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Lazy mistake may have killed (all or parts?) of my primary system

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October 4, 2012 3:26:59 PM

So, this is a lesson in why you should never get so comfortable tinkering with your computers that you start doing things like watching TV while installing a new CPU cooler.

I was swapping out my old 92mm IceEdge 400XT tower for a new Xiagmatek Gaia 120mm cooler on my Dell Inspiron 570 mobo that runs a Phenom 965 @ 4.3ghz and was obviously overwhelming the smaller cooler. Well I was watching a movie and doing the swap without any real thought. Before I knew it, I had the backplates swapped and had a perfectly even spread of AS5 on top of the chip... it seemed almost too easy as I tightened down the tower and closed the case.

Yep, it was too easy. If I'd taken the time to LOOK at the bottom of the cooler, I would have seen the plastic sticker protecting the contact surface. I tried starting the computer probably five times without any image on the monitor or beeps coming from the machine. I actually got confused enough to jumper-clear the BIOS and restart it. There was a long series of beeps that I couldn't make any order out of, and still no picture. I jumpered the bios once more, got it to start BIOS, but then blue screened and shut down. At that point I realized what I might have done- I checked and sure enough, the plastic was between the cooler and the chip. Nothing melted, no signs of damage on the board I could see. I removed the plastic, got the thermal paste ready again, and installed it again after clearing BIOS. I can get it to

Now I can get the computer to turn on only when I use the BIOS jumper first. At that point, I can either 1) go straight into windows and either stall at the loading screen or immediately after the desktop opens, or 2) go into BIOS and set the system up correctly, save and exit.... and then see NOTHING happen. If I restart without resetting the BIOS jumper first, nothing happens except the fans spinning up.

I am assuming there are three possible scenarios I am facing. First and best, only the mobo might be gone. I wouldn't be devastated there. Second and pretty bad, I ruined the CPU alone from heat. This would be bad, especially since I can't upgrade past the X4 965 with the Dell BIOS, so there wouldn't even be the cool "excuse to upgrade" silver lining. Third, the real nightmare, would be that I fried possibly the board/cpu PLUS any of the other components like the memory, SSD's, or even shorted the PSU.

Plan today is to move everything into other systems to test individual parts, but any hints on what I am likely facing? :??: 
October 4, 2012 3:31:08 PM

If the plastic didnt melt and you didnt actually get to running any programs then you may be fine. Do you have a motherboard speaker to listen for errors?
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October 4, 2012 3:35:56 PM

Sounds to me like you didn't plug something back in fully. The PC will shut down if the cpu gets too hot, but you aren't powering it up enough to get to that point.
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October 4, 2012 4:19:32 PM

Thanks for the replies guys.

I do have a speaker for error "beeps" if that is what you mean. I am used to getting one for missing front cover every time I startup the computer (no way around this with the Dell mobo and TT case- just hit f1 and all is well). The fact I don't hear the beep for that tells me something is really odd. I tried to make a pattern out of the beeps I heard repeat last night, but it wasn't the clear "morse code" type for a specific error.

As for not being plugged in- I suppose that could be possible, but I don't know why resetting the internal memory by resetting BIOS gets me off the ground and to various points of the Windows 7 startup or even desktop then. Given, it should take me about 10-15 seconds from powering on to having a fully loaded desktop to use, and it's taking 1-2 minutes to get the desktop background to pop up when it does now.

I am really tempted to just toss the mobo if everything else works and get a SATA III mATX board without the Dell bios limitations that I have now. I only still run the Dell board for the novelty of having the fastest Inspiron desktop over on the Dell forums. I know that's beyond lame, but it became fun when people started intentionally aiming for my benchmark scores as a project to post about. :D  I think this may have killed that though.
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October 4, 2012 11:38:00 PM

What you can try is to strip the components to the bare minimum needed and see if you can get it to post. No hard drives, or any drives, one stick of ram and just the GPU and CPU. If it POSTs start adding components until it fails.
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October 5, 2012 12:59:32 AM

egilbe said:
What you can try is to strip the components to the bare minimum needed and see if you can get it to post. No hard drives, or any drives, one stick of ram and just the GPU and CPU. If it POSTs start adding components until it fails.


I'm about to try that suggestion. Up to this point, I actually have some concern it might be the PSU that failed. I don't know quite how that could happen from this event (it's a good quality unit too- less than a year old Seasonic M12II 520w) but the powering up/down seems to be problematic regardless of what else I am trying to do or what is hooked up....
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Best solution

a b B Homebuilt system
October 5, 2012 1:11:04 AM

i would check that the new cpu fan not on to tight and is bending the mb. also check the back plate. on some unit that are metal there a foam rubber pad that has to go first to keep the back plate from shorting out.
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October 9, 2012 4:08:28 PM

Okay, so I've got a real odd conclusion drawn out so far.

I pulled the mATX mobo for my Athlon X3 system out of the case and left everything else in place, installed the motherboard including memory and CPU, and tried to boot up with no hard drive connected. No problem. If I had just switched the drives into place, things would have been lovely.

Then, I made a bad choice.

I put the mATX board into the case for the board I was just having issues with. Tried to power it up... no display. Tinkered a bit with resetting bios, ect- nothing. Moved it BACK into the original case... now nothing THERE where it had just been fine.

Is it possible that during the time I had my CPU heatsink incorrectly installed, I shorted out the PSU? And if so, could I have killed the second motherboard by connecting it? I tried pulling the suspect PSU out of the case and could jumper it to get the fan moving, but I don't have any idea how I go about testing it from here....

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October 9, 2012 5:39:58 PM

ocmusicjunkie said:
Okay, so I've got a real odd conclusion drawn out so far.

I pulled the mATX mobo for my Athlon X3 system out of the case and left everything else in place, installed the motherboard including memory and CPU, and tried to boot up with no hard drive connected. No problem. If I had just switched the drives into place, things would have been lovely.

Then, I made a bad choice.

I put the mATX board into the case for the board I was just having issues with. Tried to power it up... no display. Tinkered a bit with resetting bios, ect- nothing. Moved it BACK into the original case... now nothing THERE where it had just been fine.

Is it possible that during the time I had my CPU heatsink incorrectly installed, I shorted out the PSU? And if so, could I have killed the second motherboard by connecting it? I tried pulling the suspect PSU out of the case and could jumper it to get the fan moving, but I don't have any idea how I go about testing it from here....


Highly unlikely. Have you ruled out the PSU? It's more likely that the PSU is bad and is frying components, than the other way around. Or, that the PSU is just plain bad and everything will work if you get a good one.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 10, 2012 10:09:25 AM

google green wiring a power supply. you need a paper clip and use one fan to see that it working. on the new case check to see if the mb tray is flat some have bumps and the bumps can be to tall and cause the mb to short out.
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October 29, 2012 3:23:28 PM

Best answer selected by ocmusicjunkie.
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