Computer Damage from Brown Out


Active Member
Hi All,
Its been a while since I have stopped by. I know some of you here.

Anyways, we had a brown out in socal last week. My computers were fine since I was on a battery backup, however my parents computer did not fare too well. It wouldn't start up the next day. I replaced the power supply and it works. But now sometimes the screen will randomly display colors (display is like if the computer is sending the wrong resolution to the screen or something). I'm not quite sure how to diagnose this. First time it happened, I heard a hard drive click, then the computer restarted. I ghosted my parents hard disk and put a new one in. My mom said it did the display thing last night (not sure if it restarted) but shut the computer off before I had a chance to look at it.

Does anyone know of a comprehensive benchmark suit that I can stress test this computer and manage to trigger its misbehavior?

AMD 3200+
Asus K8V SE Deluxe
EVGA Nvidia FX 5700 LE
Liteon Dvd burner
Floppy drive
Enermax EG425p-ve (+3.3V@30A, +5V@30A, +12V1@18A, +12V2@18A, [email protected], [email protected])
Western Digital ATA 80 GB

power supply: Thermaltake TR2-430W (+3.3V@20A, +5V@30A, +12V@18A, [email protected], [email protected], +5VSB@2A)
hard drive: Western Digital ATA 160gb

I didn't realize that I had put that powerful of a power supply when I originally built this computer for my parents. Do you guys think this thermaltake is powerful enough?
The power supply is big enough for what you are running. FYI, you can look in the BIOS to find out what voltages the motherboard is reporting from the power supply to see if they are in range.

Replacing the power supply and hard drive was a good first start.

First, restore Windows to last known good configuration by rebooting and hitting F8 right before you see your Windows boot screen. Select "Last Known Good Configuration" and hit enter. The computer will reboot. Mostly likely will not fix the problem but it is worth a shot.

Sounds like it could be the motherboard if it is shutting down. Download Prime95 and run it. It will do a stress test on the CPU. Prime95 has the ability to somewhat tell you if there is hardware problems. If it says "Possible hardware failure" or "Hardware failure", then most likely you have a defective motherboard (or CPU).

If your computer is rebooting and not shutting down, then it sounds like RAM failure. Download memtest86+ ( or Ultimate Boot CD -- see below) and check your memory. If it passes all tests, then your RAM is fine.

Probably wouldn't hurt to check both CPU/MB and RAM. If your MB is bad, you can replace it; however, it may also be your CPU that is bad. If the MB is old, they may not sell a MB that supports your CPU socket. Given the price of MBs, CPUs, and RAM, it would probably be best to rebuild it using the new hard drive, case, and new power supply.

Ultimate Boot CD ( is a good CD to download that contains a lot of useful programs, such as memtest86+.

After all that, invest in a high joule surge protector or UPS. B) Hope that helps. Let me know if you need anymore help.
Could also be the video card.

If the PC was shutting down regularly after a certain amount of runtime, I'd suggest checking the fans. My main PC kept shutting off after about 10 minutes, and I finally discovered the CPU fan had failed.
Prime95 is definitely a good idea. I would also check your motherboard capacitors, make sure they aren't blown/bulging. If the computer is turning off, I would also start checking all fans, verify that there aren't any thermal issues (many BIOSs will shut the system down if things start to get too hot).
I don't know if you can discredit it being a windows issue also. The power drop might have happened during a HD write of some windows info.

I know you said you ghosted the drive, but that might have just brought over the issue also.
Wow, thanks for all the feedback. Memtest86 is still running from this morning. I'll run prime95 overnight.

-Bios settings are fine - on latest bios
-All fans function
-Purchased a UPS when I bought the power supply
-Glad to know this power supply is adequate - time to mail that rebate!
-Not planning to use the last known good config, never had good luck with that
-Luckily the computer was idle prior to the brownout. I do not suspect any important disk read/writes going on at that time. I dont know which programs where running. I'll check with my dad.
-My next suspect could be the graphics card, anyone have a suggestion for a tool to stress test the graphics card?
-My next suspect could be the graphics card, anyone have a suggestion for a tool to stress test the graphics card?

You can stress a graphics card through 3DMark (, ATITool (, or RTHDRIBL ( 3DMark is probably the most popular out of the three, but never hurts to try them all though if you have the time.

A note on memtest86 is it will continue to run over and over until you stop it. You will know it completed all tests when the "Pass" counter is greater than zero. Any memory failures will show up as red background lines with the memory address. Any red lines means bad memory -- time to chunk the bad stick(s). Remove all but one stick and alternate until you find the bad stick(s). Sorry forgot to tell you that. Prime95 will continue to run also until you stop it or catastrophic failure.

Best of luck and please let us know what you find out.
TXFlatLander, Thanks for the info.

So far no issues with prime95, memtest86 or 3D mark. Hopefully its all good now.