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PC won't boot after cooler & paste upgrade

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April 7, 2011 6:30:41 AM

Hello,
So I have an Intel i7 processor in a LGA 1156 socket. Thing is, the cooler I've been using has been getting a little hot and loud lately. Here's the (crappy) cooler below:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

So I ordered a new, quiter and cooler Thermaltake product the other day to replace it. Thing is, my old cooler required sticky metal adhesive plates to be put on the back of the motherboard. Removing this cooler involved detaching the motherboard entirely and prying the adhesive metal plates out with a screwdriver. I managed to get the new CPU cooler installed without much trouble, here's that product:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

So another part of the process: I cleaned the old thermal paste off the CPU with q-tips and isopropyl alcohol. But when I re-applied new paste for the new cooler... I might have added a bit too much. So much, in fact, that after installation it's gooped up into the sides of the processor and even a bit got underneath it on the very rim of the contacts.

I don't know which of all these problems broke my computer... but one of them definitely did. Cuz now it won't start. It won't even go into POST. The fans just spin and the LEDs flicker slightly and then the whole thing shuts off and tries again indefinitely. I'd like to try and troubleshoot my motherboard and processor with someone else's, but I don't know anyone with these same PC parts as me and don't really have the time or budget to venture around the local computer shops in my city.

Any advice?

UPDATE: If I physically take out the CPU, the computer actually boots. Well, boots into as much as it *can* boot without a CPU (no beeps, no screen,) but the fans and LEDs defineteley remain on longer than when the CPU is in its socket.

UPDATE 2: I checked out the back of the motherboard, and sure enough, there were huge friggin' chunks of metal ripped off its backside from prying the adhesive plates away.



Check out those holes.

I'm gonna try and RMA it, but I'm not sure if they'll cover such blatant misuse.

Let this thread be a cautionary tale that if you need to forcefully pry something sticky off your computer with a screwdriver... you're probably doing it wrong.
a c 112 à CPUs
a b V Motherboard
April 7, 2011 6:52:33 AM

firstly if your not comfy doing this, take it to a shop. which after hearing what you have done i would normally recommend it. but the problem there is the shop may charge you for a new board and cpu when you may not need 1 or both


remove the cpu and clean it with tim remover or isopropyl alcohol get all the tim of both the cpu and the socket, use a cotton cloth with tim on it. make it into a loose ball about 2 cm across and use that to clean the socket. using a dabbing motion
make sure its absolutely clean, leaving no trace of tim of tim cleaner.
let dry for 20 mins or so

this time put the cpu back then put 3 rice grain size dolops of tim on the cpu. less is more in this case...

put the cleaned cooler over the cpu and line it up as if your going to place it. now press it gently onto the cpu rotating left and right to spread the tim underneath.
when you start feeling it resisting the rotating motion you can then tighten it on. making sure you tighten the screws/bolts or catches evenly.

if its a small to medium cooler then start top right, bottom left, top left, bottom right. to get as even a preasure as possible.

turn on and hope you havent killed it...
the reason i say just clean it and retry is that a lot of quality tims aren't conductive so shouldn't short the cpu, so the tim may have just stopped a clean connection on the underside, stopping the cpu from working.
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April 7, 2011 6:53:52 AM

Excuse me if i misread but is there any metal touching the back of the motherboard other than where the screw holes are?
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April 7, 2011 6:58:03 AM

MadCatz900 said:
Excuse me if i misread but is there any metal touching the back of the motherboard other than where the screw holes are?


Good point! The Dynatron cooler did require me to stick some metal plates on the back of the mobo, they had threaded holes bored in them too, so that the cooler can be screwed rather than pushpinned in. They were insulated with a layer of plastic sheeth and a then thick layer of adhesive. The adhesive layer was so thick, actually, that it made removing these plates extremely difficult without forcing a screwdriver underneath them to pry it off.

