I think static killed my motherboard!

squarewave

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Jan 26, 2007
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Hi all,

I always take the usual ESD precautions when handling bare components, but I think static got me anyway. Last night I was using the computer when I reached over to close the door that covers the CD-ROM drives. As soon as I touched it there was a static shock and my screen went blank, and there was a solid tone coming out of the speakers (not the PC speaker, but the Soundblaster speakers).

I hit the main power switch on the PSU and waited a bit, then turned it back on. My computer powers up but never goes through POST. I get no beeps or anything. I cleared the CMOS and tried again, still no luck. So I unhooked everything but the video card and still had no luck. I thought it might be the CPU, but this morning I tested it on a machine at work and it was ok.

Everything so far is pointing to a zapped motherboard. My question is, how? I thought the computer case protected the internal components from external static by routing the electricity out through the ground wire on the power plug.

Tonight I'm going to try running it outside the case on a sheet of cardboard to eliminate as many possibilities as possible. Any other ideas? Has this ever happened to anyone else?

TIA
 

Newf

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Dec 24, 2005
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If you can, run your videocard on another platform. It could also be the culprit, and it's the only way to eliminate it unless you get a video bios screen shot when POST begins.
 

sobelizard

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You should probably test each core component in a known good environment if possible. MB, CPU (you already did), memory, and video. Reset your CMOS if possible and go from there. By isolating the components, you'll be able to identify the culprit. If it's truly catastrophic, there may be multiple culprits. In the future, you may want to invest into a static mat made for under your chair. They are fairly cheap and are a good investment. Best of luck to you.
 

squarewave

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Jan 26, 2007
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I'm pretty sure the building ground is ok. My surge suppressor has a "wiring fault" light that looks for an open ground or reversed neutral-hot and it's never been lit. I will probably replace that suppressor anyway, in case it has a bad ground connector on the strip or something.

It's definitely the motherboard that bit the dust. I hooked it up outside the case with a different power supply and a different video card and it did the same thing (i.e. nothing :) ). Today I tested out my RAM in a different machine and it's ok. Fortunately my brother has a motherboard with the same RAID controller so I was able to pull my data off the array.

I'm a bit unnerved that a static shock to the case was able to do this. I think something failed in the grounding, either through the PSU or the power strip it's plugged into.
 

croc

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Sep 14, 2005
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And you paid how much for that 'surge suppressor'? Yeah I'd trust its blinky lights...

Your local hardware should have an inexpensive GFI tester that will allow you to test your wall socket. Also, if you have suspicions, your local electric supply co. should be able to provide you with a far more extensive test, for little / no charge. Mine did, for free, and that's why I have a very nice UPS. Maybe AUS is different.
 

Bache

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Dec 3, 2006
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Hi all,

I always take the usual ESD precautions when handling bare components, but I think static got me anyway. Last night I was using the computer when I reached over to close the door that covers the CD-ROM drives. As soon as I touched it there was a static shock and my screen went blank, and there was a solid tone coming out of the speakers (not the PC speaker, but the Soundblaster speakers).

I hit the main power switch on the PSU and waited a bit, then turned it back on. My computer powers up but never goes through POST. I get no beeps or anything. I cleared the CMOS and tried again, still no luck. So I unhooked everything but the video card and still had no luck. I thought it might be the CPU, but this morning I tested it on a machine at work and it was ok.

Everything so far is pointing to a zapped motherboard. My question is, how? I thought the computer case protected the internal components from external static by routing the electricity out through the ground wire on the power plug.

Tonight I'm going to try running it outside the case on a sheet of cardboard to eliminate as many possibilities as possible. Any other ideas? Has this ever happened to anyone else?

TIA
The static could have taken multiple paths to earth.

Through drive to MB to earth and through case itself.

Check earthing of drive mounting case screws.

Scratch off a bit of paint if necessary :idea:

I saw static the other night when I opened door in dark - big spark :eek:

In future you might have to touch ie. alu window frame, etc before PC, if you'v been walking around on carpet for a while, etc.
 

Newf

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Dec 24, 2005
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I'm pretty sure the building ground is ok. My surge suppressor has a "wiring fault" light that looks for an open ground or reversed neutral-hot and it's never been lit. I will probably replace that suppressor anyway, in case it has a bad ground connector on the strip or something.

It's definitely the motherboard that bit the dust. I hooked it up outside the case with a different power supply and a different video card and it did the same thing (i.e. nothing :) ). Today I tested out my RAM in a different machine and it's ok. Fortunately my brother has a motherboard with the same RAID controller so I was able to pull my data off the array.

I'm a bit unnerved that a static shock to the case was able to do this. I think something failed in the grounding, either through the PSU or the power strip it's plugged into.
My own convoluted logic says that what's not grounded is you. :)
Thousands of DC volts (and very little current) are at work here.
While I can't explain why the static surge to ground passing from you to your computer case also created havoc with your motherboard, the way to prevent this is for you to be better grounded.
An antistatic mat on the floor is the engineers way to solve this.
I touch a light switch cover screw on the wall when I enter my study. Sure enough, in the winter there's almost always a spark to ground. I also can ground myself by touching the metal case of my powerline conditioner. I do not try using either my stereo receiver or my computer case for this.