[SOLVED] Looping POST - failed motherboard/CPU?

martinch

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Hi all,

My relatives have an 8 year old PC, which has started playing up - if you switch it on:
  1. the case power LED comes on and the case fans spin up, then
  2. the CPU debug LED on the motherboard flashes and the CPU fan twitches, then
  3. the case power LED goes off and the case & PSU fans spin down, then
  4. the process repeats in a loop (go to step 1) until you power it off by holding the power button down
PC specs:
  • Intel Core i3-4330 (with stock cooler)
  • ASUS Z87-A motherboard
  • 8GB Corsair Vengeance LP 1600MHz DDR3 (2x 4GB)
  • SeaSonic G-Series 450W PSU
  • Fractal Design Define R4 case
  • No GPU (using iGPU), boot device is a Crucial MX500 (2.5"), no other hardware beyond DVD drive
I've tried:
  • removing the motherboard from the case
  • starting it by shorting the jumper pins with a screwdriver to rule out faulty power/reset switches
  • removing the CPU, swabbing the contacts with IPA and reseating it (I also checked the socket on the motherboard for bent pins - there weren't any)
  • removing the RAM, swabbing the contacts with IPA, and reseating them
  • starting it with only 1 stick of RAM (I tried it with each stick)
  • removing everything except the CPU (i.e. no RAM)
  • switching the PSU for a Corsair RM550X
None of the above has made any difference (except when the Corsair PSU cycles, it makes two audible "mechanical switch" sounds).

Does this sound like a bad motherboard/CPU, or something else?

If it does sound like failed motherboard/CPU, are there any motherboards/manufacturers I should look at or avoid these days? It's only going to be used for web browsing and writing letters, so I'm guessing I'd probably be looking at something like a Core i3-10100, a B460/B560 motherboard (with HDMI & DisplayPort outputs), and 2666MHz memory? Ideally, I'm just looking for something that'd be reliable and hopefully go for a good few years without needing to be looked at.

Thanks :)

EDIT: I have attached a system speaker to the motherboard, and there are no beeps.
 
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TommyTwoTone66

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Sounds like failed CPU, or failed CPU socket maybe.

Either way an i3-4330 is very out of date for modern applications, so it seems like time for an upgrade. The 10100 will blow you away with how much quicker it is.

The 560 and 460 are both great chipsets, either one will be completely fine. Motherboard manufacturers to avoid include:

ASRock
MSI

Which only really leaves:

Asus
Gigabyte

As the choices to go for. Competing motherboard manufacturers have all but vanished and we have the "big two" fighting it out.
 
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Lutfij

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removing the RAM, swabbing the contacts with IPA, and reseating them
Use an eraser to rub both sides of the gold contacts on the sticks of ram, wipe clean with your fingers then reseat.

How old is the old and the replacement PSU? Did you remove the CMOS battery while the system innards were breadboarded? At this point of time, you're going to need a POST speaker to tell you of any error/beeps. IMHO, it might even be a corrupt BIOS chip.
 
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TommyTwoTone66

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Based off what?
Based on failure rate. OP said he wanted a reliable computer that would last years without needing to be repaired or messed around with. So clearly the best choices are the most reliable and stable boards. Which would be Asus and Gigabyte.

For me, the top board brand is Gigabyte because you get a lot of durability features you don't get with Asus. But I still like Asus boards as well because they are also up there with Gigabyte for build quality and reliability, and tend to target the more high-performance enthusiasts so you get some special "ROG" boards sometimes that are faster than anything Gigabyte have.

MSI boards seem to fail almost as often as ASRock. Both brands have very poor defect rate compared with Asus and Gigabyte.
 

Zerk2012

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Based on failure rate. OP said he wanted a reliable computer that would last years without needing to be repaired or messed around with. So clearly the best choices are the most reliable and stable boards. Which would be Asus and Gigabyte.

For me, the top board brand is Gigabyte because you get a lot of durability features you don't get with Asus. But I still like Asus boards as well because they are also up there with Gigabyte for build quality and reliability, and tend to target the more high-performance enthusiasts so you get some special "ROG" boards sometimes that are faster than anything Gigabyte have.

MSI boards seem to fail almost as often as ASRock. Both brands have very poor defect rate compared with Asus and Gigabyte.
Again from where are you getting your Information?
 

TommyTwoTone66

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Again from where are you getting your Information?
I am good friends with someone who owns a computer shop that sells a lot of motherboards. They get a lot more MSI and ASRock coming back as returns than Gigabyte and Asus. He only sells those four brands, like most computer shops.

Normally the Asus and Gigabyte ones turn out to be fine, user error, and he resells them as refurbished stock. the MSI and ASRock ones more often than not get RMA'd.
 

