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Fix or buy new? I have no clue what to do!

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Last response: in Systems
November 21, 2010 7:03:56 AM

My rig, if any of it is still salvageable, was an i7-930 in an Asus P6X58D Premium MB with 6GB of DDR3 1600 and a Sapphire 5970 powered by a Thermaltake 850W TR2 RX PSU in a Storm Sniper Black case. I was still using the stock cooler because this was my first build since the 90's and was concerned about properly applying thermal paste. The Asus temp monitor showed the CPU idled at 40-43 and under load was in the high 50s. Also, I set the fan control on the 5970 to make it work more aggressively. Since the card does not seem to like going over 80C, the fan was set to rapidly spin up to 90% to keep temps to the mid 60's at gaming load.

A little over two weeks ago, after a long, 6-7 hour, session of Civ 5 I shut down the computer and went to bed. Got up the next morning and powered on the computer to check e-mail and forums before work. To my horror, I heard a strange, grinding?, noise coming from the computer and I hoped it was not the video card. I opened the case to see how the 5970's fan was spinning and thought it might have been moving slowly.

The computer was rapidly powered down and I pulled the video card out to place it on the anti-static bag. I still have all my parts boxes except the case's box from when I bought everything back in April. I let the card cool and sprayed the fan with compressed air from about a foot away to watch it spin.

I re-installed the card, but it would not turn on. The PSU still made the same low hum as when I first got it and the power and reset buttons on the motherboard would light up, but nothing would go. No whirring of the cpu fan, no spinning case fans, no clicking of the hard drive or CD drive... Nothing.

After work I completely disassembled the computer and checked for burn marks on the cpu and motherboard. If there are any, I did not see them. I also tried to run the system with just one stick of RAM, trying each of the three in turn, and still nothing. I also tried other combinations with the the hard drive in or out and the 5970 in or out of the system; all were no go.

A family member knows I have no spare parts to build a test rig with so he suggests I let a friend of his who supposedly has built several gaming rigs take a look at my computer. Fast forward two weeks later (after all the big motherboard, cpu, and graphic card sales seem to have ended) and I find out the friend of a family member never tested any of the parts, not even the easy bits like the video card (the part I really cared about) or the PSU. In addition, I get to see that my case is damaged and missing bits from it, two stick of ram are gone, wires are plugged in wrong, some of the thermal paste on the CPU has been scratched off apparently with a fingernail, and the video card is hanging loosely in the case because the screwless anchors that line up with PCIE 2.0 slot 1 have been snapped off.


Can I even try to RMA anything at the point or do I need to buy new parts to test for fitness first? Do I take it to a shop to have all the remaining parts tested for fitness and if so what should I expect to pay? Anything else I should do?

If I do buy new parts to test if either the processor, MB, or video card are bad, what should I get? Assuming I do buy new parts and find some of the old ones are bad, can I then RMA them or will Sapphire void the warranty for upping the fan spin rate / Intel void for not liking how the chip was handled / Asus saying something about the MB?

So, to reiterate, HELP!!!

More about : fix buy clue

a b B Homebuilt system
November 21, 2010 1:41:39 PM

Wow! Nice friends you have, eh? So essentially you have a pile of parts, and no real starting point for debugging. As mosox has suggested, one approach is to re-do the new build checklist. I'd probably check to see that I have the same cpu that I had when I gave it to my "freiend", then clean off the paste and re-paste/re-install the cpu and cooler before going through the rest of the list.

However, I'd expect you will wind up in the same spot you were before your friend's "analysis".

If you don't have another PC around capable of driving that 5970 (or a known working vid card to use in your system), you really need to go to some professional in your neighborhood who can do those tests . . . and also test your psu. One of them is the likely culprit.
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November 21, 2010 3:07:52 PM

That's what I get for posting at 4AM. I guess I should have explicitly typed out that I had already followed all the steps in the guide and then some.

I personally don't even have access to another PC that can accept an ATX power supply. Everyone I know with a desktop has either an older prebuilt from Dell, ancient IBMs, or Compaqs. At this point, most people I know have transitioned to using either notebooks (what I'm using right now) or netbooks.

