Question PSU fan spins, CPU fan spins shortly and stops if no GPU present, with the GPU everything looks like it's running but no boot.

ElGatoLoco

Honorable
Dec 21, 2014
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10,510
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Setup:
  • MB: ASUS M4A78LT-M (replaced the old M4A78LT-M LE for which I thought was dead)
  • RAM: 6GB DDR3 RAM (2+4GB)
  • CPU: Athlon II X2 250 3.0Ghz
  • PSU: Be Quiet 450W
  • GPU: ATI HD5670 (Also integrated available)
Ok, so I have this old PC lying around for which I was convinced that its motherboard failed by reading some other similar threads, and also I got a replacement motherboard for cheap, so I was kind of prepared to shoot and miss. And I did miss. I have the exact issues with a different motherboard which are a bit weird.

Scenario #1 :
- I put the motherboard out of its case, connect only the CPU, PSU and the power button cable from the case and try to boot. CPU fan starts spinning shortly and than stops and it looks like it's trying to spin again - kind of moves for a few millimetres back and forth, PSU fan keeps on spinning. I am not able to make it start again by pressing the power button once more nor to make it stop the ticking moves by holding the power button down. Behaviour is the same with and without RAM sticks installed.

Scenario #2:
- The same setup as in the first scenario, but this time (out of despair) I also put in the GPU and now CPU fan runs without stopping, PSU fan runs as before and also the GPU fan runs without any issues, but I'm still not able to get anything displayed on the monitor.

Both scenarios are consistently reproduced, so it definitely isn't a matter of chance which components start and which don't. I was thinking it might be a PSU issue if the behaviour is the same with a different motherboard, but now with everything seemingly starting up when the GPU is inserted, but still no boot, I'm clueless.

Any ideas on how to debug this thing further?
 

Paperdoc

Glorious
Ambassador
I'll hypothesize a bit here. With no graphics card installed the machine starts briefly, but then the CPU cooler fan stops and quivers. That means the automatic CPU_FAN header is sending the cooling fan a signal to operate so slowly that it stalls and cannot re-start. In that situation, the BIOS often will shut down because it senses the CPU has NO adequate cooling, and it won't let you re-start. You will need to get it to start up and run enough to let you get into BIOS Setup to re-adjust the CPU_FAN header to operate with a higher minimum speed. In your manual on p. 2-17 it says the way to do this is to set the Fan Auto Mode Start Voltage to something higher than it has.

So, how do we get there? Well, you can get it to run, but not BOOT, when your graphics card is installed. So do that. Ensure that the cable supplying a signal to your monitor is plugged into the output port of the graphics card, and not the mobo's back panel port. When you turn on, you should get a display in the monitor showing start-up messages and then a failure to find a boot device. HOWEVER, you may get nothing on your monitor. IF that happens, it probably means your mobo did not make an automatic switch to using the graphics card, and it is still putting out video via the mobo system. So you need to change the monitor feed cable to the HDMI output port of your MOBO back panel. THEN you may see the start-up info.

Once you can see start-up info, you will need to get into BIOS Setup. Reboot, and immediately hold down the "Del" key. Don't just tap it. Hold it down until the system gets far enough to "see" that and go into BIOS Setup first screen (see manual p. 2-5). There choose Power from the top menu, and then (p. 2-16) choose HW Monitor Configuration (p. 2-17). Change the CPU Fan start voltage so that fan will no longer stall. Use Esc back to the Power Menu, then choose the Advanced Menu (p. 2-9), and from there choose Chipset. In that, look at the Internal Graphics section (p. 2-13). It may be set to IGFX for use of the mobo system. Instead, set it to one of the three choices for using an added graphics card. The choice depends on which type of PCI slot your card is in. Use Esc back to the Advanced Menu, then choose the EXIT menu (p. 2-23). Choose Exit and Save Changes to save your new settings and reboot.

IF you had to re-connect the video feed to your mobo's HDMI socket, now you will need to move that to the output from the VIDEO CARD, since that's what you just told your mobo to use. So now you should be able to get the system to start up and show you info on your monitor, and without having the CPU fan stall, so it can keep running.

