View Full Version : HARDWARE & PERIPHERALS 2: Parts Maintenance Troubleshooting Tools Upgrade Tips

06-16-2008, 12:21 PM
Be sure to see our TABLE OF CONTENTS (http://www.hackhunters.com/forum/index.php?topic=243.msg894#msg894) for links to every category in this Computer Tech Board

http://www.hackhunters.com/forum/Themes/cs-dk115v1/images/new_some.gif (http://www.hackhunters.com/forum/index.php?topic=164.0) HARDWARE & PERIPHERALS 2:
Parts, Maintenance, Troubleshooting, Tools, Upgrade, Tips

MEMORY: General infos / Problems / Troubleshooting
Memtest86 3.4a
PassMark KeyboardTest
LCDTest - 1.1
ASUS Recommended Power Supply Wattage Calculator
eXtreme Power Supply Calculator Lite v2.5
Partition Manager 9.0 Express
EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition


In this section, we will talk about everything related to:

Physical PC problems
Prevention / protection

So if you have any comments, informations or questions about hardware this is the perfect place to talk about it.


06-18-2008, 11:03 PM

The capacitors can have differents functions depending the circuit. One of the most common use is in filter or regulator circuit.

With that said, it's important to know, except few cases like ceramic and polyester, mostly good high very frequencies filtering, big part of the capacitors doing the job in your PC power supply are electrolytics type.

I’m sure you would like to know why I’m talking about that. Okay, one of the biggest problem with electrolytic capacitors is when the chemical product inside is too dried. And what is the regular cause? Mostly excess of heat. In a CRT (cathodic ray tube) monitor, any capacitor located in an area near big resistors or semiconductors heatsink is vulnerable.

Common problems: fluctuations in the signal, the image is shaking, you can see the retrace signal in your screen, you have a notch somewhere in the screen, buzz in the sound, ect. The price for a capacitor is very low, the problem is it's not a good idea to change it yourself in a monitor if you have no experience.

Another major problem is when a capacitor burst in your PC power supply. So if one day you hear a sound like a small explosion or a curious sound coming from your PC and a sudden curious odour like a burned chemical product, plz don't push your luck. If it’s happen, you should stop using your PC and change your power supply as soon as possible.

Why? Because that means you have now one (or more) dead capacitor(s) in your power supply not more doing the filtering job. That also means your power supply will probably die soon. But it’s not the worst part.Maybe you didn’t know but a power supply failure may cause big damage to your PC, especially to the hard drive.
So don't wait for nothing if you are sure your power supply is defective and change it.

Depending the power and the quality, the average price for a brand new power supply is something like 40$ (except you have a brand name PC like Dell, IMB, ….. with a specific power supply.)

BTW, you shouldn’t lose your time to try to fix your power supply. The best thing is definitely to replace your old power supply by a new one. Like I said before, excess of heat may damage electrolytics capacitors. That means excess of dust may increase the risks. Another capacitor’s big ennemy is important surges in the electricity. That’s why a good UPS or at least a powerbar with a « serious » surge protection is a good thing.

Hope that can help you!.

06-19-2008, 05:53 PM

I'm sure noone will be surprised but dust is one of the worst PC’s ennemies.

Now let’s talk about how the air flow in your PC.

In your PC you have a fan over the CPU heatsink. If you have a powerful graphic card, you have probably also a fan on it. Because these fans are internal, they are not blowing the air out of your PC.

In most of the case, this job is made only by the power supply's fan. That means the power supply’s fan blow the hot air produced by its own components + the hot air coming from inside the PC to maintain the inside temperature as low as possible.

In certain cases, you’ll have an additionnal fan at the rear of your PC (just under your power supply) to blow the hot air outside. Now you know where the hot air is going, but from where the cool air is coming from?

The air is simply coming inside by any available holes in it. It’s the reason why you have so much dust inside after only one or two years. Of course the worst case is when you have a tower directly on the floor or only on a small base. (Especially if you have animals at home!)

It's not a perfect solution but the best when you have enough $ for that and when you have a tower is to buy an intake fan with a filter. That way you're sure the coming air flow is virtually out of dust.

