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Question Can I repair a dead motherboard?

Mar 24, 2020
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Hello all!

I am new to this forum, and I wanted to reach out for a quick question,

I have intentionally purchased a dead ASUS Strix B250i motherboard with hopes to fix it to save some money and learn a little more about electronics and such. After performing all the troubleshooting methods I could imagine, I believe the issue involves the motherboard’s ability to deliver power to the CPU. The motherboard’s power indicator turns on, fans spin up, and integrated light strip works, but the issue is the CPU light is constantly on, hindering the system’s ability to POST. The motherboard will turn on for around 6-10 seconds, power off for a moment, and will repeat this process until I remove power from the board. I know all the components I have installed work properly, and my troubleshooting methods are listed below:

• Removed memory, one stick in each DIMM slot, tried a separate kit, nothing.
• Reseated CPU and tried different coolers in case it was a mounting pressure issue, still nothing.
• Removed and reset CMOS, still no POST.
• Used a separate power supply, the issue persists. I know these units work because I tested both on a separate board while troubleshooting my current one.
• I am using integrated graphics, so I don’t have any discrete GPU to reseat, remove, etc.
• I have not tested a separate CPU because I don’t have any compatible ones laying around, but I am using an i3-7100 and last time I checked, the CPU worked just fine.
• The socket looks good, with no bent pins or inflicted damage.

Would anyone have any other methods of troubleshooting or ideas for narrowing in on the actual issue? My current thoughts involve an issue with the MOSFETs and 8-pin EPS connector, but I can’t think of any ways to properly test and diagnose this. I am fine with soldering if needed, and I do have a multimeter laying around that could come in handy, but I only know the extreme basics in using it.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!
 

vov4ik_il

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Mar 23, 2020
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Re-flash the bios (take the IC off, write and set it back on). Now if that does not help, you can move on to the more complicated stuff like checking power phases, clock sources, etc... You will need some equipment to do all this stuff and a new motherboard will be ways cheaper.
 
Mar 24, 2020
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Re-flash the bios (take the IC off, write and set it back on). Now if that does not help, you can move on to the more complicated stuff like checking power phases, clock sources, etc... You will need some equipment to do all this stuff and a new motherboard will be ways cheaper.
Sounds good, thanks for the response. :)
One question though, when you say taking the IC off, do you mean physically removing the BIOS chip and writing to it externally with another device?
 

vov4ik_il

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Mar 23, 2020
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physically removing the BIOS chip and writing to it externally with another device
Yes. Trying to program the memory IC while on the board may (and probably will) damage the writer by overloading the Vcc line.

Edit: You can get a cheap spi flasher for under 50$ these days. Something like this will probably do. Check what kind of IC is used and find the appropriate flashing tool.
 
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Mar 24, 2020
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Yes. Trying to program the memory IC while on the board may (and probably will) damage the writer by overloading the Vcc line.

Edit: You can get a cheap spi flasher for under 50$ these days. Something like this will probably do. Check what kind of IC is used and find the appropriate flashing tool.
Hello!

I have done some research and have discovered that I have a 9-pin header next to the motherboard's BIOS chip, and it can actually be connected to the Programmer and written without soldering or anything such as that.

I was wondering if you would have any ideas as to what the names of this cable would be if it does exist? I do not know the names of these headers, but I have seen some titles such as IDC and JTAG connectors. I was just wondering if you had any ideas.
 

vov4ik_il

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Mar 23, 2020
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Hello!

I have done some research and have discovered that I have a 9-pin header next to the motherboard's BIOS chip, and it can actually be connected to the Programmer and written without soldering or anything such as that.
Maybe.

I was wondering if you would have any ideas as to what the names of this cable would be if it does exist? I do not know the names of these headers, but I have seen some titles such as IDC and JTAG connectors. I was just wondering if you had any ideas.
It looks like you are confusing "interface" with "cable" here. Interfaces are "languages spoken" such as Ethernet, USB, JTAG etc... while cables are just connectors.
The BIOS ROM IC usually "speaks" SPI. You will need SPI interface with a suitable cable for your headers (on the motherboard and SPI flashing device), in case you will bet on the research and flash it while on the motherboard.

For further help, post some really close pictures (so the chip markings can be readable) of every SOIC 8 or 16 IC that you have on your board, I will be able to tell you which one is the BIOS and what tool do you need for that.
Edit: You are looking for something like that. It varies by the manufacturer (MXIC and Winbond are the common ones) and operating voltage (usually 1.8v~5V). It can be on the back of the board and below the M2 heatsinks too...
 
