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Is there any way to salvage This?

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June 21, 2011 8:08:24 PM

So I figured I would clean out my computer of dust by taking it apart, reapplying thermal paste to my E7500 CPU, and remanaging all the wires. Unfortunately, I made a crucial mistake. I bought Dynex thermal paste from Best Buy. I noticed it was runny, but didn't think much of it and figured it would dry in 1 hour. I apply a good thin layer on the CPU fan, secured it to the CPU, and resembled everything back in the proper order (I triple checked, reading the manual for the board and all): http://download.ecsusa.com/dlfileecs/manual/mb/eng/p4/G....

I turned on the machine, of course nothing shows up on the screen. But everything was powering on properly.

I gave up figuring it out and went to bed yesterday. I wake up today, and notice some thermal paste is dripping from the fan! I was hoping it wasn't what I thought it was, but unfortunately, some of the paste leaked into the CPU socket! :fou:  . Well one thing I learned is to NEVER buy dynex thermal paste again.

But I was wondering if anyone knows if theres a way to salvage the motherboard? Aka, any methods of cleaning that may help? If so, what solution should I use (aka qtips, water with vinegar, anything?). Its not a lot, but enough of course to not have the computer boot up properly. Its a thin layer on the edge of the socket thats over about 1 row of the contacts on both the motherboard socket and CPU. If theres a way to at least clean the motherboard, I kept my old E4500 processor to use, but ideally if I can salvage both that would be awesome! The sooner the reply the better!

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June 21, 2011 8:59:03 PM

heating it and than use compresed air or something, wat is the collor of the paste? white or silvery?
June 21, 2011 9:00:27 PM

sap chicken said:
heating it and than use compresed air or something, wat is the collor of the paste? white or silvery?


white. Wouldn't I risk melting the pins doing that?
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June 21, 2011 9:15:06 PM

Well... the paste is white so I don’t think its conductive. I don't think the problem is the paste in the socket, are you sure everything is connected? what exactly was powered on properly? Also the paste should melt way before the pins melt but just wait before trying to melt the paste, can you show some pictures of the damage maybe?
June 21, 2011 9:20:51 PM

sap chicken said:
Well... the paste is white so I don’t think its conductive. I don't think the problem is the paste in the socket, are you sure everything is connected? what exactly was powered on properly? Also the paste should melt way before the pins melt but just wait before trying to melt the paste, can you show some pictures of the damage maybe?


Sure can. Here you go: It is currently covering about one row of pins.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/28702680/IMG_20110621_145814.jp...

In terms of what powered up: Graphics card, all fans in my case, all inside LED's, all 3 hard drives (heard them spinning), the DVD drive, etc. The only thing I can think of that didn't power up were the USB ports (I think I know that because the keyboard that I use didn't light up like it normally does). Thats where I also started trying all USB ports thinking it was a localized issue. Then even triple checked the motherboard manual for all the power pin connections to make sure I didn't switch negatives and positives and whatnot. I've done this a few times with no issues (aka the cleaning), but this is the first time I used Dynex thermalpaste since I couldn't find some elsewhere in my neigborhood.
June 21, 2011 9:24:22 PM

If it was white then maybe it didn't have anything electrically conductive in it and didn't short anything. It might just covering contacts and your board and E7500 could be just fine. Just have to clean out that paste somehow. And you don't really have to worry about melting the contacts. I mean when the computer is running it has electricity running through the contacts and that sh*t gets hot. Probably have to try to cleaning it out before it completely cures though. Might be able to use alcohol, at least it'll evaporate. Hmm, I'll see if I can google this and see what I can find about cleaning it out.

