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01-20-2010, 10:34 AM #1
NSR - PC dying, tech help? (or - see any good deals for replacements?)
My desktop at home started freezing over the weekend, and I'm running out of ideas for fixing it. Halp?
System: Dell Dimension 5150, Win XP SP3, 3gb RAM, 80bg HD. 3 or 4 years old. It's probably time for a replacement, but it surfs the web and does word processing and email, which is about all I need it to do at home.
Symptoms: freezes intermittently, control-alt-delete will bring up task manager, but cannot get frozen program to shut down. Also cannot restart via task manager tab. Cursor stays active. I have to power down the computer by holding the power button down, until it shuts off -- sometimes that doesn't work, and I have to use the power strip switch.
Tried so far: defragmented the hard drive, ran chkdsk, ran complete AVG antivirus scan, ran Ad-Aware spyware scan, ran hard drive test (thru BIOS at start up -- no idea what this really does). Everything comes back clean. I also rolled back the registry to about a week earlier, well before any problems started appearing -- didn't help.
What can I do next?
Or... anyone know of any good deals on desktop PCs right now? I'll watch the deals on Slickdeals too. I don't need anything high end at all (no need for advanced audio or video cards), and I'm sticking with Windows on a PC. I have an LCD monitor I like, so I don't need to replace that either.
01-20-2010, 11:31 AM #2
For a potential replacement: $299 at Staples, no monitor:
Spec sheet (PDF):
Looks OK for $300. I don't know anything about AMD processors -- does it matter?
01-20-2010, 12:32 PM #3Registered User
- Join Date
- Aug 2009
That one looks perfectly fine. No reason to spend more than $299 for a basice desktop computer these days.
AMD vs. Intel really doesn't matter. It has been at least 10 years since there was any worries with buying AMD.
The only things I'd advise you to avoid are Intel Atom CPU, and Windows Vista.
EDIT: and make sure you back up your HD ASAP so that the system doesn't kill it too when it finally dies.Dwell not upon thy weariness; thy strength shall be according to the measure of thy desire.
01-20-2010, 12:36 PM #4
The simplest fix with old PCs that are freezing up is to dust that bitch out... seriously.
Heat is a major player in PCs in generally, and all that dust builds up and causes excess heat and stress on internal components.
Get a can of air, open that bitch up, and spray the shit out of it before you go dropping cash on a new machine.
If that doesnt help, I would run memcheck to see if you ram is still legit. You could also pull a stick of RAM at a time and see if that helps with stability.
01-20-2010, 12:37 PM #5
Tiger direct just sent me an e-mail advising me of their $199 desktop sale. Intel dual core CPU and I don't know what else.¡Órale, vato!
01-20-2010, 12:56 PM #6Registered User
Dwell not upon thy weariness; thy strength shall be according to the measure of thy desire.
- Join Date
- Aug 2009
01-20-2010, 01:02 PM #7
Thanks for all the input. I think I might grab that cheap Compaq (sale ends this week) and leave it unopened for now; if I can fix my old PC, I'll return the Compaq.
A coworker in the office also suggested that it may be the power supply, but I don't know how to test if that is failing. I'll search to see if there's some utility program that can tell me if the voltage is stable.
I have a netbook with an Intel Atom processor, which works OK for what it is, but it's fairly slow overall. I don't think I'd want that in a desktop.
01-20-2010, 02:24 PM #8
Ive never really run a check on a power supply without a multimeter, no real software can do this well.
If you PC is randomly shutting down under high stress I would say check it out, but freezing isnt usually associated with a faulty power supply.
And yes, avoid atoms for a desktop. Id keep an eye on dell outlet deals, and be somewhat wary of those super cheap PCs that get advertised. Youd be better off spending $500 on a tower that will last 5 years than $200 on a tower that will last 1.
01-20-2010, 02:42 PM #9Panda Bear
- Join Date
- Feb 2006
- san francisco
It doesn't seem that you've reformated yet. Try that first before buying a new computer. Could just be that you have too much stuff you don't need running in the background. They could be for legitimate programs so nothing will pick it up, but will slow your computer down and cause it to freeze if the background programs conflict with each other.
01-20-2010, 03:13 PM #10
01-20-2010, 03:44 PM #11
I would check RAM and clean out the machine and save a re-install as a last resort. If you ran AV and spybot, etc, the chances of something in the backround freezing your machine are low.
