Is my motherboard fried?  I want to be sure before I go buy another one.

Posted on 2004-08-11
Last Modified: 2010-04-25

So my desktop died last night.  I'm trying to diagnose the problem before I go out and buy new hardware.  To give a little relevant background, I'm running (or was running) an Athlon XP 2000+ on an ECS K7S5A (rev. 2, I think) motherboard.

Basically, I got back to my room and my computer was off.  I didn't remember having turned it off.  I pressed the power button.  Nothing, no sound whatsoever.  My first thought was that it was a power supply problem, so I went out this morning and bought a new 400W PS.  Didn't help.  

Then I tried unplugging basically everything (IDE devices, etc.) except the motherboard itself to see if it would at least beep at me.  Even took the RAM out.  No response.  But the interesting thing is that sometimes -- seemingly randomly -- when I press the power button, the CPU fan spins for a split second, and then stops immediately.  

Since I've tried a brand new PS, I'm guessing that's not the problem, and since pressing the power button does make the fan spin slightly sometimes, I figure it's not a problem with the wiring in my case.  Therefore it seems to me that the only thing left is that my motherboard is done for.  Is this right?  Is it possible that there's anything I can do to salvage it (e.g., would clearing the cmos help?).  Granted, a new mobo isn't too expensive, but I'd like to know if there's something I'm not thinking of before I go get a new one.  

Also, this is the second time this has happened to me using my current power supply.  Is it possible that even if the power supply itself isn't fried, it's frying my motherboards?  Second time in less than 3 years.  First mobo was an Abit, and this ECS was touted to have "rock solid stability," but a year and a half doesn't seem that rock solid to me, so I'm wondering if this could all be the result of a bad power supply.  

Question by:evan_schneyer
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Expert Comment

ID: 11781832
Well Evan,
   Welcome to the wonderful world of fried computers! I would say that after reading your tale it is likely that either you CPU or Motherboard or Memory is fried. Unfortunately the only sure way I know of to determine which it is is to try a different one. Notice that I included Memory in the list of possibilities. that is because most motherboards will not even try to boot up without working memory installed, and the same goes for the CPU. If you have another Athlon CPU around try pluggin it in and seeing if it makes a difference. Another thing you can do is look at the transistors on your motherboard (They look like little batteries standing up from the board) they should all be round with flat ends and just a couple of wires sticking out of the bottom to connect them to the board. If the end is bulged out and looks like it has fluid leaking out, then it is likely that your motheboard is fired, and from what I've heard this can sometimes be from a faulty power supply (though I have yet to verify the cause in the times that it has happenned to me). If you have 2 sticks of memory try it with each of them installed alone and see if it works (it is less likely that 2 sticks would go dead at the same time).
   If you are not able to verify with at least 75% certainty which part is bad then you might find it cheaper in the long run to take it to a repair shop for them to diagnose as they can test all the parts and tell you which ones are at fault.

Sorry bro. Good luck!

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Expert Comment

ID: 11783142
It is very possible that you had a bad power supply and it fried both motherboards.  When a power supply goes bad, it can affect everything it is attached to.  A normal motherboard should beep at you if you don't have RAM in it, so try that.  Also try a different video card, because a malfunctioning one can prevent boot up.

Author Comment

ID: 11784392
My motherboard has an integrated video card, so I took out the AGP Radeon that was in there in case that was the problem.  No difference.  Also, I looked at all the batteries but didn't notice any oozing.  Tried it with one stick of memory, but no difference.  

Even if it was the cpu, wouldn't the motherboard still beep?  All I get is a spinning fan for less than 1 second and then nothing.  

So video card is out, RAM is out, and we're down to either the motherboard or processor.  What would the motherboard do if it had a bad cpu in it or no cpu at all?  Should I try removing the cpu?  Any tips on how to safely remove a Volcano 6cu fan without breaking everything? :-)

Still sounds like the motherboard to me but I'm looking for more definite confirmation...
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Accepted Solution

will_scarlet7 earned 500 total points
ID: 11784459
The last time I encountered those exact symptoms it was with a Soltec NForce2 motherboard, and the motherboard was dead.
LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 11785129
Those "batteries" are actually capacitors - bad ones look like these:

The only way to isolate whether it is the cpu or motherboard is to remove the cpu and test it in another machine, or install one that you know works in this one.

Author Comment

ID: 11800548
well i went out and replaced both motherboard and processor.  the guy in the store said they were both fried, though i'm a bit dubious.  i'm sure the mobo is dead but i'd like to test the processor myself...

anyway, i picked up a DFI KT600 and an athlon xp 2500+ and everything is running smoothly now, so hopefully i won't have to deal with this again.

thanks for the input!

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