Chronic Problems with a New-Old Build - Could Really Use a Few Other Sets of Eyes

careet

Junior Member
Mar 8, 2013
7
0
0
Hey guys,
So, for the first time in almost five years, I'm building myself a desktop system. I've built tons of systems in the past for myself and others with no real problems, so I've been going absolutely crazy with all of the problems I've been having with this build.

To make a short story long, I gave my old AM2+ system to my dad several years ago. The system used an Asus M4A79 Deluxe motherboard (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813131361), an Athlon 64 FX-62, 4Gb (4x1Gb) of Geil "Golden Empire" RAM, and a pair of embarrassingly piss-weak Radeon X1600 Pros. I needed to do this relatively cheaply, and since the type of computing I do doesn't even come close to topping out the power even on this old rig, I decided to use some used/old stock parts. The M4A79 Deluxe is one of only a few AM2/AM2+/AM3 motherboards (the only one I know of, in fact) that has 4 Pci-E x16 busses and two PCI busses, which I wanted given the peripherals I need, so I decided to buy another one of those and build from there. Of course, two days after I order one, the system I gave my dad dies out of nowhere, I suspected a PSU failure, but I didn't get to look it over too thoroughly and just ordered him a new Dell.

I eventually test all my new parts except the mobo which was still en route - all of which checked out when tested in other working systems - in the M4A79 Deluxe that I pulled from the dead system I gave him. I got nothing - no POST, even after going through the typical motions of checking all the parts and trying new ones, looking for shorts and bad grounding (as much as one can), replacing the CMOS battery, clearing BIOS, etc. Finally, the (supposedly) new, unused/old stock M4A79 Deluxe I ordered arrives, so I sprawl everything out of the table, and see if it'll boot with just the basic parts - all of which had, again, been tested and worked independently. No luck, same symptoms - no POST, but everything gets power. I phoned Asus, and they confirmed that my parts should all work, even on the oldest BIOS version. Of course, even if this new one had been DOA, it was still out of warranty, so I was out of luck.

So, in what was admittedly probably not a very bright move, I ordered ANOTHER M4A79 Deluxe over eBay, from a guy who had updated it to the latest BIOS version and had screenshots proving it worked. It arrived, I set everything up, and voila! It posted, and tried to boot Windows 7 Ultimate (old HDD already had it installed). Ecstatic, I put it all inside the case, spent hours routing the cables and setting up the fans, etc. Finished, I booted up, and again it got to "Starting Windows" and would restart. Debian and Mint LiveCDs both froze in the final process of loading, even in 'failsafe', so I opened it up to try with just one GPU.

At this point, trying to simply get the system to boot into an OS, I simply unplugged the second GPU and tried to boot again, and the gods must really have it out for me, because now I'm getting the original problem again - no POST. As was the case with the previous two mobos, I also removed all the RAM to see what beep codes I would get, if any. I only got the "no RAM" code - long, short, short - and no POST, of course.

Since then, I've tried the usual: tried different working RAM types independently in each DIMM, tried each GPU independently, as well as another one, reset BIOS, replaced the battery... all to no avail. The kicker is, that I'm one of those builders who's super cautious about static and such. I wasn't, like, wearing sweatpants and socks and doing this over carpeting - I had rubber-soled shoes on, discharged myself on an empty chassis prior to touching ANYTHING, was working in a static-free environment and on an insulated surface, etc. I'm at a loss for words, and I'm going crazy! I've perused help threads here before; long time lurker and first time poster, just hoping someone here can shed a little light on what I may be missing. I really can't imagine that I've shorted this thing out, even though in my mind that seems to be only possible answer.

To recap: Each time, with three different motherboards (except for a brief few minutes the third one worked), I've had everything get power, HDD's spin up, but nothing on the screen - no POST.

Sorry for the super long post, but I'd be very appreciative of any help you guys can offer.

My specs, if it helps:

Asus M4A79 Deluxe motherboard (used)
Athlon 64 X2 6400+ (used)
Noctua NH-D14 CPU Heatsink (new)
8Gb (4x4Gb) Micron Technology PC2-5300P ECC RAM (used - have 4x4Gb sticks, got no POST even in the previously working build when all four were inserted)
Corsair AX860i Power Supply (Bought brand new)
2x GeCube ATI Radeon x1600 Pro (RV530 Pro) w/Vantec Iceberq 6 Coolers
Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Platinum (SB0350)
TP-LINK TL-WDN4800 PciE 1.0 WiFi Adapter
Corsair 600t chassis (I know, I know... expensive case on a budget build)
 

careet

Junior Member
Mar 8, 2013
7
0
0
Also, to make this post even longer (sorry...), another selling point of this motherboard is that is supports ECC RAM, which I can get for super cheap. About a year ago, the system I gave to my dad had this same no POST problem, which I fixed simply by removing one of the four sticks of Geil "Golden Empire" RAM - the stick in the first DIMM had somehow stopped working. Whatever happened just recently killed the remaining three all at once.

