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First power up burns out firewire chip... options?

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August 11, 2010 10:47:14 PM

Hi everyone,

I am building my first computer and I had a pretty big setback last night... I tried turning on the system with all the components except the graphics card hooked up (it's on backorder) and got a crackling sound and some smoke. This morning I removed all the components to see what happened and I can see that the firewire chip on the mobo has been scorched (pic).

I had powered on the mobo before adding components to check it and it looked like it worked fine. I have a good PSU (Corsair HX series) and this is an ASUS P6X58D-E mobo. I have a suspicion that the front panel of the case (Cooler Master HAF X) might have caused this, since it was only after I hooked up the firewire header to the front panel that I got the problem. Apparently Newegg won't do an RMA with physical damage, and ASUS is going to charge me $150 for repair, but if it's a problem with the board on the front panel of the case I don't want to kill another perfectly good motherboard.

Another thing to consider here is I haven't and probably never will use firewire... particularly not with USB 3 ports and eSATA onboard. Is it possible to just live with the burnt chip or will this cause issues that I can't foresee later down the road? Any way to pinpoint the problem and find which component is bad (besides the obviously bad motherboard now)? I inspected everything I could find and it looks like that's the only damage.

Thanks!
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
August 11, 2010 11:07:19 PM

Any time you have a short there is going to be the potential of further damaged components on the board.

If you had the standoffs installed correctly and you attached the actual 1394a cable to the 1394a header (while PC was off) and it burned out when you turned it on, then I would be raising hell with someone.

Even if the cable was pinned wrong you wouldn't have an issue until something was plugged into the socket, so I would be looking for a short behind the socket on the case. If there is nothing wrong there, then it's ASUS that is to blame, probably a poor solder job on the header.

August 11, 2010 11:18:00 PM

As I said, this was my first build so I took things VERY slowly and carefully... to even get to the point of turning things on took me about 4 hours of cross-referencing between different manuals and looking up things online. I know that whatever happened here is not my fault and am a bit outraged that I am going to get charged a ridiculous fee by ASUS to fix something that is their problem and likely will get charged a ridiculous fee by Cooler Master if it is their fault.

I had no cables plugged into the outside of the computer beside the power cable, so there has to be a short somewhere, but whether or not it is on the motherboard or the case or maybe even somewhere else (though it seems unlikely) I still don't know. If it is a manufacturing defect, are they still able to charge me for repair or replacement? That seems a bit underhanded. :pfff:  And where does Newegg's RMA process come in rather than the manufacturer? They told me any physical damage couldn't be handled by them so what is the use of their replacement policy?
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a c 113 B Homebuilt system
August 11, 2010 11:22:35 PM

I would contact them again and state clearly that the socket failed on installation. Failed socket. Doesn't work. Don't mention the scorch marks. That's really the easiest way.
August 11, 2010 11:25:35 PM

Contact Newegg? I don't know which manufacturer to contact, since if it is a case problem a replacement motherboard will likely fail again and Newegg seems determined to not let me get support through them.
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
August 11, 2010 11:32:09 PM

If you are still within their return policy period (newegg) you should be able to get a replacement board.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 12, 2010 4:01:32 AM

One reason that I don't care as much for dealing with newegg. Great prices. and I've ordered from them before, but have a problem and watch them pass the buck. My dad ordered memory that came bad in the package, and newegg was gonna charge him a restocking fee to return it. Glad I've got microcenter within about 1 hour.
August 19, 2010 8:33:34 AM

Atom30, I have exact the same problem. Motherboard is Asus P7P55D-E, Corsair 850W TX and HAF-X case and my Firewire chip is also burned on exact the same places (3 black dots) like yours. Please, look at my pic:



Did you connect LED lightning of your front vent on first start and turned it on or not?
a b B Homebuilt system
August 19, 2010 9:55:12 AM

Seems like a prevalent problem perhaps a design fault. I would definately say Asus are liable to take the hit for this.
August 19, 2010 10:50:04 AM

I hope that I will get new board for free because this board is only 7 days old. But I am afraid that also my new board will burn firewire chip if there is some design flaw. What are your proposals?
a b B Homebuilt system
August 19, 2010 10:54:14 AM

