Repeated RAM failures with Biostar TForce motherboard

Hopefully this is the right zone for this question. Yesterday I began having random lockups, errors and BSOD's under Windows Vista 32-bit. Today when I powered on the system the drives and fans power on, but I receive long beeps (long beep, pause, long beep, etc) and have no display.

Tried clearing CMOS, but was only able to power on the system by running one stick of memory. When adding the second back, even in 2nd set of dimms, it would either not power on or I would receive BSOD's upon booting to Vista.

This is the second time in the last year the _exact_ same symptons occurred and was solved then by replacing the memory. It's now happened again.

My question is, does the source of the problem sound like it's coming from the power supply or from the motherboard itself?

Current setup:

E4300 @ 3.0GHz
Biostar Tforce 695PT
Super Talent 2GB DDR2 800 (replaced Buffalo Firestix)
768MB eVGA 8800 GTX
Ultra X-Finity 500W

Thanks in advance!
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PCBONEZConnect With a Mentor Commented:
The blue one with beveled edges and without the "K" pattern stamped in the top is a Chemicon Solid Polymer.
Polymer are the best kind of caps to have and Chemicon is generally a good brand.
The one right below it is the Sacon FZ [see the FZ in the part number?]
It has the K stamp and the FZ in the part number.
- - My point is Biostar mixes them on the same motherboards.
Look for the K stamp and the letters FZ.

I found two photos of your board each with different caps in Vcore.
Both appeared to have legit solid polymer there but one had blue Chemicon and the other black Nichicon [I think].
CPU is not damaged if you have polymar caps in Vcore.
They are SO effective you don't need to worry about the CPU even with other noisy power problems.
The Vcore caps are the ones right next to the CPU.

You do have 2 caps problems but not FZ. - Two known 'failers' that don't always bloat when bad.
Both photos showed some Chemicon KZG which isn't a good thing. These don't ALWAYS fail but often enough.
[They are Chocolate Brown with a Y shaped stamp and white letting. Letters KZG showing.]
Those don't like heat and will fail with no bloating if next to a heat source or the case has poor cooling.
--->> BUT: by where they are those wouldn't be causing RAM problems.
They seemed to be only in +12v [which is power-in to VRM] and one for the PCI-E slot.
The remainder of both boards had OST caps.
Those do the same as KZG only they fail with less heat and more often.
Those WOULD cause RAM problems as a number are in the RAM power regulation and as they are scattered all over the board a sundry of other problems are likely.

Recapping isn't so hard.
You get more life out of a board the second time around than you did the first time.
- The first time it had poor quality caps.
Personally I don't over-clock but I've seen over-clockers report that after a recap with good caps they can squeeze 10-20% more over-clock without the system going unstable.
Also seen things that are supposed to work but didn't since new suddenly start working again.
Examples are some FSB speed, USB, LAN, even sound.

Hardest part about doing a recap is sourcing the right kind of caps.
They aren't general purpose caps, they are low ESR and there are different grades of low ESR.
The cost is usually [loosely] around $1 per cap for DIY when you take into account shipping costs.
It can be much less if they are common sizes and you get a good deal on caps.
You can get a LOT of guidance to DIY or sourcing caps over in the forums at
Badcaps [the main site] also recaps boards by mail order but I do my own recaps so I've never used that service.
Could also be the memory itself.  May not be up to scratch.

You can try the memory in another machine and see what it does there.  

You can try another power supply and see how that handles the motherboard.  Just stick it on top of the case and plug it directly to motherboard.  That'll isolate the problem down to the motherboard or not.
Biostar TForce motherboards use Sacon FZ series capacitors which are complete crap.
They have been know to pop hard enough it can be heard across a room.
Sacon's old name was GSC and they've gone by Evercon as well.

With bad caps mucking up the quality of the power to the RAM I'm not surprised it keeps dying.
CPU, video, chipset, and drive controllers probably aren't too happy either.

First photo is actually from a Biostar TForce motherboard.
Bottom cap is an FZ that's blown it's internals right out the top. [Happens often with FZ.]
The other cap (above the FZ) is a legit solid polymer from Chemicon.
Solid Polymer caps do not have vents, only Electrolytic caps have vents. [The "K" stamp on the FZ.]

Second photo is the black version of FZ found on a Jetway board.

FZ caps are very VERY common on video cards made in the last 3-4 years as well.

You need to replace the motherboard of have it recapped.

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Your motherboard does not appear to exist on the Biostar site:

Is the id correct?

cod2easyAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the replies. I will be checking them out and updating the results. I have listed the link for this board below (TSeries, then select T Force for Intel).

TForce is a series, not a specific model.

Regardless Biostar has never consistently used good caps.
You often won't even find the same caps on 2 boards of the same model and revision.
They seem to slap on whatever they can get cheap that week.

They do make good boards after you fix the cap problems.
cod2easyAuthor Commented:
Sorry, yes it's the TFORCE 965PT.  I have checked the motherboard and as best I can see there are no visible signs of leaking or blown, albeit not in the best light. For "normal" caps, should they have a raise on to top or should they be completely flat?
I was actually responding to phototropic being lost.

>> Tops should be completely flat on electrolytic caps.
Any bloating at all indicates the electrolyte is breaking down and forming gasses inside the can.

The vent [stamp mark on top] is a designed in weak spot that provides a place for the can to split open and relieve the gas pressure vice the outer can blasting off like a little missile.
- Airborne bits of aluminum is generally considered a bad idea inside a chassis full of electronics boards.
Some electrolytics that are 6mm and most that are smaller may not have vents because they can't build enough pressure to pop the top off anyway.
If it's electrolytic and 8mm or bigger it WILL have a vent.
Solid Polymer never have vents because they don't form gases.
cod2easyAuthor Commented:
Thanks for clarifying. Took another look and the caps look like the first picture you posted, raised / beveled tops, but without the explosion of course. By replacing the motherboard and ram, do you feel the CPU has been damaged or that I may be able to get a little more life out of it?
My first question is a simple one. The previous stick of RAM that failed, was it in the same dimm slot?

If so, you have either been extremely unlucky with getting 2 sticks of ram which have died rather quickly, or your pc is blowing the RAM.

It could be Power Supply or Motherboard causing it if this is the case.
In any case, those 2 things are not hugely expensive parts, though not as cheap as RAM these days.

Maybe you could look at trying a different brand of RAM.
I believe Kingmax has a lifetime guaruntee on RAM these days, which means if it goes, they will replace it free of charge.
cod2easyAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the reply. Actually, it was two sticks of RAM that failed originally (dual channel Buffalo sticks). One failed first, seemed to be okay, then the second sticked did the same. Then now with the Super Talent (dual kit as well), it has done the same thing. Although, one stick is still working *atm*.

cod2easyAuthor Commented:
The power supply has been tested locally and all the voltages were in range (although it was not tested under load). Looks like I will be ordering a replacement motherboad as it appears the caps are the culprit. Thanks for all the help!
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