Although some Googling doesn't turn up anything, I wonder if these motherboards are simply poorly electronically insulated or something, since I've used two very reputable PSU's and had the same problems (the first was a Thermaltake Toughpower 750w Bronze, the second and my current one is a Corsair AX860i Platinum). I even used small rubber washers on the screws I used on the mobo - only between the head of the screw and the top of the board, to avoid blocking the ground established with the built-in mobo risers.
 

AnonymouseUser

Diamond Member
May 14, 2003
9,943
107
106
Have you thought it might be the CPU? It may be just a bent pin since one mobo did work briefly, but it sounds like that's all you haven't ruled out.
 

careet

Junior Member
Mar 8, 2013
7
0
0
Have you thought it might be the CPU? It may be just a bent pin since one mobo did work briefly, but it sounds like that's all you haven't ruled out.
I haven't exactly, but I did thoroughly check the underside of the CPU and I didn't find any bent pins at all. I actually didn't know that a bent pin could cause intermittent problems though, I always thought it was sort of an all-or-nothing. Good to know!

I'll go and swap out the CPU with an Athlon 64 FX-62 and report back - thanks!
 

careet

Junior Member
Mar 8, 2013
7
0
0
Still no luck after swapping in a new CPU, unfortunately. Pulled the CPU from a working build as well, so I guess the problem lies elsewhere... blah. Any other ideas, anyone?
 

Steltek

Diamond Member
Mar 29, 2001
3,040
752
136
Have you tried dismounting the board from the case? Place it on a non-conductive surface, install one memory module, and try to boot. This would at least eliminate grounding as a issue.

Also, have you checked the motherboard for leaking, swollen, or burst capacitors?
 

careet

Junior Member
Mar 8, 2013
7
0
0
Hey again - sorry for the lack of contact, I had an out-of-town wedding this weekend.

When I got home, I tried Steltek's suggestion:
Have you tried dismounting the board from the case? Place it on a non-conductive surface, install one memory module, and try to boot. This would at least eliminate grounding as a issue.

Also, have you checked the motherboard for leaking, swollen, or burst capacitors?
...without any luck, unfortunately. Of course, I tried (an insulated) tabletop boot with only the basic parts. Tried both CPU's, different sticks of otherwise-working RAM in all the various DIMM's, and nothing :/

I did check for leaking, swollen capacitors, burn marks, and the like, and nothing jumps out at me. I wish there was a tool for checking these things; maybe there is, and I'm just not aware of it. This is driving me nuts! I've never had such a mysterious problem before.

What about the 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector? Are you sure you're plugging that in?
All my connections are and were fine - I checked them over after the first issue, and of course when removing the parts. All the clips and such are strong as well, so I'm sure nothing's slipping out of a socket or anything.

I don't know why it would have any bearing, but I did initially boot with ECC RAM. As I mentioned, the mobo supports it, but is there some reason I'm unaware of that might cause this issue? I don't know how, it's just my first time using ECC and I'm a bit suspicious. Again, it DID perform sevral successful POST's with the ECC, and when it stopped POSTing, neither different ECC nor new non-ECC RAM worked.

Again, I really appreciate the help and input, since this seems to be a real head-scratcher. Has anyone ever had a motherboard blow a cap, surge itself, or die via static shock without showing any signs of that having happened?

Also, there's a local shop that repairs motherboards... has anyone ever gone that route? Even if I was able to locate a problem on the mobo, I'm not handy enough with a soldering iron to go at it myself... the guy charges a $60 diagnostic fee though, and god knows how much more to actually repair one. Since cost is a factor and I can't really afford to step into the AM3+ realm just yet, I'm considering giving him a call. No one I've spoken to has ever had a mobo repaired though, so I'm wondering if it's even worth it.
 

AnonymouseUser

Diamond Member
May 14, 2003
9,943
107
106
I wonder if the CPU is dead and is killing the mobos. Testing with a known working CPU after the dead CPU doesn't help since the dead CPU would have killed the mobo already. I would say to test the original CPU in a working mobo to be sure, but that could kill that mobo...
 

MeldarthX

Golden Member
May 8, 2010
1,026
0
76
Never heard of a dead cpu killing mbs; but hey anything possible.......

You've also tested with another PSU correct? sometimes PSUs that are cheap ran near max and then dropped down can die...but honestly without looking I'm not sure :( this is an odd one
 

careet

Junior Member
Mar 8, 2013
7
0
0
I wonder if the CPU is dead and is killing the mobos
Yikes, that can happen? Maybe by the CPU pulling too much current or something? Scary.