In a little while, I'll double-check if anything fishy got left behind and get back to you. Thanks for the advice!
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April 7, 2011 7:05:06 AM

riff1 said:
Good point! The Dynatron cooler did require me to stick some metal plates on the back of the mobo, they had threaded holes bored in them too, so that the cooler can be screwed rather than pushpinned in. They were insulated with a layer of plastic sheeth and a then thick layer of adhesive. The adhesive layer was so thick, actually, that it made removing these plates extremely difficult without forcing a screwdriver underneath them to pry it off.

In a little while, I'll double-check if anything fishy got left behind and get back to you. Thanks for the advice!


I thought maybe it was shorting the motherboard but if it stays on without the cpu in then maybe not, good luck :) 
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April 7, 2011 7:10:57 AM

HEXiT said:
firstly if your not comfy doing this, take it to a shop. which after hearing what you have done i would normally recommend it. but the problem there is the shop may charge you for a new board and cpu when you may not need 1 or both


remove the cpu and clean it with tim remover or isopropyl alcohol get all the tim of both the cpu and the socket, use a cotton cloth with tim on it. make it into a loose ball about 2 cm across and use that to clean the socket. using a dabbing motion
make sure its absolutely clean, leaving no trace of tim of tim cleaner.
let dry for 20 mins or so

this time put the cpu back then put 3 rice grain size dolops of tim on the cpu. less is more in this case...

put the cleaned cooler over the cpu and line it up as if your going to place it. now press it gently onto the cpu rotating left and right to spread the tim underneath.
when you start feeling it resisting the rotating motion you can then tighten it on. making sure you tighten the screws/bolts or catches evenly.

if its a small to medium cooler then start top right, bottom left, top left, bottom right. to get as even a preasure as possible.

turn on and hope you havent killed it...
the reason i say just clean it and retry is that a lot of quality tims aren't conductive so shouldn't short the cpu, so the tim may have just stopped a clean connection on the underside, stopping the cpu from working.



So just to get this straight... Is it really safe to apply isopropyl alcohol on CPU contacts? Both on the motherboard and the CPU itself? And then, once I'm done, is it really safe to get cotten on them too? Won't that leave behind fibers that can block (or maybe even short) the contacts as well? I'm using 70% alchohol, so I'm assuming the other 30% is water, so I'm pretty scared of shorting even more in there given how much of the CPU I've already messed up...
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a c 103 à CPUs
a c 83 V Motherboard
April 7, 2011 10:05:38 AM

isopropyl is safe aslong as you clean it off and give it time to evaporate.

Its used to clean circuit boards after repairs.
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a c 172 à CPUs
a c 156 V Motherboard
April 7, 2011 10:51:24 AM

Good advice except for this:
HEXiT said:

remove the cpu and clean it with tim remover or isopropyl alcohol get all the tim of both the cpu and the socket, use a cotton cloth with tim on it.

Dabbing the sockets pins with a cotton ball will more than likely damage the CPU socket.

Most thermal compounds are nonconductive. Clean the CPU and reinstall the heatsink. Then breadboard the motherboard.

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.

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 once you are finished.

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.

At this point, you know the CPU and its socket are OK. If you do not get the beeps, you will need to clean the thermal compound out of the socket. Use isopropyl alcohol and a small artist-type brush. Flood the socket area with alcohol and very carefully remove the thermal compound. Once you get all (or as much as you can) the stuff out of the socket, repeat the motherboard test. If it is good, continue testing.

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...

A way that might be easier is to use the main power plug. Working from the back of the plug where the wires come out, use a bare paperclip to short between the green wire and one of the neighboring black wires. That will do the same thing with an installed PSU. It is also an easy way to bypass a questionable case power switch.

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, long single beeps, or series of short beeps indicate a problem with the memory. If you get short beeps verify that the memory is in the appropriate motherboard slots.

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.
At this point, if the system doesn't work, it's either the video card or an inadequate PSU. Or rarely - the motherboard's PCIe interface.

