I've got an old Pentium 4 computer with an Asus P4T-E motherboard. A few days ago it began to have problems booting, reporting that the CMOS values are corrupt; I assumed the onboard battery has become weak. But now when I turn it on, the monitor doesn't even get a signal. Odd; I've only otherwise experienced this when expansion cards or RAM or other chips weren't properly inserted.
I opened up the case to replace the battery and discovered that the passive cooler on the Intel chip next to the processor (near the RAM sockets) had come off!!
I suspect this is the northbridge but I'm not so much into motherboard architecture. The cooler was held in place by a spring, and one of the two spring fastenings is plain missing. There's a bit of dried-up cooling paste or adhesive on the chip and cooler but this clearly couldn't hold the cooler in place.
The machine has absolutely not been physically moved (or bumped) for ages.
Can I just put the cooler back in place (of course cleaned and with new cooling paste, and with a new spring fastener), or has the chip taken critical damage by turning on the computer without the cooler in place?
I can't replace just that chip; I would have to replace the entire motherboard. Then it would probably be smarter to replace the entire computer, but it would be such a waste of the remaining hardware!
I've now purchased an identical replacement motherboard on eBay for a whopping $8 (plus shipping). This will "solve" my problem. Thanks for your helpful answers!