Having trouble with your new build? Then
you’ve come to the right place. Join us as we share some handy tips to get you
up and running.
If you followed our step-by-step guide,
you’re unlikely to run into too many major problems with your new build, but no
matter how careful you are, sometimes thing just don’t go your way.
System doesn’t power up at all
The worst thing that can occur when you’ve
finished your build is that nothing happens when you hit the power switch. The
first thing to do is relax and don’t panic; often this symptom can be caused by
something that’s very simple to fix. The first thing to check is that the
switch on the back of the PSU is set to the ‘1’ rather than ‘0’ position. This
may sound patronising, but it’s a mistake even the most experienced of system
engineers have made at least once. Assuming your switch is in the right
position, it’s now time to make sure that the switch at the front of the case
is connected correctly to the front panel jumpers. Remember there’s no + or –
polarity to worry about here so all you need to check is that they’re on the
correct pins. If they are, take the fascia from the front of the case (if
possible) and make sure that the switch cable is intact and that it’s attached
to the button section.
If no amount of switch fiddling gets you
back up and running, you should now start to check for other issues. The fuse
in the PC ‘kettle’ lead should be checked, which can be done easily if your
motherboard has a 12V standby voltage LED on it. If there are any lights
illuminated on your board, it’s not the fuse. If your board is not equipped
with an LED, you will have to swap fuses or cables to rule this problem out.
Once you’ve ruled out switch or cable
problems, unfortunately we have to assume one of your system components has a
problem. It is easy to assume that if the 12V standby LED is illuminated in
your PSU that it cannot be to blame for any failure to post. Unfortunately,
this is not the case. Individual voltage rails can fail within a PSU
independently, which means while the PSU has enough power to illuminate the
LED, nothing happens when you turn the power on. There isn’t really any easy
way to rule out the PSU as a cause of a failure to start apart from either swapping
the PSU out with a new one or trying your PSU in a different machine.
Failure to POST
When all PCs start up from cold, the POST
sequence is initialised. POST stands for ‘Power On Self Test’ and it checks
that the CPU, the memory, the video subsystem and the drive configuration is
working within normal parameters. If your machine fails to POST, it will
normally show a blank screen, which means that although there’s power getting
from the PSU to the board, something is stopping it from getting to the stage
where it can initialise the video. While some motherboards have a handy LCD
POST reporter on the PCB, which shows an error code, with most the easiest way
to diagnose this particular failure is to attach a PC buzzer. Some cases come
with these as standard, but an increasing number omit this device to save
money. A spare buzzer is therefore always a handy addition to your PC tool kit.
Various beep codes refer to different
problems depending on the kind of BIOS your motherboard has. There will always
be a section in your motherboard’s manual that explains how to determine what
beep codes mean. Intermittent long beeps usually refer to a memory problem on
most motherboards, with either shorter intermittent beeps or a single long one
meaning either the video card is unseated or has a problem. An easy way to
confirm this is to try removing the suspect component, or removing another
component that is checked earlier in the sequence. If, for example, you have a
beep code that you think means the video card is on the blink, remove the card
and see if the beep code remains the same. If it does, this is likely to be
your problem. If you remove the memory and the beep code remains the same,
however, it’s more likely that you have misidentified the beep code, as RAM is always
checked earlier in the POST sequence than the video card.
A different kind of BIOS setup screen
If you’re not getting any beep codes at
all, that doesn’t necessarily mean memory or video card problems can be ruled
out. Incompatible or damaged RAM often won’t even allow the board to reach a
status in which it can omit the error code. Other causes of the machine firing
up but not posting included unseated CPUs (extremely uncommon in LGA-based
sockets, but common in socketed ones), incorrect BIOS setting left over from a
previous attempt to configure the BIOS and, worst of all, faulty components.
While faulty CPUs do occasionally pop up, the motherboard is an order of
magnitude more likely to be the cause once you’ve exhausted all other more
easily swappable component choices. An insufficiently specified or problematic
PSU could also cause the symptoms, though usually this results in a complete
failure to power up rather than a POST failure.
If your system has multiple memory modules,
try removing all but one. If that still doesn’t solve the issue, take this one
remaining module out and replace it with another. Memory is one of the most
likely components to fail or to be ‘dead on arrival’, so by having lots of
sticks you increase your chances of a problem!