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System dead, need advice.

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December 4, 2010 5:03:42 AM

Problem: System unable to POST. Four LED lights on motherboard ALL RED. No display.

Information: Motherboard is a MSI K9N2 Diamond (See link: http://us.msi.com/index.php?func=proddesc&maincat_no=1&... ). System powers on, does not POST, four LEDs all immediately RED, no beep code. Hardware (with the exception of the CPU, 2 GPUs, and 2 2GB sticks of RAM, all of which are a little more than a month old) is around two years old with little to no problems until current. Online sources say a LED diagnostic code of: RED, RED, RED, RED, plus a system hang, means that the processor is damaged or not properly installed.

Disassembled computer, inspected processor (looked normal, no bent pins, no burns, etc.), found that one of the pinholes in the CPU socket had been blocked by thermal grease, promptly cleaned the area and then reinstalled CPU. No change in behavior. Tried starting PC with various hardware configurations. Powered on with only CPU installed, then with RAM and CPU installed, then with CPU, RAM, and HDD installed, etc.; no change in behavior. Issue has been consistent through all attempts to solve problem.

Issue(s) possibly related to main problem: Build has 1 DVD-ROM drive (master), and 1 DVD-RW drive (slave). No power is being fed to the DVD-ROM drive (drive tray doesn't open, no life from LED light), tried replacing the drive with another DVD-ROM drive, same issue. Possible that both drives are dead but unlikely. Checked power and IDE ribbon cable(s), everything checked out. Issue first noticed after system refused to POST; previously the drive had worked just fine.

Originally had been a sound card issue (no audio device detected, see thread: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/294196-28-dead-soundb... ) which had spawned -- by troubleshooting the audio issue -- the current problem. NOTE: The thread says solved but it was not. I simply closed the thread by selecting a best answer and informing the two members who'd tried to help me that I'd got it figured out. I had not figured it out but did not see a need to keep the thread open.

System specifications:

  • Microsoft Windows 7 x64 Professional
  • AMD Phenom II X4 940 (Processor)
  • MSI K9N2 Diamond (Motherboard)
  • 8GB Corsair/G. Skill DDR2-1066 (RAM)
  • 2 nVidia GTX 460s in SLI (GPU)
  • Creative Soundblaster X-FI Elite Pro (Soundcard)
  • 500GB, 7200RPM HDD & 900W PSU
  • More about : system dead advice

    a c 113 B Homebuilt system
    December 4, 2010 5:40:05 AM

    Great post, well thought out.

    What type of thermal paste were you using? Some are electrically conductive and might have caused an issue.

    Regardless, I don't see anything else you can do but:

    1. Try the CPU in another computer. Not my first selection as the problem but the easier test.

    2. Swap out the board.

    My opinion is that the board is gone. I recall seeing other Nvidia chipset boards fail in the same way... first the IDE then the rest. My further opinion is that MSI is not known for longevity and the 780a chipset was not very good - runs hot and tends to be slightly unstable. Those are just opinions based on limited observation.

    You haven't listed your PSU. Don't ignore that, a poor PSU can crate all these problems by damaging equipment.
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    Best solution

    a c 122 B Homebuilt system
    December 4, 2010 3:23:21 PM

    PSU specs?

    Work through our standard checklist and troubleshooting thread:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/261145-31-read-postin...
    I mean work through, not just read over it. We spent a lot of time on this. It should find most of the problems.
    Looks like you have done this.

    If not, continue.

    I have tested the following beep patterns on Gigabyte, eVGA, and ECS motherboards. Other BIOS' may be different.

    Breadboard - that will help isolate any kind of case problem you might have.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/262730-31-breadboardi...

    Breadboard with just motherboard, CPU & HSF, case speaker, and PSU. You do have a case speaker installed, right? If not, you really, really need one. If your case or motherboard didn't come with a system speaker, you can buy one here:
    http://www.cwc-group.com/casp.html
    Or Microcenter or Frye's.

