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Problem with motherboard? New system from NewEgg

Posted on 2009-04-21
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I bought a bunch of parts from NewEgg to build a new desktop PC. I've assembled about a bazillion PCs so I anticipated this process would take just a few minutes. Going on about 2 hours now, I'm starting to get irritated because the damn thing won't work. Here are the parts I have:

CPU: AMD Phenom 9850 2.5GHz Socket AMD2+ 125W Quad-Core Black Edition w/ Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro 92mm CPU cooler
Memory: 4x Kingston HyperX 2GB 240-pin DDR2 1066 SDRAM
Motherboard: ASUS M3A78-EM AM2+/AM2 780G Micro ATX motherboard
Video: XFX GS250XZDFC GeForce GTS 1GB GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16
Hard Drive: Samsung Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB 7200RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s
Case: Antec Sonata III 500 ATX mid tower

When I first put it all together with everything installed, I hooked it up to power, video, and keyboard to do a quick test. The power LED came on, all the fans came on, but no beep and nothing showed up on the monitor. I'm not sure if it's supposed to beep because I don't s I tried both video ports on the XFX card, and I even tried both video ports on the motherboard itself. Nada. The fans keep running, the case's power LED is on, and the green LED on the motherboard is lit. I tried to turn it off by pressing and holding the power button, but nothing happened... everything kept running as it was. I tried pressing and releasing the power button to see if that did anything... nothing. Reset button: nothing. The fans and LEDs stayed on. I hit the power switch on the PSU itself and the machine shut off. Okay, weird, so I flipped the PSU back on and tried turning the computer on again. Same thing, the fans and the two LEDs run but nothing else happens, and I can't turn it off using the power button on the front of the case. I turned off the PSU again, and this time I removed the second pair of memory.

I turned the PSU back on, pressed the power button on the case, and this time instead of the fans and the two LED's coming on, the fans come on for a split second (along with the case's power LED) and then turn off. The green LED on the motherboard stays lit.

I powered off the PSU again, put all 4 memory sticks back in and tried starting the machine again. This time, the same behavior: the fans come on for a split second and stop. If I press the power button again, nothing happens at all. I tried removing the video card and still it won't POST.

I'm _assuming_ this is the motherboard but unfortunately I don't really have any other parts to try interchanging as a test. What do you think?
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Question by:elorc
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by:elorc
ID: 24200776
Oh I tried replacing the battery and also tried swapping out a different PSU. Same behavior.
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by:Fudd049
ID: 24200800
Sounds like a faulty mobo.
1. Unplug -everything- from the mobo. Leave CPU and RAM.
2. Plug in PSU, keyboard mouse and monitor into onboard.
What happens?
If it still persists, try each stick of ram in the 1st slot, one by one. If it still doesn't post with any of the ram sticks, its a faulty motherboard.
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by:garycase
ID: 24200921
Depending on which version of the X4 9850 you have, the board may need an updated BIOS to support the CPU.   An HD985ZXAJ4BGH requires at least BIOS 407;  an HD9850WCJ4BGH,rev.B3 requires BIOS 1003 or later.   Check your CPU ... if it's the Rev B3 version, that's likely the problem.

A few other possibilities ...

The Antec Sonata comes with a relatively small, relatively low-quality PSU.   The XFX video card, along with 4 2GB memory modules plus a high-end 125W CPU may very well be overloading this PSU.   You may want to replace the PSU with a higher-power, higher-quality unit.    Since the motherboard has onboard video, you may be able to confirm this by simply booting with just the motherboard, CPU, and 1 or 2 memory modules installed (if the power supply hasn't been damaged due to an overload).

If possible, I'd try the board with an earlier model CPU that's not likely to require a BIOS update -- and if it boots okay, update the BIOS while it's installed.   The CPU support list is here:  http://support.asus.com/cpusupport/cpusupport.aspx?SLanguage=en-us&model=M3A78-EM&product=1&os=17

I'd also not install more than 2 memory modules until you've got this fully built, loaded, and tested.   The address and control bus loading from 4 unbuffered double-sided modules is VERY high => in fact I'd never even do it personally.   [If I wanted that much (or more) memory, I'd use a server board that supports buffered memory.]   No reason to load the bus so heavily until you at least know that the bus loading isn't contributing to the problems you're having.

I presume (since you've built other systems) you didn't forget to simply plug in the CPU auxiliary power connector in addition to the ATX connection :-)

Since you've tried to boot this with a very heavy load on the PSU, you might want to test it to confirm it's not been damaged.   If you don't have one of these, they're very handy gadgets to have, so you may want to get one:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16899705003
... especially if the board still doesn't boot with just onboard video, it would be good to confirm a good PSU before returning the motherboard.   If the PSU's okay; and the board doesn't boot with just one or two sticks of memory, using the onboard video; then it's most likely the motherboard -- although it would be good (if possible) to use a different CPU to confirm it's not just BIOS version issue.
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by:elorc
ID: 24201361
I tried it with another PSU (580W), onboard video only, and one pair of memory. Same exact behavior -- the fans come on very briefly and turn right off.