Very important! Keep in mind heat goes up so an intake must be installed as low as possible on the front of your tower.


- Accumulation of dust could reduce the air circulation.

- Dust on PC parts act like a barrier and reduce the heat dissipation of the electronic components.

- A big accumulation of dust may cause static electricity problems and cause various kind of intermittent problems.



Remember, if you're not using a vacuum with a special non-static plastic, you are likely to cause a problem of statics and destroys sensitive to statics parts. Anyway, a vacuum is not good enough to dislodge dust effectively.

The best is to use an air compressor (with a humidity filter). It's the ideal tool. (Be sure both grounds, ac outlet and compressor plug are good.) keep a few inches between the blowgun tips and the electronical parts.

Is it a good idea or not to use a small paint brush? Well, a paint brush can generate electrostatic and cause damage (especially the ones with plastic handles an synthetic bristles). So if you’re 100 % sure your paintbrush (or cleaning brush) is anti-static and especially made to clean fragile and sensitive to static parts, you shouldn’t use it.
BTW, to reduce the risk of static you should also use an anti static wristbands.


So to answer most of the regular questions, no the pressure is not to high and there is no risk to damage the internal components. OF COURSE DON'T USE A COMPRESSOR TO BLOW DIRECTLY FRAGILE PARTS LIKE A DC OR A DVD HEAD.

The best is to use a blow gun (like the AIRPRO or the MAXJET from Topring or a MP5143 from Campbell Hausfeld). Personnaly, I like the MAXJET kit because you have different tips length. (ACME has also a similar kit).

Very important! Even if your PC is off, never work on it if the power cord is connected. The reason is some voltages are present even though your computer is off.

08-01-2008, 10:43 PM
MEMORY: General infos / Problems / Troubleshooting

Problems caused by defective memory can become a real nightmare. Especially if you have to deal with intermittent problems. Imagine working or playing a game then suddenly seems your PC is very very slow or freeze or reboot.

If you're working on something important, it's frustrating because you'll lost everything. If you're the kind to save often, you won't lose too many informations but if it's not the case.... maybe you'll be in big trouble.

I was planning to write something about the subject but finally I changed my mind because kingston offered already a lot of good informations to help you on this page:

Information Guide



Click Here >>> [size=18pt]ULTIMATE MEMORY GUIDE (http://www.kingston.com/tools/umg/umg08.asp)

Windows Memory Diagnostic
If you have to deal with problems and you suspect they can be caused by your PC memory, you have the choice to use specialized tools or simply go with one of these two free tools.


The Windows Memory Diagnostic tests the Random Access Memory (RAM) on your computer for errors. The diagnostic includes a comprehensive set of memory tests. If you are experiencing problems while running Windows, you can use the diagnostic to determine whether the problems are caused by failing hardware, such as RAM or the memory system of your motherboard. Windows Memory Diagnostic is designed to be easy and fast. On most configurations, you can download the diagnostic, read the documentation, run the test and complete the first test pass in less than 30 minutes.


Click Here >>> WINDOWS MEMORY DIAGNOSTIC (http://oca.microsoft.com/en/windiag.asp)



Memtest86 is a comprehensive, stand-alone memory diagnostic developped by BradyTech Inc.

What's new in v3.4 versions:

A new error summary display with error confidence analysis.
Support for execution with multiple CPUs. CPUs are selected round-robin for each test.
Support for additional chipsets. (from Memtest86+ v1.70).
Additions and corrections for CPU detection.
Support for memory module information reporting.
Misc bug fixes.


[center]Click Here >>> [b]Memtest86 3.4a[b] (http://www.memtest86.com/)

08-03-2008, 02:51 PM
In this second section, you'll find some informations about the different kind of memory and a table with the different speeds (covering the model from the latest years)

The reason why I think it's useful to talk about memory is because it's one of the most common hardware failure. There is a lot of indicators of faulty memory but here's a list of the one you'll see the most.

