Two Sundays ago lightning struck the phone lines near my home and the surge traveled all the way to my PC through the DSL modem and fried one of my ethernet ports (the modem died too). I woke up from sleep just in time to hear the thunder and a very loud *crack* sound coming out of the general area of my PC. This happened to coincide with me getting my hands on a brand new Intel SSD (80GB X25-M) and a WD 300g Velociraptor. I had installed these two drives the night before along with a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional OEM edition.
I thought the only thing that got damaged was the ethernet port on my Asus P6T Deluxe V2, but immediately after that I started getting crashes in Windows 7. Basically my PC would just freeze and a few seconds later it would reboot. Sometimes I'd come back to my room after going to the kitchen to find the PC rebooting by itself. Still, I was not 100% sure this was related to the lightning strike since the whole crashing and rebooting thing also came with the installation of the new SSD and reformat.
The crashes and reboots continued for about 3 more days, at which point they just plain stopped. I thought the issue was fixed and forgot about it. Yesterday when I get home at night from work, I try to boot my machine and nothing. I open it up but don't see anything unusual. I end up unplugging it for a few minutes, plugging it back and this time it boots fine. Weird I thought.
Today I received a pair of HD5970s in the mail (yes, I know it's completely unnecessary, but I wanted to run them in quadfire ). I plug each card in, one at at time, run them through 3d Mark Vantage and some Furmark to test stability and watch temperatures, everything's working fine. Then I plug both in and enable Crossfire. I fire up 3D Mark Vantage again, and right as the 2nd CPU test begins, my machine just shuts off. It doesn't even restart, it's just shuts off as if someone had yanked the power cable. At this point, the machine refuses to boot, so I unplug it for a few seconds, plug it back, and this time it boots again (same deal as the previous day!).
From this point on, it goes downhill. Essentially, the machine just starts shutting off completely and unexpectedly X time from the moment I boot it. I doesn't really matter what I'm doing, it just shuts off. Sometimes it doesn't even get to load Windows. So the first thing that comes to mind is: maybe the cards are too much on the PSU. I remove the 5970's and plug back my 5870, same deal. Dust off a GTX285 I have lying around, same deal.
Next thing in mind: maybe my PSU broke somehow? I'm using a Corsair HX 1000W. To test if it's the PSU, I yank out an OCZ Z Series 850W from my dad's computer (formerly mine), and hook it to my system. Same deal, PC just shuts off unexpectedly. I guess this rules out the PSU.
At this point I start disconnecting different pieces of hardware to see if one of them is maybe damaged and causing the machine to just shut off. I disconnect both my drives, take out random sticks of RAM, and even use older sticks I had lying around. Nothing is working. By this point, the system now doesn't even make it into Windows, and most of the time it just shuts off a second or even half a second after booting, and 1/2 the time it seems to be booting I don't even get it to display anything on my monitor.
So at this point I'm ready to point the finger of blame on the motherboard. Is it possible for that lightning strike to have slowly killed my mobo over the course of a week and a half? Maybe when I put both 5970's in quadfire the demand on the already damaged motherboard was too much and it just flopped. It really seemed to me like a PSU problem since the system was just shutting off, so the first thing I did was try a different PSU but the results were exactly the same, so I'm pretty convinced that rules out the PSU. Same deal for the other components: RAM, storage drives, CD-ROMs, pretty much everything was plugged/unplugged to see if it was causing problems.
The one other part I can't test for sure because I don't have a spare is my CPU, an Intel Core i7 920. Right now I've got my motherboard outside of the case, sitting on top of some anti-static plastic (the same one that came protecting the mobo) and I've got just the most basic components plugged, and the situation is so bad now I'm lucky if I can even get the damn thing to stay on for more than 2 seconds after I push the power button. I even went as far as taking out the battery for some time and moving one of the jumpers as per the manual instructions to reset everything, and still no dice.
For reference, here are my full system specs:
Intel Core i7 920 @ 3.8 Ghz (or rather, WAS at 3.8 Ghz but I ended up resetting BIOS - the OC was stable though, having run with it for 2 months+)
Xigamatex Dark Knight cooler
ATI Radeon HD5870 (Diamond) [Dual Sapphire HD5970's in Quadfire pretty much triggered the meltdown]
Corsair HX 1000W PSU (OCZ Z Series 850W PSU tested too!)
6GB Corsair Dominator GT DDR3 1600 RAM (also tested with spare Corsair XMS3 DRR3 1333 RAM)
Intel X25-M Mainstream 80GB SSD
Western Digital Velociraptor 300GB HDD
Any input would be appreciated. I'm about to pull the trigger on a brand new motherboard (thinking about an ASUS P6X58D Premium), but I'm STILL not 100% sure it's the motherboard. My system ran perfectly stable with no issues whatsoever for a good 2 and a half months before that lightning strike. Still, the first symptoms coincided with the installation of the new SSD, and then the whole situation just escalated into absurdity after I tried to quadfire two HD5970's, so I'm not 100% sure.
I would start by getting a good surge protector. Then you can focus on the motherboard. I like my new biostar 1156 board. It has numerous overclocking features and biostar email tech support has replied both times to my questions, getting my keyboard start function to work by changing one jumper. They also replaced another board in only nine days; fastest rma I've ever had. My overclock is stable going from 2.9 to 3.9 without any voltage changes.