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System powers off in under 1 second? Probable damage...

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October 15, 2009 9:23:46 PM

I have an hp a1730n that recently stopped turning on. A few things preceded this, but my general question is - is the board or CPU fried?

On to the details:
I was vacuuming and bumped a poorly seated video card out of place (GeForce 8600gt, has it's own power connection besides the pci-e x16 slot.) It was out for about 15 minutes, I don't recall how far out of place it was but still partially in the slot. My 2 screens were dark and orange(ish) colored, the orange had a mostly orange wallpaper since nothing was running and it's the secondary screen. When I saw the problem I powered off the PC and reseated the card, which ran the boot post status and then switched to the other screen to display err2err3 in the top left. It's normal to switch screens at that point for me, because of how they are set up, everything before vista begins to load is displayed on the smaller (secondary above) screen. I switched ports and tried each individually with the same result (except with single monitors the err2err3 was on the same screen.) Tried the direct motherboard connection as well. So I opened it up again, and with vacuum near by and dust visible I cleaned it out (powered off and unplugged) but I couldn't clean the CPU heat sink... so I pulled it - in my ignorance the chip came out attached to the heat sink. All of the pins looked fine with a quick glance, and it reseated easily. The next time I powered on the power light (on the power button) lit briefly and went off, fans barely began to spin. I pulled the chip again (properly this time...) but one of the pins was bent severely, onto another pin. I straightened it, figuring I couldn't damage it much more, and put it back in. Same thing. Everything will power on (DVD player, keyboard lights, mouse lights, fans spin) with the chip removed but not with the chip in. I believe the chip is fried, what is the chance the board is dead as well? Or is it possible for only the board to be damaged? What is the risk in placing a new chip in, and what is the chance that the video card is damaged? Also, there's a newer 400w PSU as the 300w stock probably wouldn't have powered the extra video card.

Thanks for any advice or thoughts! I want to know if it's worth the $60 for a new CPU. It was an AMD Athlon 64 x2 4800+. Would be trying the 2.7ghz version.

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a b V Motherboard
October 16, 2009 2:43:14 AM

Well, it sounds like the CPU was likely fried by the bending. But you have the other problem to deal with regardless. Could be the motherboard was damaged from that.

I would recommend buying a new motherboard and cpu from someplace with a liberal return policy - or be willing to eat the re-stocking fee anyway as a cost of repair. Your RAM is likely out of date also - so might want to consider all of them rather than trying to match your current equipment.

If not all 3, I'd try the cpu first, then MB. Then possibly power supply.
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October 16, 2009 8:04:48 AM

Thanks for the input - if the board was damaged could it destroy a new CPU?

I have the stock 300w supply that was only used for a few weeks I could test without the video card. I have a new board in the mail (GIGABYTE GA-MA785GMT-UD2H AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX) but it's coming with a phenom IIx2 550, 2x2gb ddr3 12800, and a new case. I'd like to give my HP to my parents if I had good reason to think it would only need a new chip in it. The RAM is 4x1gb pc2 5400, which is all the board (and the chip?) supports. Also, any comments on the board mentioned above?

Thanks again.

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a b V Motherboard
October 16, 2009 4:09:32 PM

You can't ever say absolutely something won't be damaged. Again, review the return policy since it may not work regardless, ie, it's the motherboard that's bad instead. But I think it's unlikely the CPU would be damaged by testing it in the old system. And as long as it doesn't melt the pins, they should take it back.

Nice choice on the new system - you can see what I'm using.

Also, might want to read my first thread about choosing between your board and the one I got.
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/262452-30-ma785gm-us2...

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a b V Motherboard
October 16, 2009 5:09:18 PM

I don't mean to sound harsh, but that sounds like a manual on how NOT to perform computer repair.

First, you shouldn't even be using a vacuum to clean out dust in the first place, because pulling air away by creating a vacuum can, by itself, can generate enough static electricity to fry a CPU, motherboard, video card, basically anything. That's why they use the cans of spray air; blowing air outward doesn't have that effect. If your vacuum has a reverse setting to blow air outward, that'll work too, but it probably won't be as effective as spray air unless it's a big shop vac or something.