EDIT: Just noticed you two replied while I was typing lol. It doesn't seem too bad though. Let me see if I can find anything still though.
June 21, 2011 9:27:02 PM

that actually shouldn't be a problem, make sure the top of the pins are clean, use a pincer or something to just scrape the paste of ,my Pentium 4 pc had that and it ran without a problem, but back on the motherboard itself, all the fans turned, you heard bleeps an such but just no screen?
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June 21, 2011 9:45:23 PM

The paste should not be a huge problem but you can use a tooth pick and scrape it out carefully. Have you double check all you connections to make sure everything is plugged in. cpu power and such. Good luck..
June 21, 2011 9:56:02 PM

Thanks all! This I think might work, I'll check back in a bit. Currently giving it a shot now I have some IPA 91% and a thinbrush (fresh out of the package courtesy of my sister, size 1/8), with a few Qtips to dab. The thermal paste is easily coming off, but left behind (if seen under a white light) are some what look like "wet spots". Anyone know if I have to wait a few hours for it to completely dry?
June 21, 2011 10:00:50 PM

Yea, I'd let everything dry for sure lol.
June 21, 2011 10:01:00 PM

couldn't hurt leting the stuff dry for a while...
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June 21, 2011 11:32:33 PM

You're lucky, imagine this with conductive paste - OMG!!!

June 22, 2011 2:13:58 AM

UNfortunately, it looks like its not working too well. I did clean the best I could, but I'm still not being able to boot to BIOS, even on the bare basics. Looks like I may have to change the motherboard.
June 22, 2011 2:34:07 AM

I just looked up the thermal compound on best buy's website and unfortunately it's silver based. So yea, that paste is conductive. Now it's still possible that your sh*t isn't fried, especially if you haven't smelled that electrical burning smell yet. However, it won't boot again until all of it's removed. How possible that is, I don't know. Can you see any left down in the socket at all? If anything does short or has already shorted, it's a possibility that it could affect or has already affected other components as well.

I'll go ahead and apologize, we should have all looked at the compound before we just assumed it was conductive because it was white and suggested you just try to clean it up. That was our mistake. Again though, do you see any of it left that still needs to be removed? If there's any on the socket or the board period, it'll all need to be removed before there's a chance of it working again. No two circuits or pins can be connected by this paste for the board to function again. I'm sure you already know that much though.
June 22, 2011 4:10:17 AM

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June 22, 2011 3:56:45 PM
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Try a tooth pick to remove the bulk that's left, and then dip the toothpick in Isopropyl alcohol to remove anything remaining. Use the toothpicks with rounded + pointed ends. Obviously be extremely careful! Some people have used a soft bristled toothbrush. As long as the pins don't get bent your fine, and if they do use a jeweler's tweezers to realign.

It's not a race, it a quality vs quantity.

Thermal Paste - Arctic MX-4 it's non-conductive, no curing time and out performs the staple Acrtic Silver 5.
June 22, 2011 8:32:22 PM

Just to give an update, I gave it another shot and it looks like its booting to bios! But heres what shows up, like a whitish artifact across the screen and it just stays that way:


So I figured I'd switch over to the integrated card to see if the same thing happens, and indeed it does. My next step is to switch processors and see if it helps. Aka to the e4500, the one I didn't get thermal paste on.

Thanks guys for your help! If you have any insight on the current issue, let me know.

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June 22, 2011 8:58:37 PM

If any of the CPU pins are either bent or shorted then who knows...
June 22, 2011 9:28:31 PM

is that just a white stripe in the bios wich it wont boot further than that?
June 22, 2011 9:43:37 PM

WTF? Crazy, never seen something like that before lol. That's a big a$$ white stripe... BIOS recognizes your CPU, so that's kind of a good thing considering the situation. Have you tried resetting the BIOS? Don't know if it could actually resolved anything but other than that I'm not sure what else to try yet. Unless you could try to clean some more but if something did short out from before then like jaquith said. Who the hell knows...?

Oh yea, like sap chicken asked, does it continue booting and does the white stripe disappear past BIOS?
June 22, 2011 10:08:00 PM

arson94 said:
WTF? Crazy, never seen something like that before lol. That's a big a$$ white stripe... BIOS recognizes your CPU, so that's kind of a good thing considering the situation. Have you tried resetting the BIOS? Don't know if it could actually resolved anything but other than that I'm not sure what else to try yet. Unless you could try to clean some more but if something did short out from before then like jaquith said. Who the hell knows...?

