system smoking - won't even beep during POST

Discussion in 'Asus' started by Andrew Hamilton, Aug 4, 2009.

  1. One of my backup systems started to smoke yesterday.

    After I disconnected the hard drive to protect my files, I tried to
    reboot. Nothing. This system is based on an old, but still good ASUS

    The green power light is on, all the fans spin, etc., but the
    motherboard doesn't beep at all.

    My question: If one of the two Athlon CPUs got fried, would that
    prevent the board from even starting POST? Or is it the board that
    burned up, so my best bet is to just replace the motherboard.

    Any suggestions for a low-cost motherboard + Intel CPU? This system
    is a file server and also a backup system for web browsing and other
    light activities.

    Andrew Hamilton, Aug 4, 2009
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  2. Andrew Hamilton

    Paul Guest

    Visually examine where the power supply 20 pin cable plugs into the
    motherboard. Dual Athlon systems draw a lot of +5V power and
    can exceed the current rating of the main connector pins. The
    nylon may be melted. To repair, you should replace the
    connector on the end of the power supply, as well as the
    connector on the motherboard. (The plating on the pins gets
    damaged, and even if cleaned, the same burning will happen again.
    You must replace the pins on both components, before it will
    be trouble free again.)

    For your replacement motherboard idea, you need something with
    the kind of I/O connections you expect to use. If the old system
    was filled with IDE ribbon cable drives, a modern motherboard
    may be a poor match. (You'd need to add Promise Ultra133 TX2
    cards or the like, to get more IDE connectors.) Modern motherboards
    may have up to six SATA connectors and one IDE connector, so if
    you had any additional requirements, you'd be looking for more PCI
    slots or whatever.

    In terms of reuse and having more legacy content, there is
    this motherboard. Cheap. Chipset doesn't get hot. Two IDE
    connectors for four IDE drives, two SATA II connectors.
    Four PCI slots. Limited to FSB1066, which likely isn't a problem
    for a cheap Intel processor.

    ASRock 4CoreDual-SATA2 R2.0 LGA 775 $60

    This is about the best processor you can stick in that board,
    based on the compatibility tables. There are cheaper processors
    than this, that would also work. I have an E4700 2.6GHz in my
    4CoreDual, but I don't think those are for sale any more.

    Intel Core2 Duo E7500 Wolfdale 2.93GHz 3MB L2 Cache LGA 775 $120

    If you want to go with a FSB1333 processor, there are plenty of
    other motherboards to choose from.

    The 4CoreDual-SATA2 is not recommended for overclocking. It works
    fine at stock. I use 2x1GB DDR2 memory in mine, running at DDR2-533 CAS3.
    There are also DDR slots. 2x1GB is about the best you can do.
    You cannot populate the DDR and DDR2 slots at the same time,
    it is either one or the other.

    If you want working EIST (SpeedStep, for cooler idle processor
    operation), you need a hacked BIOS from Germany to get that
    feature. EIST is broken in the official release BIOS.
    I think I'm using 213a from here, and the EIST appeared
    to be working when I enabled it. I used CPUZ to check the
    state of the multiplier setting. The multiplier changes
    according to system load.

    Paul, Aug 4, 2009
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  3. A critical question is where was the smoke coming from.

    Most commonly, if a system starts to smoke, the smoke is coming from the
    power supply. In that case, do not even try the system again until
    the power supply has been replaced (a common cause of this, in turn, is
    a failed power supply fan ... fans are mechanical, have bearings, and
    can be expected to eventually fail).

    If the smoke is coming from the motherboard, it's probably coming from
    *** the Vcore switching power supply on the motherboard *** (as computer
    components go ... power supplies are heavy smokers !!). This supply
    takes 12 volts from the "power supply" and converts it into the Vcore
    power needed by the CPU (usually a low voltage between 1.0 and 1.5
    volts, but with tremendous current capacity ... in some cases up to 100
    amps). If that's failed, the motherboard is probably toast, but the CPU
    chips themselves may well be ok.

    It's likely that either of the above scenarios would prevent the board
    from Posting. Fact is, ANY failure that produces smoke .... will likely
    kill the system until the component that smoked (be it power supply,
    motherboard or something else) is replaced. CPUs themselves will not
    normally smoke unless they are mounted with NO fan/heatsink.