If I had to pick something to replace first, I'd definitely go with the CPU. Any time you have a bent pin, that component is automatically suspect -- at best. Those symptoms really sound like the CPU was ruined by the initial trauma of being ripped out and isn't going to work again.

The motherboard sounds a little more encouraging -- it MIGHT still be OK as long as the incident didn't cause any damage to the CPU socket. On the other hand, how can you tell? You could TRY putting in a new CPU to the same motherboard, but it's basically a 1-in-3 chance that it'll work fine, a 1-in-3 chance that it won't work but won't affect the new chip, and a 1-in-3 chance that it'll fry the new chip. It's up to you, but those older motherboards are cheap enough that you're probably better off just replacing it too.

Also, $60 is not very much for a new CPU, and I don't know what kind of motherboard you have, but my guess is you can find one for $50 or so. So spending $100 to have a second computer that works still sounds worth it to me.
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a b V Motherboard
October 16, 2009 8:23:28 PM

All good advice capt_taco.

But don't agree with you about the vacuum and ESD. Of course, we aren't talking about a real vacuum, but even then I don't see a difference between pushing and pulling air around. Both have equal chances of creating static.

The reason some use cans of air is because it's easy to do so, not because it's good for the system - it isn't. The problem is that it forces dust into cracks and hard up against electrical components causing shorts. A can of true vacuum would be much better to clean out dust with because it would remove dust without damage to the components. And a real test-bench vacuum cleaner, with a anti-static plastic tube on the end is the best tool for cleaning.

But any vacuum cleaner is a far better tool than canned air.
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a b V Motherboard
October 16, 2009 11:26:24 PM

Hmm, all good points. I guess if the moving air itself was the problem, even a powerful case fan could mess things up for you.

But I've heard more than one computer tech warn against using a vacuum cleaner inside your case. Maybe I didn't remember the full explanation, and they just meant a typical household vacuum cleaner that has metal parts, and THAT'S what they were worried about building up a charge and coming in contact with the components. I wouldn't use that kind of vacuum, but I can see the kinds you're talking about being a better option.

At any rate, I would hope that whatever method people use to clean out their computer, they're more careful than this guy.
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a b V Motherboard
October 17, 2009 2:16:28 AM

On the dust/dirt field, one thing I've learned is to never put the case on an un-carpeted floor. If you want to see crud inside a computer, open one in an office with no carpet. The carpet removes tons of dust and dirt particles from the air and without one, the computer sucks it all inside the case. Screening cloth - I've used garden cloth - put outside the case along the vents is the best trick. On the outside, so someone can replace it when it gets covered with crud.
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October 17, 2009 5:13:22 AM

capt_taco said:
I don't mean to sound harsh, but that sounds like a manual on how NOT to perform computer repair.

Well, it wasn't meant to be a repair. It was more of an example of why not to be too lazy to screw in a video card after about 2 years of ownership. It was a case of very poor perception when I first pulled the heat sink. I actually never pulled this CPU before and I have never had a chip that stuck to a heat sink. I've had this for about 3 years and a laptop before that for since 2003. From what I recall, the laptop never had an issue with grease turning into glue (video card heat sink too) and my P4 before that also did not bond enough to rip the CPU out of the socket. That said, I should have recognized the problem when the heat sink didn't easily lift out.
capt_taco said:

First, you shouldn't even be using a vacuum to clean out dust in the first place, because pulling air away by creating a vacuum can, by itself, can generate enough static electricity to fry a CPU, motherboard, video card, basically anything. That's why they use the cans of spray air; blowing air outward doesn't have that effect. If your vacuum has a reverse setting to blow air outward, that'll work too, but it probably won't be as effective as spray air unless it's a big shop vac or something.

Unlikely, though possible. There would have to be a static buildup before you started vacuuming IMO. Maybe if you were using a small, portable type vacuum? I've vacuumed PCs many times with no problems. I don't like the canned air because it just spreads the dust out everywhere, though it would have benefited me in this situation with the heat sink filth...
capt_taco said:

If I had to pick something to replace first, I'd definitely go with the CPU. Any time you have a bent pin, that component is automatically suspect -- at best. Those symptoms really sound like the CPU was ruined by the initial trauma of being ripped out and isn't going to work again.