Honestly, at this point, I can't really justify buying another mobo to test the CPU with... I could find a cheap one, for sure, but I don't have non-ECC RAM at my disposal anymore so I'd have to either bother an aquaintence again for his, or pick some up... and at that price point I might as well just go all in for a new setup :/

You've also tested with another PSU correct? sometimes PSUs that are cheap ran near max and then dropped down can die...but honestly without looking I'm not sure :( this is an odd one
I did! It worked fine at first with my brand new Corsair AX860i, and after it failed again I tried an old (but still chugging along nicely) Thermaltake Toughpower 750W with no luck. The 860i successfully booted another system afterwards though.

One thing that just dawned on me this evening, is that ever since the new setup stopped POSTing, my USB keyboard's LED Caps/Num/Scroll Lock lights turn on and stay on when the PSU's switch is turned on and the system is off. This isn't normal; the only other time that happens is when I plug the keyboard into my laptop's cooling pad (which doubles as a USB hub) and plug the cooler into the laptop while it's sleeping or hibernating. The port I use on the laptop is one of those USB ports intended for charging peripherals while it's off, so it's a bit weird sometimes. Even though I'm not seeing any swollen caps or obvious signs of mobo damage or failure, do you guys think this might be indicative of something? Is there anywhere on the mobo that I might go over with a multimeter to test this?

Thanks again for all of the input and assistance - really appreciate it, especially being new to the forum and all.
 
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AnonymouseUser

Diamond Member
May 14, 2003
9,943
107
106
Yikes, that can happen? Maybe by the CPU pulling too much current or something? Scary.

I've never seen it happen myself, but googling nets a few cases, some even on these forums. From the descriptions you've provided, that's what is happening, with one board lasting long enough to boot a few times.

My suggestion is to stop throwing money at this old tech headache. Even the cheapest modern CPU can hold it's own with that old Athlon64.
 

MeldarthX

Golden Member
May 8, 2010
1,026
0
76
Yea I think at this point time to let it go - if you're near a micro center they have great deals on cpu combos; AMD or Intel.

I think there's a deal going on for 120 dollars for 6300 and free mb......You'd just need to get ram

Another but more expensive is 3567k? for 169 with 40 off a mb....I think; but not sure as I'm got none near me :)
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
56,297
10,020
126
The kicker is, that I'm one of those builders who's super cautious about static and such. I wasn't, like, wearing sweatpants and socks and doing this over carpeting - I had rubber-soled shoes on, discharged myself on an empty chassis prior to touching ANYTHING, was working in a static-free environment and on an insulated surface, etc. I'm at a loss for words, and I'm going crazy! I've perused help threads here before; long time lurker and first time poster, just hoping someone here can shed a little light on what I may be missing. I really can't imagine that I've shorted this thing out, even though in my mind that seems to be only possible answer.
The rubber-soled shoes strike me as odd. You don't want to be insulated, that builds up static. You want to be barefoot, so you can be grounded. (And of course, never work on anything that has the AC connected.)
 

careet

Junior Member
Mar 8, 2013
7
0
0
My suggestion is to stop throwing money at this old tech headache. Even the cheapest modern CPU can hold it's own with that old Athlon64.
Yeah, I'm reluctantly letting it go at this point. What a bummer! At least I'm able to get a refund for the original mobo. I have this weird preoccupation with needing to have something that was at or near the top of the line when it came out... usually this is limited to buying weird old cars, but I did the same with this, my first used parts build. I know it really doesn't make much (...any) sense from a performance standpoint, and it screws me over royally in terms of warranties, but eh. Talk about obsessive, right? Anyways, thanks again for all of the help - it's very much appreciated. [This is where I'd use the 'cheers' smily if we had one]

Yea I think at this point time to let it go - if you're near a micro center they have great deals on cpu combos; AMD or Intel.

I think there's a deal going on for 120 dollars for 6300 and free mb......You'd just need to get ram

Another but more expensive is 3567k? for 169 with 40 off a mb....I think; but not sure as I'm got none near me :)
Word, I'll keep an eye out for those deals. Micro Center's only a couple miles away, so that works out nicely. Thanks again for the help and such in here my friend, very much appreciate it!

The rubber-soled shoes strike me as odd. You don't want to be insulated, that builds up static. You want to be barefoot, so you can be grounded. (And of course, never work on anything that has the AC connected.)
No kidding? That certainly makes sense, I was just under the impression that the rubber soled shoes would prevent one from building up static at all, although I'm not sure why. Happy to receive the tip, thanks much!