Since you have 3GB of RAM, try pulling all but one stick and living with it for a day and see if that makes things stable. If so, add another stick, etc until it becomes unstable and then you have your faulty stick.
01-20-2010, 04:01 PM #12
01-20-2010, 05:26 PM #13
Run some memory diagnostics also before you do anything- Microsoft has a Windows Memory test you can download and run. Also check out doing the chkdsk of C drive- you stated you did it but did you select both the check boxes- (Tools tab on the Local Drive properties where you go to the defrag- click and tell it to do both the scan options and restart the system) It would not be my first item on the list, but worth eliminating before you go spend some cash on a new system.
01-21-2010, 06:05 PM #14
I ran the Dell diagnostics last night, which supposedly checked all the memory, hardware, etc. Everything came through clean. It still freezes, even in "safe" mode.
I'm going to keep fiddling with it, but I suspect there's a fatal hardware problem. I'm going to try to get all the data (photos, files, etc.) off the hard drive tonight, and onto an external drive.
I bought this for a replacement:
$441 shipped, after bing cashback, so roughly $100 more than that Compaq (with sales tax). I think it's worth the extra $100.
If I can make the old Dell work, it'll go to the kids, who are playing games and surfing with a much older Dell desktop.
01-21-2010, 07:30 PM #15
If you can swing it - see if you can get Windows 7 for the system you just purchased. As for the issue with the other computer- if all the diagnostics runs and passes then there could just be 2 last items. First once the data is off onto an external backup, do the system restore and reload the Windows. That will eliminate the possible corrupt files in Windows with a fresh install. The other issues could be the motherboard itself or the cooling of the system. However the motherboard would also probably show up and freeze while in the diagnostics mode too. If it is the cooling- then could just be a dried out thermal paste on the CPU, or locking up while you are doing something that taxes the video and processing. Make sure all the fans are running properly, etc.
01-21-2010, 08:58 PM #16
I thought about cooling as being a problem, but I can make the computer lock up within a minute of booting up -- just did it, in fact, with the entire side panel off the computer. Both fans appear to be running OK -- this was also part of the Dell diagnostics test.
I'm going to try to move all my data off onto the external HD now, then reinstall XP entirely. If it works, then it's fixed -- and the kids have a functioning computer.
Thanks for all your help on this. I'm kind of lost on computer stuff; if I can't figure it out via google, I don't really know what to do.
01-21-2010, 10:22 PM #17
Update: moved my data off, and also discovered that the BIOS was two generations old. Just flashed it... wonder if that will make any difference.
01-21-2010, 11:03 PM #18
Getting the bios up to the latest version usually can't hurt (as long as the flash works and you do not flash the wrong version or one for another board), but in general the bios should not be causing the type of problems you are describing.
I would wonder if your motherboard caps are starting to go (any of them bulging or showing signs of leaking? They are usually silver topped barrel type components on the actual motherboard. If the reload does not work or continues to lock up the system, then it is probably hardware related. You could also try one of the Live CD's (Linux and others)that you download and burn to a CDR disk. Then just boot from that CD with the new operating system and let it run for a couple of hours or even a day to see if it continues to lock up.
01-22-2010, 07:54 AM #19
Another oddity I've noticed -- maybe this means it is software-related:
Upon booting to Win XP, the hard drive just runs and runs. I also can't open Microsoft Update or Windows Update.
Since I ordered that Acer anyway, I'll try a complete Win XP reinstall and see if that cleans up any conflicts.
01-22-2010, 12:03 PM #20Registered User
- Join Date
- Aug 2009
Wow - that's a lot more powerful that what you started looking at.
My bet is that your kids will appropriate it for gaming ASAP. :-)Dwell not upon thy weariness; thy strength shall be according to the measure of thy desire.
01-23-2010, 07:54 PM #21
Update: the "repair" reinstallation of Win XP locked up. I made a CD to boot to DOS, then reformatted the entire hard drive, and did a fresh Win XP install. It took awhile to figure out that I needed to reinstall all the drivers (used the Dell driver CD that came with the computer), and now it's chugging along nicely.
I installed Ad-Aware and AVG, and am now running the nearly-endless cycle of Windows updates.
I guess the computer had just gotten really bogged down with old crapware. Oh well -- it was about time for a new one anyway, and the old one will be pretty quick for the kids.
01-23-2010, 10:02 PM #22
Good luck, and enjoy the new PC.
It sounds like its only a matter of time on the old XP box though, so be warned.