Computer crashes repeatedly at random times - how do I troubleshoot, after removing most of the hardware I can remove?

Nov 2, 2018
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My computer reboots repeatedly (or maybe crashes repeatedly is more accurate), sometimes after a few seconds and sometimes up to an hour later. Sometimes in mid boot and sometimes after Windows has launched.

I've tried removing the wifi card, the graphics card, a fan, both hard drives, all USB connected devices, one monitor (and switched the other monitor to HDMI instead of Display Port).

Also cleaned the computer on the inside while I was at it.

The computer even crashed after a while when it didn't have any hard drives installed and it had stated (rightly so) that there was no bootable device. I just waited for a few minutes, instead of accessing the BIOS settings, and it crashed.

I would assume that means it's not a driver problem (although the mouse and keyboard are working at that point, so maybe...), it's definitely not a Windows problem since the hard drive was disconnected.

How can I know which hardware is causing the problem? My guess, after removing all those things, is that this is either the motherboard or the power supply unit. Or is it possible that it's something else?

More info
I don't know a lot about the computer.
It was custom made for work in animation.
Gigabit motherboard
Nvidia k2000 graphics card
No hardware has been changed recently
Wifi has been acting up a bit recently... nothing terrible, just didn't connect a few times without restarting the router (other devices on the same router worked fine)



 
Try reseating the RAM. Remove the Ram one stick at a time, clean the contacts, blow out the dimm slot, then firmly reinstall, and then repeat for the remaining Ram.

If that doesn't fix the issue try the RAM one stick at a time and in different slots.
 
Nov 2, 2018
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Did that for all of the RAMs (4x8gb). Then tried having just 1 (tried two sticks and two slots). Still crashes.

 
The case speaker will help diagnose the problem. Another thing to try is to remove the processor. Then examine the pins for any that are bent or any thermal paste in the pins. If there are none, reinstall the CPU. Then clean off any thermal paste, and apply a BB sized dot in the middle of the CPU. Then reapply the CPU cooler.

The problem could memory related or motherboard related. Does the operating system ever load?

If it does, try updating the motherboard drivers. After that try reinstalling Windows.
 
Nov 2, 2018
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Yes, the operating system loads most of the time.
Is it safe to update the motherboard drivers if I usually only have a few seconds after Windows starts?
 
You can also try going into Safe Mode. Is it stable in Safe Mode?

If it is you can load drivers in safe mode.

Here is an article on doing that.

https://www.howtogeek.com/164876/how-to-use-safe-mode-to-fix-your-windows-pc-and-when-you-should/
 
Nov 2, 2018
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Will the speaker help? I'm not sure what it does. I hear a beep when the computer boots, one beep.
The BIOS was made by American Megatrends Inc., assume that is AMI.

It's actually my wife's computer, but she tells me this beep has been there for many years (perhaps from the beginning, 5 years ago). According to the website you linked to, the one beep means:
DRAM refresh failure - The programmable interrupt timer or programmable interrupt controller has probably failed.


 
Nov 2, 2018
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Sorry about that. I didn't have the computer in front of me.
I didn't pick out the hardware, it was a computer store in my country, that picked it out based on an animation teacher's suggestions. It's an old computer, 5 years old, and it's been working fine until now.

Turns out the motherboard is Gigabyte GA-Z87D3HP.
I'm guessing the type of graphics card or hard drive doesn't matter since the computer crashes even without it.

Any more info that I could provide that would be useful?
 
Nov 2, 2018
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It's hard to tell. Yesterday night it kept crashing after just a few seconds, so I just turned it off.
Today I turned it on in safe mode and waited for a while, since everything seemed fine, I rebooted normally and it worked fine for hours and I thought I had "fixed it". But then it crashed again.

Now, I have the computer running in normal mode and it's been on for maybe 30 minutes.... ok crashed now.

So in short, it has never crashed in safe mode.

I went to the gigabyte website to download chipset drivers, but when I tried installing, it said I had never drivers installed. So I guess I shouldn't install those.
 
Nov 2, 2018
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I haven't entered the BIOS. But at one point I removed both hard drives, the computer complained that there was no bootable device and offered that I entered the BIOS. I didn't do anything, just waited, but then it crashed after a few minutes.
 


One beep under normal circumstances means that it passes POST. I assuming that you are referring to one short beep as apposed to a regular "long" beep.
 
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Yes, this seems like quite a short beep.
 
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Don't know if this helps. But I've noticed that when it crashes I can hear a light tapping sound from inside the computer. Sounds similar as if I tap my nail on the case. Might be nothing, perhaps just the hard drive stopping or something.
 
That could be the power supply. The power supply has fault detection circuitry. If it detects a fault it will shut down the system. The clicking that you heard may be that.

It also will shut down if the temperature gets too high (it will not reset until it cools down).

When it crashes, what happens?
 
Nov 2, 2018
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To begin with, it would just reboot, but now it seems more often that it starts rebooting but then the monitor turns off and it sounds like it is just waiting. After a while (perhaps 5 minutes), Windows starts up again. Just now, the computer, for the first time, turned off when it crashed.

 
Nov 2, 2018
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Now for the second time in a row, the computer turns off instead of rebooting.
Wonder what that could mean.
 


That does sound like the power supply is bad. I would replace the power supply.


If you have a working power supply (of sufficient watts), you can switch it out to test it.
 
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I'm afraid I don't have any similar working RAM. Is it likely that all four memory sticks would fail at the same time?
I've tried using just one of them (one in the first slot and another one in the second slot).

Would you then rule out that this is a driver issue, BIOS issue or a power supply unit issue, based on what I've told you?
 


I would say that the power supply is the main culprit. It is possible that there is more than one problem. A memory problem can cause crashes. It can even prevent boot up. The short beep can be misinterpreted as the normal beep for passing POST.

I would replace the power supply and reevaluate the system after that.
 

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