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Mar 24, 2020
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It looks like you are confusing "interface" with "cable" here. Interfaces are "languages spoken" such as Ethernet, USB, JTAG etc... while cables are just connectors.
The BIOS ROM IC usually "speaks" SPI. You will need SPI interface with a suitable cable for your headers (on the motherboard and SPI flashing device), in case you will bet on the research and flash it while on the motherboard.
Ohh okay my bad, that makes more sense then haha. Thanks for letting me know :)
I was thinking that the 9-pin thing would be easier and a little more effective to use, but I still wouldn't mind soldering and such if that's my best option.
For further help, post some really close pictures (so the chip markings can be readable) of every SOIC 8 or 16 IC that you have on your board, I will be able to tell you which one is the BIOS and what tool do you need for that.
Here is the photo: View: https://imgur.com/a/3r3N7bX

The Winbond chip was the only one I could find, and in case the text isn't terribly clear, the markings say "25Q128FVSQ 1651."
Thanks again for all of the help thus far:)
 

vov4ik_il

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Mar 23, 2020
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So it is the SOIC-8 Winbond chip. You need to get 1.8v SPI flashing solution. Try this set. It has a flasher and 1.8v adapter. It seems to be the cheapest.
Download this driver and this software.
Download the latest BIOS for that specific motherboard from the manufacturers' website.
You can use the header at your own risk, or you can just try with a clip first (if you are sure it is designed for flashing on the board - both ways are ok).

  1. Take everything off the board (all components and all connectors).
  2. Install the driver on a working system.
  3. Put an antistatic strap on your hand.
  4. Mount the clip onto the adapter and the adapter onto the flasher and connect the flasher to a working system first. Make sure it appears in the device manager.
  5. Connect the clip to the BIOS IC (red wire to pin #1 (marked with a dot on the IC)
  6. Run the programming software and open the bios file (the one you downloaded from Asus)
  7. Read(optional, save what you had)->Erase->Write->Verify
  8. Disconnect the clip and try putting all back together.
If you want to use the header, you need to find out the pinout of the header and get jumper cables to connect to the flasher.
 
Mar 24, 2020
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So it is the SOIC-8 Winbond chip. You need to get 1.8v SPI flashing solution. Try this set. It has a flasher and 1.8v adapter. It seems to be the cheapest.
Download this driver and this software.
Download the latest BIOS for that specific motherboard from the manufacturers' website.
You can use the header at your own risk, or you can just try with a clip first (if you are sure it is designed for flashing on the board - both ways are ok).

  1. Take everything off the board (all components and all connectors).
  2. Install the driver on a working system.
  3. Put an antistatic strap on your hand.
  4. Mount the clip onto the adapter and the adapter onto the flasher and connect the flasher to a working system first. Make sure it appears in the device manager.
  5. Connect the clip to the BIOS IC (red wire to pin #1 (marked with a dot on the IC)
  6. Run the programming software and open the bios file (the one you downloaded from Asus)
  7. Read(optional, save what you had)->Erase->Write->Verify
  8. Disconnect the clip and try putting all back together.
If you want to use the header, you need to find out the pinout of the header and get jumper cables to connect to the flasher.
Awesome, thank you so much! I will post an additional response once everything arrives in the mail. :)
 

vov4ik_il

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Mar 23, 2020
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Awesome, thank you so much! I will post an additional response once everything arrives in the mail. :)
Sounds like a plan :)
Edit: I ordered the same set myself - would be cheap and handy spare. 1.8v is common on Pascal GPUs which I get to reflash from time to time.
If the IC gets damaged or bad it is about 2$.
 
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Mar 24, 2020
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Sounds like a plan :)
Edit: I ordered the same set myself - would be cheap and handy spare. 1.8v is common on Pascal GPUs which I get to reflash from time to time.
If the IC gets damaged or bad it is about 2$.
Hello again!

The product has just arrived, and here is a photo of everything in the package:
View: https://imgur.com/GXLs9zR


One quick question though, when plugging the adapter (I am using the clamp) into the USB flasher, which pins correlate to the holes? Also, when I tried attaching the clamp to the BIOS chip as a test, it was a little lopsided due to the 9-pin header right next to the chip. Is this a significant issue, or will it work okay so long as contact is achieved?
 

vov4ik_il

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Mar 23, 2020
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Hello,

I got my packet in the mail too.
I have a dead video card that someone sent me for parts - this will be our demo patient 🙃

