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General PC Hardware Troubleshooting and discussion of any computer hardware. Includes UPS's and monitors.

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Old 03-06-2008
DMahl DMahl is offline
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Default Hard drive powers down then back up-PSU problem?

All my years of working with PCs, I've never run into a more perplexing problem. It's probably bad karma for getting a store-bought PC rather than building my own.

Anyway, I bought a Gateway GM5632E system that has the following specs:

Intel Core 2 Q6000 Quad core processor (@ 2.4GHz per core not overclocked)
Intel® (Schroeder Town) G33 motherboard
3 GB 667 PC2-5300 RAM
2 500GB SATA II hard drives (mobo is RAID capable but the drives are not in a RAID)
DVD+/-R/RW Drive
Geforce 8500GT (I don't game on my PC much, I use it for video editing)
Front panel card reader
Integrated sound card
Asus Video Capture card
Wireless 802.11 G card
400W Delta PSU (+12V1: 12 V / 16 A (max), +5V: +5 V / 14 A (max), +3.3V: 3.3 V / 20 A (max), +12V2: +12 V / 16 A (max), +5VSB: +5 V / 2.0 A (max), -12V: -12 V / 0.3 A (max))
Wireless keyboard receiver (powered from USB)
Vista Home Premium

Basically one of the hard drives, the secondary drive I've determined, spins down then powers back up (as indicated by a low pitch that winds up to a high pitch and goes away-with the case off I can hear it power down so I accessed the drive in Explorer and there was a delay before I could see the contents). This happens after maybe 1/2 hour or so of use (give or take). I do have the power settings to "always on", so it's not a power save mode, unless Vista has more setting buried elsewhere. I did drive tests (Gateway has their own Western Digital tester that works from a bootable CD) and both drives pass.

I have pulled the power off of the secondary/nonboot drive and ran the system with just the main. With the boot drive there was no issue. No spinning up sounds, the system was quiet as a mouse. Swapped the drives and ran the drive test software (didn't have a Linux Live CD handy for a more "real world" test) and the other drive operated just like the boot drive. Run both together and the whining and spin ups/downs return.

My guess is that the PSU just doesn't have the juice to power these drives. Either that or Gateway in their infinite wisdom put too much crap on one of the rails that the hard drives are connected to. I ruled out the SATA connection because I would probably have problems when I just had one drive hooked up. I haven't dug deeper by removing cards or pulling the plug on the DVD burner yet to try running just the bare minimum components.

Before I drop cash on a new more powerful PSU, anyone have any thoughts? I've been kinda out of the loop so I'm not sure what kind of power requirements a rig like mine might really need.

Thanks!
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Old 03-06-2008
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madmat madmat is offline
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I really doubt it's a power issue. It sounds more like a HDD issue than anything else. If it was power, both drives would glitch and the PC would most likely be very unstable. I had a hard disk fail (actually two in a row) and they did crap like that.
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Old 03-06-2008
DMahl DMahl is offline
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Thanks for the info. Just weird that the drive tests fine but still may have issues. As I was tinkering around with my PC tonight I had the side of the case off. During winter it's cold in my computer room so as I was puttering away on the Web I noticed my machine wasn't making those spin up noises.

I wonder now, could it be heat? Gateway stacked the drives horizontally, going into the case rather than vertically up the case. There's no fan in front or by the drives so perhaps they're just cooking?
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