Zerk2012

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I am good friends with someone who owns a computer shop that sells a lot of motherboards. They get a lot more MSI and ASRock coming back as returns than Gigabyte and Asus. He only sells those four brands, like most computer shops.

Normally the Asus and Gigabyte ones turn out to be fine, user error, and he resells them as refurbished stock. the MSI and ASRock ones more often than not get RMA'd.
So no real numbers no reason to post anymore.
 

TommyTwoTone66

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Darkbreeze

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ASUS makes the best boards, hands down, BUT, if something DOES happen to go wrong with it then good luck getting a satisfactory product support solution. Also known as, getting it replaced or dealing with their customer support, which like many companies out there these days seems to have switched gears from being among the best in customer support to intentionally using misdirection tactics and stalling techniques to avoid having to actually back their products up with a quality warranty replacement. This has been factually noted by many members and moderators here, time after time, over the last couple of years. Great boards, but good luck if something does goes wrong.

ASRock and Gigabyte have good boards and pretty decent customer support. MSI has some good boards and a bunch of crap ones, as a nod to their return to their old ways back when they were incredibly untrustworthy. And that's without mentioning how horrifically terrible their are when you look at their moral compass as a company. I will occasionally buy one of their better products, but only if there is a very compelling reason for me to do so, especially if it's for a client.

Overall, the failure rates on boards from MSI, ASUS, Gigabyte and ASRock are likely very similar. All these companies have advanced, highly streamlined processes these days with fairly good overall quality control processes in place. Occasionally we see a flurry of bad boards from one manufacturer or another, which are probably due to simply getting a bad batch of parts here and there that doesn't become obvious until some point down the road.

I don't believe anybody has "overtaken" anybody else, and for me, given the fact that most of these companies have reached parity in terms of capability at both ends of the tiering spectrum, I think that the product support AFTER the sale is likely the most important thing these days.

None of which really helps the OP, but does shed (At least insofar as my opinion matters anyhow) a bit more clarity on those previous statements.
 
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Motherboard manufacturer's reliability will depend a lot by specific series and manufacturing process. I wouldn't touch a Biostar or ASRock board with a 10 feet pole unless someone pointed a gun to my head, and I would blindly build with an Asus or MSI (GB as a third option), but that's MY particular case and experience.

Any other discussion without numbers is like two dogs barking at each other at opposite sides of a fence.

As for OP's situation: I'd try a different part, either CPU or MOBO to rule out the other.
 
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martinch

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Thanks for the replies, guys :)

Either way an i3-4330 is very out of date for modern applications, so it seems like time for an upgrade. The 10100 will blow you away with how much quicker it is.
Yeah, I saw that the specs for it are similar to my i7-4790K (still an old CPU, but I've never noticed any issues...). :) Having said that, they never had any performance issues with it (it's running Linux Mint, which may well help with that...), although faster is never bad. :)

Use an eraser to rub both sides of the gold contacts on the sticks of ram, wipe clean with your fingers then reseat ... Did you remove the CMOS battery while the system innards were breadboarded?
Just done both - sadly, no different. :(

How old is the old and the replacement PSU?
The SeaSonic G-Series was the original unit from 2013. The Corsair RMx is new (but has been verified as working).

At this point of time, you're going to need a POST speaker to tell you of any error/beeps.
I didn't think I had one, but a further rummage reveals I do. I just tried it, and ... no beeps. :(

... Gigabyte have good boards and pretty decent customer support ... I think that the product support AFTER the sale is likely the most important thing these days.
That's a good point. Way back when I built my PC (2014), it was the case that only Gigabyte had a UK service centre, with the others requiring it to be sent to Europe - no idea if that's still the case, though!

I'd try a different part, either CPU or MOBO to rule out the other.
Sadly, that's not really an option as I don't have any spare CPUs or motherboards (nor access to any). :(
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Any other discussion without numbers is like two dogs barking at each other at opposite sides of a fence.
Numbers do NOT explain poor customer service away. It's not about the failures, or the number of failures, because ALL, EVERY SINGLE MANUFACTURER, has failures. Anybody who says otherwise is a flaming idiot.

It's about "what do they do" when there IS a failure, and that is not something numbers can validate or dispute, but, I know that over the last two years at least three moderators, perhaps four, and a truck load of regular members, have had extreme difficulty getting under warranty hardware taken care of under RMA through ASUS. They sent one moderator a broken motherboard, like, physically, visually, broken, to replace a board with a faulty integrated network adapter. They flat out REFUSED to replace the faulty BIOS ROM on my under warranty Hero board because, if you can believe this, they said the BIOS ROM wasn't covered. I was able to get a replacement ROM off Ebay which fixed the problem.

This goes on and on and on, and while, as I said, all manufacturers have failures, all manufacturers don't THEN refuse to back up their products warranty like ASUS has been doing. If I posted links to every similar problem with an ASUS board here, we'd have fifteen pages of links.

