Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

My girlfriend got an HP Pavilion some years ago (It came with Vista).

The computer suffered from a "fall to the ground from 1 meter" syndrome. As a result it doesn't boot - the beeper keeps sounding (~4 seconds beep + ~8 seconds beep, over and over again) and the graphics card emits no signal (monitor is completely black, like when nothing is connected to it).

The machine's warranty period has expired, and HP demands a ridiculous amount of money just to give it a look. I've taken to the two repair shops near my place, but they told me they can not repair it. Both told me that the issue seemed to be on the motherboard, but I'm not even sure they gave it a proper look. I can't tell you why, they looked ... unprofessional.

So now I'm wondering about performing the repairs myself.

I'm a programmer, but I'm no hardware expert. I'd like to replace the broken parts, but I need help identifying them as well as choosing the right replacements.

  • Keeping in mind that I have no spare parts, how can I determine that the issue is on the motherboard and not, say, on the graphics card?
  • If the problem is in the motherboard, then I know I'll probably have to change the CPU & memory too. But can I use any microATX motherboard? Are there different sub-types, or any gotchas I should know about when buying a replacement?

The computer is going to be used for browsing the Internet & word processing, I just need something that can run Win7 + word + a browser. The data on the disk is completely worthless and I'm ok with reformatting it.

share|improve this question
Open the PC case and look for loose parts, maybe the graphics card popped out of the socket. – Moab Apr 19 '11 at 22:55
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The beeps are POST status codes indicating that the BIOS is failing to continue. It's failing before (or at) the point at which it gives you video.

If you can locate the manual, it may have information on the POST beep codes that you're hearing, and it will identify a sub-system that's failing (ie: Video, RAM, etc.). You will probably have to look at the motherboard itself to determine who made it, version numbers, etc.

That HP model (by the provided link) suggests it has both a video card, and on-board, integrated graphics. Try removing/re-seating the video card, and while you're in there you may want to remove and re-seat your RAM modules to ensure they didn't become dislodged.

You will also want inspect the cooling system as well (heat-sinks, fans, etc.) to ensure they haven't been dislodged, or damaged.

That machine seems current enough that you should be able to get compatible parts without having to replace a bunch of stuff. Just don't deal with the folks you visitied already. :)

share|improve this answer
I didn't know that the beep codes had a meaning. Thanks for pointing that out. I'll investigate the issue. What about motherboard compatibility? Do you know whether I can use any microATX as a replacement? – egarcia Apr 20 '11 at 7:24
I managed to get it working again by replacing the whole motherboard. I just noticed this was still marked as unanswered, sorry about that. Thanks! – egarcia Jan 15 '12 at 14:19

OK give these a try:

  • reset the CMOS on the motherboard, it may not work but at least it's ruled out. This web page will help with clearing your CMOS

  • 4 beeps isn't in the ASUS Manual, if you're on about 1 Long beep and 3 short beeps, that states bad video and/or video ram. So the first error beep could be to do with your video card.

  • If there is an endless loop of beeps then it could also state bad ram, If your system has only one memory module then you can't really check. The only other way is use a diagnostics like memtest to check the memory but you can not boot into your system.

  • If you have another computer that works, you can try removing the Graphics card and replacing it with the one in your system to see if the video is the problem

  • The only other option you can do is just replace the motherboard for a new one, you can either get the exact same model, or choose it as a time for an upgrade to newer components.
share|improve this answer
Thanks for your answers. I'll try the CMOS reset if I don't see any spare parts. Can I use any modern micro-atx motherboard to replace the existing one (provided that I also purchase new memory and processor)? – egarcia Apr 20 '11 at 7:27
Yes you can use any new MATX Motherboard as long as you buy compatible memory and CPU. Although this could give you a noticeable speed boost. It's wise if you do need to buy a new motherboard though – Sandeep Bansal Apr 20 '11 at 12:45

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .