I had a friend who said his Windows PC was not booting and needed advice on how to fix it.
This post is to help others and to assist with a Warranty RMA ticket (spoiler one part died).
I have been in the computer industry for 27 years working in the following areas.
Jobs I have worked in:
- Computer Sales (Pentium 1 and Cyrix Media GX days)
- Software Engineer (medical software and Y2K prep work)
- Computer Repairs and Installation
- IT Helpdesk
- Web Content Administrator
- Software Developer (Data Design and Development)
- System Administrator
In this time I have built possibly 50 computers and reinstalled the following versions of Windows thousands of times
- MS-DOS 6.22
- Windows 3.11
- Windows NT 3.5
- Windows 95
- Windows NT 4
- Windows 98/98SE
- Windows 2000
- Windows Me
- Windows XP
- Windows Vista
- Windows 7
- Windows 8/8.1
- Windows 10 (v1507, v1511, v1607, v1703, v1709, v1803, v1809, v1903, v1909, v2004, v20H2, v20H1, v20H2)
- etc Windows Server
How hard can it be, it was possibly a dead power supply or corrupt BIOS based on what I knew.
The (Dead) System Specs
The specifications of the PC are as follows.
- Mainboard: ASUS TUF AM4 B450-PLUS Gaming (v1.03)
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 3600X (6 core 12 threads)
- Graphics Card: ASUS TUX 1660Ti 6GB Memory
- Memory Corsair Vengenace LPX 16GB 3000Mhz DDR4 (2x sticks)
- Silverstone: 550 Power Supply (SST-ET550-B V1.1)
- Storage 1: 500GB M.2 nVME SSD
- Storage 2: 2TB Magnetic Hard Drive
- Case: Antec Dark Phantom DP301M Case
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home
The PC was pre-built and tested by a leading Australian store on the 12th of December 2019 (#1225616)
This was my roughy plan
Warning: Do not open a computer without an anti-static strap and use a clean static-free earthed surface (do not walk on carpet and touch computer parts). Make sure the power cable is not connected to the power supply and let the power in the system dissipate over 30 minutes first.
- Look for external damage or damage to the parts inside (as this can tell a story) and check connections).
- Evaluate the dust inside the case and power supply. Dust is the prime candidate for PC’s shutting down.
- Plugin the system and try and boot it (and smell evidence of “Blue Smoke” from a dead part)
- Follow the evidence (check that all fans spinning, look in the BIOS and investigate windows errors).
0. BIOS Beep codes
The PC had no BIOS Speaker installed one
On power on the PC speaker made a short beep (video card present but no kleyboard_ code)
Nothing displayed on screen and I tried another keyboard but no luck.
1. Look for Damage and Check Connections
There was no external damage on the corners or the case or damage to parts inside of the PC.
All external case screws are connected and present. I opened the side panel (thumbscrews) and have a look around.
All internal cables were firmly connected and not loose.
- ATX-12V/EPS 8 Pin CPU Power cord was well seated in the Mainboard
- The 24 pin Power plug was well seated.
- The CPU Fan power plug and 21x Case fans were connected correctly.
- The M.2 SSD and SATA Drive cable was connected.
- The SATA drive had power.
- All cables were routed cleanly and were zip-tied down.
My heart sank when I saw that there was little dust inside the PC. Dust is usually is a good sign that the PC can be quickly repaired as dust can block fans.
I checked the Antec Dark Phantom DP301M Case top, front panel and bottom dust filters and they were a bit dusty but not bad.
Looks like Dust is not an issue. I know the family who uses this PC are not smokers or cat owners so this explains the clean PC.
3. Start the System
I started the system with my nose right behind the back of the PC to quickly smell evidence of past or present electrical shorting.
When I pressed the Power button to turn on the Power Supply, CPU, Video card and case fans all spun up. No bad smell from dead parts. I kept tapping the delete key every few seconds to hopefully enter the BIOS. After a few seconds, the PC did not fire up the Video card image connected to a 1080P screen.
4. Follow the Evidence
The PC had no PC Speaker so I connected a spare one I had. The BIOS was not loading and no BIOS beep codes came out of the speaker.
Hmmm, Maybe the mainboard or video card is dead. I cannot get an image on a screen?
I shut down the PC and installed an MSI 1030 Ti video card and tried to start the PC.
No luck, the system would not boot with a working video card.
I installed known good DDR 4 memory into the system to test the memory.
Installing working memory did not help.
I plugged in a Radeon 570 Video card and it to would not boot.
I plugged in the ASUS TUF 1660Ti video card into another working PC and it worked just fine. The video card was not dead.
Maybe the Power supply is not properly working?
I plugged in a working 750W power supply to the system.
The external working power supply did not allow the PC to boot.
Maybe the Mainboard, Mainboard BIOS or processor is dead?
I read the manual and tried restoring the BIOS and reloading the BIOS with the ASUS Crash Free BIOS.
The manual had a nice QR code link with instructions to follow.
I placed a new BIOS onto a USB key as instructed, renamed it and started the PC and waited 10 minutes.
The BIOS did not load.
In my 27 Years, I have only heard of one processor dying (an AMD Duron 600Mhz with no internal temperature sensors where the heatsink fell off). I was 99% certain that the Mainboard was dead. I gave the processor a 1% chance of being dead.
The only way to confirm this was to swap in an AMD Ryzen 3200G processor into the dead system.
I removed the heatsinks from the donor and dead systems and cleared the thermal paste off the processor(s) and heatsink(s)
When I removed the heatsink from the dead system there was some dust under the heatsink fins. There was a good coating of thermal compound on the heatsink.
I had plenty of fresh thermal compound so I used a fresh application on each processor installation.
Starting the dead system with a donor CPU
I started the dead PC with a known good AMD Ryzen 3200G processor and to my amazement the system booted and I was able to enter the BIOS.
I am glad I did not order a new mainboard on a 99% hunch as it looks like the AMD Ryzen 3600X is dead.
I reviewed BIOS settings (nothing unusually) and I loaded optimized defaults and booted the PC to Windows.
Windows loaded just fine.
After a few hours of testing, updating drivers and software updates I rebooted to the BIOS and applied the latest BIOS.
Maybe a fresh BIOS will get the system loaded with the Ryzen 3600X processor?
The new BIOS applied just fine.
Is the Ryzen 3600X dead?
I installed the Ryzen 3600X into a good PC, applied thermal paste and a heatsink (for an AMD 3700X) and tried to boot the PC, It would not boot.
Looks like the AMD 3600X is dead.
I returned the Ryzen 3200G to its PC and reinstalled the dead Ryzen 3600X to its PC, Maybe the new BIOS will get it going?
I will submit an RMA as this is still covered under warranty.
We received an RMA authorization
I checked every CPU pin and took a photo (10x photos)
The CPU Box did not have a plastic holder for the CPU fan so I wrapped it in bubble wrap.
I placed the CPU in its clam shell and an anti-static bag
Packaged ready to send for RAM
Now we wait.