View Full Version : My Windows Computer Went Poof

08-10-2008, 06:54 PM
As many of you know, I switched to a Mac a few months ago, but have had my Windows computer hanging around for gaming and a few odd things related to the business I'm selling. This weekend my wife bought me a $50 desk off Craigslist to replace the plastic tables I was using. I had to rip everything apart and then put it all back together. When I tried to power the Windows PC back on, it never came on. I also smelled some "bad electronics" smell when that happened.

So I am assuming something fried, and its completely dead. I replaced the power supply today, and still nothing comes on. All I get is a blue LED on the motherboard which is on whenever the system is plugged in, whether off or on. I tried pulling all the RAM, the drives, the cards, and so just had motherboard and power supply. Still nothing. I tried removing the power on switch cable and just used a small screwdriver to make contact, and still nothing.

So now the next logical thing I'm guessing is to replace the motherboard. It is about a year old, so obviously obsolete at this point... although its a capable board and is Core 2. I paid about $250 for the motherboard when I bought it. So I'm torn between buying a used one for probably $150 on Ebay, or just going out locally and picking up a different, but new motherboard. I'll probably have a ton of driver issues if I do the second, I'm guessing. I don't really want to format the drive, because I have stuff on there I don't want to go through reinstalling. It was running fine.

Anyone have any ideas if there might be something I missed here? I guess I'll try buying a used board the same as the one thats in there... Asus P5B Deluxe. I've already blown $90 on a power supply, so what's another $150 at this point.

08-10-2008, 07:51 PM
Sounds like you covered everything. If you're not getting far enough to even get a POST beep then it's before RAM and CPU. That's gotta be the board.

There are good boards out there cheap. All depends on what the purpose is. You wanna get it up and running to get stuff off of it or keep it going?

08-10-2008, 11:11 PM
mike cant you install the drive into a nother comp and save all the stuff from it?

08-10-2008, 11:52 PM
I was going to say to check the keyboard connection... but Jay is right... it would have posted before that... I agree with Craig... get it hooked up and get any collateral items off the drive you need... then do a full reinstall of winblows when you get the new motherboard...

08-11-2008, 09:08 AM
When I updated my desktop PC earlier this year I had some issues plugging the hard drive in with all the new components. In your case it's just a motherboard you're replacing and in mine it was Motherboard, CPU, RAM and Video Card. The hardware change was too great all at once and I had to reformat. I got everything off first luckily. Even though it's one piece you're swapping, it's a major piece when it comes to interoperability. I'd do like Ross said and get your data off that drive, upgrade the motherboard and wipe clean.

08-11-2008, 10:33 AM
i just had mine die from a lightning storm. hard drives and everything was fine, i think it was just the power supply....i put the old main drive in an external enclosure and it worked fine but it wouldn't let me into "my documents" folder, said access was denied. lucky for me i backed up not too long ago but i did have 5 or 6 new pic folders that i would of lost. since it has another windows on that drive i just had to reassign ownership....now all is well.

08-11-2008, 11:05 AM
Good point Jay. Because My Documents and the like belong to a user profile, you can't pull them up when the drive is listed as an external or a slave drive if that drive was previously a boot device. even if the profile on the new master drive is the same name, it's listed differently in the registry. That is the same reason why, on a networked domain, you can't share that folder as policies will prohibit another user from reaching something that is part of your user heirarchy.

08-11-2008, 11:50 AM
I guess I wasn't clear about my goal here. I don't really have any data on this PC. I just don't want to go through the hassle of reinstalling all the software, so anything short of a functional system is going to be a miss. I am afraid if I go with a different motherboard, that I'll have major driver issues. Practically all the peripherals are integrated... sound, ethernet, drive controllers, etc. The video card is obviously separate and so those drivers should be fine. I could try sticking with the same brand. If I just buy a brand-x board, I can get it locally and hopefully get it working now. If I don't, then I'll have to go through trying to find and order a used one on Ebay. Since I don't even know for sure that the motherboard is the problem, then if the Ebay used board doesn't work, I will obviously not know if I bought a bad board or its something else causing the problem. I guess I need to just buy a new board, and hope that it will boot enough so I can load the correct drivers.

08-11-2008, 01:01 PM
Hmmm... there is a local TigerDirect store here and their website has an Asus P5B-VM motherboard... mine is an Asus P5B Deluxe. They use the same Intel chipset. The only gotcha is that the VM version is a uATX form factor. The board is only $79. This is the only board that I can find on their site that has the same chipset, and I'm guessing my best chance of success is using the same chipset. I just hate to put a uATX board in this case... it would be pretty limiting for anything I might want to add in the future, but at this point I don't really have any more cards than that. I think this might be the highest probability of success option.

