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Describing what is broken:

The computer in question broke a couple weeks ago. Specifically the computer was broken in such a way that when I turn the computer on the computer turns on but the screen does not get any signal!

(

One thing that might be important to note: The USB keyboard and USB mouse were not lighting up at all (as in the keyboard scrolllock did not light up even when you pressed it. and the mouse optical laser did not turn red).

)

Not having any screen from the computer is very alarming because without a screen... you are very limited in what you can do to debug the computer.


What changed to cause the broken state:

I have only been using it for internet the last couple of weeks before the computer broke.


The computer started working... but I don't know why:

Today I took out the video card. Then used compressed air to clean the CPU heatsink/fan, the GPU heatsink/fan, clean some dust. (Dust was definitely accumulated but not completely obstructing airflow. The case is Antec 900 and is very spacious.) Then I moved some power cables. I turned on the computer and I noticed that the mouse got power (previously it had not gotten any power). Then I put the video card back in. Turned on the computer and voila... the computer turned on and the screen worked.

I don't know what fixed this computer! What is the most likely thing that fixed this computer? I will auto-upvote anyone who provides credible links to backup their answer.

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@user37991, "How old is the hardware?" The hardware is 03/2009. –  Trevor Boyd Smith May 16 '11 at 13:01
    
I would love to hear from others who have "reseated" their video card and had their problems go away mysteriously. –  Trevor Boyd Smith May 16 '11 at 13:12
    
On a side note: The PCI-E connector does not give me a nice solid "click" or "thunk" like the old AGP card did (or even like the current memory sticks do)... so I guess that adds to the credibility of "reseat the card". –  Trevor Boyd Smith May 16 '11 at 13:33
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3 Answers 3

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Reseating your video card can definitely help (though it sounds like things started clearing up before then).

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Really? that fixes it?... I will need to google this more. It just seems so unlikely. I didn't mention in the post but I reseated it once before this time around... so maybe I was more vigorous this time around. –  Trevor Boyd Smith May 16 '11 at 13:12
    
Much better solution than my original hunch of "oh the motherboard is broken... guess I'll have to RMA it and not have a computer while I wait for 3 months" (or try to buy the old mobo on the gray market). –  Trevor Boyd Smith May 16 '11 at 13:14
    
@TrevorBoydSmith Like some of the other responders noted, the connections are paramount. Over time vibrations can start to unseat the card, or maybe it went in funny at the factory (you know QA at most of these companies is great!). Any rough connections could cause a short or other problems (it also gets the dust out which can be a hazard in that realm as well). –  jonsca May 16 '11 at 13:16
    
@jonsca FYI,I built the computer so I am the QA (i don't take offense about your comment. i freely admit something may have been installed incorrectly.) I still need to hear more stories until I believe the solution completely... I guess I am a skeptic in this issue haha. –  Trevor Boyd Smith May 16 '11 at 13:29
    
@TrevorBoydSmith lol, nothing you could do to that card would even remotely compare to some of the botch jobs that come off the assembly line. I'm sure there's a body of literature out there on the subject. –  jonsca May 16 '11 at 13:37
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How old is the hardware? Is it moved much? Age = deteriorated electrical connections. Movement = poor electrical connections.

What you did solved both the above possible causes. It was a hardware problem, nothing at all to do with operating system nor programs: no keyboard lights, etc indicates that.

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The hardware is 03/2009. –  Trevor Boyd Smith May 16 '11 at 12:58
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There's a lot of metal in your computer, and metal expands when hot / contracts when cold more significantly than the less-dense materials around them. So not only will you see some parts unseating themselves as the seasons change, but the situation is exacerbated by the big difference in temp between being powered down vs. running temp.

Family look at me like I'm crazy when I try to convince them to reseat cards and connections when there's a blank screen or "boot disk not found" error, but it's usually a winner.

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Good to hear more stories similar to mine. –  Trevor Boyd Smith May 16 '11 at 13:32
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