    Suggestions for a low cost motherboard/CPU: Sure. ECS G31T-M. It's a
    very respectable socket 775 motherboard that will take a wide variety of
    Intel CPU chips (including Core 2 Duo) and you can get it for $35-$40
    (talking new from Egghead here .... but usually after a $10 rebate) (the
    "full" price is $50, but it's on sale for $5-$10 off usually at least a
    few days a month, AND there is often (I want to say usually) a $10 to
    $15 rebate as well). CPU ... Intel E5200's (a "Dual Core Pentium") work
    real good in these boards, are highly overclockable and are only $70 or
    so. Last month they had a "deal" with this motherboard, a dual core CPU
    (I think it was an E5200) and 4GB of dual channel memory for $110 total
    (after two rebates, I believe).
    Barry Watzman, Aug 5, 2009
  4. An update.

    The last few messages in this thread were spot on.

    I disconnected the 20-pin power connector from the dead motherboard.
    No melted plastic either on the cable connector or on the motherboard
    twin header. BUT ...

    But, there was a pretty strong "smoky" smell in that part of the
    motherboard, even though it has been almost a week now that the board
    stopped working. AND ...

    And, one of the big capacitors near the power connector header had
    this orange-y "stuff" on part of the top. So, I googled on "capacitor
    leakage" and found a very good article in Wikipedia. (Where else?)

    This article specifically called out motherboards as one of the
    problem areas, and one of the photos looked a lot like the problem
    capacitor in my motherboard.

    The article even said that this was a real problem in the early 2000s,
    which is when this motherboard was manufactured. I remember those
    days, when Aibit boards were dying like flies. But I guess ASUS
    wasn't immune to this problem either.

    So right now I'm pretty sure that the board is the problem, not the
    AMD processors. And based on the comments that I would need a board
    that can handle the "older" cables in this system, I'm going to try
    first with my unused A7M-266D board.

    I actually have two backup systems with these boards. This is a
    warning that it's time to upgrade.

    Andrew Hamilton, Aug 6, 2009
  5. Thank you to both people who replied.

    Let me say that I had an identical (Antec 550 W ) power supply, and
    even after swapping out the P/S, the system still would not boot. I
    did not check the 20 pin connector where it plugs into the
    motherboard, because the P/S has a 24 pin connector, and I used a
    24-to-20 pin adapter cable. I just unplugged the P/S from the adapter
    cable and therefore did not inspect the motherboard power pins.
    I thought so too, but with the other PS, the fan was still running
    before I pulled it out. I suspected a burned-out capacitor in the
    P/S, but as you can see, the P/S was not the problem.
    Well, that is good. See below.
    CPU fans were spinning OK. ALL the fans were spinning OK. It's only
    the motherboard that won't "spin up."
    Sounds good. I've been building with ASUS for probably 15 years now,
    with excellent luck until now. The other poster's suggestion for an
    ASROCK board sounds nice. I'll need to re-read both posts and then
    make a decision.

    But believe it or not, I have a spare A7M-266 D board that I got for a
    system that never got built. Another option is to move the CPUs, if
    they are good, into that board, and put that board into the system. No
    performance boost, but the price is right.

    Andrew Hamilton, Aug 6, 2009
  6. Andrew Hamilton

    Paul Guest

    Interesting it was the caps. Asus didn't have quite as many problems with
    caps as some of the others (but they have had some failures, just not enough
    for anyone to file a class action suit). I would have expected you to report
    "crashing" as a symptom, if the caps around Vcore were involved. Perhaps it
    was an input side cap that failed ?

    There is an example of a Vcore regulator here. See PDF page 11.

    Input filtering is up in the upper left hand corner. Inductor L1 and six
    electrolytics filter the 12V coming from the 2x2 power connector (yours
    probably runs from +5V instead). The other filtering is "per output phase".
    L2 is an example of an output inductor (in older designs, a powdered iron
    toroid with wire on it). C21 through C28 are the output filter caps, on
    the low voltage side of the circuit.

    So C1 through C6 have 12V across them for most of their lives. And
    C21 through C28 have 1.6V max on the output side. You may be able to
    tell from the position on the board, whether the caps are input or
    output. If the output caps fail, you might see stability issues, and
    "crashing" before there is smoke. It might be possible to destroy
    some input caps, and not notice in terms of computer operation. With less
    filtering on input, more ripple could be transferred back to the ATX power

    According to one web page I looked at, the manufacturer claimed a cap would
    last for 15 years, before the bottom rubber seal starts to fail. Anything
    which attacks rubber, might accelerate that process. So a higher level
    of ozone for example, might lead to earlier failure. If the rubber seal
    fails, the cap dries out.

