ASUS Z87-C, no problems for years, but recently cannot boot. VGA_LED stays red, but GPU might not be the problem?

Nov 28, 2018
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This is kind of a long and meandering story, but I'm trying to give as many details as possible, in case there's something obvious I'm overlooking that someone can notice.

For starters, system specs are as follows:
Motherboard: ASUS Z87-C
CPU: i5-4670
GPU: Asus GTX770-DC2OC-2GD5
PSU: Corsair CX 600M
RAM: 2x4GB Corsair Vengeance 1600 mHz DDR3 + 2x4GB G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3
SSD: Samsung 840 EVO 120 GB, Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB
HDD: Western Digital 1 TB 7200 RPM
OS: Windows 10, 64 bit

For some context, I built this system in 2014 and have only made upgrades to add more RAM and another SSD about a year ago. In that time, I've had no issues with the computer whatsoever. However, in the last month or so, the system has intermittently failed to boot several times (power on, fans running, but no image on screen). Once it did work, though, it was fine to stay on, run games, etc. with no problems.

When it was having these issues, I noticed that the VGA_LED light remained red after powering on, which I assumed meant there was something wrong with the GPU. My card has this massive dumb chrome detailing on the outside which seems to be 95% for aesthetics, but it weighs a lot. So I was worried that it might be bending something, especially after sitting in there for 4 years. Re-seating the card seemed to allow the computer to boot, but the problem was not consistent or reproducible enough for me to be sure this was really the cause or the solution.

This all came to a head earlier this week when I was testing it with 3DMark. Every benchmark I tried, after about 15 seconds, the test would stop and 3DMark would just give an error (test aborted). These were not tests that should have pushed the system very hard, either. Then one of the benchmarks instead just crashed the whole computer; it turned completely off in the middle of the test. At this point, reseating the GPU had no effect, and I couldn't get the computer to boot at all. Again, power was on just fine, fans running, etc., but no image on the screen and the VGA_LED light stayed red. From this point on, I have had no success as long as the card is on the board.

Since then, I have tried a couple things, and the results have confused me more (and seem different from many other forum posts that appeared to have the same overall problem, hence why I'm asking here).

1. Installing the GPU in another system works fine. I haven't had the time to benchmark it or run additional tests (what could I do to stress test it?), but it can certainly boot windows just fine on another board. So at least the card isn't completely bricked.
2. Removing the GPU and just plugging my monitor into the motherboard HDMI slot also works fine. Sure it's only integrated graphics, but I can get to windows and run basic stuff just fine.
3. Leaving the GPU in, but plugging the monitor into the motherboard HDMI slot (as in #2) does not work. Still no image on screen and the VGA_LED light stays red.
4. Installing the GPU in the second PCIEX16 slot (which has never had a card in it, so there's no way it could be bent or something) does not work. Same problem as before.

A couple other obvious things I figure I should mention:
- The lights (I assume to indicate power?) on the outside of the GPU where you plug in the power are green...which seems correct to me.
- The system is free from dust and I've never had any issues overheating, so I'm guessing that's not the problem.


tl;dr Computer worked fine for 4 years, now won't boot. Simplest explanation would be dead GPU, but it works if I plug it into another system, so maybe the motherboard is the problem?

I would greatly appreciate any ideas of what could be the problem, and how to troubleshoot or test these issues. Thanks!
 
Nov 28, 2018
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Yep, as I noted above, this works fine. Obviously it's not ideal to be limited to the integrated graphics, but it at least makes the system usable. However, I don't think the GPU is completely dead in the water, because as I said, it works when I tried it on a different board.

Ideally I think I'd want to try a different GPU on this board, but unfortunately I don't have an extra one laying around to test.
 
Nov 28, 2018
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I just checked and it's on 2103, so unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the fix.

 

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