I'm a univ. student and recently moved back after the winter break. I brought back my machine, a 2.4ghz Athlon XP, 768mb RAM, Geforce 5700 LE, and set it up. I've been using this machine for about a year without any major troubles, but after about using it for an hour or two it suddenly shut down on me.
The shutdown was a bit abrupt, and when I attempted to restart it, the system would light up for about 4-5 seconds and then shut down once again. Past this point it would not even respond to my pushing its power button. I considered that for some reason, it may have been overheating, and decided to let it be for a little while. About 10 minutes later, it being idle for the most part, I heard a rather loud 'pop' come from my machine.
I am not sure from which component or device this 'pop' came from. For the most part however, the machine has stayed the same--if I let it be for a while, it will respond when I push the power button the first time, lighting up and starting up for 4-5 seconds before shutting off. It will then remain dormant and unresponsive unless I leave it alone for a time.
From what reading I've done on the subject, the three usual suspects to these frequent automatic shutdowns are the power supply, motherboard, and processor. I purchased another power supply to test with, my old power supply being 500W and this test power supply being 350W, and I find that the computer refuses to start for more than a few seconds with either one of them. I have inspected the motherboard and found nothing blown or burned to make me believe that it is inoperative. I have noticed some faint brown 'stains' around the area the processor is kept, however. I am not sure if this is due to the processor overheating and blowing or not, as if the motherboard/processor were blown, would the computer even light up for a few seconds?
Prior to returning and periodically throughout its life I had the entire computer blown out with a compressor, removing a fair amount of dust that had accumulated. And previous to this event I have not experienced any trouble from this machine. Any suggestions on how to go about fixing this problem without scrapping every major component (MB, CPU, PS) and starting from scratch?