08-11-2008, 01:36 PM
I'm with you on the last option. Same board brand and model, just a different form factor and revision should make the driver differences negligible. I would recommend you go that way for sure. At the very least you can use the uATX board to get back up and running until you can find a board you want. Then before you swap out again, just make sure you uninstall all drivers which will allow you to install new ones as needed.

08-11-2008, 02:54 PM
I just called and unfortunately they don't have that board at the local store. They seem to think that another board should boot fine, but that has not been my experience in the past. I will say, however, that I've never done a same generation replacement like this. I've generally been 2-3 years between boards and so technology was very different. In this case, the current boards are still PCIx and Core2Duo... and same RAM and drive generation. So maybe this will work... I'm skeptical still, but I guess I'd rather get something local and try it.

08-11-2008, 03:55 PM
I'd be skeptical too given my history with similar swaps and what you've said that you've gone through. However, I'd also never done a same gen swap like that either. When I did my upgrade I went from a P3 to a Quad core chip. MAJOR difference there alone not to mention the ram and the video card that changed out. The original vid card was AGP 2x and the new one was a PCIx.

I'd have to say that while these things usually have lots of hiccups and aren't recommended overall, you're in the best case scenario for it to work.

I'm very curious to see how it plays out.

08-11-2008, 06:47 PM
Well I bought a board and will give it a whack. The tech at TigerDirect told me I have zero chance of this working well without a reinstall of the OS, and I'd be surprised if that is not the case. His comment was that unless the motherboard is exactly the same, the OS will go into convulsions internally because the chipset doesn't match, and that is essentially put into the kernel at install time.

08-11-2008, 07:57 PM
i thought you picked up the one with the same chipset.

08-11-2008, 10:29 PM
Nope, they didn't have it at the store... would have had to order it. It also wouldn't have been the exact same so if I was going to order one I'd probably try to get one of the same ones off Ebay. After talking to the TigerDirect guy I also now have a fear that the CPU might have been what went poof. If so, that would have been easier to replace, but since I have the board I'll go ahead and try that to night and see what happens. I've got $200 now invested with the power supply and motherboard.

08-12-2008, 09:53 AM
Darn... still nothing with the new board. I guess now I try the CPU. Now I've probably bought a motherboard and power supply unnecessarily. Guess Ebay will be my friend on that one.

08-12-2008, 03:24 PM
Too bad you're just not a little closer mike. I've got a Core2Duo in one of my PCs that you could try for troubleshooting purposes

08-12-2008, 04:00 PM
Well now this thing is kicking my butt. I bought a $40 Celeron CPU and it still won't come on. I'm down to basically a case, power supply (new), motherboard (new), and CPU (new). I have tried rotating the memory... no change. I've removed all the cards and disconnected all the drive cables and other stuff. I've tried using a screwdriver tip instead of the on switch. I've not replaced the CPU fan yet, but it runs freely and can't believe that would be it. I'm not even sure if a bad CPU fan would stop it from coming on. I do have power on the board because the little onboard LED is lit. I am getting dangerously close to where I open the window and throw it out... :(

08-12-2008, 07:27 PM

You try turning it on with no RAM installed? If I remember correctly, you should get one long beep on powerup. If not, then something is up with the BIOS on the new board - a weird coincidence. If it's a new PS, new board & new CPU, there's not much else that can go wrong.

Just for ha-has too, pull the motherboard and power supply out of the case. Put 'em on a non-conductive surface and connect them, and hook up a monitor. If it powers up, then the problem is the case (mounting post shorting out the board?).

Odd for sure...

08-12-2008, 07:28 PM
Tom brings up a good point with the case. i've had that happen as well

08-12-2008, 07:42 PM
Tom, it does nothing at all... no fan bump, no nothing... dead... so no POST. I pulled my working family computer apart and am now trying swapping some things around. I am guaranteed now to probably have both of them not working. :) I did try using the power switch from another case to power it on, and no go. I tried rigging the power supply over to my other computer and it wouldn't come on, and that's the new power supply. I can't find my multimeter, so I guess I have to go buy a new one. Arghhh... If I check the power cables coming off the power supply, I am assuming that all the pins should be hot all the time, right? I can at least rule in or out the power supply if I can check the pins. I can also check the contact on the power switch. I guess I can try taking it all out of the case, but it really doesn't make sense to me that it would be that. But then none of this makes sense.

08-12-2008, 08:29 PM

Very odd...

Here's the pinouts for the ATX mobo power connector:


Just shove the black lead into one of the grounds, and test away. There's a few grounds, so you should get a vew zero volt readings.