THEN you have the issue that it cannot boot. It probably tells you to insert a bootable medium or something. The issue is that whatever device you have it set to use for booting an OS is not correct. That MIGHT be simply that the mobo is looking at the wrong device. Or it MAY be that it's the right device, but you have an old version of the OS on there. To be sure of using the right device, go back into BIOS Setup. On the Main Menu screen you can check the list of detected devices and see if their settings look correct. Then choose the Boot item on top menu bar - see p. 2-18. There you can set the priority of devices to try to boot from, so be sure it is pointed to the one that has your OS on it. Personally, I set mine to try the optical drive first (in rare cases I want not to boot from the HDD), then go to the actual HDD that has my OS. When done, back out and remember to SAVE and EXIT.

Now, that may still get you only part way though booting, and fail to complete. The problem that usually happens here is that EVERY OS installation is customized at the time of first installing. Install surveys the hardware found and ensures that device drivers for all devices found are installed, but not drivers for a thousand other things you don't have. Now, the MOBO itself has many such devices, so that's part of this "customization". You have changed to a new mobo. So it is quite likely that the old OS (Windows?) on the old HDD has a few drivers no longer needed, but more importantly is MISSING a few device drivers required on the new mobo. Depending on what those missing items are, several things might happen.
  1. It may boot successfully. If so, immediately go into System ... Device Manager and look through every line of that list for any yellow triangles indicating a problem with the Device Driver for that item. If you find any, choose to Update the Driver for that, until you can get rid of those problems.
  2. If it gets a lot done but stumbles and freezes, try to reboot using SAFE MODE. This limits what the system loads and uses, so you may avoid a problem with a missing driver. That gets you to the place where you CAN get into Device Manger and find and resolve missing or wrong device drivers, as above.
  3. Of it just outright fails to complete booting and freezes so you cannot get in any way SOMETIMES there is a process using the original Install Disk to re-do the Device Driver assessment and installation process and resolve the missing items. But sometimes that process fails, too.
  4. Last resort: if you cannot get this resolved, you basically have to do a complete clean Install of Windows (or whatever OS) on your boot drive. This WILL mean you lose ALL the data on that drive, so you MUST have a back up to copy things from later. It also means you will lose ALL your installed application software, and have to re-Install all of those, too. However, if you were planning on doing that anyway for this machine resurrection, you can just start with that and forget fiddling with the three steps above.
 

ElGatoLoco

Honorable
Dec 21, 2014
5
0
10,510
0
I'll hypothesize a bit here. With no graphics card installed the machine starts briefly, but then the CPU cooler fan stops and quivers. That means the automatic CPU_FAN header is sending the cooling fan a signal to operate so slowly that it stalls and cannot re-start. In that situation, the BIOS often will shut down because it senses the CPU has NO adequate cooling, and it won't let you re-start. You will need to get it to start up and run enough to let you get into BIOS Setup to re-adjust the CPU_FAN header to operate with a higher minimum speed. In your manual on p. 2-17 it says the way to do this is to set the Fan Auto Mode Start Voltage to something higher than it has.

So, how do we get there? Well, you can get it to run, but not BOOT, when your graphics card is installed. So do that. Ensure that the cable supplying a signal to your monitor is plugged into the output port of the graphics card, and not the mobo's back panel port. When you turn on, you should get a display in the monitor showing start-up messages and then a failure to find a boot device. HOWEVER, you may get nothing on your monitor. IF that happens, it probably means your mobo did not make an automatic switch to using the graphics card, and it is still putting out video via the mobo system. So you need to change the monitor feed cable to the HDMI output port of your MOBO back panel. THEN you may see the start-up info.

