able to rule out any software issues and just verify whether the power runs through it the way that it should. This also goes for power supplies and hard drives.

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#2 dpunisher

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 09:13 PM

The easiest/fastest way to test devices is to play the "swap for known good device" game.

Power supplies- If you think a power supply is bad, it usually is. You can jumper the green to black wire on the ATX connector to see if it powers on, and check the voltages on a spare molex. Even then, a power supply can check OK for voltages, and still be bad when loaded. If you suspect a power supply, swap in a known good one to be sure (I usually do that first to save time).

Videocard- Same thing. Install it in a motherboard and check it out. If it boots/outputs a video signal, you are 90% of the way home. Check it for bad fans/clogged with dust, busted caps etc.
Video memory defect- small random flashing areas (almost pixel sized). Actual GPU defect- anything from checkerboard patterns to image anomolies/intermittent mismatched areas of display. Missing colors- look for a bad cable (VGA cables are the worst).

Hard drive- First, hook to a USB adapter and see if they are recognized. If it is recognized, and readable, and I still suspect a problem, I install the drive in another system as a non boot drive and run it through the drive manufacturers diagnostics.

CPUs- Install the CPU in a known good board to test it. No shortcut on that one.

Memory- Swap to known good motherboard, or swap it around slots on the current motherboard to pinpoint the problrm. Obviously hard if you only have one stick.

Motherboard- Check for bulged/blown up caps, and scorch marks. Once again, if nothing is obvious, you got to do a CPU/memory/videocard swap to test it. If torn between a motherboard and CPU, suspect the motherboard.

I am blessed by 16 years of spare computer parts so I am covered from 486s to Pentiums,Athlons,P4s, and Core2s.

I am a retired Ford tech. Next to Fords, any computer is a piece of cake. (The cake, its not a lie)

3770K @4.5, Corsair H100, GTX780, 16gig Samsung, Obsidian 700 (yes there is a 700)


#3 kilgorecemetery

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 12:43 AM

WOW! thanks dpunisher for the info. it sounds like that should pretty much help me get through all of this hardware fairly quickly. The only thing that may have been overlooked i actually forgot to mention. What about built-in sound cards? how can i tell if the problem is hardware or software?

#4 dpunisher

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 10:06 AM

Oh, it's software. I have only dealt with a bad soundcard one time, and that was a bad optical output, out of the box, on a cheapie 7.1 card (PPA 1424V, which actually turns out to be a decent card for HTPC builds, when they work). I have run across missing drivers, onboard sound turned off in BIOS, wrong output selected with multiple outputs (like switching between HDMI output, USB output, and onboard sound)etc., but as far as an actual physical malfunction of a soundcard, its pretty rare.

I am a retired Ford tech. Next to Fords, any computer is a piece of cake. (The cake, its not a lie)

3770K @4.5, Corsair H100, GTX780, 16gig Samsung, Obsidian 700 (yes there is a 700)





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