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Mayday! Is my mobo dead?


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I just bought a GTX 580 and a watercooling kit to go with it. During the installation, a trace amount of water was spilt (2 droplets), landing on the unpowered motherboard. I thought nothing of it, soaked it up, and let it dry for a few hours. After powering it up for the first time, the board didn't post. It's an ASUS Maximus III Formula, and the Q_LED CPU indicator light is red. Not good. I thought it may have been some hardware conflict, so I eliminated everything from the board except the CPU. No effect. I flashed the BIOS, no effect. Using the RC Poster tool on another PC, the BIOS reports "CPU Init" and freezes there.

 

How am I to diagnose whether it was the motherboard that died, or the CPU (maybe from overtightening or something)? The only things I can come up with are the CPU is actually dead (i7 860), the motherboard is shorting out somewhere (but I tried running it out of the case on a non-conductive surface, no effect), or the 12v rail in my PSU is faulty all of a sudden (an unseen water droplet?).

 

In summary,

SYMPTOMS:

No POST beep

No monitor output

CPU Q_LED lit red

HD activity indicator on constantly

 

TESTS:

No RAM

No VGA

No HD

No PCI whatsoever

No fans

No case

Flash BIOS

Reset CMOS

 

All tests have produced no effect. Are there any tests I have missed? I'm going to see if I can test my CPU in another system to verify if it is at fault, then try another PSU to eliminate that. And is the mobo a total loss?

 

Please someone have another idea...

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I have no knowledge about a Q_LED cpu indicator light, but if the light is on then there is a fault (whatever it is) with the cpu. However, because the method of powering on the computer with

 

, so I eliminated everything from the board except the CPU.

 

was used I would ignore the fault, for the computer to post successfully the setup must include the psu, mobo, ram, vc, mon, cpu/heatsink, and kb. This bare min setup will get the system into bios and give a fault when the bootloader attempts to start the os. When in bios check the pages and setup the bios and view the system health page to see the stable idle operation stats.

 

Also to hear the post beeps a pc speaker will need to be in the bare min setup.

 

With a liquid spill on any electronic equipment the best thing to do is play it safe and leave the board sit for 24h. I do not know of any liquid which will be still wet after 24h.

 

Not every fault means damaged components; The bootloader fault occurs here because no drive is in the setup, unplug the kb will result in a kb fault again no big deal.

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Sorry, my min setup was PSU, Mobo, CPU, and the internal speaker. I simply wanted to get a different error to prove that the mobo was working (the missing ram warrants an error message), but I got nothing. What scares me most is that the HD activity light is always on, even with no drives connected. I`m going to try a different BIOS version, and hopefully this clears up the problem.

 

And I just got back after being away for 48 hours, plenty of time for anything to dry.

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I doubt that a piece of hardware would work if it were to get dropped in a bowl of water and then let to dry for whatever amount of time. What I'm saying is that if the water is the cause of the problem, it won't get better simply because there is no water present anymore. At least I don't think so. If you have an extra CPU that fits this motherboard, try to plug that in and see what kind of error you get if any at all. That way you'll know if it's the CPU or the mobo, or neither. This is a good trick to remember. If you have extra parts, they can always come in handy like this when you can determine a cause of a problem. You just switch a bunch of stuff with some other stuff that you know work for sure, and you'll narrow the possibilities down by a lot.

 

I'm not an electrician or someone who deals with this kind of troubleshooting often so I can't offer any other high-tech advice.

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I was hoping the water did not soak into the board, however that now seems unlikely. Unless some miracle occurs, I`ll have to RMA (if they`ll even take it - there is no visible damage). My last hope today is that a VERY old BIOS (0405) will boot, otherwise I`ll have to write off this board (and or CPU).

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What scares me most is that the HD activity light is always on,

 

When a light is stuck on I shut off the power to clear it up. I find the kb number lock light will still be on when the system is off sometimes when setting up a system. Today I attempted to startup the xp os on the old amd 2000+ after I was testing a fan operation on the 5v rail and the system would not work, so I listened to the psu make a hum then switched the back switch off till I heard the woooo sound of the psu resetting and started up the system perfectly afterwards.

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I doubt that a piece of hardware would work if it were to get dropped in a bowl of water and then let to dry for whatever amount of time.

 

I know of one occ member who had a few drops on their components and let it dry and the system booted after some troubleshooting, but another occ member had a significant amount of liquid on components while powered on and the system tripped the house breaker never to work the same again.

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OK, well that BIOS had no effect either. I've begun the RMA process, which I expect to take a LOOOONG time, during which I' ll look for spare parts to test my system with.

 

The HD light is only on when I press the power button on the chassis - it is not stuck on when the power is connected. This is an indicator light on the motherboard itself, not the chassis.

 

I also tried using a 4-pin CPU power connector instead of 8, but the problem remained.

 

PS I love the help on the ASUS site:

I am sorry, the difficulties of your problem has gone beyond the knowledge of this system and cannot be solve on the spot. Please contact your local dealer, distributor or ASUS online service team for further assistance. Sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.

That's always reassuring...

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maestro - that really sucks. Kind of strange though, since a few droplets of water on a non-powered board shouldn't have rendered the whole setup useless. I've actually sprang water leaks from my cooling system before (not gushers) but steady droplets onto a powered board, shut it down immediately, dried it all off with a hair dryer and let it set overnight.

 

Came back the next morning and everything was fine.

 

However, even if your board was powered off, if you still had the power supply connected and turned on, their are trace amounts of electrical current still flowing through the board. Apparently you hit a critical trace or some other component with the water. That's the only thing I can think of.

 

Good luck with the RMA - we've all got our fingers crossed for you!

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It looks like the board has been discontinued. What's going to happen if it can't be repaired? If ASUS doesn't have one to give me, do I get a cash refund, or do I have to choose from less... attractive motherboards they DO have in stock?

 

And if anyone can link me one from a store, or even ebay, that would be much appreciated (in the event of permanent damage). I've only found one on ebay and one on amazon.

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