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Tore apart system, upgraded, back together, now no post to bios :'(

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April 8, 2011 11:03:05 AM

Hello peoples,

I bought a 6990 yesterday and installed it on my computer. Unfortunately due to physical size restrictions of my Thermaltake Element S Case, I had to completely remove all hardware and make a couple modifications before I could fit the card properly. This mean't instead of a simple GPU swap, I had to completely disassemble and reassemble my rig.

I added my new Sapphire 6990 w/ EK waterblock (installed myself, without a hitch) to replace the watercooled 5870 that was in the system.
I then reassembled my computer excitedly. Unfortunately once it was put together and turned on it would not post to bios. The fans, water pump, and LEDs all work fine, the trouble is there is no image on screen and the motherboard reads "FF".

I have done some troubleshooting already by poking around the forums here, I still do not have a solution for my machine.

What I have done:

Removed CPU waterblock and processor, re-seated processor
Removed RAM and put the ram back in
Performed a plethora of CMOS resets on the board (both plugged in and unplugged)

Here are my systems specs:

MSI 790FX GD70
Phenom II X4 965 BE
4x2 gb G. Skill DDR3 RAM @ stock settings
Sapphire 6990 w/EK waterblock
1000w Rosewill Bronze PSU
Thermaltake Element S Case

I don't think anything else would be relevant... but also:

Hitachi 2 TB 7200 rpm HD
Blu ray disc drive
dvd disk drive
25 in 1 rosewill card reader

It should be mentioned I have used this same system since December 2009, with a 5870 in place of the new 6990.
I have never had any boot issues, or any issues with CPU/RAM/etc.
The computer was 100% happy as a clam before I took it apart.

Thoughts as to what could be wrong:

-I think its unlikely but possible a plug may have got a little wet, and that may be preventing boot - I think this is unlikely because the operation stayed dry, with a couple tiny drops hitting some plugs, but I let them sit overnight any they appear to be 100% dry

-Also very unlikely - I removed everything from the case before I modified it (dremeled some of the steel hard drive bracket in order to make room for the 6990), and wiped everything down, but maybe, just maybe - little metal filaments around my case from the dremeling have stuck to or affected my board

-Or... CPU and Mobo just magically decided to fail during my installation.

-Oh one other idea: I am connected the 6990 with 1 2x6 pin and one 2x8 pin plug. I don't have 2 2x8's to use. According the the user manual this should be acceptable for the card, but I with I had 2 2x8's just to fill up the plug holes on the 6990.

I would of course really like to avoid buying new hardware, so I hope you guys can help me come up with a few new troubleshooting ideas!
I appreciate the time you took to read this, and will be checking this post after work to hopefully see some good ideas!

Thank you!


Best solution

a b B Homebuilt system
April 8, 2011 3:24:17 PM
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Check the electrical connections. Is the 8-pins CPU power connector plugged in and well mated?
April 8, 2011 3:49:08 PM

If your using a water block then you probably have some build experience, so I wont go into great detail yet. If you need more details let me know.

Remove all the bits from your case and setup a test bench. Connect nothing but you psu CPU ram and video( and radiator) to the mainboard. Verify psu power selector is at 110. Manually flip the switch even if it looks like its in the correct position until it clicks in the voltage you require. When you connect power to your power supply you should see any of your fans jiggle as the board powers on. Manually trip your pwr jumper and cross your fingers. If the system doesn't boot it should beep at you, or give you an error readout on its diagnostic led. Look up the error codes andgood luck.
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April 8, 2011 8:54:51 PM

Ubrales said:
Check the electrical connections. Is the 8-pins CPU power connector plugged in and well mated?


Wow! I was up real late last night and must have been too sleepy to notice the 8 pin CPU plug was missing!

So, after I check that I was like "YES! Now this HAS to work"...

But unfortunately I am still getting the FF error.

I have tried to reset CMOS with everything unplugged and I am still getting the same error.'

I really appreciate you pointing out that power connector, I cant believe I overlooked it.

Does anyone have any other suggestions for removing the FF error?

In the meantime, I am going to try to do the whole reseat the RAM and double check all other electric connections.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 8, 2011 9:18:25 PM

Another thing - when you get tired, STOP! Pick up the next day!
April 8, 2011 9:22:58 PM

make sure if you switched board styles that you removed/replaced all the standoffs and/or didn't miss any causing a short. Past that make sure the CPU is seated properly. in my experience those are the two biggest things about an FF. if not that then bad board, is it possible something got damaged while assembling/disassembling? maybe a screwdriver slipped and popped a chip or a cap off the board while you were tired?
April 8, 2011 9:32:38 PM

It is possible something got damaged assembling and disassembling. I am going to reseat the CPU again... last time it was taken off, the thermal paste sort of glued it to its waterblock, so it was pulled right out of its socket along with the block. I imagine that cant be good for the pins. I am going to take a look and see if there are any bent pins that could be causing the trouble. I appreciate the responses guys
April 8, 2011 9:53:10 PM

