Computer not posting... Motherboard or CPU?

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SlaveOfThaMind

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So a few days ago we had a pretty strong storm here and lightning hit not too far from my house. The power went out and immediately turned back on.

My television, modem, router, and computer were running at the time. At first the t.v. wouldn't turn on but I left it unplugged for about 15 minutes and it turned back on no hitch..

I pressed the power button on my computer, it started back up just fine and once I noticed that it was on the login screen, I shut the computer down.

The cable modem and wireless router were fried. So after work that night I picked up a new modem and router. When I got home from work, I discovered the crushing news..

I powered the computer up, and immediately knew something was wrong... I didn't hear the beep from the motherboard you normally hear when the computer posts.

The only thing displaying on the monitor was "no signal" before the screen goes pitch black. I shut the computer off ( holding power button for 4 seconds ) and tried again.

Same thing.. No beep. No signal. So I think great.. my video card is fried. Then I think, if it was the video card, it would give me a error code via beeps.

I took the graphics card out and there was no error beep. So next I take the ram out of the computer. It gives me three long beeps (which to my understanding just means that no ram is inserted).

I'm clueless. All of the case fans power on, all the l.e.d.'s shine bright, the optical drive and hard drive both spin up, the cpu fan works, the power supply fan and led works, the video card fan spins.

My motherboard is an asrock fatal1ty professional 990fx. It has what is called Dr. Debug. It's an easy way to diagnose the computer as it has an LED screen and it displays digits that correspond to specific errors.

It shows me "FF" which in my motherboards manual is "reserved for future ami errors". I did a little googling and a few sources show that FF is a CPU related error.

So having a CPU problem being a possibility, I try less expensive options. I go to a computer store. The guy there tells me that I shouldn't buy a new cpu because if the motherboard is fried, then it can possibly fry the new cpu. He suggested I try a new video card and/or power supply.  So I buy a new power supply and video card. Either of which does not fix the problem... Great.. I do some more research and I read that I could have bad memory. If this was so, wouldn't the mobo give me error beeps with them plugged in? I try one stick of ram, in each of the 4 dimm slots, and then the other, in each slot. No good, its not beeping or booting up.

I do not have any other ddr3 sticks just laying around so I cant test alternate ones other than the two I have. (this will be next on my to-buy list) for testing purposes.. I also intend to pick up an AMD Sempron 100 series AM3 cpu, as it is the weakest cpu my mobo will support ( and luckily the cheapest. About $38 ).

Im not so certain the memory is going to give me any different results, but I have to try right? As for the cpu. If my motherboard is going to fry one, I'd rather it be a $40 one vs. a $200 one. Hopefully it will post then. If not, then it has definitely got to be the motherboard ( the last major component on the check list... and the most expensive. )

I have also tried to reset the cmos 3 different ways. my motherboard has a clear cmos button on the back. i tried that. nothing. I tried jumping the cmos. no good. I try taking the cmos battery out and waiting a while.. no deal. I am all out of feasible ideas. I will not be able to order either the ram or cpu until after monday when I get paid, so that means for one long boring weekend...

I wish to ask any Computer Technicians what their input on my situation is.

For any intended purpose, here are my computers specifications ( roughly )

Asrock 990fx Fatal1ty Professional Series Motherboard
AMD FX 6-Core black edition
ATI Radeon HD7770dc
8gb - 2x 4gb ddr3 giel black dragon
750w Fatal1ty Power Supply (semi-modular)
2tb seagate barricuda harddrive
here are some pics http://imgur.com/a/lkAjo#0

These are the main components. I figure no need for case, fans, etc. as they are not main factors in a computer working.
If anyone could give me some info (before I break down payday and possibly waste money on another cpu and ram ) it would be greatly and sincerely appreciated.

Thanks!

Edit - I would also like to note that I closely inspected each and every capacitor on the motherboard and none are bulging, stretch, blown, or leaking. I have also ran breadboard (outside of the case only mobo, cpu, hsf, psu.
 
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Andar

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I think it might be something else - if you mean by "powered up to login screen" the computer did start into windows screen on your test after the storm, then the damage couldn't have happened due to the storm - it would have shown the problem from the beginning otherwise.

