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Compaq PC Won't Start


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#1
datrader

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I am trying to power on my Compaq computer.

I have had this problem with my Compaq 5wv280 since I bought it. Sometimes when I press power on button, I can hear the fan, but there is nothing on the monitor. I got this only a few times during the first year before the warranty ran out. After that it became more frequent. I never knew whether the next time it would power on. Now it doesn't start most of the time. I later bought a Dell, which has been very reliable. But back to my Compaq, I have heard similar stories from other co-workers/friends who bought Compaq computers. It seems to be the same problem Ė something to do with power on. I have suspected maybe one of the hardware, like hard drive has bad power connection, so the PC stops when it tries to start the hard drive. But it works some other times. I took it to a repairman, but it started without a problem when he was looking at it. Itís annoying. Bottomline, I am trying to turn on this spare computer, I would appreciate it if anyone could offer some tips.
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#2
Doby

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Hi,

When the computer does not start does it show the post screen or compac logo first and then go black?

This is important, When a computer powers on it will go thru post (power on self test) a series of tests displayed on the screen or sometimes during this process it will show just the compaq logo.

If the computer does not show a post then I would suspect a bad video card. The problem with this theory is it has continued for so long, usually a bad card will just stop all together and rather quick or you would see other bad behavior with your graphics.

If you could try another agp or pci video card that would confirm for sure.(you have a agp slot I checked)

The other thing that comes to mind is a need to update bios if it is even possible with this machine. This is a detailed proceedure that can fail and render the motherboard useless if not done properly. I could look into updating bios and see if its possible but first answer the above.

The last thing I can think of is a bad motherboard or more or less just something in it is just not right.

Rick
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#3
datrader

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Rick, Thank you very much for your input. There was nothing, no logo or post or anything on the monitor. I can see the keyboard and mouse lights on. But the monitor light is yellow (if the signal gets to monitor, the monitor light turns green). And nothing on the monitor. Video card is the other thing I highly suspected. Yes, it does have an AGP slot. If I change the video card, do I need to reset some setting before I physically change the card (how can I do this if I can't get anything on the monitor)? I believe the video card came with the computer is Nvidia based (does it mean if I put in another Nvidia based card, I don't have to change settings?). I have never observed bad behavior of the graphics once the pc turns on. Once it's on, everything has been good. The difficult part for me is to get it started. I have other friends who have had exactly the same problem with compaq PCs, they told me they just wait for a few hours or a few days, then try turn it on again, sooner or later, it will come back.

Michael
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#4
datrader

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I want to add in my last messege that when I try to power it on, I can see the keyboard and mouse lights on. But the floppy disk drive light does not turn on. Every time, if the floppy drive light turns green, then the computer turns on. I am not saying the floppy drive is the problem, but it seems to me, during post (power on self test), somehow it stops somewhere after it turns on mouse and keyboard, but before floppy disk. I donít know if there is a light for hard drive, I can not tell if the hard drive is on or not, since itís enclosed inside the case.

A couple of years ago, I tried to upgrade the graphic card for a HDTV tuner. I remember even with the other card, the computer still doesnít turn on sometimes. I eventually take out that graphic card since it gets really hot and it doesnít have a fan on it , the Compaq pc has its original Nvedia Lantra (? Something like that )Lite graphic card back in its case, and the HDTV tuner sits in my Dell computer (being in sillicon valley, I am actually very close to some HP/Compaq employee, but I have to say Dell pcs are so much more reliable based on my personal experience).
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#5
Samm

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Hi there
Firstly, Dell systems are sooo NOT more reliable, at least, not the later ones. Earlier systems were not too bad. Compaq in my experience is generally a lot more stable & better built!

But anyway, you could check out the video card - try switching to a pci. You shouldn't need to alter anything in the bios for this, but you could check if theres a setting for primary graphics adapter - agp/pci - before you change the card. Place the PCI video card in the first PCI slot if possible.

If this doesn't help, I would suspect the PSU could be the problem. Nice thing about compaqs normally, is that they work with standard non-compaq parts, so changing the PSU to test it shouldn't be a problem.
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#6
sevver

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Soyo has a PCI Test Card that inserts into a PCI Slot and gives you a alpha numeric readout with codes that you can look up in a book that also happens to come with it for 35 dollars. You should not try anything else till you get one of these and try it, you will only waste time and money.
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#7
Doby

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Video card is the other thing I highly suspected. Yes, it does have an AGP slot. If I change the video card, do I need to reset some setting before I physically change the card (how can I do this if I can't get anything on the monitor)?