Have you tried putting the 5870 back in? Is there another rig you can thow the 6990, (sweet), into just to check if its ok? My thermal paste was also glued on to the cpu and it popped out of the socket. Always twist the cooling fan/waterblock gently before pulling up. There were a couple of bent pins that i straightened out carefully with a needlenose and lucky for me the cpu fired up. I have also had problems with the six-pin and eight-pin power adaptors, so it could be one of those. Good Luck, i know i'd be chomping at the bit to fire up the worlds most powerful graphics card!
April 8, 2011 10:06:32 PM

jkeopka said:
It is possible something got damaged assembling and disassembling. I am going to reseat the CPU again... last time it was taken off, the thermal paste sort of glued it to its waterblock, so it was pulled right out of its socket along with the block. I imagine that cant be good for the pins. I am going to take a look and see if there are any bent pins that could be causing the trouble. I appreciate the responses guys



i've had that happen to me before trying go get an AMD proc out of someone's HP system, didn't seem to damage anything but no, it can't be good for it either. check to see around the screw holes if anything seems amiss like scratches or broken chips. I had a screwdriver slip on me while putting a screw in one time and couldn't figure out why the heck the board wouldn't post, turns out i damaged a chip. :( 
a b B Homebuilt system
April 8, 2011 10:27:44 PM

jkeopka said:
It is possible something got damaged assembling and disassembling. I am going to reseat the CPU again... last time it was taken off, the thermal paste sort of glued it to its waterblock, so it was pulled right out of its socket along with the block. I imagine that cant be good for the pins. I am going to take a look and see if there are any bent pins that could be causing the trouble. I appreciate the responses guys

To straighten bent pins, try one of the following methods, or a combination of both:
1) Combing - This is a high speed automation technique whereby a precision flat steel piece is inserted between the rows of pins in one direction and then in the direction at right angles to the first direction. Repeat carefully.
2) Straightening pin - Use a hypodermic metal tubing over each pin and try re-bending it straight.

Good luck!
April 9, 2011 12:49:57 AM

cobra5000 said:
Have you tried putting the 5870 back in? Is there another rig you can thow the 6990, (sweet), into just to check if its ok? My thermal paste was also glued on to the cpu and it popped out of the socket. Always twist the cooling fan/waterblock gently before pulling up. There were a couple of bent pins that i straightened out carefully with a needlenose and lucky for me the cpu fired up. I have also had problems with the six-pin and eight-pin power adaptors, so it could be one of those. Good Luck, i know i'd be chomping at the bit to fire up the worlds most powerful graphics card!


I haven't tried putting the 5870 back in yet, it would be a bit of a headache since its in the water loop. I will do that eventually, but its kind of a last resort for me. I may try reversing the 6 and 8 power plugs to see if that randomly makes a difference.

Thanks to all of you for the tip straightening and CPU removal tips, I am about to go give that a shot. I finally took a nap, and I swear even my dreams are haunted by this issue.

@internetlad

I don't actually know what a "standoff" is... I am pretty new to this. This build (965 BE and 5870) was my first system build, and I was fortunate enough for it to work perfectly at first assembly, so I don't have a lot of experience troubleshooting power/mobo/cpu problems.

I will try reseating the CPU, with the utmost attention and delicacy, and if that doesn't work I am afraid I dont know what to do but by new hardware. This is probably the worst time for it too, during the government shutdown :'( 

If I was to replace either CPU or motherboard, how could I determine which of the two needs to be replaced? I have a friend who could possibly provide me with an AM2 proc for testing, but I am not even certain that would work at all with my AM3 motherboard. Past that, I dont have spare a spare motherboard or cpu to mess with.
April 9, 2011 1:45:09 AM

UPDATE: !!! I took out the CPU and saw that a couple pins were slightly bent. There was also a little bit of artic silver 5 on them. I did my best to clean and straighten them, and I no longer get the FF error code.

Unfortunately, I still get error codes. I get 2A, and then a few seconds later 2E.

I am off to research these codes... this gives me hope, even though there are errors.
April 9, 2011 2:05:20 AM

Error 2A = initializing on board devices. 2E is memory failure iirc. This most likely doesnt indicate bad ram, When these two erors are seen together it usually indicates that your video card is attempting to initilize, and the as the computer attempts to shadow the bios into memory the card returns a fault.

borrow a friends non water block card, and test it in your system to see if you can post. Sadly it sounds like your bad ass 6990 is DOA.
April 9, 2011 3:15:52 AM

I believe you are right.
And this sucks beyond belief.

I swapped not working 6990 for my 5870. The 5870 works. Swapped back to the 6990... and I am getting the same 2E.

Well. I don't know what to say about this. I am willing to bet my warranty has been voided due to me using the water block.
I don't remember removing a warranty sticker, but more than likely I did. Its also obvious, as some of the screws are partially stripped.

Any idea if I can send a card back to sapphire for repair/replacement?

I am afraid I am going to be stuck with a broken $710 and a $185 waterblock.

To make matters worse, I just blew my power supply, i think it got a bit wet, i turned it on and it sounded like a gun shot.

Will a blown PSU fry other components when it breaks?

This is my worst day in a long time.
April 9, 2011 3:39:00 PM

Generally when a higher end PSU dies it is designed with the fact that it will eventually fail in mind, cheap ones are just made to work. that being said, i'm not sure i'd risk it, especially if you can afford a new one (i know you just dropped a pile of cash on that bad GPU/cooler) but I've always thought that the PSU is the most important part of a PC.

Also, I personally would look for information regarding aftermarket coolers and RMAs. There has to be some leeway on aftermarket coolers as it's a pretty common thing to do. It would be like if you couldn't RMA a CPU because you used an aftermarket cooler, just doesn't make sense.

I've heard of a couple instances where even though it was obvious they stuck the stock cooler back on and it RMA'd fine, so whether they just don't care enough to check or they expect people will use aftermarket coolers i'm not sure. give it a shot, you might not be totally out of luck :) 

If you're looking for a new PSU i'd have no problem suggesting

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

Antec Truepower Quattro 1000W. Very solid and at a good price. I've had the 800W in my tower for probably 4 years now and i haven't had a problem yet.

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

A lower price alternative, its 750W but it's an Antec and it's on a really good deal atm.
April 19, 2011 12:02:52 AM

Best answer selected by jkeopka.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 19, 2011 1:02:47 AM

Thank you!
!