Repairing a Home Build

I successfully put together a PC using the following components roughly two years ago (excluding the hard/optical drives, as they're unlikely to be the culprit):

ASUS M4A78T-E AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard
AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor HDZ955FBGIBOX
Patriot 2GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory Model PSD32G13332
XION II XON-102 Silver Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 450W Power Supply
BFG Tech NVIDIA Geforce 9600 GT Video Card

This system worked fine until roughly two months ago, when the tower was dropped while being transported. The front-panel connectors were ripped in half, so I purchased a new chassis:

Antec Sonata III 500W Quiet Super Mid Tower ATX Case (Black)

After connecting all the components in the new chassis and turning the system on, the motherboard successfully received power and lit up its LEDs. Both the CPU and GPU fans activated. However, the monitor received no video signal. This problem recurred after checking all installations and retesting on a different monitor and DVI cable. At this point, the video card seemed the most likely issue, and I had planned on replacing it soon anyway, so I purchased:

ASUS EAH6950 DCII/2DI4S/1GD5 - AMD Radeon HD 6950 - GDDR5 1 GB Video Card

After replacing the old card with the new, I still received the same issue: mobo, CPU, and GPU receiving power, but no video signal. I've since learned that my power supply is inadequate to power the video card: it requires at least 650W. This provided some relief, as I thought I had identified the problem, but I then realized that I had the same problem with the old video card, which had received adequate power from both the 450W and 500W power supplies. At this point, I know I need to upgrade my power supply to at least 650W, but this is apparently not the only problem keeping the monitor from receiving video signal. After spending much time and money in repairing this machine, I've become frustrated and shelved it for quite some time.

My main problem is in diagnosis. My only means of testing individual parts is to purchase new ones and test them in the system, at which point I've obviously sunk more money. If anyone has any ideas as to what the defective component is (above and beyond the insufficient wattage on the power supply), I'm dying to hear a theory. Also, if anyone knows of any means to test my other components before purchasing new ones, it would be enormously helpful.
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  1. Hi there, welcome to the forums.
    First things first, please read this thread:
    Follow the steps, don't just skim them. The part you want to look for is breadboarding. Pull everything out of the case and set it up. Only necessary components. No mouse/keyboard even.

    I think the 500w you have in there is fine AS LONG AS it has a 6pin PCI-e connector! these are REQUIRED to be able to run the video card correctly!

    Get back to me, see what those steps turn up.

  2. Thanks for the helpful welcome! I'll take a look at that and get back to you once I've stripped this sucker down.
  3. After making my way down the list, I made an attempt to breadboard my motherboard/CPU/heatsink as per these instructions:

    "Pull everything except the CPU and HSF. Boot. You should hear a series of long single beeps indicating memory problems. Silence here indicates, in probable order, a bad PSU, motherboard, or CPU - or a bad installation where something is shorting and shutting down the PSU. "

    The motherboard LED and CPU fan activated as per the usual, but I heard no beeps whatsoever. Here's a picture of my system during the test:

    I'd never plugged in the speaker connector before, and while the motherboard manual made it clear which front panel pins to connect it to, it wasn't clear which end was frontwards or backwards. I tested it with the connector twice in the same slot, facing both directions. No beeps either time. Interestingly, my case's manual mentions the Power, Reset, and HD Activity connectors, but not the speaker. But here's the connector, nonetheless:

    Before I say for certain that the PSU, CPU, or motherboard is toasted, I want to be sure that I'm not getting a false negative from the speaker. Any ideas?
  4. PSU's:

    1) the PSU must have 12V Amps which exceed by at least 25% that of the addon graphics card. Not all "500W" PSU's are the same. Some may have 15A and some may have 50A on the 12V rail(s).

    2) spend time reading about PSU's

    3) always read a review of the PSU which you intend to buy

    4) NCIX is a good start.
  5. Looks right. I've never had an issue with the speaker plug being "backwards". You might want to try it again, but this time put a stick of ram in slot one. See if you can get the lack of video beeps.

    I'm inclined to think its the board however. If it dropped hard enough to rip wires, odds are the board is dead as well.
  6. I'm thinking potential pcie slot damage as well, check both sides of the pcie slot for any broken pins, and have you tried the onboard graphics? Do they still work ok?
  7. For whatever reason, I've never gotten the onboard graphics to work, even when I first purchased the motherboard. I'm not completely familiar with whatever BIOS settings need to be toggled for it to be used.
  8. Sounds like there was an issue with the mobo before you even dropped it then, the onbard should work without any settings being altered
  9. Looks like I'm stuck between a rock and a new mobo purchase. Before I do this, though, I'd like to be sure that my system speaker is functioning and not reporting a false negative. Is there any way I can "force" the system speaker to beep, just to test its functionality?
  10. Hook the speakerwires up to a 9v battery, or a AA should do it
  11. Alrighty, got myself a new mobo: an ASUS M4A88T-V. When attempting the bare breadboard boot without memory, I got a repeating beep code: 1 long, 2 short. After inserting the memory, I got a single non-repeating beep code: 2 short (though with a few seconds in between).
  12. If theres no pointer to motherboard error codes in the manual, this may help
    but try to find the manual first ofc as its more likely up to date
  13. While I'm not 100% certain which BIOS is preinstalled on the M4A88T-V (the manual tells you everything you'd ever need to know about the BIOS except for this helpful tidbit), this video seems to suggest AMI:

    In that case, the code represents a DRAM ECC check error. I don't know what this means beyond "something is wrong with your RAM". I also discovered a flashing red LED on the motherboard that the manual says is indicative of a DRAM error. I checked the manual's list of compatible RAM and found what seems to be my model. There's only a minor discrepancy: the RAM in the manual is listed as Patriot PSD32G13332H. My RAM is labeled PSD32G13332. My intuition is that the H isn't a game-changer, but I've been wrong before.
  14. There should be a little sticker on the bios chip saying v1.7 or similar,
    Youll have to research the H suffix to identify/rule it out as the problem
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