Blue screen at the start up during the installation of Windows XP.
Random crashes or blue screens during the running of Winodws.
Random reboot of the PC.
Occasionnal crashes during memory intensive operations.
Anormal delay to do an easy job.
Occasionnal strange graphics problems.
Failure to boot.

Of course if your PC is no more booting and you suspect the problem is caused by a defective memory, the only way to be sure is to remove the memory module from your PC and try with a new one. if you have more than one memory mudule inside, remove them all and try with one at a time before trying with brand new memory. It's extremely rare to have more than one memory module defective at a time.

BTW, static or excess of heat can be the reason why your memory is doing intermittent problems. If your PC is full of dust inside, it's the occasion to do a good cleanup. Handle the memory module with care. A quick look at the memory contacts could help you to detect a possible corrosion problem. Excess of humidity can be the real problem. Especially if you're living very close from a lake, a river, or the sea. If you have access to a hygrometer, it could be a good thing to check the humidity level in the room where your PC is located.

This can be accompanied by repeated long beeps, which is the accepted BIOS beep code for a memory problem. In this circumstance, you cannot test the memory with diagnostic software, so your only option is testing by replacement, either at home or at your computer dealer.


RAM : Random Access Memory

DRAM : Dynamic Random Access Memory

SRAM : Static Random Access Memory

DIMM : Dual Inline Memory Module

SIMM : Single Inline Memory Module

DRAM FPM : Fast Page Mode

DRAM EDO : Extended Data Out

SDRAM : Synchronous DRAM

DR-SDRAM : Direct Rambus DRAM

DDR-SDRAM : Double Data Rate SDRAM

DDR2-SDRAM : Double Data Rate 2 SDRAM

DDR3-SDRAM : Double Data Rate 3 SDRAM

Random access means the locations in the memory can be read or written to.

Memory from the list above are all volatile memory devices. That means they all loses the datas when the power supply is removed.


Most common types of DIMMs list:

72-pin DIMM, used for FPM DRAM and EDO DRAM
72-pin SO-DIMM, used for FPM DRAM and EDO DRAM
100-pin DIMM, used for printer SDRAM
144-pin SO-DIMM, used for SDR SDRAM
168-pin DIMM, used for SDR SDRAM
184-pin DIMM, used for DDR SDRAM
200-pin SO-DIMM, used for DDR SDRAM and DDR2 SDRAM
240-pin DIMM, used for DDR2 SDRAM and FB-DIMM DRAM


I don't want to go with too complicated explanations here so we'll go with the relation between the numbers and the values you'll find in the table.

You'll see it's not complicated with a simple example:

We'll go with the DDR2-400, PC3200

DDR2 is the type of memory.
400 is the frequency. 400 means 400MHz
The relation between the 3200 (PC3200) and the 400 (DDR2-400)is very simple. 3200 = 400 * 8

