help...system died; need hardware guidance

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be a hardware person, by a long shot :)

I have some questions.

quite a long while ago, my system died. After much fiddling I decided that it was a graphics card problem, as my radeon 9800pro 256's fan was totally missing and upon further inspection I noticed that the center post to its heatsink had basically melted in half.

I talked to the guy at the local computer store about a new graphics card and mentioned the problem I had with the last one. He supposed if the card's temperature got high enough to actually melt plastic it just *might* be a mobo problem.

So, hoping for the best, I ordered a slightly downgraded copy of the card I had before, and tried it with no luck.

When I disconnect everything from the motherboard but the cpu/heatsink/fan and power it on, it gives me a long beep/pause that repeats indefinitely.

I've decided to try to find another motherboard to give that a shot, but I don't even know for sure if that was problem.

Here are the specs:

MSI 6570-020 nforce2
athlon 2500+ socket 462 processor
[model number axda2500dkv40]
a raidmax 350w max power supply
2 sticks of 512mb ddr ram
a radeon 9800pro ethernet card, a couple of hard disks, a pci soundcard, and all that stuff.

Is more likely that the motherboard died, the processor died, or both? Would there be any easy way to find out? On that note, I have $200-$300 to spend on a new motherboard and/or processor. Does anyone have any advice on whether I should try to salvage what I have and go up for another motherboard? Or should I migrate to 64-bit? If so, is it possible to find a reasonably good processor/mobo pair in this price range?

I'm not really much of a gamer at this point in my life. The only games I really have been playing are Gunz International [good job team...] and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. I play mp3s with winamp and run Acid 4.0.

Any help would be much appreciated.
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  1. So it can be hard to tell if it's just the motherboard, just the CPU, or just the RAM if you can't verify that at least two of the others are working...

    That said, my guess is that your mobo is damaged and your other components are fine -- but that's just a guess.

    Those beeps you hear are actually an audible error code generated by your mobo. If you want to decipher them, you compare them to a table listed in your mobo manual, or you identify your BIOS brand and compare them to a table online (like this one: ).

    More than likely though, it's a long-winded way of saying "I'm fried."

    The way to isolate the problem is to test the components one-by-one in an environment where you know all the other components are working.

    Btw, definitely don't trust that PSU, especially if your graphics card was of the type requiring an auxiliary power connection.

    Good luck.
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