Here is what I am doing in details:
  1. Put a grounding strap on your hand and use a static-safe work surface
  2. Find the memory IC on the card (it was obviously tampered-with in my case) and read the spec (looking for voltage, pin arrangement, and protocol) and find out that it is a standard 1.8v SPI SOIC8 flash memory chip.
  3. Assemble the SPI programmer (for 1.8v I need a level shifter which came with the package) fully assembled (with a clip in your case) it will look like this. It should not be connected to anything yet.
  4. I downloaded the software package for the flasher and extracted to C:\Portable\AsProgrammer1.4\
  5. I look for a file I need to program (in your case should be this one) and extract it to a temporary directory
  6. (Skip) I desolder the IC from the board (on this GPU board the 1.8 voltage regulator is shot and there is a short between Vcc leg and ground so if I try to connect the programmer with the chip on still on the board - it will be fried in a few seconds)
  7. (Skip) I would normally solder it to the supplied pad matching Pin #1 (the dot in my case) on the IC with pad #1 so that there is less chance of flashing multiple times due to bad contact and subsequent bad verification after flashing.
  8. (Your Option) Alternatively, I would use a clip, attaching it to the programmer with the red wire matching Pin #1 on both the programmer (or adapter) and the IC.
  9. Then I would verify that everything is connected properly and securely attached to the IC and connect it to USB port of my PC:
    1. assembled programmer with 1.8v adapter and clip on top should look like this
    2. the jumper should be in SPI mode
    3. I used a powered USB hub so that I do not have to move this bundle
  10. C:\Portable\ch341a\AsProgrammer_1.4.1\CH341-Drivers\CH341Parallel_driver_support WIN7\CH341PAR.EXE and install the drivers for the connected device so that the software can claim it
  11. Launch C:\Portable\ch341a\AsProgrammer_1.4.1\AsProgrammer.exe (as Administrator so that it has access to my files for writing) and select my device from the Hardware in the top menu
  12. Press the Read ID button (IC-sign ?) and select my IC from the populated list
  13. Save the current content of the IC (just in case you need it to revert your tampering) by pressing Read IC (IC-sign and ->) save it to a file backup.rom
  14. Open the file to be written (click the folder icon and pick the extracted file from step 5)
  15. Launch the programming sequence (Press on the black pointer on the icon with a red arrow pointing towards the chip and select the sequence)
  16. Once done, I would verify it again to make sure it stays there after a minute (the Icon that has the"=")
  17. (Skip) Put the IC back on the board, trying to make it look better than it was done by the previous tech 🙃
This is not a complete how-to as there are so many unpredictable factors, for example, this particular programmer does not properly regulate the voltage, I measured more than 3.3v on it on the 1.8v adapter input, but there was solid 1.81v on the output Vcc (pin 8).
 
Mar 24, 2020
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vov4ik_il

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Mar 23, 2020
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I am stuck on this step, because I receive this error each time I click on the Read ID ? button: View: https://imgur.com/a/bQBd9ke
No communication with the chip or the chip is shot dead.
My guess- it is just a bad contact. Did anything get hot? Do you have a multimeter? Did pin #1 on the chip match red wire?

Edit: the board might (I would say - should) be coated with conformal coating. In that case, get a conformal coating stripper (spray or can) and a small brush, and brush it off if it is there. Re-apply it when you are done (usually comes in a can).

Would you happen to know what the cause of this is? I believe I have everything attached correctly and all, and here is a photo of my configuration: View: https://imgur.com/a/MwjCSFO
That does not look right - it has to be seated all flat. You did lift the handle before attaching the pins and then put the handle down when the pins are seated to jam them, right?
 
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Mar 24, 2020
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That does not look right - it has to be seated all flat. You did lift the handle before attaching the pins and then put the handle down when the pins are seated to jam them, right?
Yes, I lifted the handle and jammed all of the pins and it locked down securely. I have also just reseated the clip onto the IC and it is sitting much more flat. It was tilted because of that header right next to the BIOS IC, but it looks much better now. However, I tried everything again and the same error still occurs.

I do have a multimeter, I just know a tiny bit on how to use it properly though. What did you have in mind? Thanks again for all of the help so far.
 

lga1156_ftw

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Feb 25, 2020
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No communication with the chip or the chip is shot dead.
My guess- it is just a bad contact. Did anything get hot? Do you have a multimeter? Did pin #1 on the chip match red wire?

Edit: the board might (I would say - should) be coated with conformal coating. In that case, get a conformal coating stripper (spray or can) and a small brush, and brush it off if it is there. Re-apply it when you are done (usually comes in a can).


That does not look right - it has to be seated all flat. You did lift the handle before attaching the pins and then put the handle down when the pins are seated to jam them, right?
Thank you for this excellent information in this thread, this should be actually stickied. First few years into my hobby i used this tactic to remoe 8 pin chips from the motherboard, worked fantastic unless there was small components near the chip :
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHMmG3NuM9U

I also used the clip sometimes but got bored of all the issues it caused and in the end started doing this method until i bought heat gun. If someone uses soldering iron remmeber to use enough solder on each side and DONT try to remove it by force, when you apply enough heat it will come off very easy.
 

