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Early this week my home server (a Linux machine) threw a kernel panic. Yesterday is happened a couple of times. Then all of a sudden, when I plugged a USB stick in to run a memory test, the monitor stopped coming on. Now whenever I turn it on, the system gets power...I heard the drives spin, I see the processor fan spin, and the hard drive light comes on...but nothing happens. I put a video card in the AGP slot, but still nothing.

The light on the power button that usually comes on stopped coming on. I took the memory out to see if it would beep, but nothing beeped. It's like it's getting power, but it's not coming on.

Does this sound like a motherboard problem to anyone else?

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5 Answers 5

It really can be anything and is hard to diagnose remotely - but it does sound like the motherboard. As I just suggested in another post, when it comes to random problems that you cannot figure out easily, I would always suggest a quick look at the motherboard for blow capacitors.

alt text

The top should be almost flat (with slight indents out embossed sections depending on specification... look at the middle one) but you do not want to see any big bumps such as the first one or any leakage as the last one.

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3  
this picture looks oddly familiar... has it been posted here before? ;) –  quack quixote Nov 9 '09 at 18:16
    
lol - +1 :).... I am thinking of using one note or something similar to keep track of my commonly used answers / sections... That picture and the bit of text - I have used about 5 or 6 times in this site!... FYI, anyone is welcome to borrow things from my answers and write their own - whoever gets there first, it's fair game! –  William Hilsum Nov 9 '09 at 18:24

Before spending too much time taking parts out, and testing everything individually, take a good look around at the parts and see if anything is odd.

I know I had the same issue with my "server" the other week, and it was two blown capacitors (The small cylinders on the motherboard, look at the base for them pushing away from the board and solid matter coming from the bottom)

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Definitely sounds like a motherboard problem, but it could also indicate a power supply or CPU problem.

I'd strip the system down as far as you can (disconnect all drives, remove any PCI cards except possibly video), try it on a different PSU if possible, try it with a different CPU if possible. You can probably "borrow" a PSU from a home desktop system.

If you don't have (or can't get) replacement parts, though, you should look at replacing the motherboard/CPU entirely.

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note CarlF's answer suggests another system component could be the cause; this is why I recommend stripping the system down for testing. if it works stripped-down, then start adding parts back in one-by-one to determine the problem component. –  quack quixote Nov 9 '09 at 1:20
    
Intestingly, Quack, Nik, and I gave basically the same answer at different lengths. The lengths correspond to our relative reputations--do people on SU like longer answers? –  CarlF Nov 9 '09 at 3:17

Could be motherboard, could be power supply. Could even be a really badly failed hard drive that's shorted and drawing so much power it prevents booting. If you have a multimeter or can borrow one, you can check the power supply outputs directly.

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From your description it appears you do not even get to the BIOS bootup splash.
This means, your board has not boot-up even to the point of passing primary board tests.

Stripping down the machine is the best way to go.
If there is a power-overload from one of these things it will show up.

  1. Remove the HDD and CD-Drive
  2. Remove graphics cards
    (does your board have on-board graphics? guess not, since you mention AGP)
  3. Remove all RAM sticks
  4. Disconnect any USB ports (leave only the Mouse and Keyboard where ever they are)
  5. Confirm the PC-Speaker wiring is fine (so you would hear any beeps if generated)

Now, power on and try a boot.

  1. Do you hear any beep?
    Did it beep any time before it went bad?
    (that would reassure us that the PC Speaker wiring is fine).
  2. You should see the processor fan spin,
    but are there any LEDs on the board itself? does any thing else light-up or flash?
  3. If you think the board is not booting any further and all your data is collected,
    Look for the RESET button (not the power button) and click it gently once.
    Do you see any difference in the system?
    Does it appear to have taken a reset and restarted the boot attempt?

If there is no data or sign of life at this point,
You should first suspect the Power-Supply.
Check it with meters.

After that, the next suspect will be your board power path
(look for blown capacitors).

Finally, you could get your motherboard number and update that in the question.

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