Also, speaking of power supplies, and this is a really dumb question, but you also plugged in the alt power plug (little 4 pin jobbie for the CPU), right?

08-12-2008, 09:08 PM
Tech: "This is Dell customer service how may I help you?"

Mike: "I have this computer... everything is fried... nothing will come on!"

Tech: "Sir what exactly is happening when you attempt to start the computer?"

Mike: "I push the button and nothing happens... it has to be something out of the ordinary... I work on computer in my spare time..."

Tech: "This may be a silly question... but did you make sure the computer was plugged in?"

Mike: <silence>

Tech: "Sir?"

<Click... phone goes dead>


08-12-2008, 11:02 PM
Also, speaking of power supplies, and this is a really dumb question, but you also plugged in the alt power plug (little 4 pin jobbie for the CPU), right?

Tom.. Yep, I learned that about 5 computers ago! :) As far as the measurements go, I have a degree in electronics technology and spent my first five years at IBM as a technician working on stuff like this, so well schooled in measuring stuff. Just haven't done it in a while and seem to have lost my meter in the move... so had to go get a new one.

Ross... No Comment. :) :) Seriously, I wouldn't be surprised to find something like that.

08-12-2008, 11:48 PM
Tom, that pin out diagram is old. The newer power supplies made in recent years are 24 pin instead of 20 pin. The power supply I bought came with a manual that had the diagram in it. I tried shorting pin 16 to common and the power supply won't come on. I tried doing the same with the power supply I pulled out and it too wouldn't come on. OK, maybe my technique is bad. So I bit the bullet and tried it on my working home computer and the power supply came on. I then tried it on an old PC with the pin out that matched your diagram, and that one came on. DANG IT!!!

OK... went back and did some more troubleshooting. I was able to get the new power supply to come on if I pulled all the cables (its cable managed so everything is modular and I still had those cables going to all the drives). Looks like one of my drives is shorting or something because the power supply will not come on if that drive is connected to it. Dang it again... think that might be my boot drive.... hope not, but will have to see.

So it looks like I had a fried power supply and a fried drive, at least... I can at least now get the thing to power up. Now I guess I should put the original motherboard back in to see if that was fried.... or maybe just let this power up and see if its the boot drive that fried.

08-13-2008, 12:02 AM
if you're making progress then stick with it and check the drive. once you get there, i'd try the old board to help narrow it down. as long as you're getting somewhere though, stick with it.

08-13-2008, 08:03 AM
Ross... No Comment. :) :) Seriously, I wouldn't be surprised to find something like that.

I thought you would find that cute... especially the part about you calling DELL....LOL

08-13-2008, 11:44 AM
I tried the original motherboard, and its dead. Dang it... what the heck happened to this thing. I've got a fried power supply, motherboard, and my primary drive. All I was doing was moving it around in my office, and then trying to turn it back on. And it was connected to a UPS. I guess the power supply blew and took out the motherboard and that drive.

Oh well. Now my problem is that I can't find my Windows XP installation disks. There must be a box of my office stuff from the move that is lost somewhere else in the house. I'd hate to have to go to Vista for this machine... ugh. I had XP Pro on it which worked very well.

08-13-2008, 02:08 PM
Progress... :)

I couldn't find my XP Pro install disk... but I did find a box of stuff that ended up in my son's room that had the XP Home Upgrade install disk. I was able to boot to CD from the install disk and get to a command line and look at which drive is still working. It is my system drive, not my scratch drive!!!! Yahoo. I couldn't access anything but the /windows directory. XP Pro security at work. So I exited that, changed the BIOS to boot to that drive (thought I did that before) and it booted up. Its got some major driver problems, but its running for now. I hope I can find my XP Pro install disk... I really don't want to give anymore money to Microsoft. Ugh.

So looks like the total damage to this thing was power supply, motherboard, and one non-essential SATA disk drive. The only thing I bought that I don't need is a $40 Celeron processor I used to test the motherboard. I should be able to easily sell that on Ebay and get most of my money back on it. So all and all not a bad deal.

08-14-2008, 09:16 AM
Everything is running great. I played a game of Company of Heroes last night with my son. We won a 3 vs. 4 battle which was a lot of fun. Unless something dramatically changes, I am going to conclude that the experts at the store were wrong because they assured me that it wouldn't run right unless I reloaded the OS. I will say that its still possible that something will pop up later that doesn't work, but COH is pretty stressful to a machine and seemed to be fine.

Thanks for all the help and suggestions from everyone along the way. I came close to just giving up and scrapping it.