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My computer isn't working, anyone know why?

 I would like to know this for informational purposes next time I open up my PC just to fix a few hardware problems. One of the RAM chips on my PC didn't want to work, so I decided to open it up and clean the contacts (which were covered in enough dirt to stop all connections). So I did so, and when I put it all back in and booted it up, all I see on my LCD screen was nothing, absolutely nothing. I tried reseating the video card. I tried reseating the RAM chips. The only thing I didn't try was to clear the CMOS memory, but I was afraid it would make things worse since I have a tendency to touch other components. For all I know it can't be the CMOS memory, but I can't be sure. I do know I accidentally touched the video card out of nowhere (no ESD). That video card I touched has a reputation of taking more than 10 attempts at it to make it work, so I might have moved the contacts out of place, so I reseated it. It still doesn't want to work. I do know that my dad knows the problem, so don't tell me to bring it to a computer repair shop which will raise the price needlessly anyway. According to the LED's at the front, the CPU is going at it. I just want to know what to do and what not to do (aside from the usual ground yourself, don't touch other components drill) so that I don't mess it all up all over again. I'll go have another shot at restarting this... Might be the cable from the monitor to the PC...

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frollard6 years ago
Hundreds of options:

How did you 'clean the ram'?
The light on the front blinks with the HDD activity, not cpu activity.

When you turn it on does it beep? The power-on-self-test should beep on most computers once on bootup to indicate everything is ok.

Is the video card in the same slot it was in before?
Is the monitor plugged into the same video port on the card?

Is the ram in the same slot(s) it was in before? If more than one stick:
Have you tried just one of the sticks?

Try one at a time unplugging EVERY wire/component and replugging it exactly where it came from.

Do not pull the cpu unless you have new thermal paste to replace the heatsink properly or you may damage it.

Your hard disk drive may be shot if it's lighting up constantly but you're not seeing anything on the screen. Alternately, it may be booting normally, but the video card is shot and isn't outputting video. Do you have a video out on your motherboard (not the vid card)? the bios might think to use that, or have it disabled and you might be plugged in the wrong output.
The lcd might be on the wrong video input...

Theres literally hundreds of options.
nutsandbolts_64 (author)  frollard6 years ago
I just used a white eraser to do some cleaning. Everything is okay, wiring is all good. What was wrong was that there wasn't the usual startup beep that I hear all too much, so there must be something wrong. It would most likely be the video card since it has a reputation of easily getting "shot" and, well, everyone gets frustrated until 4 hours later. The HDD should be okay, and I wouldn't consider touching it since the cables and such confuse me and I wouldn't know where to reconnect them to. Looks like I'm gonna have to do that little, tedious diagnostics check you mentioned.
Really pulling the wires is easy -- find that most have a retaining clip, retract that and gently wiggle while firmly pulling. then replace exactly where it came...immediately.
Try the pulling all but one stick of ram, unplug the cd drive data cable, and just leave a hard drive and see if it posts. A static shock to the motherboard can fry distant connected parts, or even internal parts that you won't know aren't working.
. +1. If you're not getting the POST beep, then try the "one at a time unplugging EVERY wire/component and replugging it exactly where it came from" trick. If one connector was that nasty, there's a good chance some of the others have dirt/corrosion problems. Turn the mobo upside down and give it a few good raps with the palm of your hand - this may dislodge any crud left in the connectors.
.  If that doesn't work, remove all plug-in cards and try booting with just one stick of RAM. If you get the POST beep, add another stick of RAM. Once RAM is verified, plug in the video card. &c
+ another 1. Good troubleshooting. Check one thing at a time, otherwise if it suddenly starts to work after fiddling with multiple things, you won't know what the exact problem was.
zack2476 years ago
what exactly did you clean the ram contacts with?
the best thing is just a general white eraser, wiping the contacts clean, make sure to wipe in the same direction the contacts face.

if there isnt a bios beep, check inside your computer on the motherboard for a short black cylinder with a hole in the top, its generally located near the bottom of the board. thats the piezo speaker that beeps the bios beeps, if its not there go and get a speaker to plug onto the "speaker" header on the motherboard, then listen to the beep codes and look on the manufacturers site to see what they mean.

did you have the computer plugged in when you took out the ram and such? this can have very negative effects on some machines.

like frollard said, if your motherboard has built in video, try taking out the video card and plug the monitor into the built in video plug on your motherboard. see if that helps any.

unlike frollard said, even if the hard drive is fried the computer will still show the POST but it will probably tell you that there is no hard drive or operating system.

unless you changed the bios settings then there would be no need to reset that.

try this and post back so we can help you further.
nutsandbolts_64 (author)  zack2476 years ago
And what happens if you wipe it in the opposite direction?
nothing, but there could be eraser shavings left on the contacts, that is why i say wipe towards the edge.
Vyger6 years ago
Do I know why? --- The simple answer is You broke it.
I don't understand why you would need to clean the contacts of the ram. Normal household dust doesn't usually, almost never, interfere with contacts like that. It can cause overheating and clog fans and vents but it doesn't adhere to things. The exception is if the unit is in a bad environment such as a shop with a lot of exhaust or smoke. Do you smoke? I have seen cigarette smoke do horrible things to the insides of a PC. It makes a sticky goo that causes the dust to adhere to everything. Anyway, just removing and replacing the ram will make little scratches on the contacts that will cause them to make a good connection. One possibility is that you bent one of the contacts in the ram slots and have shorted it out. Get a magnifying glass and a strong light and check the slots to see if any of the connectors are bent. You might be able to unbend them with a small needle.
If your grounded to the case, touching components wo'nt bother them. I routinely check by feel all the cable connections, push them in to make sure they are tight.
If its completely dead then check the power supply. That is often the culprit if there are no signs of life at all. Sometimes only one of the voltages in the PS will go bad. When that happens some things start up like the drives but the board will not POST. Finally check the power cables to the board to be certain they are plugged in all the way.
Even a fried board will usually do something, fans come on, beeps, any number of things. Totally dead is almost always a PS problem. A bad or missing video card will put out a beep code, usually 3 short and one long. A MB will start up even with no video in place, same with RAM, the post will get to the missing component and then stop.
And then there is the "Doh" factor, You might also want to make sure your monitor is turned on.
nutsandbolts_64 (author)  Vyger6 years ago
It's not exactly dirt, it's the corrosion on the contacts that kills the signals going in and out. If one of the contacts loses contact, it's pretty much just another chip in your PC doing nothing. And no I don't smoke.
Re-design6 years ago
If the memory card was that dirty then dirt is most likely your problem.

The CMOS memory probably is not the problem.