So, numbers aren't always the answer. Often, yes, you need numbers to make a factual point, but in this case I don't think so. It's the ATTITUDE of ASUS and MSI which sucks junk, not necessarily the rate of failures. If ASUS has only ONE board fail this year, and it happens to be yours, and they refuse to replace the board, then that company is to be avoided IMO. Period.

And being as problematic in the process as possible, to reduce replacement costs by avoiding having to honor your policies, is exactly what they are doing.

Obviously, there are important considerations based on what your region is. What makes sense for somebody in the US or the UK may absolutely not make sense for somebody in Bangladesh that can't GET warranty support for a particular brand that is reasonably close enough to not outweigh the cost of replacement.
 
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Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
As for CPU or CPU "socket" failures, as was mentioned earlier, unless this unit was abused through a lack of attention to cooling (Heatsink packed full of dust, fan not working, etc.) it's incredibly unlikely to have a CPU failure on a stock system that was not overclocked. Obviously, that CPU was not able to be overclocked as it was a locked SKU, so we can rule out long term damage from a poorly configured overclock.

CPUs are RARELY known to just "fail" unless something has caused it. Improper installation resulting in bent pins on the CPU or motherboard (Depending on socket type) is one way it could happen. Being dropped is another. To just fail in the machine after 8 years of running fine is so unlikely, without the addition of failed or poor cooling, as to be virtually impossible. Sure, it's possible, but it would be INCREDIBLY unlikely.

The motherboard on the other hand, very likely at 8 years old. Actually, at five years or more, you should almost EXPECT to see a motherboard failure at some point especially if it's a system that's seen a LOT of frequent use or was typically left running 24/7, which I usually recommend against. When away and the system isn't going to be doing something while you're gone, at the least put it to sleep. It only takes a second or two to resume from sleep. That's not going to kill anybody and might well extend the life of your system considerably.

I don't know what you have, or have not done yet, but I'd look at doing THIS before anything else.

 
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Numbers do NOT explain poor customer service away. It's not about the failures, or the number of failures, because ALL, EVERY SINGLE MANUFACTURER, has failures. Anybody who says otherwise is a flaming idiot.

It's about "what do they do" when there IS a failure, and that is not something numbers can validate or dispute, but, I know that over the last two years at least three moderators, perhaps four, and a truck load of regular members, have had extreme difficulty getting under warranty hardware taken care of under RMA through ASUS. They sent one moderator a broken motherboard, like, physically, visually, broken, to replace a board with a faulty integrated network adapter. They flat out REFUSED to replace the faulty BIOS ROM on my under warranty Hero board because, if you can believe this, they said the BIOS ROM wasn't covered. I was able to get a replacement ROM off Ebay which fixed the problem.

This goes on and on and on, and while, as I said, all manufacturers have failures, all manufacturers don't THEN refuse to back up their products warranty like ASUS has been doing. If I posted links to every similar problem with an ASUS board here, we'd have fifteen pages of links.

So, numbers aren't always the answer. Often, yes, you need numbers to make a factual point, but in this case I don't think so. It's the ATTITUDE of ASUS and MSI which sucks junk, not necessarily the rate of failures. If ASUS has only ONE board fail this year, and it happens to be yours, and they refuse to replace the board, then that company is to be avoided IMO. Period.

And being as problematic in the process as possible, to reduce replacement costs by avoiding having to honor your policies, is exactly what they are doing.

Obviously, there are important considerations based on what your region is. What makes sense for somebody in the US or the UK may absolutely not make sense for somebody in Bangladesh that can't GET warranty support for a particular brand that is reasonably close enough to not outweigh the cost of replacement.
I'm not talking about customer service, just overall reliability of the part. Having a great customer service doesn't mean the parts are good. They can be great and replace it every time, but I'd rather have a simple reliable product and not need CS at all. Failure rate is what I meant with the numbers, not how the manufacturer handles it. Like you said, this could go on an on, and I'm not willing to go that route.
 
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TommyTwoTone66

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Customer service is irrelevant for a manufacturer. Returns are handled by the retailer, not by Asus themselves. Buy from Amazon and you can return it to Amazon for 12 months, for any reason and they will send you a new one or refund you.

I’ve not needed to return an Asus part to Taiwan since 1998 and I presume things have changed a lot since then and sure maybe their RMA service sucks these days, but rightly so, you do your returns with the retailer not the manufacturer. Ever tried to return a broken TV directly to Sony or Samsung? Of course not. You take it to Best Buy where you bought it. Why should that be different for motherboards?

But actually you have likely never had to take a Samsung or Sony TV in for a fault at all, ever. Because, like Asus, Sony and Samsung have incredible QC processes that catch 99.99% of defects and their <Mod Edit> just works.

