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Possibly Dead Motherboard; not certain how to be sure


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#1 Vortigen

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 07:47 PM

I just purchased a used HP z820 workstation that had the hard drive wiped before purchasing.  I also purchased along with it a Windows 7 OEM installation disk.  When I went to install Windows 7, Windows would not recognize the local drive, a 256 GB SSD.

 

I pulled the hard drive out and connected it to my old computer, found out it was not formatted NTFS using "Computer Management," reformatted it, and got it to show up as a clean drive, totally empty, in Windows Explorer.  I then reinstalled the SSD in the HP z820 box, and tried to install Windows 7 again.  Windows would still not recognize the drive.

 

In "system setup" while trying to locate the drive, which wasn't showing up there either, I got a strange blue screen asking for a password to continue setting-up options, it asked for 1504 + enter.  I did just that, shut down the system, and after that, the monitor will not turn on.

 

I read how to reset the CMOS (which I did).  No luck.

 

I removed the motherboard battery, which was supposed to reset the BIOS.  No luck.

 

I followed the steps in the HP z820 user manual to reset the password jumper.  No luck.

 

I feared motherboard failure.  I removed all the RAM modules, video card, optical drive, and hard drive, and powered on the system.  As I expected, I got five one-second red light flashes, with a two second pause afterwards.  That is supposed to indicate a "Pre-video memory error."  Options given to fix it are to replace/reseat DIMMs, or contact HP regarding motherboard failure.  I replaced one DIMM module for each CPU (there are two), and rebooted the system.  The power light stayed blue, like it is supposed to, but still nothing on the monitor.  I contacted HP; the motherboard is out of warranty, and they wouldn't talk to me unless I paid, which I suspected.

 

When I started, all components were viable parts; I have not noticed any damage to parts during my working on the system.  I am now WAY over my depth, so am hoping someone here will have some ideas.  Thanks for reading!


Edited by hamluis, 17 August 2017 - 04:05 AM.
Moved from System Building to Internal Hardware - Hamluis.


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#2 The-Toolman

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 08:09 PM

Another poster was having a similar problem with their HP and I suggested to go to this site and post the problem and they came back with a solution which seemed to help them with their problem.

 

https://h30434.www3.hp.com/

 

HP doesn't seem to have much in the line help documentation.


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Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.  (Mark Twain)


#3 Vortigen

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 09:02 PM

Thanks, I'll start something there as well.



#4 The-Toolman

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 07:59 AM

If you can get into your bios then it is very possible that your motherboard is OK.

 

This may help.

 

https://support.hp.com/us-en/document/bph07110


I'm grumpy because I can be not because I'm old.

 

The world is what you make of it, if it doesn't fit, you make alterations.

 

Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.  (Mark Twain)


#5 ranchhand_

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 09:08 AM

Another check is to run a Linux Distro, such as Knoppix or Fatdog; if it will load and run properly in virtual, it is doubtful that your motherboard is dead.  I have steps that I use to verify a mainboard, but evidently you have a complicated workstation setup there so I don't know if my method is appropriate or not.


Help Requests: If there is no reply after 3 days I remove the thread from my answer list. For further help PM me.


#6 The-Toolman

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 09:37 AM

Hey ranchhand,

 

Going by the OP this is the desktop.

 

http://www8.hp.com/us/en/campaigns/workstations/z820.html

 

http://h20195.www2.hp.com/v2/GetPDF.aspx/c04111526


I'm grumpy because I can be not because I'm old.

 

The world is what you make of it, if it doesn't fit, you make alterations.

 

Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.  (Mark Twain)


#7 Vortigen

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 01:18 PM

The-Toolman is correct.  That is the desktop that I am working with.  Sorry for not linking.

 

I think I am getting into the BIOS because of the Power button lights that are flashing as they should.  However, my screen remains black, and I don't know enough to know whether it is truly working or not.