    When you see the brown or orange goo, the cap has probably burst due to
    internal pressure. But I don't know the chemical description of
    what is happening there. I think that would be classed as a
    premature failure, even if the "bad" electrolyte wasn't involved.

    I have one Antec power supply here, with orange goo on four caps inside,
    and that supply did not have a lot of hours on it. So the "capacitor
    plague" caps don't need to be used, to go bad. In the case of your
    system, it has been under bias for quite a while, and you'd think it
    would have failed sooner if the caps were some of the bad ones. So
    I don't know if they would be considered "plague" victims.

    Since you have spare boards, you can take the duff one out of service,
    then take your time "re-capping" the duff board. There are web sites
    that sell capacitor kits, and what you'd aim to do, is replace all the
    caps in the failing bank. if the board has six input caps, you replace
    all of them, even if they're visually OK. Same would go for an output
    side failure. If there were six output caps, replace all six. That is
    the minimum amount of work I'd do. When you have six caps, and one fails,
    the other five caps are called on to do the work of six. So as the
    caps fail, the failure rate accelerates as the other caps get more
    of the ripple current. The presumption is, they've been stressed
    and are likely to be just as ripe as the failed ones.

    Paul, Aug 6, 2009
  7. I'm not sure what the function of that cap is, and I'm not quite
    enough a hardware component jockey to work through that question. And
    of course, until I actually pull the motherboard this weekend, I can't
    inspect the bottom of the board, etc.
    This system has been rock-solid steady, and stays on for days and days
    at a time without a reboot, since it acts as a file server. In fact,
    most reboots have been because of Norton Security instructions to
    reboot. Never any crashes, etc.
    Not where I live.
    According to the Wikipedia article, that goo is definitely an
    indicator of failure.

    I don't know either, but the system has been running almost 7 x 24 for
    over six years, first on a desktop, now as a backup system and server.
    Frankly, it is overdue for upgrade anyway.
    I see your point, that is, don't just replace the one that failed.
    But honesty, I'm not sure I would do that, not if I can get a
    reasonably good ASUS mother board for say $100, plus another $100 for
    a 64-bit dual core CPU. In fact, the biggest expense might be the
    64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium or maybe a business version (for the
    disk encryption security).

    .. Same would go for an output
    Point extremely well taken. In fact, it is quite likely that one or
    two other caps have failed, but just haven't oozed that good yet.

    I should plan to upgrade both systems with this model motherboard,
    since the performance gains of a 64-bit system are significant and
    memory is so cheap these days.

    I have to say this. When a system smokes, it makes a dramatic
    statement that your wife notices, and then there is no real issue of
    "Why do you need to do this?"

    I appreciate your response.
    Andrew Hamilton, Aug 6, 2009
  8. Andy ....

    If that is what happened, there is a VERY GOOD (better than 50%) chance
    that if you just replace the capacitors .... THAT board will resume working.
    Barry Watzman, Aug 7, 2009
  9. Or better yet, just throw it all out, except maybe the new old stock
    power supply that I just installed. See below.
    Too old at this point. Assuming they weren't burned out. See below.

    Funny you should say that.

    Because the power supply was NOT bad. But, after I successfully
    transplanted the motherboard, the system kept on beeping endlessly and
    there was no video. According to the manual, this constant beeping
    means that there is no memory in the system. Moving the memory sticks
    to different memory slots didn't help.

    So I pulled out both memory sticks, put one in from my other Athlon
    backup system, and the constant beeping stopped. So the old memory
    sticks got fried also. But still no video.

    At this point, I declare "defeat" and go home. I was able to recover
    the data from the hard drive in the backup system, and that was really
    the key issue all along. That was an old, but still good SCSI drive,
    and I have a SCSI controller in my other backup system. But it's
    funny, because recently I have been thinking that it was time to
    retire that old drive before IT might fail.

    So my real lesson is that it's time to move on, with both backup
    systems. Good while they lasted. Too bad there isn't a "cash for
    clunker" motherboards rebate going on. I'm sure my new system,
    whatever it is, will get at least 10 mph better than the old dual

    The one remaining backup system, I'll keep using it but I won't keep
    any critical data on it.

