mobo fried? how to diagnose?

  • panzhuli
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Post 3+ Months Ago

hi all. i just built my first computer in july, and yesterday all went bad!

here's what i have:
BIOSTAR AMD M-ATX M7NCG400 RTL - microATX mobo for amd
CPU AMD|2500/333 ATHLON XP BARTON
DDRAM 256M|DDR333 PC-2700 - 2 sticks, so 512M RAM
WIN XP HOME
A-Power 320 Watt mATX power supply

was working ok until a couple of days ago. i was playing a game and the puter froze and made a loud noise (through the headphones). i thought nothing of it so restarted. it was also periodically telling me the internet cable was unplugged when it was not.

then yesterday we either had a power dip, a power surge, or my computer fried and stole the electricity from everything else. the tv went out for a sec, the cable box rebooted, and the computer crashed and never came back. Oddly, I had been playing with the pc settings in the front, so I happen to know the temp in the box read 35 degrees Celcius... if it matters. I was running a microsoft game, probably an email app in the back, and maybe a browser in the back as well.

so here are my questions:

1. is it a mobo fry? how can i tell?
2. is there something that i forgot when i built this thing? is there a ground i should have used? the mobo is connected to the case through the screws, but other than that i don't know of any grounding in there.
3. is there anyone who can help me figure out what to do? could it be a power supply problem? is the power supply too large or small for this?

should i just buy a new mobo and see if it works? is it possible it is a ram issue or that everything is fried?

as you can see, i know very little about this, but want to fix it!

thanks!
  • Bgnn32
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Post 3+ Months Ago

If your mother board is fried you should hear a sizzle sound and see white smoke riseing from the case :)
  • panzhuli
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Post 3+ Months Ago

or are you for real? i did smell an electrical smell but no smoke.
  • ScienceOfSpock
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Will the computer simply not turn on, or does it do something else, like lock up during boot, or exhibit strange behavior?

If it simply doesn't turn on, it sounds like you had a power surge that popped your power supply.

With everything else flicking out like that, it sounds like a surge or brown-out. If you didn't have your computer plugged into a good surge protector, your power supply is probably dead.

The good news is it's relatively inexpensive. The bad news is that if it was a cheap PSU in the first place, it could have taken some of your other components with it, like the mobo, ram and cpu.
  • panzhuli
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Post 3+ Months Ago

the computer acts as if it is simply not plugged in.

i am not sure if it was a cheap power supply or not. it was the largest wattage i could find for the mATX size... it is an A-Power 320 Watt mATX power supply. is that a good brand? jeez i hope so!

prior to the problem, it was exhibiting slightly strange behavior, like sometimes it would buzz while i was playing a game and then lock up. and with the ethernet cable not being recognized periodically even when my dsl is not down.

that's why i can't figure out if it is a mobo issue or power issue
  • ScienceOfSpock
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I have never heard of A-Power, so I don't know if it's good or not. Can't find much on them after a quick google. I generally stick to Allied Power. They're in the "Best of Breed" category, and are a bit more expensive, but well worth it.

Since it behaves like it's not plugged in, I'm going to go ahead and say you blew the power supply.
Your first option is to replace it. After that, you'll have to determine if anything else is dead. (USUALLY not the case, but it is possible)

You can buy a power supply tester at compUSA (I think they're around 30 bucks) if you're in the States, just to be sure.

As for the buzz, and locking up, and ethernet not being recognized, that could all be symptoms of a bad power supply. I'll explain in the next post.
  • panzhuli
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Post 3+ Months Ago

how much power do you think i need. the only allied power supply unit for my size 'puter is 200W.

there is also one by A GPB that is 400W.

how do i decide how much i need?

i do limited gaming.

usually run dreamweaver, pshop, email app, browser at once. not too much. only have on-board video card.
  • ScienceOfSpock
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Power supplies are a touchy subject for me, since the labeling can be so misleading. For instance, you can go to a store, and see an Allied power PSU, boasting 500 watts of power for $150. Next to it, you see a Brand X boasting 500 watts of power for $50.

What's the difference?

The difference is partially how they rate their wattage output, but more importantly, how they break down their AMPERAGE output.

On an Allied Power box, they'll break down how many watts and amps are provided to the +12v, the +5v and the +3v leads. The wattage listed on Allied Power boxes is RMS* wattage. On many Brand-X PSU's they will simply state the maximum output wattage (usually peak** wattage) for the whole PSU, and not even list the amperage at all.

If the +12v leads on your PSU can't handle the drives in your system, OR the +5v leads can't handle your USB stuff, OR the +3v can't handle whatever it is that it handles, you're going to experience problems.

In general, AMD's take a lot of power, and it pays to have a good power supply. For reference, I'm not associated with Allied Power at all, I just find their stuff superior to everything else I've tried. Enermax also makes good PSU's and there are a few more other good PSU manufacturers out there. If the PSU is priced cheap, then the performance you'll get out of it will probably be cheap too.

* RMS generally means wattage provided under NORMAL load conditions
** peak wattage generally means how much wattage it can provide under heavy load, for very brief periods of time.
  • panzhuli
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Post 3+ Months Ago

you have been very helpful. all this time i was just sure there was something i was supposed to do to ground it and was feeling really bad!

happy holidays
  • ScienceOfSpock
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Grounding is not usually a problem, unless you are building a computer out of a toilet or something (lol ATNO ref: http://www.ozzu.com/hardware/computer-cases-t37057.html ).

Power requirements depend on your hardware.

What CPU are you running exactly? Athlon XP 2500? Athlon XP 3200+?

What Vid card are you running? Geforce FX 5200 or Geforce 5900 Ultra?

How many Harddrives are you running?

Do you have a simple CD drive, or a CD/DVD combo drive, or a CD/DVD Writer combo drive?

I have a link somewhere for a power consumption calculator that will tell you how much power you will need for all your components. I'll find it and post it here.
  • ScienceOfSpock
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Post 3+ Months Ago

ok, here's the calculator: http://www.jscustompcs.com/power_supply/
  • ScienceOfSpock
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Incidentally, if the Allied Power PSU you were referring to is this one: http://www.apextechusa.com/proddetail_power.asp?id=17

It's probably perfect.

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