Standard name Module name Frequency (RAM) Frequency (FSB) Peak tranfer rate

DDR200 PC1600 200 MHz 100 MHz 1,6 Go/s

DDR266 PC2100 266 MHz 133 MHz 2,1 Go/s

DDR333 PC2700 333 MHz 166 MHz 2,7 Go/s

DDR400 PC3200 400 MHz 200 MHz 3,2 Go/s

DDR433 PC3500 433 MHz 217 MHz 3,5 Go/s

DDR466 PC3700 466 MHz 233 MHz 3,7 Go/s

DDR500 PC4000 500 MHz 250 MHz 4,0 Go/s

DDR533 PC4200 533 MHz 266 MHz 4,2 Go/s

DDR538 PC4300 538 MHz 269 MHz 4,3 Go/s

DDR550 PC4400 550 MHz 275 MHz 4,4 Go/s

DDR2-400 PC2-3200 400 MHz 100 MHz3,2 Go/s

DDR2-533 PC2-4300 533 MHz 133 MHz 4,3 Go/s

DDR2-667 PC2-5300 667 MHz 167 MHz 5,3 Go/s

DDR2-675 PC2-5400 675 MHz 172,5 MHz 5,4 Go/s

DDR2-1066 PC2-8500 1066 MHz 8,53 Go/s

DDR3-800 PC3-6400 800 MHz 200 MHz 6,4 Go/s

DDR3-1333 PC3-10666 1333 MHz MHz 10,67 Go/s

DDR3-1600 PC2-12800 1600 MHz MHz 12,8 Go/s

DDR3-1800 PC2-14400 1800 MHz MHz 14,4 Go/s

DDR3-1866 PC2-15000 1866 MHz MHz 15,0 Go/s

DDR3-2000 PC2-16000 2000 MHz MHz 16,0Go/s

DDR3-2133 PC2-17064 2133 MHz MHz 17,0 Go/s

08-12-2008, 11:19 AM
SOUND: Trouble Shooting

HEADSET for MacIntosh: Sound Trouble Shooting.

PROBLEM: I had my logic board changed and it messed up my sound recording ability. When I recorded sound it seemed muffled. These are also the steps one needs when adding a new headset.

Go to System Preferences > Sound > Output (and Input) and set to your headset, in this example Plantronics Headset.

Check volume levels for both.

On the Input the 'Input Level' Indicator should light up when sound is put into your mic.


If not, do the following:

Check the Volume control on your wire between the headset and the computer. Also check the Mic button (the orange indicator should be covered. If you still have no sound in the Input Level Indicator, do the following:

Go to Applications > Utilities > Audio MIDI Setup and set it so it looks like this:


Double check the first few steps, including plugging in the cords, everything should be working now.

08-19-2008, 07:00 PM
General Computer Maintenance

Printer Maintenance


How to Clean, Upgrade, Repair, Mod, Disassemble a Computer Mouse


Never trash your old mouses or the cheap mouse coming with your new PC, keep them for parts. The most common problem with mouses is always the switches. So if you don't have access to brand new parts around in a store near you, you can use the switches from your old mouse to fix your favorite mouse no more under warranty. Generally the swithches are similar and compatible whatever the company. It's very simple, you open your mouse you desolder the three contacts, your replace the switch and your solder the three pins. You close your mouse and you're ready to play. Anyway this is a link that may help you.




I searched a lot but I was unable to find a free software doing the same. This is the software most of the sites are offering as a free 30 days trial. It allows the user to quickly check if all the keys on his keyboard are functioning correctly.

http://www.passmark.com/images/Passmark_logo3.gif http://www.passmark.com/products/images/keytest_header.gif

Click Here >>> PassMark KeyboardTest (http://www.passmark.com/products/keytest.htm)

08-28-2008, 01:34 PM
Removing Dust Particles, Things to remember:

Info borrowed from http://www.biohazardclan.com
BioHazard has a lot of useful info, go check them out...

Tired of getting extreme heat from your PC Box? Is your CPU and Hard drive Temperature higher than normal? Well before you go out and buy more fans or a new CPU cooler take a step back and grab yourself a can or two of Canned Air. Just by cleaning your system of all the dust and debris, can greatly decrease your system cooling.
You can get canned air in any computer or electronics store.

Here are the steps I would suggest using:
1. Start from the top of the box and try blowing everything downwards.
2. After completing step 1 begin cleaning out all your fans and than repeat step 1.
3.(Optional) If your box has a slide out motherboard tray, slide it out and dust it while it is out of the box to help decrease the clean up time.
4. Once all is Complete, take your vacuum of some sort and get all the dust left inside the box that you could not get.
5. Put your box together and see your temperature greatly decrease and a much more pleasant thing to look at.

Make this a routine possibly every 3-4 months.

Warning, don't shake the can and don't point it at yourself.

Costco sells canned air in a 3 pack for only $9.99. Most every other place I have seen is one can of air for $4.99 or more.

Use a portable air compressor with a modified tip at 5 to 10 psi and cheese cloth over air valve for moisture. Be careful with the psi.

08-29-2008, 09:17 PM
Anti-Static Cloths

Anti-Static cloths are GOD! They get rid of dust on my Speakers/PC Case/Mouse/Mouse Mat/Keyboard/Screen etc etc etc.

Forget cloths, buy yourself an anti-static cloth (the type used on cars and that), they're brilliant.

