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Damaged motherboard traces

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#1 schoom


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Posted 15 November 2011 - 12:41 PM

So, I managed to damage my mobo when installing a cheap heatsink this morning. The damage is located on some traces that appear to be connecting the cpu and ram. I was relieved that even though these, what appear to be, critical traces were damaged, my computer still started up and has been working fine all morning. I'm only guessing, because my computer knowledge is fairly limited, but it seems that only the traces connecting some unused ram slots to the cpu were damaged. I'm currently using 2, out of the 4 ram slots.

Now, I just heard from someone that a damaged mobo can fry other components in a computer, and I was wondering if damaged traces could. What say you Bleepeing Computer Forum? What about a damaged layer or two within the PCB? Should I be worried right now? Would it be risky to test things out and put ram in the other 2 unused slots (I don't want to wonder too heavily if any future computer errors are the result of this scratch)? Should I get a new mobo?

Edited by schoom, 15 November 2011 - 12:56 PM.

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#2 504Steve


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Posted 16 November 2011 - 01:26 PM

Hello Schoom,

You stated that you have damaged some of the traces on your board. By damaged, do you mean that you can see the exposed copper trace, or is it still covered? If you have simply scratched a bit off of the top layer and there is no exposed copper, you may be good to go if it's not damaged underneath.

To answer your question, an exposed trace, whether damaged or not, can cause damage to other components. The most common way would be if the exposed trace came in contact with another wire/trace/metal/etc. and caused a short circuit.

Please also be aware that by running your board with a damaged trace, you are running it as an "open" circuit. Ideally, you want your board to be a "closed" circuit. This open circuit can cause other unknown effects besides those slots not working if you have not studied the layout of your board carefully.

I would not put RAM in those slots unless you can verify continuity. Do you have a voltage meter with a continuity setting?

There are ways to repair your board if you are willing to, but doing so will most definitely void your warranty, if it isn't expired or voided or already from clear damage. You just might be able to get the board swapped if it's under warranty. Just let me know how you'd like to proceed.

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