How big of a PSU would you recommend for this setup?
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by:garycase
ID: 24201502
I'd use this for that setup:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817703005

Although if you want a bit more headroom, this is even better:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817703009

But with the onboard video, 500w is plenty ... so assuming your 2nd PSU was "known good" the system should have POST'ed just fine.

Are you doing these tests out of the case?   ... just to be sure you didn't short something in the mounting process?     If not, you should try that => an erroneously placed standoff; a misplaced screw; loose wire that's touching at the wrong point; etc. can easily cause the behavior you've noted.

If it still doesn't POST out of the case, then it's reasonable to conclude you either have a bad motherboard, bad CPU, or an unsupported CPU (i.e. need a BIOS upgrade).
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by:elorc
ID: 24201505
I checked out a few PSU calculators and the highest I came out with was 484W running at 90% with 20% capacitor aging. 500W (or certainly the 580W) should be adequate right?
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by:elorc
ID: 24201512
I'm testing this with the board mounted. I'll pop it back open and try it without it mounted in place. I'll also take a look at the CPU to see what the CPU says. Although what do you think of this motherboard? Newegg is willing to give me the refund for the board, and this one seems like it might be a better pick anyway:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128384
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garycase earned 2000 total points
ID: 24201566
PSU calculators are okay for ballpark estimates; but I don't like them for a variety of reasons -- notably they don't factor in the multiple buses of most modern power supplies (if you overload one bus, you can have an unstable or unuseable system, even though the total power is still not exceeded).   That's one reason I like the PC P&C supplies, which have a single 12v rail.   Personally, I only use Seasonic and PC P&C supplies, which I think are hands-down the best units you can get.

Note that the video card you want to use suggest a minimum of a 450w PSU -- and I doubt that recommendation assumes anywhere near a 125w CPU.   You not only have a 125w CPU, but also 4 memory modules; and I suspect will be installing a fair number of other devices as well.   So I'd go with at least 600w.

The motherboard you listed above is clearly better than the one you have now -- but the performance won't be any different (since you're not going to be using the better onboard graphics).   It's also an ATX board vs. the micro-ATX you have now (which makes me wonder if you removed the appropriate pre-mounted standoffs from the Sonata -- and if not, if one of those is causing a short that is causing your current issue).
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by:elorc
ID: 24201641
Haha... you were right. I missed one of the mounting pegs in the middle of the board. I removed the extra peg, remounted and it posts. I figure it should be fine to run as it is now (with the 580W PSU) and I can upgrade to something beefier (like one of the two you recommended) soon.

That was a rookie move on my part. heh.

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by:garycase
ID: 24201700
You should be fine with a 580w supply if it's a quality unit.   But if you have any stability issues, the PSU is a good place to improve the system.

No matter how many systems you build, you should always proceed SLOWLY when mounting the CPU on the motherboard; and when mounting the motherboard in the case => these are the two most static-sensitive operations in a build [I always wear a well-grounded anti-static wrist strap while doing these].   And ALWAYS check and double-check that you have mounted the standoffs correctly for the specific board you're using => that was your mistake here.   Definitely a rookie move :-)
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by:PCBONEZ
ID: 24203044
DDR2 DIMMs are only around 4.4 watts each and are normally on the +5v rail.
Technically they can put it on +3.3v power now but I don't know of anyone that does yet.

On +12v
TDP on the video chip is 150watts [214 after adjusting for 70% VR efficiency/losses]
CPU 125 watts [178 after adjusting for 70% VR efficiency/losses]
HDD is 8.4 watts max
DVD Burner about 24 watts
Say 24 watts for fans [2@ 1amp]
For peak you are at 448 watts just on +12v. [37.3 amps]

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by:garycase
ID: 24213101
PCBonez's calculations show why I suggested the PC P&C unit -- or at least something larger than 500w.   A typical 580w unit will have 2 12v buses with about 18-20A capacity on each ... so about 36-40A total (check your specific unit ... it should be in this range) ==> right at the total capacity you likely need.  However, you need to be sure the power is distributed across the two buses or you could easily overload one [This is usually pretty "automatic" with 2 12v buses -- the ATX connector is fed by one;  the other connections are fed by the other ... so the CPU will be driven by one bus; the other connections by the 2nd;  it gets trickier on units with 3 12v buses].   But the PC P&C unit has a single high-capacity 12v bus (49A for the unit I suggested; 60A for the larger 750w unit).

Is everything working okay now?   I suspect you won't short any more motherboards to the case when assembling PC's in the future :-)
... by the way, the FIRST step experienced builders take when a new system won't POST is to bench test the install ==> i.e. to try it outside of the case.   Had you done that, you'd have easily discovered the problem yourself :-)
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by:elorc
ID: 24214859
Yeah, everything is working fine now. I sort of jumped to blaming the motherboard early on simply because I had read some bad reviews about the board. Turns out that everything is running stable though, so I can't complain. Especially for an $80 motherboard.
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