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Computer abruptly shut down, won't boot to BIOS or OS

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August 5, 2010 7:22:13 AM

My first home built computer had been running very well until this afternoon. Here's a list of its components:

AMD Phenom II X4 965
Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD5
Crucial DDR3 1333MHz 2x2GB
Powercolor Radeon 5850 PCS+
Seasonic X-650
Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB
Lite-on iHas424
Coolermaster ATCS 840

I was testing out some utilities including AMD Overdrive. I tried to run "auto tune" out of pure curiosity. I was going to throw out the results, I just wanted to see how high it would clock my system. I realize this is not an optimal method for OCing. I didn't think it could be dangerous! My monitor immediately went blank and the computer was in some kind of limbo state, still powered on but unresponsive. I had to hold the power button down for five seconds to power off, which is not normal.

When I tried to boot back up, I got a beep code of continous short beeps. According to my motherboard's manual, that indicates a power error. The power, reset, and clear CMOS buttons on the board still light up when the PSU is switched on. Also, all my fans spin up when I hit power; two are connected to the CPU fan header on the mainboard, while six others are connected to my power supply by way of a Scythe Kaze Master Pro, and the video card's fan works as well. The HDD activity light flickers, but there is no video signal, and no getting into the BIOS much less Windows.

It was very hot where I am today, and I was running my computer all day. This only made my bedroom even hotter than the outside temperature. I was running HWMonitor most of the time to ease my mind, although one has to take the readings from that program with a little bit of salt. Nevertheless, my core temps never breached 57 degrees Celsius and neither did the tempin0, 1, and 2.

I mention heat because after my system was powered off for five to ten minutes, the case of my PSU was hot to the touch: much warmer than my Mugen 2 or the heatpipes sticking out of my graphics card. Therefore, I suspect my power supply may have overheated, but I can't rule out problems with my mainboard or even the processor and chipsets.

I plan on breadboarding to help diagnose the issue(s). I thought I would post this first to give people a chance to offer any assistance. I'll post again after I do what I can. The only other desktop in the house is a Pentium 3 machine, and I can't really say if the PSU in there will be of any help. I am not aware of any multimeters lying around, either. I guess I can try that paper clip trick, but the X-650's fan doesn't operate without a certain load put on it.

I hope it is the power supply and nothing else. In that case, I REALLY ought to be able to RMA it without much fuss. One can hope.
a c 122 B Homebuilt system
August 5, 2010 7:25:18 AM

Before you do anything else, try clearing the BIOS.
August 5, 2010 7:27:35 AM

jsc said:
Before you do anything else, try clearing the BIOS.


Forgot to mentioned I tried that already. I pushed the Clear CMOS button, and I removed the battery. No change.
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August 5, 2010 7:33:44 AM

So now you have damaged one of your hardware. Nice going. Hope its PSU, other wise its your Proc gone.
August 5, 2010 8:59:07 AM

Could be RAM death. Apparelty those auto-tune things can overvolt the RAM or something, and seing as the RAM is only rated at 1333Mhz, couldnt that be a possible culprit? Try removing each of the RAM DIMMS, and putting each one in the primary slot.
Just a thought.
August 5, 2010 11:42:35 AM

Well, I found leaking capacitators in my power supply.

Actually, I breadboarded my system like I said I would. The ATCS 840's slide-out mobo tray is perfect for that sort of thing. I tried to run only the processor with a single module of RAM. That setup had the same exact result as earlier.

But then, I noticed a strong chemical taste in my mouth and minor skin irritation. I immediately knew the PSU was the culprit. It was the first thing I uninstalled and I handled it extensively while I tried to look for signs of damage. At first, I didn't notice any, but after using a flashlight to illuminate the internals, I identified several bad capacitators.

It was a bit tricky because the PCB has got a bunch of white gunk holding thermal pads in place, which I at first mistakenly thought was leakage. I compared what I could see closely with photos from Jonnyguru's review. A lot of that white stuff had turned pink from a rusty-colored discharge. I wanted to be sure my suspicions were correct, and that was the proof I needed.

My motherboard shows no signs of damage, but I can't rule out that possibility at the moment. I trust Seasonic will honor their warranty, as their design seems to be at fault at least in this instance. People need to run their computers in the summer too. At this point, I think I'd prefer they send me a M12D instead. Obviously I could have simply been dealt some bad luck, but I can't help but think the X Series has some serious flaws; Seasonic has been brilliant in their marketing of the series to enthusiasts, I grant them.

I'm not even sure if I can mail the thing back to them, with it oozing irritants such that it is. I'll have to look into it.
August 5, 2010 11:50:46 AM

Bad Luck man.
August 5, 2010 12:09:01 PM

Fetal said:
Bad Luck man.


I relieved right now, actually. I think my baby is going to be okay!

AMD Overdrive will be terminated with extreme prejudice from my computer. To be fair, I think it was just the straw that broke the camel's back. I think the damage was done mostly as I was optimizing Oblivion meshes with PyFfi, with which I'm sure some of you are familiar.

I've heard mixed opinions about Seasonic's customer service; I hope I come away with a favorable impression.
September 9, 2010 1:05:33 PM

Here's an update:

I received a new X-650 unit from Seasonic. The RMA process was prompt and I was very satisfied with their service.

Unfortunately, the problem was not solved with the new PSU. I got the same repeating short beeps from my motherboard speaker.

Removing the CPU from the socket, I discovered a pin was damaged. I certainly voided my warranty by using an aftermarket heat sink, and probably just by clicking the button to run auto-tune. I was running everything at stock 98% of the time, too, which just adds to my grief. I've considered attempting to RMA the processor anyway to see what would happen, but that doesn't sit quite right with me.

I am almost certain that the PSU I RMA'd was degrading, but I don't know whether that is related to this new problem I uncovered, or if they are separate issues. By all appearances, my motherboard is fully functional, but if a new processor still leaves me with a bricked system, I should be able to RMA it to Gigabyte.

I have no resources to replace the CPU now. I have a birthday coming in about five weeks, which means I should be able to pocket a gift certificate soon to use for that purpose. At the very least, I want an Athlon II X3, but it kind of hurts to downgrade, even if the performance difference isn't very significant. I was hoping next year I could drop in a Bulldozer-based chip onto my current AM3 motherboard, but that appears will not be possible.

Take my advice and NEVER try the auto-tune feature of AMD's Overdrive software. It's mind-boggling that software from a CPU manufacturer would damage hardware from that very same company. In fact, I should probably relate my situation to AMD to help them correct the issue. In my opinion, that would best be achieved by stripping auto-tune from Overdrive completely.
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