Well return it to Newegg first of all and see how the replacement goes. What you should do this time round to prove that, if there IS something wrong with the board, you need to breadboard your computer. This ensures that there is no chance the case or anything else could have caused this shorting problem. If your board is fine then great, get it back in the case (making sure everything is installed properly) and off you go. If not then i'd get onto Newegg again and say this board obviously has a design fault and can you get another brand.
August 19, 2010 2:10:11 PM

Searching on other forums, it seems that HAF-X has an issue with wrong front panel or (my oppinion) with LED illumination which causes burned firewire chip. I am afraid to put my new Asus mobo which will come next week into HAF-X. I will try first to connect front panel and then LED illumination cable and then lit up LED and be ready to press "0" on my power supply in case of burn smell. I hope that I will be fast enough before firewire chip burns again.
August 19, 2010 7:46:13 PM

Stile said:
Atom30, I have exact the same problem. Motherboard is Asus P7P55D-E, Corsair 850W TX and HAF-X case and my Firewire chip is also burned on exact the same places (3 black dots) like yours. Please, look at my pic:

]http://www.pohrani.com/t/33/Xd/2fxSTe8H/1/img3106.jpg

Did you connect LED lightning of your front vent on first start and turned it on or not?



This is interesting, I first only turned on with the motherboard plugged in and then only after I plugged in the front panel connections and turned it on did it blow out. I guess then the culprit is the HAF-X, as I am seeing other people are having this problem. Never would have guessed the CASE would be the problem. I'm contacting Cooler Master now.
August 19, 2010 8:09:43 PM

Please, keep us informed and we can also contact Coolermaster. Issue will be solved if lot of people contact them because of same problem. But I think that LED illumination burns mobo when it is lit up.

1. Did you receive replacement board and try to install it?
2. Try to connect all cables beside cable for fan LED.
3. If you dare, connect LED cable and lit LED. At this point, I think, it will burn firewire chip... :pfff: 
a b B Homebuilt system
August 19, 2010 9:11:55 PM

There is one known issue that MIGHT be involved here - it depends on OP's details.

Many cases now have both Firewire (aka IEEE 1394a) and USB ports on the front panel, and each has a cable back into the case that must be plugged into the correct mobo pinout. It is VERY unfortunate that most of these use the SAME connector on the end of the two cables (2 x 5, with one pin blocked off) so that each will actually fit on BOTH of the mobo pinouts. And yet, the mobo manuals usually clearly warn users that to MISconnect them can cause permanent damage to either your mobo or to your external devices! The signals on the two ports are different. I have not been able to track down the full details. But it appears that merely connecting the wrong cable to the wrong pinout will not cause damage. HOWEVER, if you then plug an external device into that mis-connected front port, the damage can happen right away. What I cannot nail down is whether the damage happens to the mobo or to the device if, say, you plug a USB device into a port that is connected to the mobo's Firewire pinout. And the other way around.

Whatever the details, OP says nothing was connected to the front. Just to be sure, was NOTHING connected to ANY front port? For example, if you connected the USB cable from the front to the firewire mobo pinout, then connected a USB device at the front panel, even though there is no FIREWIRE device connected to the front-panel Firewire port, you have created a problem.

Of course, this opens up another possibility. Suppose that the case designers actually used the power leads on the front USB port to run something else, like a LED display or decoration. But by mistake the cable for that USB port is plugged into the mobo's Firewire pinout instead. Now you DO have a device connected to pat of that port, and probably wrongly, even though you have NOT plugged something into the front USB port yourself. That has the potential for this type of damage.

Of course there is the potential, as all have discussed already, that none of this is involved and OP made no such mistake of connecting cables to the wrong mobo pinout. The flaw could be either in the mobo itself, or in the case front panel and its wiring. OP, I urge you to look very carefully at the cable from the front panel that you plugged into the mobo Firewire pinout and verify for sure which front panel port it says it is.
August 19, 2010 9:52:55 PM

Thanks for this reply, but it is said thousands of times that we plug correct firewire cable into correct firewire mobo plugin and also USB to the correct USB plugin. We are aware that connectors are the same and also mobo user manual explicitly inform us that mixing those two WILL lead to mobo damage. We didn't mix cables. And we don't know where the problem is within HAF-X case. Is it front panel or LED illumination (which I experienced).

