[Solved: Troubleshooting] Is my computer bricked? What now?

This morning turning on my PC I found that it had frozen during post very early, at the line where it identifies my processor. After hitting the reset and hoping that it was just inference from a solar flare or maybe soviet spy beams the system no longer posts. The fans spin and lights come on for 3-5 seconds and then it shuts itself off. Unless I cut the power switching off the power supply or power strip this repeat on off will go on indefinitely. No display signal is sent to the monitor and there are no beeps.

From what I gather this is indicative of some kind of hardware failure with the motherboard being a fairly likely candidate. I am suspecting the CPU simply from the anecdote that the computer's last post screen ended upon identifying the CPU. Some of my article / forum searching has pointed a finger at the power supply but I'm doubting that. I wish it was that, though, since it is covered under its 5-year warranty. I must admit I ultimately have no idea what is the issue. My current dead system specs are as follows:

-E7400 wolfdale 2.8ghz intel core 2 duo processor. It was running at 333 core frequency at 3.1ish ghz. I didn't believe this to be a substantial overclock that would shorten its lifespan significantly since it never ran hotter than 55C under heavy load. In hindsight, though I can't say such assumptions are within my expertise.
-gigabyte ep43-ud3l socket 775 mobo
-CORSAIR XMS2 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel
-gygabyte radeon HD 6850 (a recent upgrade after a nvid. 9800GTX cooked itself)
-corsair 650 watt power supply

Contrary to every bit my traditional consumer wisdom, a replacement socket 775 processor equivalent to what i was using or slightly upgraded seems to cost nearly as much as I paid, three years prior, for my current (possibly bricked) processor: around 150$ The situation with a replacement motherboard, if that is indeed the problem, isn't much better.

Perhaps there are more current equivalent (or even upgraded) replacements that are economical but I am really totally lost when it comes to current hardware. The only time my knowledge was up to date was prior to multi-core systems and even that era I've forgotten. Though, of course, any single piece of current hardware represents a compatibility issue and a ballooning expense.

I've borrowed a friend's laptop to stay connected for the moment and money is somewhat tight but the fact is all roads of my daily routines pretty well start and end with the PC. I don't know what with any certainty what is broken but the local PC repair shop will charge me 60$ just to tell me that something is broken ( a lesson learned some time ago ). Paying so much of what could be a replacement fee that is already making me cringe is out of the question.

All useful advice is greatly appreciated.
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  1. With limited availability to cheap 775 socket motherboards or processors, possibly your cheapest option is to upgrade, a fine CPU can be had for $64, with a comparable motherboard for an additional $55, and the same volume of RAM for $19 yielding a grand total of roughly $150 with shipping and taxes, far less than the computer shop would charge to tell you which component is dead (if any) and you would be getting a marked upgrade.
  2. Thank you for the suggestion. I have no experience with integrated graphics and I have have a relatively new radeon hd 6870 which I'm guessing is still functional. The ram volume linked is half my current 4gb.

    Would you ever consdier locally buying someone's used computer? How would one go about gauranteeing the integrity of a used system? Are there some kind of processor tests / memory tests / benchmarks / etc that would give the idea that everything is in working order?

    Nearby someone is selling the following system:

    CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad 3.5GHz LGA 775
    Motherboard: ASUS P45
    Video card: Sapphire Radeon HD 5730
    RAM: 8GB DDR2 1100MHz
    Tower: Cooler master Mystique Mid-Tower with cool LED fans
    Power Supply: 750W w/ Modular Cables
    CPU Fan and Heat Sink: ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro
    Hard drives: Seagate 1TB SATA II
    Optical drive: DVD Burner
    OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (with OEM disc and CD-Key)

    Considering that the motherboard is the same platform as my current system perhaps I would have the added benefit of being able to identify which component of mine is broken. What would be a fair offer for such a configuration? I'm assuming, furthermore, that I might be able to make a successful offer on just the motherboard, processor, ram & cooler.
  3. I am sorry about the mistake on my part with the link to RAM, but double the price of the ones linked and you should have a good estimate.
    As for this other computer, the RAM speed of 1100MHz seems odd to me, perhaps due to an overclocked CPU, and I have not heard of a Radeon HD 5730 except in laptops. If the seller would let you test the computer I would run the WEI (right click on "computer" and select properties, click on "Windows Experience Index" and re-run the test) it is not a comprehensive test but I imagine the person would not want to leave it with you for a long time. I would say the price they paid for it as new components was roughly $750 +/- 100 depending on when they bought it and other specifics not mentioned. Today a comparable computer can be built for $500 with new parts, I would use the typical depreciation formula, 15% off what they paid for it new plus an additional 15% per year thereafter, so if $750 new and 3 years old you are looking at $391.50; If I were selling it I would consider that fair, provided it looks to be clean (open the case) and performs all the tasks you ask of it.
    You would be able to diagnose your current computers problem using the parts from this computer, only problem is now you have two computers that are of the same generation; not entirely bad but you've not moved forward either.
  4. I rallied some cash through the sale of some things I'd been putting off through e-bay and craigslist. I decided to use my new leverage to order some upgrades... somewhat impulsively. Furthermore, I found a odd little computer repair place 20 minutes away that does not charge diagnostic fees. It turns out 1 of my 2 dimms of my corsair memory was bad and causing failure to boot. The matter of "no beep code" is due to the fact my fancy schmancy coolermaster case has no system speaker. So, now my system is functioning again just with only 2gigs of ram. I am using Readyboost which me chuckle for some reason. I am going to pursue an RMA and might sell the whole lot of replaced parts in the future.

    Thank you for your assistance.

    On a later, rambling note. I realize now it seems that every stick of corsair memory I've ever owned has developed errors or, in this most recent case, outright failed in 1-4 years time. Considering I have always run my RAM at stock timings this habbit of failure seems to reflect badly on the brand. Although, I don't know what should be expected of unregistered, high-"performance", low cost RAM which has always been what I've bought. Somehow the prevailing attitude of Corsair being a premium manufacturer at the time of my original system build stuck in my head. I also liked the idea of a "lifetime warranty." Though now I realize the impracticality of utilizing the warranty and this will be the third time I've beckoned corsair for an RMA#. Furthermore, such a warranty doesn't seem to be all that rare for memory now. Food for thought.
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