Hardware malfunction, could be RAM, socket pins or? Should I repair or upgrade system?

May 23, 2018
Current system:
ASRock z77 extreme 4
Core i5 3570
4x 4gb mushkin blackine 1600mhz
Corsair hx750 PSU

Long story short, about a couple weeks ago I had the simultaneous issues of suspected malware, a series of local power outages or surges, and may have possibly bent the pins of my CPU socket while removing my graphics card to access CMOS battery; I have a big CPU heatsink and fan that's easy to nudge when trying to get at a nearby components. Anyways, since this time Windows 10 and UEFI have only detected 2 of my 4 RAM sticks, although cpu-z is still able to detect all four?

So now I'm trying to decide my course of action; I could replace the ram, and if that doesn't work I have the tools and abilities to replace the LGA 1155 socket. But if that doesn't work then I'll have sunk significant time and money into a dated system. The alternative is take the opportunity to upgrade my system what's the new motherboard CPU and RAM. I haven't been staying current on the state of affairs with PC Hardware, so I don't know if my system is still worth hanging onto for a while. This isn't the best time financially for me to do a major system upgrade either. Any feedback or suggestions welcomed.


It's still somewhat viable depending on what exactly you use it for primarily. I'd agree though that sinking a bunch of money into if it came to that wouldn't be wise when you can get a much better performing system for probably not that much more than you could find a new board for for that platform. Going used is always a crapshoot and even more so on a platform where anything used out there is probably getting fairly long in the tooth and is likely already in the home stretch as it is, which means finding a fairly expensive new old stock board that currently is pretty scarce.

I'd do the work, one step at a time, including potentially benching the whole unit and find out what ISN'T bad in order to eliminate what is.

For basic troubleshooting on systems that stick or won't POST, but were working fine previously, or after adding new hardware, I recommend doing the following.

First, check everything as indicated here:

If that turns up nothing then move on to the following and in cases where it may be redundant based on the steps at the previous link, I'd just check again anyhow. It's easy to miss something the first time around.

Power off the unit, switch the PSU off and unplug the PSU cord from either the wall or the power supply.

Remove the motherboard CMOS battery for five minutes. During that five minutes, press the power button for 30 seconds. After the five minutes is up, reinstall the CMOS battery making sure to insert it with the correct side up just as it came out.

Now, plug the power supply cable back in, switch the PSU back on and power up the system. It should display the POST screen and the options to enter CMOS/BIOS setup. Enter the bios setup program and reconfigure the boot settings for either the Windows boot manager or for legacy systems, the drive your OS is installed on if necessary.

Save settings and exit. If the system will POST and boot then you can move forward from there including going back into the bios and configuring any other custom settings you may need to configure such as Memory XMP profile settings, custom fan profile settings or other specific settings you may have previously had configured that were wiped out by resetting the CMOS.

If the system will not POST after resetting the CMOS, then there is a hardware problem of some kind.

At that point I would again power off, remove all memory except one module, installed in the A2 slot for most modern motherboards, or whatever slot your motherboard user manual specifies for single module population according to it's stated population rules. This matters. Boards MAY run with memory in various slots, but there ARE specific memory slots that are intended to be used with one, two, three, four or more modules installed and the manual will outline which of them should be used based on how many modules you are using.

If you have integrated graphics either on the motherboard itself, or through the motherboard using the CPU integrated graphics, then I'd connect your monitor cable to one of the motherboard video outputs and completely remove the graphics card from the system.

Now remove the CMOS battery again for another five minutes, then put it back again and once again try to POST. If you still get no love, try again using a different memory module.

If you do NOT have integrated graphics to use while troubleshooting, then you can either move along to other steps or try a different graphics card if you have one, or can borrow one.

If you still fail to get the system to POST then I'd recommend you pull the CPU cooler and remove the CPU to check for bent pins or an improperly installed CPU. For AMD systems the pins are usually on the CPU. For Intel platforms the pins are on the motherboard. You may need magnification of some kind to see whether any of the pins look bent, out of place or just "wrong" compared to the pattern of the rest of the pins. A cheap magnifying glass or high powered reading glasses should suffice if you have old eyes like me.

If the CPU and motherboard both look fine, then clean all the thermal paste off the top of the CPU and bottom of the CPU cooler heatsink using isopropyl alcohol and a lint free microfiber cleaning cloth, coffee filter or other lint free cloth. Apply fresh TIM (Thermal interface material aka thermal paste) according to your preferred method or the CPU cooler instructions and reinstall the CPU and CPU cooler.

Now it would be advisable to unplug all connected drives, reset the CMOS, again, and try again to POST or enter the BIOS. If you still cannot get the sytem to POST then you probably need to remove everything from the case and bench test the system according to the steps found here:

If your system is failing to display signs of power or other random power related issues, it would be advisable to purchase or borrow a DVOM (Digital volt ohm meter) or analog multimeter and do some basic power testing of the PSU to determine if there is a power delivery issue as follows:

If you still haven't found any indication of what the problem is, a few last resort measures would be to make sure the PSU is plugged directly into the wall and is NOT using any kind of UPS, power strip or extension cord.

Verify that the CPU cooler IS connected to the CPU_FAN header, as some systems will not even power up if there is no RPM signal from the CPU fan.

Anything beyond these basics is going to require some further conversation and possibly the replacement of your motherboard or CPU, as if everything listed above has checked out, there isn't much left it could be aside from one of those two things.