I think what you're currently experiencing is the safety shutdown of the POST (Power-On-Self-Test) sequence of the mainboard.

You didn't specify whether you made any test of booting without any external device connected (no keyboard, but especially not the new modem)?

Do that first...

The safety shutdown is usually caused when the POST found an irregular voltage or current on the main connectors, overriding the powersource to prevent damage to other parts of the computer. That irregular current can be caused by:

- Connecting a damaged or wrong external device to the computer - it might not even be defective, in the case of old LPT:-Scanners the problem was often solved by turning the powersupply 180° in the socket (alternating current does NOT mean there is no difference between turning the socket, only most devices can't detect that difference)

- having some connectors on the mainboard shorted by a missing screw or something like that

- having conflicting dual graphics installed

- using a external main switch to switch on several devices including the PC at the same time (is switching on Monitor and PC seperately too much work to prevent your entire computer from short-circuiting on such a main switch - something which happens regularly)?

- damaged mainboard (unfortunately that is a possibility)

- damaged CPU (less likely in my opinion but possible)

- damaged RAM

You might start checking the other options before declaring your PC dead...
 

SlaveOfThaMind

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@ Andar.

Yes the computer did boot after the storm it got to the windows login where you type you password. So it does make sense that the issue wasnt from the storm surge.

Im also thinking that perhaps the lightning didn't come through the electrical ( power/ outlet / surge protector ) but rather it could have traveled through the coaxial cable, into the modem, passing via the lan cable to the router, and again through the lan to the motherboard of my computer. ( No idea honestly )

"You didn't specify whether you made any test of booting without any external device connected (no keyboard, but especially not the new modem)?

Do that first..."

Actually I did specify. If you look at the edit note at the very end it shows that I ran breadboard, which is motherboard, cpu, heatsinkfan, and psu ( with and without ram )

I tested every known possibility that i can for now. I am going to try for a new stick of ram monday ( if walmart carries any, if not it'll be tuesday evening when i can get to best buy )

I only have/had one graphics card installed which required external power ( i have the 6pin atx power from my psu connected. ) I also have a basic nvidia geforce 8400gs for testing purposes ( and it doesnt require extra power )

I have tried booting the computer with the motherboard's disc in the cd tray but to no avail.

I am with you that the cpu is a less likely culprit, as cpu's are usually either good for many many many years, or DOA.

I did forget to mention that this computer has been running flawlessly for about a year and a half since I built it in early 2012.

I have everything plugged into a surge protector but i dont use a switch or hub to turn everything on at once. My router and modem stay on 24/7 because my wife uses her laptop wirelessly and i use my cell phone on my internet while im in range of the router.

I normally just turn the screen on, and then the computer, after the monitor shows "Acer" logo and "Energy Star" logo it would normally show me the dual boot screen, asking me whether I want to run Win7 or Win8, after picking Win8, it would proceed to the login screen.

I would really like to think it isn't the motherboard, as it isn't manufactured anymore ( go figure... seems like they make boards for 3 years then stop ) so i cant pick another one up cheap, I found one for $277usd on ebay, which is a lot more than i paid for it on newegg when i bought it. The main reason i wanted this particular board was for the color scheme ( Red/Black ) and also it has dual lan ports with teaming capabilities ( meaning i can run two lan wires for twice as much speed, or dedicated upstream and downstream from two wires. ) Not to mention the sheer power of the board.

Anyway, Nothing i've tried has worked, and its quite frustrating being a computer hardware specialist. The man at the computer store I visited tried to hard to rip me off its not even funny. ( $85 for a diagnosis plus the cost for fixing what is or probably also what isn't wrong with it... i think he thought i didnt know what i was talking about one bit, but i went to college for this mess lol )

I'm still at a loss. I've done every bit of troubleshooting that I know of, even more that I've searched online, and still cant figure it out.