Yes you will need to install drivers but after you physically change the card you will be able to use windows it just that it won't look to good till you uninstall the old cards drivers and install the new ones that come with the card. If you follow the instructions that come with the card you should be ok.

I believe the video card came with the computer is Nvidia based (does it mean if I put in another Nvidia based card, I don't have to change settings?).



I would stay with Nvidia unless you have a true need to switch ATI only because it will be easier and less likely that you have to use a drivers cleaner to remove the old drivers.

. I have never observed bad behavior of the graphics once the pc turns on. Once it's on, everything has been good.


This is why I don't think its the video card and that you tried another one (HDTV). With what you have explained in your last to post I think you are right that the post gets to a certain point and quits if we new what that piece of wardware was then we could figuare this out.

You mentioned the post stoping before getting to the floppy because its light does not come on, this is a long shot but try disconnecting the floppy, its power and ide cable. Then if you can look in bios to see if there is a setting called floppy seek if so disable it and see if these things help at all.

I would also start to disconnect the cdr/dvd and all cards except the video of course and see if you can determine if any of these are causing the problem.

Let me know how you make out.

Rick
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#8
datrader

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" ... try disconnecting the floppy, its power and ide cable. Then if you can look in bios to see if there is a setting called floppy seek if so disable it and see if these things help at all."

do I need to change anything in bio before I physically open the case and disconnect the floppy drive? Also, how do I get to the bio? thanks, michael
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#9
Doby

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do I need to change anything in bio before I physically open the case and disconnect the floppy drive?



No but at this point because you can't see anything on the screen you can't see bios but if by removing the floppy you are able to see a post then enter bios and disable floopy seek.

Also, how do I get to the bio?



Try pressing f1 repeatedly when the compaq logo appears. Most compaq's I have worked on use this f1 key but if that don't work I will look it up.

Rick
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#10
Samm

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Compaqs - F1 or F10 for some models
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#11
datrader

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thanks for all the suggestions, here's an update:

1. I disconnected the power cable (p3) to floppy drive;
2. disconected the cable to floppy drive;
3. disconnected the other end of cable to mother board;

powered on, nothing on monitor: so it's not the floppy drive that's causing the problem

4. disconnected the CD-rom (I saw lights on CR-RW drive flashing, so CD-RW drive is probably ok).

4. disconnected the cable to the above CD-rom.

powered it on, still nothing. so it's not the CD-rom.

mouse light is on, so mouse is not the problem. key board doesn't have a light. so i can't tell. I need mouse, key board, hard drive, and monitor to run this pc. if the problem is one of the four, then i dont know what to do.
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#12
gerryf

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Not sure why we've ruled out bad videocard....a sporadic videocard seems very possible to me...

when this problem occurs, do you have any kind of bios beeps present?
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#13
Samm

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If the keyboard doesn't have a light, how do you know when caps lock etc is on? Just curious!

If you do get it to power up at any time & want to access the bios - I was right about it being the F10 key - checked compaq's website.

Firstly, I would check the psu (or try another one if you have a spare). Disconnect every thing from the psu (motherboard & drive connectors etc). Reconnect mains cable & one CDROM drive (with its ribbon cable disconnected) to the PSU. Look at the 20 pin atx connector & locate the ps-on pin. This is always pin 14 (so 4 pins in from one end) & often its on the green wire. Bend a paper clip into a U shape, & insert one end up into the ps-on pin & the other end into either one of the black (Ground) pins nest to the green. This should turn the PSU on.

If you have a multimeter & know how to use it, you could also test the voltage coming from the ps-on wire.

If the PSU is OK, or if a replacement known good PSU doesn't solve the problem, then I would strip the board out of the case & inspect it for any loose components or cracks etc. You must wear a static strap for doing this, do not touch the board or its components any more than absolutely necessary & do not place it down on carpet, metal work etc
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#14
gerryf

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One other question, if I may...

The fans spin...do the drives spin up? Can you hear the whine of the drives?

I think I know where Samm is going...maybe the 5-volt rail has gone, but the 12-volt rail remains?
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#15
Samm

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I think I know where Samm is going...maybe the 5-volt rail has gone, but the 12-volt rail remains?

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You're right, I am, although I'm not sure either why we've ruled out the video card completely. If it's not a fault with the card itself, its possible it could be the AGP bus itself I guess. May be worth trying a PCI vid card instead maybe.
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