Also I double check it if I did proper connections 5 times and I did. And firewire cable from case has one big black wire to one connector, USB cable from case has two big black cables merged into one connector indicating two front panel USB ports into one mobo USB plugin which is clearly marked on mobo. Also firewire plugin on mobo is clearly marked, so I am 100% positive that I did proper coneections.

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August 19, 2010 10:52:18 PM
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Dears,
I think I found cause of our problems. I disassemble front panel and it is visible "design flaw" on our HAF-X case. Red wire that goes to LED switch has broken isolation because of sharp pins from front panel motherboard on which front firewire is connected. In other words, when front firewire is connected to mobo and when LED switch is turned on, LED switch wire directly touches one sharp pin from firewire front connector and there we have short circuit causing firefire chipset burnout on mobo.

Those two picture will explain it.

Clearly visible broken isolation on red LED wire:


Visible broken isolation and sharp pin from firefire that touches broken isolation:


I think that mystery is solved, the question is now who will be responsible for this? I think nobody, we will isolate this wire with some tape and continue with our business, right?
a b B Homebuilt system
August 20, 2010 1:53:43 PM

Glad you found the cause. It appears this is either a design or an assembly flaw in the case. So you will have to complain the the case manufacturer and request that they pay for a replacement motherboard. To process that claim they may want you to return the case for inspection and repair or replacement. So talk to the first before you make your own repairs.

I understand that you may not care about this. You say you do not expect ever to need the Firewire port anyway, so the damage to the mobo chip is less important to you. You might change your mind in the future. So, IF you have the time to try getting a replacement mobo paid for by the case makers, consider it.
August 20, 2010 2:21:01 PM

Well, I am using firewire port every day for transfering my video materials, so I need firewire port. I will get replacement board (hopefully) from Asus and I really don't have much time to ask for replacement case. I will isolate this wire by myself and put some spunge or styrofore onto sharp pins and that's it. It is simple job and it is preventing short circuit in the future. Job is done within 10 minutes otherwise I will loose 1-2 weeks to get replacement case and I will be without my PC which is very bad. Therefore, I choose to repair it by myself.

Thanks.
August 25, 2010 5:04:56 PM

Any luck with contacting CoolerMaster.
September 1, 2010 12:05:08 AM

So, I'm glad to see the root cause of this has been sorted out. Well I was able to get the motherboard RMA'd for free through ASUS. I also got Cooler Master to say they would replace the front panel, HOWEVER it has been two weeks and the part replacement request has gotten nowhere, even though I have contacted them repeatedly. I will probably give them a link to Stile's post showing that it is clearly a manufacturing defect, and hope that convinces them to finally send me the replacement part. I finally have my computer running but it's a bit disconcerting to have the case not fully closed.
September 3, 2010 9:44:57 AM

If you read my thread: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/294271-31-frontpanel-...

There i got one similar problem with the frontpanel.

So what u guys are saying, if u dont plug usb or firewire from frontpanel, everything should be allright? Cuz if i get a new case i really want to be sure i can install my rig again without getting a dead mobo or more defect usb devices. O r is it a way we can use the frontpanel and be sure its ok?
a b B Homebuilt system
September 3, 2010 7:48:18 PM

There is a general caution about using front panel connections for USB and Firewire ports, and it is in all mobo manuals. Be VERY careful to examine the labels on the connectors on the end of cables from the front panel. Make sure you plug into the mobo's USB connector ONLY a cable that says USB on its end connector. Similarly, plug into the mobo port for Firewire ONLY a cable with the firewire label on its end. NOTE: Firewire is a trade name, the proper name you may find instead is IEEE 1394.

In the specific case of this particular thread, OP (Atom30) and a few others did this correctly and still had a major problem due, apparently, to poor construction of the front panel - the insulation on some wires had been abraded away and they shorted out to some other nearby component, damaging the mobo parts that were connected to the port. This does not appear to be a widespread problem, but some here have suggested it does happen too often with a particular case.
September 4, 2010 5:30:36 PM

Best answer selected by Atom30.
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