    Make sure you plug the CPU power cable in. The system will not boot without it.

    I always breadboard a new build. It takes only a few minutes, and you know you are putting good parts in the case.

    You can turn on the PC by momentarily shorting the two pins that the case power switch goes to. You should hear a series of long, single beeps indicating memory problems. Silence indicates a problem with (in most likely order) the PSU, motherboard, or CPU. Remember, at this time, you do not have a graphics card installed so the load on your PSU will be reduced.

    If no beeps:
    Running fans and drives and motherboard LED's do not necessarily indicate a good PSU. In the absence of a single short beep, they also do not indicate that the system is booting.

    At this point, you can sort of check the PSU. Try to borrow a known good PSU of around 550 - 600 watts. That will power just about any system with a single GPU. If you cannot do that, use a DMM to measure the voltages. Measure between the colored wires and either chassis ground or the black wires. Yellow wires should be 12 volts. Red wires: +5 volts, orange wires: +3.3 volts, blue wire : -12 volts, violet wire: 5 volts always on. Tolerances are +/- 5% except for the -12 volts which is +/- 10%.

    The gray wire is really important. It should go from 0 to +5 volts when you turn the PSU on with the case switch. CPU needs this signal to boot.

    You can turn on the PSU by completely disconnecting the PSU and using a paperclip or jumper wire to short the green wire to one of the neighboring black wires.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FWXgQSokF4&feature=yout...

    This checks the PSU under no load conditions, so it is not completely reliable. But if it can not pass this, it is dead. Then repeat the checks with the PSU plugged into the computer to put a load on the PSU.

    If the system beeps:
    If it looks like the PSU is good, install a memory stick. Boot. Beep pattern should change to one long and several short beeps indicating a missing graphics card.

    Silence or long single beeps indicate a problem with the memory.

    Insert the video card and connect any necessary PCIe power connectors. Boot. At this point, the system should POST successfully (a single short beep). Notice that you do not need keyboard, mouse, monitor, or drives to successfully POST.

    Now start connecting the rest of the devices starting with the monitor, then keyboard and mouse, then the rest of the devices, testing after each step. It's possible that you can pass the POST with a defective video card.

    The POST routines can only check the video interface. It cannot check the internal parts of the video card.

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    December 4, 2010 8:35:32 PM

    Made a breakthrough, wanted to reply with an update before I did anything else.

    As jsc recommended, I worked through the checklist. Everything was in order. I then proceeded to breadboard just the motherboard, PSU, CPU + HSF, and the case speaker. Powered on, no change in symptoms; jsc had said that could mean that the problem lies with the PSU, the motherboard, or the CPU.

    I had no practical means to test the PSU so I removed a functional motherboard from an older system I had laying around, connected the PSU to it, and powered on. The test ran as it should have. The motherboard powered on and beeped indicating no memory. As an extra measure, I took the PSU from the older system and connected it to the motherboard from the newer one. Same symptoms (all RED LEDs, no beeps, etc.).

    At this point I was starting to think that the problem was the motherboard. However, I had one last test to do.

    I swapped the CPU with the systems previous processor (an Athlon X2) and as I powered up I began to see the same symptoms but the system suddenly shut off. I was puzzled. I was sure that I'd installed the processor correctly. I waited a few moments before trying again and to my surprise the system powered on, the LEDs no longer showed RED, RED, RED, RED, but rather RED, RED, GREEN, RED, and I heard beeps (which I could only assume meant that the system was indicating no memory).

    Thoughts?
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    December 5, 2010 12:16:43 AM

    Best answer selected by theArchitect.
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    December 5, 2010 12:18:47 AM

    6:17 PM PST and system is up and running! Truly appreciate the help. Sound and DVD-ROM issue are resolved as well. Looks like I'll be sending the processor in to be replaced under warranty.

    Take care.

    theArchitect
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    !