Oh, where to start....

About 6 weeks ago (end of November, early December) I left my computer on to go take a shower. While I'm in the shower I start to smell something really funny (in fact, I'd smelled it before when I burned the silicone handle of my mom's frying pan). I ignore it and continue with my shower, but when I get back to my room I notice my computer's turned off. At first I assumed my mother came in and turned it off, but then I smell that same odor from when I was in the shower, and it's coming from my computer. I try turning the computer back on, but absolutely nothing happens when I press the power button.

Well, my first thought is an overheated power supply, especially when I lean in near it and smell the burning smell. I tell my parents and they hint that Christmas is coming up. Well, getting absolutely nothing from them for Christmas I finally scrounge up enough money to buy a new one off of Newegg. It finally arrives (just in time for school, grr) and when I finally get around to installing the power supply I try to turn it on and nothing happens, once again. Multiple configurations of the power supply 4-pins help nothing so my next thought is that my overheated power supply fried my motherboard along with it. I look at my mobo and some of the capacitors are bulging at the bottom. So I start looking for a new motherboard. But before I go spending that kind of money I want to make sure it really is my motherboard (even though I'd probably need a new one anyway). I re-seat both sticks of RAM, unplug my two SATA cables (one connected to my DVD drive, the other to my larger TB hard drive), take out my wireless card, and put in an older (but fully functioning) video card and plug in my power cord and monitor. Not expected anything I press the power button, and my computer turns on. Immediately, it starts beeping and there's that smell again! Well, crap, it must not have been my power supply. I freak out, and, not wanting to ruin anything else, turn off the computer, unplug it, and look back inside. I take another whiff, and it's the heatsink that's smells like burning silicone. I unscrew and take off the heatsink and try hooking it back up, but nothing happened, again. Well, now I'm at a bit of a loss. I'm still not sure exactly what's been ruined (other than the obvious heatsink) and am afraid to hook it back up to test other things.

So, after that long-ass story, here's my question(s): What's the silver stuff? Is my motherboard possibly fried? Is my heatsink definitely a goner? Why is it that it only turned on once I removed all the other stuff, but then not when I took out the heatsink? Is it dangerous to hook it back up and turn it on again? Do you think my power supply even ever had anything to do with it? Has anything else (hard drives, DVD drive, Video Card, Wireless Card, CPU) been fried?

Thanks, in advance, for the help. And I'll try to be less wordy in the future.
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  1. Total system specs? The silver stuff is thermal paste, never start your computer on with out it.
  2. I'd think the motherboard fried, might have friend more than just that but you should start there.

    you should give the specs so its easier to tell whats wrong.
  3. The heatsink is just a chunk of metal. It can't really be damaged. The fan on the heatsink may be dead. But modern CPUs usually shut themselves down at high enough temps to melt stuff and cause the 'cooking' smell.

    If the smell really is coming from around the CPU then it's probably the motherboard voltage regulator modules that usually surround the CPU socket that have cooked. On cheaper and oem boards often they have inadequate cooling and/or are barely adequate for their task.
  4. Ok well, since my conputer's not working and I can't look at my dxdiag, here's my system specs ro the best of my knowledge:
    Windows XP Professional SP3 32-bit
    3.20 GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core Processor
    100 GB Hard Drive
    1 TB Hard Drive
    LITE-ON DVDRW LH-20A1L CD-ROM Drive
    Linksys Wireless-G PCI Adapter
    MSI MS-7369 K9N Neo V3 Motherboard
    2 512 MB sticks of DDR3 RAM
    ATI Radeon 5500 Series Video Card
    Dell IN1910N Monitor
    I hope that's enough.

    Well then it must be the fan connected to my heatsink because the smell is distinctly coming from my heatsink/fan.

    I'm just really confused as to which part is faulty and why it turned on that one time, but not when I took off my heatsink/fan.
  5. larkspur said:
    The heatsink is just a chunk of metal. It can't really be damaged. The fan on the heatsink may be dead. But modern CPUs usually shut themselves down at high enough temps to melt stuff and cause the 'cooking' smell.

    If the smell really is coming from around the CPU then it's probably the motherboard voltage regulator modules that usually surround the CPU socket that have cooked. On cheaper and oem boards often they have inadequate cooling and/or are barely adequate for their task.



    ^ This is correct.

    Look on your motherboard for any burned looking places or burst capacitors. The CPU should have shut itself off before reaching a temperature that could damage it. Here is what to look for.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague
  6. Ok, so you're saying it's unlikely that my CPU is damaged?
    I've looked over and over my motherboard and all of the capacitors look to be in perfect condition except for slight bulging at the bottom that's keeping them from staying flush with each other. None are burst or burned.

    All I know is that the fan on my heatsink definitely smells bad, and is no longer working.
  7. A bulging capacitor is ruined. They usually don't burn or burst on a motherboard. They can be replaced if you know what you're doing but I suspect mire than just the caps got taken out from the smell you're describing
  8. had similar problem.


    sounds like a fried psu


    unless you have a good quality psu (most brands you havent heard off arnt)

    if they go they quite often take parts with them


    you might get lucky and the cpu is fine i know i was lucky when i had that problem


    best thing to do is to take it to a computer shop, they will have loads of spare components and can test it for you and can let you know what needs replacing

    (i say this because most people havent got a 2 or 3 working motherboards,cpu's,psu's and graphics cards lying around)


    most likely you will need new psu and motherboard maybe ram and cpu but there unlikely


    but considering the cost of ram, unless you can get a shop to test it just throw it away because if there broken they might damage the motherboard


    (i recently bought 8gb ddr3 for £30, 4gb is only around 15)
  9. So, either way my motherboard's been ruined. Okay, I guess i needed to upgrade anyway.

    Whether or not the psu was fried (which, now, I think it wasn't), I bought a new psu and I still had all the same problems.
  10. What power supply did you have and what do you have now?

    It still could be your CPU. Hopefully the built in protection did it's job and saved it though. If you have bulging capacitors on your board then you need a new board either way.
  11. Before I had a Cooler Master 460W.
    Now I have an OCZ ModXStream Pro 500W.
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