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Hello, I'm new to this site and new in general to computer hardware. Here's my story. Please excuse any misused terms or stupid questions I may ask.

My pc worked fine until my 2 year old son found the power switch for the power strip. He's a bit hyper and we couldn't get him to stop shutting it off while we were using the computer. Finanly, we gave up trying to get him to stop so we secured it inside a locked cabinet. We started having some minor problems with certain programs but nothing too much out of the ordinary for an outdated pc.

I don't know if that may be the cause of what happened next or a coinsidence. My husband was playing on the computer one day when he noticed a burning smell. Electrical burning to be specific. There was no smoke and the computer continued to run but just in case he shut it down. When he restarted it, he noticed that the fan wasn't turning. He cleaned it as best he could and it started working again. Unfortunately, he didn't tell me about all of this till it was too late.

It died, completely. No power, no smell, no nothing. Being strapped for cash we couldn't afford a whole new one or to repeat a bad experience taking it to a computer shop to be overcharged for an easy fix...again. So I researched online at work to find out what I needed and how to install it. keep in mind, I had never opened up the case before and I was scared of doing so without as much information as I could gather.

Okay, to make this long story a little shorter, here's a timeline of what happened next (my questions are at the end):

1) new powersupply installed
-I got led lights, nothing on the screen, and a loud beeping alarm
2) consulted a cousin and the IT chick at my job
-both agreed that it could be many things but chances are it was the motherboard
3) Installed a new motherboard
-gateway 440bx something or other
-it powered up. Bios worked but there was no OS.
-cdrom wouldn’t light up or open
-bios detected ram and the floppy drive but nothing else
4) called a friendly repair guy who offered me advise free of charge over the phone and he even came over to make sure that I had hooked everything up correctly
-no mistake on my part
-dead hdd, no spin or sound
5) got a new hdd
-bios wouldn’t detect it
-only whirred to life when the power supply cord was jiggled
-bad power supply?
6) exchanged the power supply
-same thing once and then nothing at all, no power on the 2nd reboot.
7) called repair dude
-unlikely but possible the case itself is dead
-I said “what!”
-he said “I know” then he lent me a spare case he had lying around.
-tada! We have power and a detected hdd but still no cdrom
-he lent me 2 cdroms drives
-yeah everything detected
8) set partition and formatted hdd
9) tried to install windows
-didn’t work the first couple times
-repair dude said to take out the smallest ram chip because it could be a bad one
-windows installed no problem
10) tried to install DSL software.
-locked up in the middle and wouldn’t restart setup after several reboots
-slowly windows started acting up, errors I didn’t get a chance to write down unfortunately
11) 2 days later
-same thing but windows was really slow to start
12) 1 week later
-windows gets frozen at the welcome flag screen
13) started it in safemode and ran scandisk
-no errors found but I didn’t know what other diagnostic tool to run so I tried to reinstall windows
-got stuck 60% through on 4 separate attempts

So here I am. Through out this process 4 brand new power supplies have been tried (there were a couple exchanges I left out), 1 case, 1 hdd, 3 cdroms, and 2 motherboards (he lent me one in case my new one was bad too but it wasn’t…so far). Right now, the working case & cdrom are borrowed until I can afford to by my own. The only things left I can imagine is either the remaining ram is bad or the processor. I haven’t gotten far enough to see about the sound and Ethernet cards but I’m assuming the graphics card is okay because I was able to load the drivers for it, change the resolution, and view test clips from the software.

Here’s my questions

Could either or both the processor and ram be bad? Which should I try to replace first?

It’s a Gateway motherboard in a Gateway case but it was working shortly in my old case which is not a Gateway. Do I have to buy a Gateway case of my own or can I just get any standard ATX case with power supply?

Any help would be much appreciated!
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Wow! Sounds like your power supply went out and took most of your computer with it. You didn't want to purchase a new computer, but you almost have--piece by piece. <_<

1. :D I really don't think you need a new case. I'm really confused why a tech would say it's "dead". The case has nothing to do with the operation of your computer, any more than the garage has anything to do with the operation of your car. The case simply holds the components. Unless the motherboard was touching the case and shorting, there's really nothing the case can do to effect operation.

2. CPU's either work, or they don't. So your CPU should be fine. I'd suspect bad RAM.
a. Click Here to download a free RAM tester (memtest86). Save it to your desktop. and unzip.
If you don't have an unzipping program installed on your computer, Click Here to download freezip. When finished downloading, double click to install.
b. Next, Insert a blank floppy disk, click the install.bat icon in the memt86 folder that was created. A black screen will appear asking for target drive, usually this is A.
c. Restart the computer with the floppy disk in the drive. Memtest 86 will start. Run the memory tests. If you get errors, you have bad RAM.
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Thank you sooooo much, I'm so on that RAM tester!!!

It didn't really make much sense to me why he wouldn't think that both RAMs were bad since they were both in there when the PC crashed but it seemed to work at the time because windows loaded on the very next try after I removed the one. Same with the case, I transplanted everything and POOF there was power.

But oh well, all part of the learning experience. At least it hasn't crushed my new found enthusiasm for computers. And you're right, I've pretty much built a whole new system but at least since some of the parts are borrowed (and are not needed back too soon) it buys me some time to get my own stuff. Really all I've invested is about $80 so far though I know it will go up. I just want to get it running because my husband is home during the day, bored & grumpy 'cause he can't play his game. Boo Hoo!!! <_<

Anyway, thanks for the tip. If I get it up and running this weekend, I will thank you profusely the second I get back online. If not, I'll be back on Monday asking questions about any new quirks it may have developed in the meantime.

Thanks again and have a great weekend! :D
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