Also, never ever put any substance containing alchol on your PC screen.

Be incredibly careful with liquids around your PC too, especially the screen & speakers.

To clean your keyboard, unclip all the keys and get ready for some dirty work.
Screws... Cotton Buds... Knifes... anything sharp and rigged to remove dirt.

10-18-2008, 10:43 PM


LCDTest is a small freeware application to assist in common LCD adjustment tasks by providing test patterns. These tasks include:

Adjusting analog LCDs
Detecting dead/lazy pixels
Checking panel alignment
Checking color transitions

These test patterns are designed to work for both monitors and projectors in single or multi-display configurations.

The disk image also contains the source code, which is provided under GPL.


Click Here >>> LCDTest - 1.1 (http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/23237)

11-26-2008, 10:18 PM
Recommended Power Supply Wattage Calculator


This power supply wattage calculator aims to provide a general idea for the selection of power supply unit based on the system configuration with all added-on devices and components. The recommended power wattage figure is calculated based on the peak or maximum utilization power consumption of installed devices or components. Please ensure to use power supply unit capable of outputting over the calculated recommended wattage to prevent system instability, random reset, unexpected shutdown, or similar problems caused due to insufficient power. this is a simple and easy to use free calculating tool.


Click Here >>> Recommended Power Supply Wattage Calculator (http://support.asus.com/PowerSupplyCalculator/PSCalculator.aspx?SLanguage=en-us)

11-26-2008, 11:21 PM
eXtreme Power Supply Calculator Lite v2.5


The eXtreme Power Supply Calculator is free for personal use. It contains 750+ CPUs including latest processors from Intel and AMD, latest graphics cards from NVIDIA and AMD (ATI) and more! The recommended total Power Supply Wattage gives you a general idea on what to look for. But like it's written on their site, it is not a crucial factor in power supply selection! Total Amperage Available on the +12V Rail(s) is the most important, followed by the +5V amperage and then the +3.3V amperage.


Click Here >>> eXtreme Power Supply Calculator Lite v2.5 (http://www.extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp)

11-28-2008, 11:07 PM


SeaTools is a comprehensive, easy-to-use diagnostic free tool that helps you quickly determine the condition of the disc drive in your external hard drive, desktop or notebook computer. It includes several tests that will examine the physical media on your Seagate or Maxtor disc drive and any other non-Seagate disc drive.


Click Here >>> SeaTools (http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/support/downloads/seatools/)

12-09-2008, 03:52 PM
Partition Manager 9.0 Express


This is the latest Paragon Free Partitioning Software for Non-commercial use only.

Partitioning is not for amateurs. That is why millions of people have trusted their safe, stable technology and professional software solutions for over 14 years. Their newest Express Edition easily organizes your hard drive and redistributes free space to enhance system perfomance. Best of all, you can now enjoy the benefits for free!

They have a Version for Windows (32-bit) and another one for Version for Windows (64-bit)


Click Here >>> Partition Manager 9.0 Express (http://www.paragon-software.com/home/pm-express/download.html)

02-03-2009, 03:28 PM
Desktop Boards


On that Intel support section page, you'll find interesting and easy to understand informations about several types of memory configuration available.

Dual Channel
Single Channel
Flex Mode
Triple Channel


Click Here >>> Desktop Boards (http://support.intel.com/support/motherboards/desktop/sb/CS-011965.htm#triple)

03-10-2009, 01:02 PM
EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition


EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition is a FREE disk partitioning utility that offers a powerful range of functions such as resizing partitions, formatting partitions, copying partitions, creating new partitions, deleting partitions, hiding partitions, changing drive letters, setting active partitions, and a handful other functions.

What's more, the freeware works perfectly with hardware RAID and Windows 2000/XP/Vista (32 bit) Operating Systems. Your data is completely protected during all operations. Why not free download EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition now to enjoy it like the commercial program Partition Magic?

(EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition ONLY supports 32 bit Windows systems. If your computer is running 64 bit Windows systems, you need the Professional edition.)


Click Here >>> EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition (http://www.partition-tool.com/download.htm)