Blown Core i7 CPU?

I have a computer I've been trying to rebuild for a while now, (very little time with school).
When it originally stopped working, something undoubtably blew. I heard a loud pop, and it smelt burnt. (happened while playing "tropico 3")
the smell came from the PSU, so I assumed that was the culprit. Originally, I replaced the PSU. but the new one didn't fix anything, nor did replacing the Motherboard.
(both replacements were RMA's) the PSU is a Corsair HX1000W, a decent PSU to say the least, and the Motherboard is a ASUS Rampage II Extreme.
I then replaced the PSU again (blew up paper-clip testing it with my water pump as the only load).

I've now got the 3rd PSU, and surprise nothing different.. (didn't suspect it would, but the last one blowing up during paper-clip test made me wonder)

heres a description of the problem..

LEDs light up when PSU plugged in and switched on, but when I try and turn on the computer (using the power button on the motherboard, or the case switch), it doesn't fully power up. the Fans start (Chassis and VC, the WC pump starts momentarily as well). The IROG LCD poster says Welcome until i power on, and then starts counting uptime.

Its built on my Desk now, having removed it from the case to eliminate standoffs as the cause... (can Water cooling piping cause a short?)

I'm 100% positive it is not one of the following problems:
-The Video Card (have multiple)
-The RAM (have multiple kits)
-The PSU (I've tried 3, 2 brand new)
-Case short

currently used components:
Motherboard: ASUS Rampage II Extreme (2 months old)
CPU: Intel Core i7 920 (2 years old) (ran at 3.6Ghz consistently)
PSU: Corsair HX1000W ( <1 Month old)
VideoCard: HD 4870X2 (1.5 years old)
RAM: Patriot 6Gb Kit (1600Mhz)
Cooler: Swiftech Apogee GTZ /w LGA1366 Mount w/ TT Kandalf LCS 120mmx360mm Rad. (year old)
other components are irrelevant as the problems persist without them

What I think
I think my CPU may have blown when the PSU first blew ( even though the HX series has over/under current/voltage protection - and short circuit protection)

I'm going to get a RMA# from Intel tomorrow, but wanted to see if anybody else had similar problems and found the issue to be something else.
I've built a few computers and have never had a problem this hard to solve, further aggravated by the fact that I don't have another CPU to test, or another rig thats LGA1366 with PCI-E. (Just a crappy Ci7 MBP)

Any Ideas? or just RMA the CPU and cross my fingers?
thanks in advance
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  1. Looks to me like you have no option BUT to RMA the CPU. After all, how are you gonna be able to tell if the system won't boot? You need to borrow one or RMA it to test further.
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