 

I read through a thread on the HP support forum which sounded like a similar scenario to my own (here), and so according to what I read, my next step should be to try to download the BIOS file and try to get it to install via pendrive.  Looking into that.  The "Win + B" step suggested will not work, because the Harddrive is completely empty with only one partition.

 

If the BIOS file will not install from the pendrive, then I will try to figure out Knoppix when I get home from work.



#8 synergy513

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 02:54 PM

If BIOS is accessible, chances are relatively good the main board is ok,. if the POST is giving a series of short beeps, that is a memory fault, if the POST is a long beep followed by  short beeps, that is a video fault. Given the Workstation Unit is doing light codes rather than POST beeps codes indicates the need to check the manual

 

The one thing i see in this scenario is the hard drive parameters are mismatched.... in the BIOS, there should be three hard drive settings. ...IDE,  SATA and AHCI, the SSD prolly needs to be set to AHCI

 

 

this is an initial OS install so the F8 advanced boot options aren't in play yet, but i was thinking there is safe mode and "enable low-resolution (640x480)" options for diagnosing video configuration..

 

as this stage, i would vote the hard drive needs to be set to AHCI in BIOS.  I didn't discern from the topic maturation if the SSD was showing up in the BIOS in the first place...ok, now I see it, BIOS is loading, but the monitor isn't responding,   are you plugging ithe monitor in from  the onboard video out port from the motherboard or from the add-on video card.. i remember this one time, i had a bad RAM stick, it was so rough, the BIOS would freeze.  i thought it was crazy, another ASUS board fiasco from days gone by. Lesson learned, if the CPU is doing anything, it is accessing the memory for sure. but at the BIOS level?. that was rough

 

One more thing, if the monitor has provisions for digital or analog, it might not be the type that auto-tunes the input, i have seen that a few times also..most monitors have a seperate menu ,,buttons on the bezel....if you are plugging in from blue VGA , that is analog. the other types are digital...

 

details about the monitor,  cable type  and source output from the rear of the cabinet you are using would be beneficial.


Edited by synergy513, 18 August 2017 - 03:18 PM.

Moore's Law : 4d Graph in Progress


#9 ranchhand_

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 03:13 PM

@The-Toolman:

Thanks for the links, but I already had viewed those sites.  Vortigen said he is running dual processors and I do not have experience with those or the BIOS that controls them, so that is what I meant in my post.

I think that Synergy may be on to something; I agree that the symptoms sound like a mis-configured setting as opposed to hardware failure. Again, if Vortigen can run a distro successfully directly from the optical drive it would indicate that the mainboard is good.  However....if there is a SATA/AHCI mis-configuration that could very well cause the board to fault. Another thing to check on once in the BIOS screen is that the BIOS is not accidentally set to RAID.


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#10 Vortigen

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 03:16 PM

Can I change the SSD setting to AHCI in the BIOS of another computer, or does it have to be done locally?  Before I got no screen at all, the SSD was not showing up in the "System Settings" screen, accessed by the "esc" key.  I could see it on my other computer, however.



#11 synergy513

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 03:34 PM

no, the hard drive setting is local to the motherboard, are you tapping the f10 key during power up? that is how the BIOS is accessed for consumer HP units, but yours may be in another class..

 

Also, if you can, can you have a looksee at your motherboard sata ports to check if they are colored differently, or maybe see if two sata ports are by themselves in a different loacation?


Edited by synergy513, 18 August 2017 - 03:36 PM.

Moore's Law : 4d Graph in Progress


#12 Vortigen

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 03:39 PM

@BC Advisor  I am using a Dell monitor which has DVI and analog options available.  The system does not have an on-board graphics, unless it is a plug that I do not recognize.   The one plug that I do not recognize has the symbol |0|0| above it.  I thought it was an analog connector, but the analog cables that I have, while they are the same size as the unknown socket, do not fit into it.  It has a different pin configuration.  I currently have an Nvidia K420 graphics card plugged into the motherboard, but I also have available a K620, K2000, and K3000, all of which I have tried, and all of which work when plugged into my other computer.  The Nvidia graphics cards do not have an analog socket, so I have been using a converter to DVI when I used the analog cable with the monitor.  I currently have a DVI cable plugged into the Graphics card and going directly to the monitor.  I have manually set the monitor to DVI input.  The screen remains black, with a dialog box that there is no signal from the computer.  The fan on the Graphics card is spinning, if that says anything.  All cables and converters that I am using work just fine when plugged into my other computer.