Also i want to ask. When i take my video card out ( either the main or my spare ), it does not post beep, yet when the ram is taken out, it beeps. When i run the computer without cpu, it doesnt beep ( but it displays an debug code on the mobo's led of "00" which means cpu is not properly installed. So im really thinking the motherboard is fine if it is able to show me all these different errors ( i can force a few different error codes )

Im going to try for a new bit of ram first, as it is one of the cheaper options, and if that doesnt do it, im going for an am3 socket sempron because its the lowest supporting chip of my mainboard, which is am3+ 8-core ready.

All 9 screws are in place properly, even with extensions behind the motherboard to keep the board away from the case. I also ran the test with every main component outside of the computers case, to test for grounding issues.

Thanks for you input Andar, maybe im really just overlooking something simple here but it is starting not to seem so. And sorry if my info is a bit everywhere lol, im basically typing things as i think of them so i dont forget to mention anything.
 

Andar

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OK, if you get those errors depending on what is installed, then this is the POST shutdown. That means your computer is at least partially working.

I agree that the RAM looks like the most probable cause with that info.

Can you try to run the RAM single? Some motherboards support single channel RAM (which is a lot slower, but this is for testing only) and that way you might check if only one is defective.

If both RAMs are defective, then there was a surge on the mainboard or something like that, and that might indicate other remaining defects on the mainboard depending on where else the surge went - a quality-based RAM-failure would only affect one of them.
 

SlaveOfThaMind

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thanks for your cooperation Andar.

if you reread the first post, you will see i have tried that already.

This has not changed the problem. I also should note that the ram modules have a red l.e.d. on either end, totalling 4 l.e.d. between the two sticks. When seated, the lights on the ram shine brightly, signalling to me that at least the ram slots are receiving some power. i also understand that because the sticks light up is irrelevant to the actual functioning of the ram.

here are some pictures http://imgur.com/a/lkAjo#0
 
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Andar

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OK, in that case the only way to proceed is to try and switch components until you found the defective one. Which is bad if you don't have a second computer or reserved parts to do the exchange with...
 

Touchfuzzy

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You wouldn't happen to have access to a PCI post diagnostics card? Sounds like the Dr. Debug thing is similar but not working correctly.

You can pick up one pretty cheap and the error codes can really help.
 

SlaveOfThaMind

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You wouldn't happen to have access to a PCI post diagnostics card? Sounds like the Dr. Debug thing is similar but not working correctly.

You can pick up one pretty cheap and the error codes can really help.
unfortunately i do not. i have seen these in the range of $7 to $30 and up, but I haven't got the funds at the moment to pick one up.

OK, in that case the only way to proceed is to try and switch components until you found the defective one. Which is bad if you don't have a second computer or reserved parts to do the exchange with...
this is what i have been doing. i bought new power supply and video card, next on my list is RAM, and then a cheap cpu. If either fix the problem, ill have to buy the more expensive versions to match what i currently use ( 8gb ram / 6core cpu ) i really hope it doesnt come down to the motherboard being fried though. $160 for an 8core looks a lot better to me than $2-300 for a mobo.
 

SlaveOfThaMind

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Thanks everyone for your time and support! I have gotten my computer up and running better than ever before!

Turns out it was the motherboard :( Apparently the power surge had nothing to do with it. What I assume happened was lightning struck a near by cable line/pole. It traveled through the coaxial cable, toasted my modem, went through the lan line and toasted my router, and again through the Ethernet cord and toasted my mainboard. 

I just thought I would share how I fixed this issue that way if anybody else experiences anything quite similar to this, they can be more or less reassured that its the motherboard. ( damn cpu's are durable as hell!! )

Glad the surge stopped at the board though before it took anything else with it.

I bought an extra 4gig stick of ram just to make sure it wasn't my ram that was toast. All good now im running with 12gb of ram :) Good. Now I am sure my fiancée is happy im not sulking around the house depressed lol. At last I can resume working on Black Sun as well!

Thanks to those who took an interest in this thread and those who tried to help me resolve the issue before I had to dish out the cash on the more expensive components.

Good Day to everybody!
 

Shaz

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This thread is being closed, due to being solved. If for some reason you would like this thread re-opened, please report this post and leave a message why. Thank you.
 
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