Freeze during POST - dead CPU?

Overview of the problem
Freezes during the first few tests of the POST.

Full description of the problem and symptoms
About two weeks ago I ordered a full set of parts from newegg and assembled everything as usual (I've been building computers on and off for the past four or five years.) Upon the first boot, the computer froze during the POST.

I get about three lines into the POST - the last line before freezing is "Initializing USB controller... DONE." If I have only one stick of ram in, I get "2048MB.. OK" after that, but then it just freezes.

I have isolated the problem to either the motherboard, memory, or CPU - since the POST reported my CPU, I concluded that it must have been the motherboard, and I RMA'd that sucker. A week later, new motherboard in, I get the exact same problem. Logically, my next step was the ram, because it wasn't POSTing the "4096MB." Replaced that too.

I already tried these steps:
Clearing the CMOS has no effect. Neither does removing the hard drive, switching to onboard video, and removing the PCI cards. I even remove the motherboard from the case and set it on my own standoffs on my desk just in case it is somehow shorting out at some point during the post. I have also replaced both the motherboard and RAM to no effect.

I strongly suspect a dead CPU.

I would REALLY like to fix this without RMA'ing my CPU. Any ideas, anyone?

Thank you in advance.

Windows XP Professional Edition with SP3

My hardware

Motherboard: MSI G31M3 (Micro-ATX)
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 / Stock Fan / Arctic Silver V
Video: ASUS TOP HD4850 512MB
RAM: Corsair 4GB (2GBx2) PC6400 TwinX 5-5-5-18
PSU: Antec NeoPower 550W
HDD: Western Digital 160GB 7200RPM EIDE
2 answers Last reply
More about freeze post dead
  1. You either need another Socket 775 CPU to test in your system or another system to test your CPU in - it's that easy (or difficult, depending on if you have access to spare hardware or can beg, borrow or pay someone to borrow theirs etc).
  2. Did you try different RAM slots?
    Did you try individual RAM sticks in each slot to see if system will post?
    It could be bad memory slot(s).

    Just another thing you can try.
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