Once you can see start-up info, you will need to get into BIOS Setup. Reboot, and immediately hold down the "Del" key. Don't just tap it. Hold it down until the system gets far enough to "see" that and go into BIOS Setup first screen (see manual p. 2-5). There choose Power from the top menu, and then (p. 2-16) choose HW Monitor Configuration (p. 2-17). Change the CPU Fan start voltage so that fan will no longer stall. Use Esc back to the Power Menu, then choose the Advanced Menu (p. 2-9), and from there choose Chipset. In that, look at the Internal Graphics section (p. 2-13). It may be set to IGFX for use of the mobo system. Instead, set it to one of the three choices for using an added graphics card. The choice depends on which type of PCI slot your card is in. Use Esc back to the Advanced Menu, then choose the EXIT menu (p. 2-23). Choose Exit and Save Changes to save your new settings and reboot.

IF you had to re-connect the video feed to your mobo's HDMI socket, now you will need to move that to the output from the VIDEO CARD, since that's what you just told your mobo to use. So now you should be able to get the system to start up and show you info on your monitor, and without having the CPU fan stall, so it can keep running.

THEN you have the issue that it cannot boot. It probably tells you to insert a bootable medium or something. The issue is that whatever device you have it set to use for booting an OS is not correct. That MIGHT be simply that the mobo is looking at the wrong device. Or it MAY be that it's the right device, but you have an old version of the OS on there. To be sure of using the right device, go back into BIOS Setup. On the Main Menu screen you can check the list of detected devices and see if their settings look correct. Then choose the Boot item on top menu bar - see p. 2-18. There you can set the priority of devices to try to boot from, so be sure it is pointed to the one that has your OS on it. Personally, I set mine to try the optical drive first (in rare cases I want not to boot from the HDD), then go to the actual HDD that has my OS. When done, back out and remember to SAVE and EXIT.

Now, that may still get you only part way though booting, and fail to complete. The problem that usually happens here is that EVERY OS installation is customized at the time of first installing. Install surveys the hardware found and ensures that device drivers for all devices found are installed, but not drivers for a thousand other things you don't have. Now, the MOBO itself has many such devices, so that's part of this "customization". You have changed to a new mobo. So it is quite likely that the old OS (Windows?) on the old HDD has a few drivers no longer needed, but more importantly is MISSING a few device drivers required on the new mobo. Depending on what those missing items are, several things might happen.
  1. It may boot successfully. If so, immediately go into System ... Device Manager and look through every line of that list for any yellow triangles indicating a problem with the Device Driver for that item. If you find any, choose to Update the Driver for that, until you can get rid of those problems.
  2. If it gets a lot done but stumbles and freezes, try to reboot using SAFE MODE. This limits what the system loads and uses, so you may avoid a problem with a missing driver. That gets you to the place where you CAN get into Device Manger and find and resolve missing or wrong device drivers, as above.
  3. Of it just outright fails to complete booting and freezes so you cannot get in any way SOMETIMES there is a process using the original Install Disk to re-do the Device Driver assessment and installation process and resolve the missing items. But sometimes that process fails, too.
  4. Last resort: if you cannot get this resolved, you basically have to do a complete clean Install of Windows (or whatever OS) on your boot drive. This WILL mean you lose ALL the data on that drive, so you MUST have a back up to copy things from later. It also means you will lose ALL your installed application software, and have to re-Install all of those, too. However, if you were planning on doing that anyway for this machine resurrection, you can just start with that and forget fiddling with the three steps above.
Hey, first of all, thanks for taking the time to write such elaborate instructions. I did try some of your advice, the part I actually could in practice, but I didn't get too far.

However, I have some updates that are confusing me even further. I got my hands on friend's PSU and tried plugging it in to see if there's any difference. And there actually are some differences, but the problem is not solved yet. So, with this different PSU, now CPU fan spins always, regardless of having GPU installed. And when I hold the power button down it doesn't actually keep on quivering, but it rather stops, as well as the PSU fan.

But unfortunately, I'm not able to enter BIOS, since my keyboard is not recognized and still I am only able to get to POST once in 20-30 tries - well, technically, I don't see POST at all but rather the screen where it notifies me that there's no boot device present. Again, this isn't something I get every time I try booting, but only if I get lucky once in a while.