vov4ik_il

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Mar 23, 2020
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I do have a multimeter, I just know a tiny bit on how to use it properly though. What did you have in mind?
Yes,
  1. Set it to "ring" continuity (has an alarm signal-like sign next to it)
  2. Touch the probes one to another and note the number you get. Should be less than 1 Ohm. You should get a sound from it too.
  3. In the same mode, touch pin #1 on the IC and go over the pins on the header 1 by 1. You should find a very close match to the number in step 1 on one of them if they have a relation to this chip.
  4. Repeat with every pin on the IC to find a match on the header and post a sketch here.
 

vov4ik_il

Prominent
Mar 23, 2020
994
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Thank you for this excellent information in this thread, this should be actually stickied. First few years into my hobby i used this tactic to remoe 8 pin chips from the motherboard, worked fantastic unless there was small components near the chip :
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHMmG3NuM9U

I also used the clip sometimes but got bored of all the issues it caused and in the end started doing this method until i bought heat gun. If someone uses soldering iron remmeber to use enough solder on each side and DONT try to remove it by force, when you apply enough heat it will come off very easy.
Just did that yesterday, my soldering station is at work and the card was handy at home. I would not recommend for people who never did this as they rip the pads off the board on their first try :-D
 

lga1156_ftw

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Feb 25, 2020
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Just did that yesterday, my soldering station is at work and the card was handy at home. I would not recommend for people who never did this as they rip the pads off the board on their first try :-D
This is the ultimate oldschool strategy lol. I learned after few tries to use big enough soldering tip and apply enough heat and alot of solder so i stopped ripping the pads off. It comes off so easy when done right.

I actually have never repaired desktop motherboard, done hundreds of laptops though. Curious to see how this goes, i gave up with this soic clip after been flooded with errors. :LOL:
 
Reactions: vov4ik_il
Mar 24, 2020
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Yes,
  1. Set it to "ring" continuity (has an alarm signal-like sign next to it)
  2. Touch the probes one to another and note the number you get. Should be less than 1 Ohm. You should get a sound from it too.
  3. In the same mode, touch pin #1 on the IC and go over the pins on the header 1 by 1. You should find a very close match to the number in step 1 on one of them if they have a relation to this chip.
  4. Repeat with every pin on the IC to find a match on the header and post a sketch here.
done, the pin that beeped at me is the one labeled with a "0," with the absent pin being labeled with an "x."

o o 0 o o
x o o o o

the reading was around 000.3, but it jumped around a few times before settling at a value around there. (I hope my little table made sense!!)
 
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vov4ik_il

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Mar 23, 2020
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done, the pin that beeped at me is the one labeled with a "0," with the absent pin being labeled with an "x."

o o 0 o o
x o o o o

the reading was around 000.3, but it jumped around a few times before settling at a value around there. (I hope my little table made sense!!)
You skipped step number four. Check and match between the IC legs and Pins. Place a dot with a marker on the board for orientation.
Fill this table with pin numbering by the IC spec.
I assume that 0.3 Ω is the resistance of the probes. You can switch to Ω mode if the ring is annoying.
 
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Mar 24, 2020
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You skipped step number four. Check and match between the IC legs and Pins. Place a dot with a marker on the board for orientation.
Fill this table with pin numbering by the IC spec.
I assume that 0.3 Ω is the resistance of the probes. You can switch to Ω mode if the ring is annoying.
My bad! I just finished it up and slapped up a quick sketch displaying the corresponding pins to the IC legs. I hope it makes sense:
View: https://imgur.com/a/ViqWy9C

Sorry about my confusion previously!
 

vov4ik_il

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Mar 23, 2020
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My bad! I just finished it up and slapped up a quick sketch displaying the corresponding pins to the IC legs. I hope it makes sense:
View: https://imgur.com/a/ViqWy9C

Sorry about my confusion previously!
You are doing great so far. Now next challenge:
  1. disconnect the clip cable with the pad from the flasher (the top green part)
  2. put the clip properly and steadily on the IC (red->pin#1)
  3. ring between pin#1 on the motherboard header and pin#1 on the cable pad header (the pad has numbers on the top and they match the IC, touch on the top)
  4. repeat for all 8
 
Mar 24, 2020
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You are doing great so far. Now next challenge:
  1. disconnect the clip cable with the pad from the flasher (the top green part)
  2. put the clip properly and steadily on the IC (red->pin#1)
  3. ring between pin#1 on the motherboard header and pin#1 on the cable pad header (the pad has numbers on the top and they match the IC, touch on the top)
  4. repeat for all 8
Sounds good. I will do that in a moment, but I have one small dilemma. When properly securing the clip onto the BIOS IC, it sets two of the header's pins at risk of being bent under the closing pressure from the clip because it's super close, and I do not want to accidentally bend or break them.
Do you think I would be better off simply melting the solder and placing the IC into the SOP8 socket for flashing? Just a quick question before I continued.
 

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