    Athlons are so old nowadays that unless I got new old stock, I would
    have to worry that I was buying a defective unit. Don't forget that
    while the heat sinks are good, the heat sink fans are also pretty old.
    The video card is only about two years old, replacing one that failed
    but it was only $40. Not much else of value, assuming that it wasn't
    burned out like the DRAM.

    So, this has been a good thread for the group, I think we all learned
    something, but it's time to move on.

    Andrew Hamilton, Aug 8, 2009
  10. I was wondering. Does anyone know when Intel is supposed to announce
    the i5? ?

    All I know is that it will be a mainstream CPU line, with the P55
    chipset. Anyone care to guess about pricing of the CPUs or of likely
    ASUS motherboards with the P55?

    I'm asking because maybe I should drop an i5-based board into my
    wife's system an move her current motherboard/CPU into one of the
    backup systems.

    Andrew Hamilton, Aug 8, 2009
  11. Andrew Hamilton

    Ken Guest

    "first part of next year you'll begin to see Core i3, and i5"
    Ken, Aug 8, 2009
  12. Y:

    You are "preaching to the choir," as they say. I've been doing
    "green" recycling since 2000 or so. And I also "recycle" my
    components from "primary use" systems to "backup" systems, so I get
    long useful lifetimes out of my components.

    This recent experience with a burned out motherboard was pretty
    instructive, though. When I opened up the case I found that a
    secondary fan on the front of the case had stopped working. That was
    a bit scary, because that fan was supposed to cool the hard disk
    drive! A much bigger front intake fan was still working, though, so I
    don't think that excessive heat was the primary culprit.

    I should add that when I took old the old motherboard, I found that a
    second big capacitor had also failed. The top was bulging about as
    much as the capacitor with the orange goo on it. The top of the
    second capacitor did not have any of that good, however.
    LOL. I've used a sledge hammer and whacked away until the electronics
    board was thoroughly smashed and the top of the drive was damaged
    enough to let in air.

    I also used to use tape backup, and when I got rid of the tapes (at a
    recycling place, of course), I smashed the plastic case of each of the
    Or on backup tapes.

    Thanks for the post.

    Andrew Hamilton, Aug 8, 2009
  13. LOL. You can do what I did. Buy an add-an SATA board. I got one
    from Adaptec that is 64-bit.

    I've also had great luck with Antec. Solid stuff. And also PC Power
    and Cooling.

    Should we start a thread about power supplies good and bad?

    Andrew Hamilton, Aug 8, 2009
  14. Big thanks to Zootal for his response quoted below.

    We are now "officially" talking about good and bad power supplies.

    If you were going to build a system today around something like the
    Intel i7 with say 2 graphics cards, etc., what would you use?

    I've found power supply wattage calculators on several sites, like
    this one on the Corsair site on the home page
    Comments on how good this calculator is.

    Andrew Hamilton, Aug 10, 2009
  15. People grossly overestimate the power that they need. I am running a
    Core i7 system with two hard drives and two optical drives, plus a
    SoundBlaster with "live drive", a floppy and a flash memory card reader
    with a 380 watt supply and it's fine.

    BUT .....

    1. A ***GOOD*** 380 watt supply will outperform a cheap 500 watt supply
    every time. EVERY TIME.

    2. There is no way for us to actually judge the quality of a supply.
    We can't measure things like transient response. The old addage is
    "weight means quality", and that IS mostly true. But I've added two
    other criteria: Only buy power supplies that are both 80+ certified and
    also that have "active PFC" (PFC=power factor correction). Not because
    you need either one of those things, per se. But rather because by
    making both of them requirements, you will have eliminated all of the junk.

    When in doubt, get a "Kill-A-Watt" and MEASURE the actual power
    consumption of your running system. Remember that you are measuring the
    INPUT power. So, with my power supply, if I measure 300 watts, and
    knowing that this supply is about 80% efficient, the system is USING 240
    watts (and all that I need is a GOOD 240 watt power supply ... power
    supplies are rated on their OUTPUT, not their input).

    However, note that there are individual limits on the individual outputs
    ("rails") And if you add up those individual limits, they usually
    exceed the total rated capacity of the power supply. In other words,
    you normally CAN NOT draw the maximum rated power from every output.

    [The supply I have is an Antec "Earthwatts" supply.]

    Barry Watzman, Aug 11, 2009
  16. You're right. I forgot to add the power supply discussion is in the
    context of ASUS motherboard-based systems.
    Andrew Hamilton, Aug 12, 2009
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