Question PC crash after startup, but not reset

Mar 15, 2019
I've been struggling with a crashing issue for what feels like a year. I've been putting it off since it used to be random and very infrequent. But it has finally progressed to a point where the problem is repeatable/testable.

Where I'm At

My PC crashes every time I power on. It happens around 10 seconds after reaching the Windows login. Everything locks up for a few seconds, then about 1 second of white noise comes through my headphones, and finally the screen goes dark. The system is in limbo: still powered on (fans spinning, lights on) but I have no control. The num lock and caps lock keys will not activate their lights on the keyboard.

In this state of limbo I can't turn the pc off through normal means. Holding the power button down indefinitely does nothing. I have to disconnect power to turn it off.

But while in limbo I can press the reset button and everything will work as normal. It resets and becomes a fully usable PC. It handles intensive tasks like gaming without issue.

My Specs

Windows 10 x64

CPU: AMD FX 6300
Graphics: PowerColor R9 285
Motherboard: msi 760gma-p34(fx)
RAM: ADATA XPG V1 DDR3 1600MHz (PC3 12800) 8GB (4GBx2)
Hard Drive: Seagate 1TB HDD and Sansdisk 240 GB SSD
Power: Corsair CX500

All of this was purchased new in late 2014, except the SSD and motherboard, which were added the following year.

What I've Tried

Memtest86 showed no problems.

Hard Drive health software showed no issues

Updating drivers did nothing.

I wiped my drives and reinstalled my OS: nope

Removed HDD: nope

Removed SDD and reinstalled on HDD: no

Took everything apart and put it back together: no

I visually inspected my hardware. Nothing stood out. I didn't seen and bulging capacitors but I didn't really know what to look for either.

With the help of a friends pc I installed my power supply into his PC. After using it for a month he didn't have any problems. Unfortunately his wasn't powerful enough to put into mine, so I couldn't reverse the test.
[His pc is something you get off store shelves. We couldn't switch parts like hard drives or motherboards since he would lose his OS.]

My last desperation move was to wipe everything again and install Linux. It didn't work. (I'm back on windows 10 now.)

History of the Problem

Unfortunately the history of the symptoms are more complicated than I could convey in the title alone. The "Where I'm At" section describes what the symptoms are now, but they have been changing and evolving throughout the months.

Firstly, I had no problems when everything was new back in 2014/15. This only started happening last year.

It might have stared with random resets. I had a problem where my pc would randomly reset at any time. It happened between once a day or even once a month. It was during high and low load situations. I discovered that the main power cable that connects to the motherboard was loose. After I locked it in, I didn't have any crashes and though that was that. But in retrospect: maybe not. The crashes were so infrequent that I cant say for sure.

The problem first(if you don't count the previous) manifested as freezing on boot. It would freeze while windows was loading the login screen or even when the bios was starting up. Once frozen: It would stay frozen indefinitely.

It happened so infrequently that I would try something, convince myself I fixed it, then get a reset or new symptoms days/weeks later.

There was a short period of time why my PC would blue screen instead of reset. It doesn't do that anymore.

It went back to freezing on startup by the time installed Linux.

Somewhere along the way my motherboards alarm would beep when It froze. It was one continuous beep. I consulted my mobo's manual and looked online, but there is no protocol for one continuous beep. Other patterns, yes, but not what I had. (??)

Now that I'm back to Win10, I'm at the "crash every time" stage described at the top.

I'm finally at a point where it has a consistent failure, so I should be able to tell if a test works or not. But I'm out of ideas.

My Plea

Assuming this is a hardware problem, I want to identify what part it is before buying a replacement. I don't have the spare parts to test each piece by itself. I am not in a financial situation where I can justify buying a PC part only on a hope it will be the one to fix everything. If I know it will, that could be a different story.

I know this is a long post. But I tried to give as much detail as possible for anyone who might read it. Hopefully I've shown how I've put much effort into fixing this myself before asking for help. If the problem keeps getting worse, I can only assume it means my PC will soon RIP.

I hope my English didn't cause any problems. I will re-explain anything if you ask. Thank you for reading. :)