 

The SSD is currently not installed in the chassis of the computer, so there should be no interference with the SSD and loading the BIOS.

 

There are two grey SATA ports, one with the optical drive connected to it, and the other currently empty.  The other eight are white.

 

I have tried tapping F10 constantly for about 30 seconds, but the screen remains black before displaying that it is going into Power saving mode because it has no signal from the computer.



#13 synergy513

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 03:44 PM

ok, the two off-colored sata ports are the 6 gbps ports ,,, for your SSD to reach its potential...another point is the USB keyboard....i remember a few times....this is why users in the know do prefer the old ps/2 jobbers..i know i do..

 

     is the numlock indicator lighting up on the lkeyboard during the power-up, it defaults to light up...it is kind of the inidication to start the BIOS launch  ..BIOS launch is f10 right?

 

          sometimes there is delay of the USB invocation that can render the USB keyboard lame during POST. everytime i boot up a unit with a USB keyboard i feel fortunate to see that numlock light.

 

Are you getting an HP splash screen during initial power-up?  that is a big deal.

 

ok, i see that you got as far as a password screen, this indicates a BIOS level password, your lucky day, that can be solved expeditiously..there should be a BIOS PW reset jumper on the motherboard.. a few unsuccessful tries with that PW may have locked you out of the BIOS launch altogether. i had a unit on the bench a few weeks ago, funny as bleep. user picked up a unit peer-to-peer style, locked out of the unit via password, user called seller for the password, seller sang the song  :"sure..i can divulge the password, for 50 dollars, "  anyway, a simple PW reset via mobo jumper got the unit in good hands.

 

 

EDIT: a little googling indicates a UEFI BIOS GUI that could determine a Windows 7 install conflict...support article link:

 

https://support.hp.com/au-en/document/c03465686


Edited by synergy513, 18 August 2017 - 04:18 PM.

Moore's Law : 4d Graph in Progress


#14 Vortigen

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 04:21 PM

@ranchhand_  Knoppix would not boot from a usb drive.

 

@synergy513 ("BC Advisor;" sorry, I'll learn how to read the forum names eventually)  The numlock indicator is not lighting up, and now, the laser on the bottom of the mouse isn't either.  Both are in the USB 2.0 ports, both work when plugged into my other computer.  I don't have any ps/2 connectors to test with.

 

I tried downloading the BIOS file to a usb and then starting the system.  The usb light blinked as it does when active, but after about 30 seconds, the fans sped up and my monitor went back into sleep mode.  Restarting the system has no effect. 

 

I have tried pressing F10 repeatedly during startup, but perhaps my keyboard is not registering since the numlock light isn't coming on (it does when I plug the keyboard into my other computer).

 

The UEFI BIOS GUI is something I will look into just as soon as I can see anything on my screen.  For now, I am staring into a black hole.


Edited by Vortigen, 18 August 2017 - 04:22 PM.


#15 ranchhand_

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 04:22 PM

Vortigen....have you tried booting a distro from your optical drive? Even a Windows installation disk if you don't have anything else...you don't have to install Windows, just see if it boots from the disk and you get video on the monitor. The reason is that a distro by-passes the hard/SSD drive and accesses the monitor directly. That could tell us much. In theory AHCI/SATA settings should not be a factor using a virtual loader since it is not accessing the main drive. If you have already (in the past) directly booted from the optical drive before you had any problems, the BIOS should already be set to 1st Boot Device=CD drive.


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