Oh yea, like sap chicken asked, does it continue booting and does the white stripe disappear past BIOS?



nah that white stripe does not disappear, nor does the text. It just kind of hangs there. GIve ya an idea, when it turns on, the white stripe doesn't appear right away. It shows the BIOS screen and then about 5 seconds in, the white stripe shows up. I did try clearing the CMOS, basically after I tried the integrated card. Same thing. Almost done with putting the old processor in. I'll give an update.
June 22, 2011 10:13:38 PM

Onboard GPU did the exact same thing as your discrete card?
June 23, 2011 12:04:13 AM

Okay, this is getting weirder. So the same thing happened. This time, I reseated the memory thinking that was the problem. Nope. THEN, I removed only 1, 2 GB piece of RAM and it started working. Okay, then I figured, maybe the socket went bad. I go to switch the known good memory to the other socket. Still worked! Then, I thought maybe one of the pieces were bad, so I put the other 2 GB RAM in there. Still worked! I put both back in, and back to that white strip again! Umm, this machine would handle 4 GB just fine. Heck when I cleaned the case out, I never even touched the RAM. Anyone have an idea? I'm putting back the E7500 for now. But, I don't want to live with only 2 GB of RAM, I was playing Starcraft II on that configuration and it sucked. So everyone knows, they are both identical sticks bought in a pack of two, Crucial Ballistix 2x2 GB DDR2 800.

Edit: Now whats interesting about this is I decided to remove 1 stick clear the CMOS, and try installing the extra stick separately. NOW when both sticks were in, it goes through the RAM check (aka xxxx amount of RAM OK) without that white strip, UNTIL it goes past reading 3096, then the strip comes back.
June 23, 2011 12:54:05 AM

It's trying to repair itself obviously, quit f*ckin with it. haha. You're right though, that's weird. So it's only having a problem with both sticks right? Try running both sticks in opposite channels so that it runs in single channel mode. See what happens.
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June 23, 2011 1:02:54 AM

It's either the RAM or the CPU, it only takes (1) pin to screw-up the DIMM <-> CPU IMC communications. The only other options to try via the BIOS are to increase both the DRAM Voltage and QPI/VTT Voltage; increase both by +0.05~+0.10v. I did't look at your manual to see what your BIOS decided to 'name' those voltages but those are what to tweak.

Otherwise, the shorting may have damaged the RAM the only conclusive way is to fully test each stick with Memtest 4 or more passes/each.
June 23, 2011 1:13:52 AM

jaquith said:
It's either the RAM or the CPU, it only takes (1) pin to screw-up the DIMM <-> CPU IMC communications. The only other options to try via the BIOS are to increase both the DRAM Voltage and QPI/VTT Voltage; increase both by +0.05~+0.10v. I did't look at your manual to see what your BIOS decided to 'name' those voltages but those are what to tweak.

Otherwise, the shorting may have damaged the RAM the only conclusive way is to fully test each stick with Memtest 4 or more passes/each.


Unfortunately, changing the voltages is not a not an option on my motherboard. I will try memtest though with 1 DIMM at a time and report back. Any other ideas, let me know.

Also, I pretty much ruled out the CPU because I put in the old e4500, which I know for a fact is undamaged and it works, and I'm getting the RAM symptoms. UNLESS, something its one of the pins in the CPU socket of the motherboard? I checked every pin though, none of them look bent or dirty. Also, with intel processors, I thought the memory controller was located on the northbridge?
June 23, 2011 5:19:27 AM

Alright, memtest86 passed the RAM 1 DIMM at a time. Thank goodness I kept those 1 GB sticks I had that replaced these. What I'm trying now, I wondered if it had anything with going above the 32 bit limit of 3 GB (or whatever the limit is for 32 bit operation). So NOW I'm trying a mix of a 2 GB stick and a 1 GB stick. Turned it on, and it works! Well least I can live with 3 GB for the time being. I'm running memtest86 now to make sure this works. If anyone has insight on why this might be the case, let me know. If I can still somehow put 4 GB in it, I'd rather do that. As jaquith said previously, does it have anything to do with voltages?
June 23, 2011 1:23:49 PM

Well the limit for a 32bit OS to address is 4GBs worth of memory address spaces. However, you have to subtract from that everything your BIOS maps into memory before Windows can use it so that's why it'll vary what Windows claims it can see. Included in that is your GPU's RAM and all your onboard peripherals that BIOS has to map into memory before Windows so your OS can use the stuff. So technically, you never went over the limit for your 32bit OS. It's just that your BIOS used some of that 4GB of available memory addresses already so Windows reports what's left for it to see and use.

