When I left work last thursday, my computer was running fine. Saturday morning, I couldn’t SSH in. That struck me as odd, since the only time that happens is when the power goes out, but I have a UPS on it that can hold it until the generator kicks on automatically.

I went in to see what was up, and it was on, but the screen was in sleep mode, which only happens when it’s not getting a signal from the machine. I could wake it back up, so I pressed Reset on the machine. Nothing happened, it just kept running. I began to feel bad vibes at that point.

I held the power button 5 seconds and it powered down. When I powered it back up I could hear everything spinning up, but I didn’t even get a post beep. REALLY bad vibes at this point.

My friend John said that sometimes if a componant goes bad, it can make the motherboard flaky, and that I should try pulling parts out one at a time to find out what the problem is.

So, monday morning, here I am, and I started yanking stuff. The cdrom drive first, no luck. Floppy next, nothing. Hard drive next, nothing. That actually made me feel good, because it made sense then that the drive hadn’t failed, and there was good data on there.

The sound card and NIC went next, to no avail. That left me with RAM and video card. I pulled the RAM and it gave the error code, which was good I thought. So I put that back in and pulled the video card, and got another error code. But that was better than anything so far. So I grabbed another video card, popped it in, and it WORKED. I put everything else back in and turned it on. The BIOS said I’d made a change to my processor, but I just left it at the old settings and it booted fine. I told it not to do anything with the new video card, I’ll just buy a new one like the old one and it should be just fine.

So, I went from thinking I’d lost a ton of important data on a bad drive OR losing my motherboard, which would be a huge pain, to finding I just need to replace an AGP card. It’s relatively expensive, but WAY less work. And I learned that a bad video card can render a machine totally useless.

3 thoughts on “The good, the bad, and the flaky

  1. How many times did you have to reboot the machine to install the drivers?

    Oh wait, this isn’t windows… ;)


  2. It was a PixelView GeForce FX 5600. It was about a year old. The new one is a BFG GeForce FX 5500. Both with 256 RAM. I couldn’t find a 5600 anywhere, so I went with a 5500. It appears the only difference is a funky connector for super high-end monitors on the 5600.

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