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Question HELP! Two dead computers in 7 days???

Mugsy

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May 12, 2004
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HELP! Last Thursday (a week ago), my computer spontaneously died without warning while idling.

A home-built overclocked watercooled 4770k that has run rock solid for six years. PSU is fine, but no lights on the Motherboard so I assumed the MoBo just dropped dead and was preparing to replace it.

So for the past week I've been using it's daddy, the PC I built 12 years ago that I replaced 6 years ago. It too has worked fine for 12 years now, and was working fine up until this afternoon.

I shut it down before going out for a few hours and just now tried to turn it back on. It TOO is now dead. No beeps, no fans. No lights. Nothing. Dead. Just like its son.

How do two completely separate PC's that have worked fine for years suddenly drop dead in the space of a week???

They aren't even plugged in in the same location or using the same monitor (though I did have to move two of the drives... one HDD, one SSD) from the newer PC to the old one to retrieve my files, but they showed no signs of trouble.

The newer PC was plugged into a 1200v UPS, so I don't think a power surge is at fault (and this PC was OFF while I was out!)

This is the weirdest damn thing! Any ideas before I spend $200 on a new MoBo just to see it killed off too? HELP!
 

Karadjgne

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The only thing they have in common is the household electric. Different locations doesn't necessarily mean different circuits.

I'd start by checking the outlets with a hairdryer on high heat, or a jumbo sized vacuum cleaner.

I'd also use a decent extension cord to the bathroom or kitchen plugs as those are 20A and definitely not on a livingroom/bedroom circuit. See if the pc powers up.
 
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Mugsy

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The only thing they have in common is the household electric. Different locations doesn't necessarily mean different circuits.
Hallelujah. That worked. I unplugged the PC from the power strip and plugged it directly into a different wall. The computer has power once again. :D

It's weird though that the monitor is plugged into the same strip and never went out. It's still fine. Somehow, the PC (despite being off at the time) must have burned out the outlet it was plugged into.

Incredibly suspicious to have two PC's go down in the same manner in the space of a week (I have not yet checked the other PC yet, though in the other one's case, I've tried another PSU in another outlet already.)

This particular (older of the two) PC's is 12 years old, making me wonder if the ancient "CIH/Chernobyl" virus might be the cause, but that only affects Win95/98 and I actually have Win10 on this ancient PC. :oops:

Fingers crossed on trying my first PC on another outlet (though it was plugged into a PSU, so I suspect I won't be so lucky a second time. Its monitor is plugged into that same PSU and still works.)

Thanks.
 

Karadjgne

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You'll need to isolate the circuit. Find out exactly which plugs are on it and physically check every single one. Many times electricians just stab the wire into the back of the plug and thats a quick and dirty way to do it as the spring clip inside gives a really lousy connection. After several years of use, heating/cooling, the spring fails and doesn't hold the wire worth a F. This creates a lot of heat, carbon buildup and gets progressively worse. Being in parallel, the wiring daisy-chains from plug to plug, so any plug in the circuit can be a failure point, affecting anything up or down stream.

Monitor is easy. It's @ 1A or less draw, so really not much of a load, but a pc can pull 5A ish, so is considerably more.

In older homes, I personally would replace all the outlets in that circuit, making sure to wrap the wires around the terminal screws or crimp inside commercial outlet screws. It's the only safe way to avoid electrical fires and failure points.
 
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Karadjgne

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Test a hairdryer or vacuum cleaner. At @ 1500w or 10+ amps it's far more load than a pc, and won't subject the pc to stops/starts/spikes etc.

If a hairdryer on high will work, it's double what the pc needs, so won't be further issue. It's also infinitly easier to drag a hairdryer around the house than an extension cord.

If the hairdryer doest work, or seems to struggle (you'll definitely hear the difference in fan speeds), then the plug has an issue. Whether that's just that plug, or one further upstream is unknown until you fix it.
 

Mugsy

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Quick follow-up:

Plugging the first-dead (newer) PC into another outlet (currently powering my microwave) did not work. Computer still dead.

It was bizarre to have two computers go dead in similar fashion in the space of a week, but I guess it was just an incredible coincidence. While simply changing plugs was all it took to get the old/second PC working again, changing outlets didn't bring the other back to life.

I still should check the outlet on my UPS that the first PC was plugged into to make sure it's okay.

Only thing left now is to replace the first PC. Hopefully, there are no power issues in my apartment killing PC's (or an ancient virus killing motherboards.)

Thx.
 

Karadjgne

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Yes, plug damage can affect everything from the psu itself to the power cord used, even the ups. Most pc power cords are only rated for 10A, that's a lot less than what the plug is capable of supplying, it's a much thinner wire inside. So with the heat from the plug heating up the cord prong, many times it's the first thing to melt.
 

Mugsy

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Thx for the reply.

"Overheating" does not appear to be an issue with either computer. No "melted" or "burnt" plugs/outlets, and I never felt anything hot/warm. I think the old cheap power strip it was plugged into just wasn't used to that much power running through it for that much time (the similarities of the two PC's apparent deaths seemed too to identical to be a coincidence, but it appears so.)

I (just now) moved my 12-year old (second) PC back to the location of the first PC that died (tired of working at the dining room table on a tiny 20" screen.) The only thing I've done differently (out of an abundance of caution) was to swap the outlets on my UPS that the monitor & PC were using in case the outlet itself had been damaged.

Other than that, the old backup PC seems to be operating fine. I'll keep using the old PC for about a week more till I can rule out "power" issues that might kill any new MoBo.
 

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