The motherboard sounds a little more encouraging -- it MIGHT still be OK as long as the incident didn't cause any damage to the CPU socket. On the other hand, how can you tell? You could TRY putting in a new CPU to the same motherboard, but it's basically a 1-in-3 chance that it'll work fine, a 1-in-3 chance that it won't work but won't affect the new chip, and a 1-in-3 chance that it'll fry the new chip. It's up to you, but those older motherboards are cheap enough that you're probably better off just replacing it too.

Also, $60 is not very much for a new CPU, and I don't know what kind of motherboard you have, but my guess is you can find one for $50 or so. So spending $100 to have a second computer that works still sounds worth it to me.

I think I might look into a new board if I can get one very cheap. But I'm also trying to find a dirt cheap used CPU that my board will accept just to test it. It's an ASUS A8M2N-LA (NodusM3) from an HP Pavilion a1730n. The references I have found (with light searching) have only shown the athlon 64 x2 chips and the general Athlon 64 and Sempron groups. Should I take that to mean it will accept any athlon 64 or sempron that lists an AM2 socket? Or does anyone know places that accept returns on CPU's (for refund) even if there's a 10-20% restock fee... I can only find 'replacement only returns.'
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October 17, 2009 5:33:40 AM

Mongox said:
You can't ever say absolutely something won't be damaged. Again, review the return policy since it may not work regardless, ie, it's the motherboard that's bad instead. But I think it's unlikely the CPU would be damaged by testing it in the old system. And as long as it doesn't melt the pins, they should take it back.

Nice choice on the new system - you can see what I'm using.

Also, might want to read my first thread about choosing between your board and the one I got.
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/262452-30-ma785gm-us2...


Ah, the board is almost the same except yours has a more versatile socket and lacks ddr3 support? That makes me feel a little better. I read the other thread and now I have to check some other threads on whether I should keep my NVidia card or find a hybrid crossfire card.

Thanks for all the advice, if I can find a dealer that will refund returned CPUs I'll give it a shot. Otherwise I'll be too tempted to get another new board and then I'll be unhappy with the RAM and....
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a b V Motherboard
October 17, 2009 6:20:55 AM

The old board will likely only take the chips specified on its webpage as coming with it or as upgrades. Do not assume it will take any series other than those listed, and might not take those that are faster. BIOS upgrades are needed for wider chip model support.

Hope things work out and sorry about the problems in first place. Good Luck!
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October 17, 2009 1:39:57 PM

Had the same problem this summer...i changed the PSU and the MOBO it started working :)  so you need to try PSU or just MOBO or both ,... you cant fix it
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October 22, 2009 6:36:50 AM

Mongox said:
The old board will likely only take the chips specified on its webpage as coming with it or as upgrades. Do not assume it will take any series other than those listed, and might not take those that are faster. BIOS upgrades are needed for wider chip model support.

Hope things work out and sorry about the problems in first place. Good Luck!


Ah well, thanks for all the help and suggestions. I have my new parts up and running now... if only I could recover my old HDD. I repaired the MBR just fine, but I can't seem to repair Vista. I used OEM disks, repair disks, and retail Vista disks. Time for a fresh install on a beautiful 120GB Western Digital IDE disk. Gonna hop to a different thread to ask about recovering some data. Most non-application files I have backed up on an external drive. But hey, I've proven I'm lazy (1 screw may have prevented this...) and some was only backed up on the internal disk.
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a b V Motherboard
October 22, 2009 9:32:29 AM

If you've got the new parts up and running, I assume using a new/different HDD for the system disk? If so, just plug in the other drive on this computer and copy off the data and other files you need. Most of them will be under {newdriveletter}:\Documents and Settings\username\My Documents but others may be scattered in odd folders including program folders. But once you get the old drive available to you, you can take your time tracking down various data and settings files.
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a b V Motherboard
February 23, 2012 12:35:01 AM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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