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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a b à CPUs
a b V Motherboard
April 7, 2011 2:04:03 PM

Screwdriver and prying something off the motherboard=damaged traces=no boot!!!
I would take a magnifying glass and carefully inspect the traces on the mobo.
The better way to have removed those metal plates would have been to use isoprpyl alcohol to weaken the adhesive bond and one of the screws threaded in from the plate side and gently wiggle it as you apply the alcohol.
Hope you didn't damage that board......
Good Luck!
JQ
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a b à CPUs
a b V Motherboard
April 7, 2011 2:14:12 PM

Excellent jsc
Minor point. On paste, concur that most paste is non-conductive and as long as it is between say power pads (ie +vcore and or Ground pads). However it is capacitive and if between a High freq pin and any other pin it could effective short that pin to an adjacent pin. Recommend that he inspect pads with a magnifing glass.

If need to clean, recommend 91 % Alcohol. Put in a bottle that you can spray (Stream, not mist). Turn board upside down and spray in to socket, Use a can of compressed (DRY) air (NO lub- spray on test surface, make sure NO residue afterwards) to blow out - repeat until gone.

Added - I'd just left the backing on, but whats done is done, but concur with johhny on inspecting traces on back.

Also recommend using a ESD wrist stap, depending on RH touching the case periodically may be acceptable - Me I just wear the strap - I don't take the chance of frying the CPU/MB.
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April 8, 2011 2:53:50 AM

johnnyq1233 said:
Screwdriver and prying something off the motherboard=damaged traces=no boot!!!
I would take a magnifying glass and carefully inspect the traces on the mobo.
The better way to have removed those metal plates would have been to use isoprpyl alcohol to weaken the adhesive bond and one of the screws threaded in from the plate side and gently wiggle it as you apply the alcohol.
Hope you didn't damage that board......
Good Luck!
JQ



You know... I think this is my problem. I checked the back of the mobo like you said, and there were huge friggin' chunks of metal ripped out of it from prying off this adhesive. Here's a picture of what it looks like:




I'm gonna see if that can be covered by warranty... but if not, I'll just have to buy a new one. I think I found my problem. Now I can only just hope that I didn't break the CPU too by applying so much paste and alcohol to it.
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a c 112 à CPUs
a b V Motherboard
April 8, 2011 6:47:29 AM

how would a cotton ball damage a socket made of plastic and metal? i wasnt suggesting he attack it vigourusly with a wire brush. just gently press the cotton. and just for refrence i did this with my nephews board with no neative outcome...
the compressed aire metheod is prefered but if you dont have any handy, which i didnt, the cotton ball worked fine. due to it being able to deform and fit into the nooks and crannies on to the socket so it picks up any goop thats there...
as its a 1156 or 1155 socket there is no pins to break or bend. even if there was you shouldnt be aplying enough preassure to bend them...

if he just cleans it off the cpu and not the socket he would still not be making a circuit so by your metheod he would have to keep fitting the cpu and removing it and cleaning it till he got all the goop out of the socket and connections...
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a b V Motherboard
April 8, 2011 1:55:18 PM

@ HEXit
He was NOT saying that cleaning with cotton ball caused this, It was lifting the HSF backing off of the Back of the MB using a Screwdriver that caused this.
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a c 112 à CPUs
a b V Motherboard
April 8, 2011 2:05:03 PM

yeah m8 i saw that bit. my above about the cotton ball was to jsc. about the guys original post of getting the goop out of the socket and off the cpu.

the picture was not part of the original post or i would have been asking him what he attacked it with.
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a b V Motherboard
April 8, 2011 4:57:47 PM

Off topic
What part of England. Spent 3 yrs at RAF Mildenhall and have relatives in Cambridge - wife is from there.
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Anonymous
a b à CPUs
a b V Motherboard
April 8, 2011 5:18:00 PM

Just some tips for the future:

Never let the metal of a screwdriver touch the motherboard as it may scratch the printed wiring CUTTING right through as it's thin.

Isopropyl alcohol WILL a bit be conductive so you MUST give it time to evaporate in open air.

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