PC Hardware Failure

Coincidental circumstances that happened to fall into line over the past couple of weeks led me to believe that issues with Ubuntu’s latest download update for 12.04, 12.04.3, were causing problems with my system. Of course, if you installed 12.04 from the moment it was first released and have updated each time kernel updates and other core package updates were posted, then you are basically running the same thing as 12.04.3 anyway – it just includes more recent updates in the download to help keep from having to get any more updates than is absolutely necessary if you’re grabbing the OS over a year later.

But anyway. After running into some issues with Unity after installing Cinnamon on my system to check out how it ran under Ubuntu, I could not figure out how to recover Unity’s lock screen and screensaver functions. Cinnamon overwrote them and they remained gone after removing Cinnamon from my machine. So I decided to simply re-install Ubuntu – figuring that a clean install would be nice anyway. Since I was doing a fresh install, I decided to go with 13.04 and see how well I liked using it on a daily basis.

After about a week or so, I decided I’d rather go back to 12.04. However, I knew that the ISO for 12.04 was getting updated to 12.04.3 only a few days from that moment, so I chose to stick with 13.04 until then. After getting 12.04.3 and installing it, I found that the Ubuntu splash screen was never displayed during boots and shutdowns (with the exception of running it from LiveUSB before installing), and also that the graphics lagged at times – especially when viewing videos or minimizing and revealing windows. I hadn’t seen any issues in 12.04 prior to installing 13.04, or any issues in 13.04 after that, so I figured that it must have been something within the 12.04.3 update that was causing the problem. Still, I gave a re-install of 12.04.3 a chance to see if maybe there had been something else done along the way that I’d overlooked. However, the issues remained. So I decided to grab Linux Mint 13 and see if it would give me any problems. It had the same issues with the splash screen, but there didn’t seem to be any latency issues in the graphics, so I was satisfied.

I was using Linux Mint for maybe a week before my screen suddenly locked up, leaving me unable to do anything, and then the computer simply hard crashed a few seconds later – powering off immediately. I pressed my Power button and nothing happened. I waited a few seconds and pressed it again. Still, nothing happened. I then held it down for about 15 seconds, getting no response. Finally, I decided to go down to the PC and look at it. After touching the top of the PC, I realized it was extremely hot. So hot, in fact, that I could not keep my hand on it for more than about five to ten seconds. Naturally, I began to worry that I was looking at some serious hardware damage.

My initial thought, since the PC would not power-on or even show a light on the ethernet interface, was that the motherboard was fried. However, I pulled the cover off of the PC and looked around for any signs of burn damage or ruptured capacitors and found nothing. Still, when plugging in the power cord, I could not get any kind of reaction that indicated the system wanted to power-on. I did, however, notice that the main fan on the motherboard would twitch the moment I first plugged in the power cord. It was late, so I decided to call it a night.

The remaining few days had me looking around for a cheap PC replacement, because I needed to have something to do my school work on, and I didn’t feel like I could manage with just the laptop. I’m someone who prefers to use a desktop PC. However, I realized about the second day out that the video card had been located on the mobo right where the case felt so hot. So, I decided to open the case and pull out the video card, then plug in the PC and hit the power button. Sure enough, the fans kicked on and the PC started booting up (or at least as far as I could see at that moment). Attaching the monitor via the onboard VGA port proved that the video card was indeed the sole culprit. A video card replacement had me back up and running.

I guess the reason I decided to type out this whole post and explain my situation is that I’m not really the most savvy PC troubleshooter, and that sticking to my original assumption of the mobo being lost would have had me spending lots more time and money getting back to a desktop PC. I just hope that other people out there who run into similar issues, even if it is with other hardware, will consider my experience and keep an open mind to all the possible causes of their PC’s issue before taking extreme measures – just in case it may also wind up being a quicker and easier (not to mention cheaper) fix as well.