Now, to add more to this confusion - I tried swapping the components back to my old MB for which I thought it died, but forgot to put the battery in (I only have one battery that I was switching back an forth between the MBs), and without the battery I was able to get to BIOS a few times where I saw that I have only 128MB (wrong!) of system memory available. I even managed to connect the SSD and initialize booting, but then everything froze and I wasn't able to get this far again. The odd thing is, I was able to make this small progress with both the old PSU (the one that makes CPU fan quiver without the GPU installed) and the replacement one.

So, given that some "progress" was made without the battery, I'm planning on buying a new one tomorrow and trying my luck with it. Anyway, all of this seems so random and I don't feel like I made any real progress - there are a few things I described above that are consistent, but again there are much more that seem rather random. I guess it would've costed me less to buy a new low-end PC than to spend so much time trying to fix this one, but I feel challenged by the issue and determined to figure out what the hell is going on.
 

Paperdoc

Glorious
Ambassador
OK, some ideas to contribute.
1. The fact that a different PSU solves ONE of the issues is odd. It might indicate that the one that does not work is actually faulty in some way, not sure though.

2. Normal operation for most mobos is that the front panel On/Off switch has three functions. When off, a simple short push causes it to start up. Once it is running, a short push may do nothing, or MAY put it into a sleep mode that requires another short push to re-activate. A long push of at least 5 sec will force an immediate shut-down, and I think that's what you saw - long hold in makes fan stop quivering and PSU shuts down. That's normal for a mobo that WAS running.

3. Keyboard not recognized. That MAY be because your keyboard is plugged into a USB port. Is it? Some older mobos did not activate the USB ports sufficiently to use them for booting, and they only became useful IF you set an option for that in BIOS Setup (if that exists) OR after the Windows boot process actually loaded the device driver for USB ports from the HDD. The alternative? All mobos DO have use immediately of the small PS/2 ports for mouse and keyboard on the rear panel. So if you can plug your keyboard into that keyboard port, it should be recognized on booting. How to do? Well, if you have or can borrow an older keyboard with a PS/2 connector on its cable, that works. Alternatively, often you can find a small plug adapter so you can plug the USB2 Type A connector on the keyboard cable into, and it converts that to a PS/2 male plug that you CAN plug into the back panel socket.

4. I see you are using an SSD, probably as a boot device. That can make getting into BIOS Setup a little harder. The problem is that you need the mobo to "see" that you are holding down the Del key before it actually gets a response from the boot device and proceeds to try to load the OS. An SSD unit responds VERY quickly, so if there is any delay in pushing down the Del key, the start-up process may already have gone past that and fail to see it. Make sure you have that held down right from the start.

5. If you have a mobo with no battery, it will lose its memory of some BIOS settings. So in that case your best option is to be sure it does a complete factory reset. To do that, the steps are:
(a) Disconnect the power cable to the mobo, or turn off the PSU if it's connected.
(b) Ensure the battery is removed from its holder.
(c) Near the battery there ought to be a set of three pins for Reset, and a jumper on two pins for "Normal". You move the jumper to the "Reset" pin pair for at least 5 sec. Then return it to Normal.
(d) Install the battery in its holder. Make sure it is in the correct way.
(e)Re-connect the power cables and turn on the PSU. When you push the on/off button the board should begin starting up. Immediately it will recognize that it has no stored info, and will copy the factory initialization data set into its memory and use that.
(f) This step may have to wait a bit until you can reliably get into and out of BIOS Reset. Sometimes the basic reset does not quite get it all right. So the best next step is to go into BIOS Setup and go immediately to the Exit Menu. There one of the options will be to Load Factory Defaults or to Load Optimized Defaults; do that, and it will load a complete set of working parameters. Then you can Save and Reboot back into BIOS Setup. NOW you can begin looking at the settings and adjusting things like which storage unit to boot from, whether to use USB ports on boot (if that option is a choice) whether a SATA port is used as IDE Emulation or Native SATA (AHCI), whether to use the mobo video system or a graphics card plugged into a PCIe slot, etc. If you make adjustments, remember again to use SAVE and EXIT on your way out.

6. The issue you MAY have with booting from the SSD, if that still results in freezing up, could be the matter of old version of OS with incomplete set of device drivers, as I discussed last post.
 
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