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System DOA

Please for the love of God help me. My mom bought a $400 desktop from Fry's, plopped a $400 flat screen on it, and promptly became so frustrated with it she just gave it to me. It freezes up approximately every 3 minutes. I've upgraded to XP Pro from Home, reinstalled that 2 times more, reformatted the hard drive a couple of times, flashed the Bios to the latest version from the manufacturers website,  installed 512mb of memory, upgraded all the drivers to the latest versions, reclocked the processer (read it on a website), did all the windows updates (that was a death march) and still..... nothing works. The computer will not work for more than 20 minutes at a time without freezing up. Hell, 20 minutes would be a blessing.
If it matters, it's a black box:
"Great Quality" is the name of the manufacturer i guess
ECS Socket A k7SEM mainboard with integrated graphics, Lan, Sound
Athlon XP 1800
POS

Help?
Thanks

joe
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Did you look at the power supply?

Eddie Dickey
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Did you try returning it?!?

Almost Anonymous
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Could be a defective / returned item, they try to pawn these off on unsuspecting customers until someone doesn't return it.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

I had this happen on a system I built myself.  The problem was the heat sink wasn't sufficiently attached to the processor.  There needs to be a good coating of silicon heat conductive jelly between the processor and the heat sink.  This may/may not be your problem.. but it is the same symptoms I experienced. 

See if you leave it off for a long time, open the case and put a high power fan right on the processor if it runs for a longer period of time.

Michael Pryor
Fog Creek Software
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Good suggestion; I had a heat problem with an AMD-based system a few years back.  Monitoring software may help you diagnose it.  This one's not bad, and free to try:  http://www.hmonitor.com/

Sam Livingston-Gray
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Does the BIOS allow you to turn off those onboard features (sound, LAN, whatever)? If so I would progressively do that, it might give you a clue as to which part is faulty.

Assuming it isn't the heat thing, of course
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

If it has crappy memory, or a crappy motherboard, you can't do anything but replace them.

Return the system to the manufacturer!

i
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

I think I see your problem.  "bought a $400 desktop from Fry's"

Expecting more from cheap pc is asking too much.  Can we really expect more from the screaming horde of lower bidders model of low end consumer pc's.  I doubt it.

Mike
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Expecting more from cheap _______ is asking too much.  Can we really expect more from the screaming horde of lower bidders model of low end consumer _______.  I doubt it.


Yes, this is the general trend.


Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Huh? You mean, since he didn't pay enough for it, he can't expect it to do the things a system can?!?

Here in the UK we have the Sale of Goods Act, which states that items sold must be fit for the purpose for which they were sold, and remain so for a reasonable length of time after purchase.

Therefore, saying "It was only 400 bucks, you didn't expect it to actually WORK at that price did you? Surely you knew it was only meant to be a paperweight or doorstop?" would not hold up.

Don't you have any similar laws across the pond?

Fernanda Stickpot
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

"You mean, since he didn't pay enough for it, he can't expect it to do the things a system can?"

In a manner of speaking yes.  You get what you pay for. 

Mike
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

And yes, the US would have laws as well.  Typically a low end pc is going to have more problems.  Why tempt fate, get a lemon and go through all the hassle when you could buy a better system for slightly more money.

I mean has anyone even heard of the company that made this thing?  ""Great Quality" is the name of the manufacturer i gues""  Just that name ought to scare the bejeezus out of you.

Mike
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Dude, return it!  No matter how little you paid for it, it still should work!

Kevin Sanders
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

As an experiment, get a copy of a Knoppix linux CD. I'll boot into the linux OS from the CD without touching your hard drive. If the system locks up on it you have defective hardware.

If it runs you know it's either the hard drive, the cable, or one of the bazillion drivers Windows requires be exactly right. At that point you could look up directions on Google for installing Knoppix on the hard drive and see how things go from there

http://cart.cheapbytes.com/cgi-bin/cart

Tom H
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

I don't particularly like Dell, but they always seem to have some $399 PC that I'd trust way before something from "Great Systems". :-p

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

thanks for *most* of the responses. still diagnosing, but at least i have more to look for now.

it locked up twice last night in the first 5 minutes, then ran fine for 3-4 hours, so who knows?

I didn't buy it, my mom did.

Caveat emptor.

Joe
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

"And yes, the US would have laws as well.  Typically a low end pc is going to have more problems.  Why tempt fate, get a lemon and go through all the hassle when you could buy a better system for slightly more money."

Yeah, but come on. I'm sure no one's arguing that a $400 machine can be expected to give super-duper performance, but no performance at all? They can't sell it in that case, it's not of merchantable quality.

I had a cheap cell phone a few years ago that would turn itself on and off arbitrarily, to the point that making a call quickly became impossible. The shop told me, "Yeah, it's well known that that model doesn't work, never has. If you want it to work you should buy a more expensive one." Well rehearsed as this argument may be, it's wrong. There is no price threshold above which you can sell appliances that work and below which you can sell useless lumps of plastic while passing them off as working appliances.

Therefore, the OP's mom is entitled to return it and get a refund. Whether she can be bothered is another matter.

Fernanda Stickpot
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

This reminds me of going to "X Buy", a major retailer of consumer electronics. I did some research on a TV and decided on the one I wanted. I told the person which one and then they started with the standard extended warranty crap. I mean, this always happens, but this person was particularly pushy. She said the TV's are always having problems and that I would need the warranty, or else...

I asked her if the TV's are so poor, why do they sell them. She just stared at me blankly wondering why I would ask such a thing. I then did some math for her of all the consumer electronic crap that I have, only X percentage of them would fail within a useful period of five years. If you calculate the cost of extended warranties for each of these devices, then you have more than enough money for repairing the problems you will come across.

Are things not as durable as they once were? True

Are things cheaper than they once were? True

Do retailers make good profit margins of Ext. War.? True

Are people afraid of things breaking and having to spend a few weeks without a TV or something? I guess that must be true too!

m
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

The sad part is that if you buy the extended warrentee, you still will be out the device while they try to fix it.

A buddy bought an expensive DLP large screen TV from one of the major retailer and bought the extended warrentee. When it broke, the kept screwing around with him for about three months before it got resolved. It took a letter to the president of the company to resolve it.

pdq
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

I am having problems with a similar system due to the user losing all documentation. It is a 1 GHz Celeron "Great Quality" system. You mention in your "System DOA" post that you contacted the manufacturers web site. Could you please post the site address for me? Also check your MB chipset you my find that the drivers for the chipset resolve most of your issues. Aside from a video driver the via 4in1 driver resolved all the issues on my board.

William Eisner MIS/IT Manager MTS Costa Mesa,CA
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

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