Well, that RAM had been running in this system for a while right? You never had to change voltages then, should be the same scenario now. But you can't chagne voltages anyway you said so nothing you could do about that anyway. The problem may be trying to run RAM in dual channel mode. Since your board only has 2 RAM slots, I don't know if you can force identical sticks like your 2GB sticks to run in single channel mode. There would have to be an option in BIOS to switch to single channel mode as I'm pretty sure dual channel mode is default and automatic when RAM is installed in same size pairs. Installing sticks with different sizes, like your 2GB and 1GB, your board should default automatically to single channel mode.

You could also check to see if with your 2x2GB sticks that it's running in ganged mode. You don't want to run in ganged mode, you want to in unganged mode. That's if your board has that option as well. The only other thing I can think to check at the moment is also checking if your 2x2GB sticks are running as DDR2-667 speeds. Not sure if your board can change memory speeds or timings either. But it would run at 667Mhz, multiplier of x3.33, or 333 or something similar. Actually, that's all assuming you can get into BIOS with both sticks or if when it hangs that's as far as it gets. Hell, can you update BIOS if there's an update?
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June 23, 2011 4:26:34 PM

I'm running under the assumption that CPU + RAM + MOBO worked prior to your 'Worst Buy' experience. If that's the case it seems pretty simple to me: 1. Still have a low-level shorting, 2. CPU pin is damaged/bent from cleaning, 3. 'Something's' damaged {RAM or MOBO 9/10; low chance CPU}.

Therefore, IMO I'd go to Best Buy and demand that they fix it. Apparently the Thermal paste was bad, maybe an expiration date or defective materials. In either case there's negligence. Have their Geek Squad fix the problem. At the very least have them give you another set of RAM to try. I had a Staples problem where their branded toner totaled a printer -- I walked out with a new printer.
June 23, 2011 11:19:57 PM

arson94 said:
Well the limit for a 32bit OS to address is 4GBs worth of memory address spaces. However, you have to subtract from that everything your BIOS maps into memory before Windows can use it so that's why it'll vary what Windows claims it can see. Included in that is your GPU's RAM and all your onboard peripherals that BIOS has to map into memory before Windows so your OS can use the stuff. So technically, you never went over the limit for your 32bit OS. It's just that your BIOS used some of that 4GB of available memory addresses already so Windows reports what's left for it to see and use.


Lol no offense on the RAM education, but I do know about the 32 bit OS limit. But I'm not running 32 bit windows 7, I'm running 64 bit. I kind of know better than that. What I don't understand is how even if I do have a short like Jaquith explained, and again hes probably right, why so specific to a pattern that specific to 3 gb of ram, or in particular, once the BIOS addresses anything over 3 GB as "ok" during its check.

I don't think channel mode is a problem because when I initially put it in the first time I bought it, never had issues. Always has been Dual Channel mode anyway, until this problem occurred. Currently I'm running 1 2 GB stick and 1 1 GB stick as mentioned before. And its actually running in dual channel mode currently.

And ya thats the other problem lol. I would change these settings definitely if I could actually reach the BIOS with the 2x2 GB memory in.

I think for now, I'm content to stay with no true explanation. Lol and 2 lessons learned: Never buy crappy thermal paste (Arctic Silver brand ftw), and if I do buy another motherboard in the future, get one with better options in terms of BIOS settings. Thank you all for all your support, I'm usually on the receiving end, but to actually have a problem and get such a quick response is great! ;-)
June 23, 2011 11:25:37 PM

Best answer selected by cpatel1987.
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