Yes, to the best of my knowledge it's the same chip, only an i7-9xx would fit in the socket and the edges of the thermal paste circle still line up with the leftover thermal paste on the cpu fan. Part of his stated reason for not trying to test anything was that all he had available were AMD sockets. Of course, that still does not explain why he could never test the RAM, PSU or Video Card. I think he probably just realized after a few minutes of disconnecting wires and poking things that this would actually mean more worked than expected and then decided not do anything but sit on it and let it collect dust.

If I need to buy parts I was planning on getting the i7-950 and cooler combo from NCIX
and the Ares 5870 X2 and Antec Truepower Quattro 1200W PSU combo because the Ares comes with a free ROG III Formula MB.

If the 5970 still works or can be RMA-ed I would have a a quad-fire setup and enough wattage to power it. If the card is garbage then I still have a useful gaming card. Next, I need a monster PSU otherwise, testing my parts with a lesser PSU is throwing money away once the test is over with. Similarly, I can get a 5870 to test with because any lesser video card is just throwing money once the testing is done or I can just abandon the 5970 for a gtx 580. Afterward, I would also practically have enough parts for a second computer.

For those wondering why I can spend this sort of money now but did not get things like a 980X or an 80+ gold PSU, I was building to a budget that also required the purchase of a fresh retail copy of 64 bit Win 7 Ultimate and AMD's then monopoly of the highest end market meant 5970's were going for $800+ at the time. Presently, I'm just getting a bonus I was going to use to buy a 2560x1600 res monitor and a 1200-ish watt PSU. These last three paragraphs were omitted from the first post because it was running way too long.
a b B Homebuilt system
November 21, 2010 3:19:33 PM

Sorry we couldn't be more help. Maybe if we were present when the grinding noise occurred we might have a better idea. Really, the problem could be anywhere, but vid card, cpu fan, psu, and HDs top the list because of the noise. Though it could also be the mobo depending on how your ears hear a "grinding" noise.
November 21, 2010 3:40:46 PM

The noise was largely like what I hear, and think most people hear, when a cheap electric can opener is being used. So, I figured it's something with a fan.

The HD was not on my list of suspect parts because I've never heard even a failing drive make that sort of noise and still would not explain why the computer would not boot when I tried hitting the MB's power switch while the HD was disconnected. When I was initially bought the parts and was assembling them on the MB's box, I first powered the system with only the cpu/fan and RAM plugged into the board. Then powered again with DVD and HD plugged in, then a third time with the 5970 plugged in and hooked to a monitor.

The PSU was towards the bottom of my list because, as in the original post, when plugged in and turned on, the power and reset buttons on the MB light up. They just don't do anything when pressed and, yes, I did try hitting those buttons directly when the MB was disconnected from all case connections and sitting on the original box it came in.
a b B Homebuilt system
November 21, 2010 5:31:58 PM

OK, if it sounded like a cheap electric can opener its not a sound that capacitors, etc can make. I also agree with your HD diagnosis.

It's good that the psu remains on your list - they are the source of most hard-to-diagnose issues lol. The fact that there are lights on the mobo unfortunately doesn't mean much. Your Thermaltake appears to be made by HEC who has made some decently reviewed psus, but who knows.

OK, so if it were me and I had no ability to swap out parts, I'd start with the psu. Total system draw for a 5970 under Furmark is ~475W at the wall, so a high-quality 850W like this one is certainly fine:

Seasonic 850W

If you want to prepare for quad-xfire, a 1000W is probably a good idea. so:

Corsair 950W

If that failed to fix the problem, I'd RMA the vid card explaining what happened and that you did a psu exchange. You will have "lost" $120, but assuming the Thermaltake psu is OK you now have a part for a future swap, or build.
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
November 21, 2010 5:38:07 PM

You have no clue what could be wrong. Possibly there are multiple bad parts.

Instead of randomly trying new parts, I suggest you take it to a reputable computer shop where they can exchange parts to find the bad parts. Expect to pay them for their time. I think $100 or so might be a wise investment.