It’s not about how nice they are at fixing it for you, it’s about the fact they make sure it works before shipping it. Asus and Gigabyte are better at QC than MSI and ASRock, in my view.

I don’t hold this opinion out of thin air. I have worked in and around PC and technology retail for years.
 
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martinch

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CPU or CPU "socket" failures ... unless this unit was abused through a lack of attention to cooling (Heatsink packed full of dust, fan not working, etc.) it's incredibly unlikely to have a CPU failure on a stock system that was not overclocked ... Improper installation resulting in bent pins on the CPU or motherboard is one way it could happen. Being dropped is another.
Just for completeness, the case insides are almost completely free of dust (the case has fan filters), I checked that the heatsink fan works (by powering it separately and making sure it span up to something that looked like full speed), and it's definitely adequately cooled (2x 140mm intake fans, and 1x exhaust). :)

I don't know what you have, or have not done yet, but I'd look at doing THIS before anything else.
Yup, I made sure I'd worked through that (and the linked post) before I posted :)

Visually, the motherboard looks OK (no bulging capacitors, scorch marks, etc - either front or back). The only signs of "life" from the motherboard area are a momentary flashing of the CPU "debug LED" on the motherboard, and a twitch of the CPU fan. I'm guessing this is leading to a "dead motherboard" diagnosis ...
 

TommyTwoTone66

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The motherboard on the other hand, very likely at 8 years old. Actually, at five years or more, you should almost EXPECT to see a motherboard failure at some point
Agreed, this is sort of what I meant by CPU “socket”failure. Since the motherboard is indicating a CPU error, it’s most likely a capacitor connected to the CPU socket that has failed, due to being 8 years old.

I agree that CPU failures are rare, but you never know, the socket failure might have also fried the CPU in the process.

either way I didn’t expect a simple answer to such a simple question as: “which motherboard brands should I avoid?” to be so contentious or controversial.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Customer service is irrelevant for a manufacturer. Returns are handled by the retailer, not by Asus themselves.
Maybe where you live, but not most places, and certainly not in the US unless you bought it through Newegg. And for ABSOLUTELY certain, not after a specific time (Like 30 or 90 days) for any retailers in the US who DO offer an in store warranty. If you buy an ASUS board through Amazon, Ebay, B&H Photo or any of the other non-Newegg retailers, and you are past the return period but still in warranty, you WILL be dealing, or attempting to deal, directly with ASUS. That's a fact, not an opinion. I can bring ten veteran builders in here that will all tell you the same thing.

I assure you, there's a reason this meme is kept at close reach.



And anybody who thinks customer service is irrelevant for a manufacturer, REALLY has no clue about how this industry actually works. But again, we are moving off topic and it doesn't really help the OP to continue down that path. Not really.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Just for completeness, the case insides are almost completely free of dust (the case has fan filters), I checked that the heatsink fan works (by powering it separately and making sure it span up to something that looked like full speed), and it's definitely adequately cooled (2x 140mm intake fans, and 1x exhaust). :)


Yup, I made sure I'd worked through that (and the linked post) before I posted :)

Visually, the motherboard looks OK (no bulging capacitors, scorch marks, etc - either front or back). The only signs of "life" from the motherboard area are a momentary flashing of the CPU "debug LED" on the motherboard, and a twitch of the CPU fan. I'm guessing this is leading to a "dead motherboard" diagnosis ...
HAVE you tried a different power supply, before condemning the board? I mean, it's very likely a board failure, but I'd REALLY want to try the board on the bench with a different, preferably somewhat new and known reliable unit, before pulling the trigger on a new board or platform. Unless of course a new platform is what the client wants in which case they'll get that regardless.
 
D

Deleted member 2720853

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I would put the motherboards more in this order from best to worst.
MSI
ASRock
GB
Biostar
NZXT
Asus.
Gigabyte higher than ASUS? My two dead B550 Aorus Pro boards, and my thriving ROG Strix B550-F, would like to have a word. Model > Brand anyway.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Right. Model is more important than brand when comparing boards. But again, whatever model you get doesn't really matter if you can't get adequate support for it when you need it. When a guy spends 350 dollars on a motherboard, and can't get it replaced when the onboard LAN adapter fails at 6 months or a year, on a standard three year warranty for motherboards, then it really doesn't add up to a tin crap how good the board was initially or in comparison to anything else.

And, I'm NOT saying that everybody has had the same RMA and warranty experiences with ASUS, because in the past I've had good experiences with them, but they've grown too fat and think they can simply ignore users now and much like MSI with their attempts to bully reviewers, it's something that I just can't put up with. Especially when I see so many others who come here experience the same issues after we've told them to move forward with the RMA or they did it on their own, and got crapped on.
 

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