Hardware issues part II

Over the years I’ve built and repaired more computers than I care to remember, both professionally and while helping out friends and family. This is the second article in my “Hardware issues” series where I’ll try to point out some common symptoms, what’s causing it and the most likely solution.

Note! Please don’t try to solve hardware issues yourself if you can’t name at least three components inside your PC and/or are familiar with a screwdriver (not the drink). You should also be very cautious about static electricity as this might short-circuit your PC (kill it), so use special gloves or keep one hand at the side of the cabinet (at least occasionally) while working inside.

You might want to read “Hardware issues part I” before you continue reading.

Part II, as the title refers to, will be targeted towards Power supply, CPU, TV/Video– and Sound Card issues. If one or all of these fails the most common symptoms are:

  1. Your PC is completely dead or shuts down/reboots during start-up
  2. Your fan starts rotating like the PC is trying to aviate, and/or creates an extremely annoying sound like your neighbours alarm system.
  3. You have absolutely no sound all of a sudden
  4. You observe a strange square around your cursor
  5. Your screen resolution are suddenly ridiculously low
  6. Your computer decides to shut down when you are about to start a game/movie

How to isolate the faulty/broken hardware

Number 1 from above generally indicates that the power supply is dead, like number 2 would normally indicate that the CPU has gone to “eheaven” (might be a bad connection as well, verify by removing all cards and take out and put back the RAM). Further info on how to isolate the faulty/broken hardware is found in part I.

Bringing the computer back to life

Similar to what I explained in part I, you are most likely having to search your drawers for receipts and try to claim something on the guarantee. If your sound/TV/video card isn’t on-board (not part of the Motherboard) it might help sometimes to remove it and put it back on, in case it has a bad position resulting in connection difficulties (card moved slightly out of port due to time/gravity/movements).

Also make sure all fans are working properly and providing cooling in the direction they are supposed to. If the CPU or any other card requires a fan it is essential that the fan are working AND pointing in the right direction to avoid overheating.

Loose screws can also affect performance, as the components are not properly grounded to the PC tower (the box holding all the pieces together). Tighten if necessary, but do it manually as you are working with small electronics, not attaching a wheel onto your truck…

Once again feel free to comment and ask questions if you believe I’ve left something out, or have a specific problem.

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