[solved] Failing motherboard? (1 Viewer)

SwissBuster

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Apologies in advance if this isn't the right place for this question...

I've been getting some weird behaviour from my HTPC recently. This came to a head this weekend as I finally laid an ethernet cable across the house to hardwire my internet connection. At one point I accidentally cut the power supply while the PC was on, and on reboot this seemed to have messed up MediaPortal. I've done this before, so did a fresh re-install of MP which worked fine. I turned the TV on as a test which also worked - until after about ten minutes when live TV froze making a horrid noise, and again MP was fried. This started a never-ending cycle of Windows 10 rebooting every 2 minutes, sometime with a blue-screen error messages, sometimes without, sometimes just becoming unresponsive. Eventually it seemed that unplugging the wifi dongle fixed the constant rebooting, and I could get back to work.

Back to work on the ethernet connection. At first, the onboard LAN port (nVidia, on the motherboard) wasn't recognised by windows. I've never used this port so figured it wasn't configured somehow. After playing with it (nothing worked), it suddenly became active when I unplugged the wifi dongle. A couple of reboots later, though, it failed to be recognised by the windows device manager. So, I installed a PCi ethernet card I had lying around, which worked first time. Success, I have a LAN connection now.

Or so I thought. Back to the MP reinstall, the TV server connection failed on reinstall, and ignoring this, I used BackupSettings to reinstall my settings. I noticed here that all TV channels were not being mapped, so stopped the backup and checked the TV card - it fails to be recognised in device manager! I checked the card was properly seated (it was), rebooted a few times, eventually removed it completely and rebooted, nothing worked - windows doesn't find the card.

In the course of all this work, I've tried and/or noticed the following:
1. Completely cutting power and removing the CMOS battery to force a completely fresh reboot. Didn't change anything for the TV card, but the onboard LAN was recognised - this then disappeared after a few reboots. Sometimes the onboard LAN is recognised, sometimes it isn't.
2. Removing all PCi cards (graphics, TV, LAN) and rebooting. Nothing changes - LAN and graphics are recognised, TV isn't.
3. It's possible the TV card is fried. As it is new (Digital Devices S2) it's unlikely. I can check this when I can get my hands on a spare PC somewhere.
4. Ran Windows troubleshooter. It said some new hardware was recognised, but I can't see it.
5. The PC is emitting a high pitched noise. It's hard to hear exactly where it's from, but when removing the PCi cards, the noise is still there (so it's not the cards). This makes me assume it's the motherboard. On close inspection, with the cover off, it actually sounds like a (very quiet) alarm. It stops after a while (5 mins?).
6. A few weeks ago I tried to install a new wifi card which failed. I assumed this was a driver issue with Win10 although with hindsight, it was recognised and did work once, but after rebooting failed to function properly.

So, in summary, I have a PC which doesn't consistently recognise a number of peripheries (onboard LAN, TV card). Is my motherboard on the way out? Anything else I can do to 'force' windows to recognise the TV card?

It's an ASUS P5N-EM HDMI motherboard.
 

CyberSimian

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    It's possible the TV card is fried.
    A few weeks ago there was a power cut at my location in the UK, whilst MP was recording. The power cut lasted about 60 minutes. When power returned (and I was sure that it was stable), I booted my HTPC only to find that one of the tuners no longer worked. :( It was the tuner that was in use when the power cut occurred. In my case this is a quad-tuner card, containing two dual-tuner modules, but only one tuner in one module has failed. :confused:

    Testing the tuner card in a different PC is definitely a good idea. (y)

    -- from CyberSimian in the UK
     

    mm1352000

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    Testing the tuner card in a different PC is definitely a good idea. (y)
    Agree with this.

    I checked the card was properly seated (it was), rebooted a few times, eventually removed it completely and rebooted, nothing worked - windows doesn't find the card.
    In my experience Windows/PCs won't (re)detect "lost" hardware on reboot. It seems to take a full power cycle (ie. shut down + cold boot).

    The PC is emitting a high pitched noise.
    Could be coil whine from the PSU?

    Sometimes the onboard LAN is recognised, sometimes it isn't.
    That's not a good sign.

    Anything else I can do to 'force' windows to recognise the TV card?
    You might try to completely uninstall the driver, just in case that got corrupted in your "live power disconnection". However, better would be to check the card in another PC. Don't forget to completely shutdown and disconnect power cables from all devices (STBs, PC tuners) connected to your dish before changing the cabling. If you're not careful you can kill the card or other connected devices by short-circuiting the LNB PSU.


    Currently the only other possible explanation which I can think of that might explain all these symptoms is a dying or overloaded PSU. Not able to supply enough power at boot to init all devices??? Killing devices with out-of-spec power rails???
     

    SwissBuster

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    You might try to completely uninstall the driver, just in case that got corrupted in your "live power disconnection". However, better would be to check the card in another PC. Don't forget to completely shutdown and disconnect power cables from all devices (STBs, PC tuners) connected to your dish before changing the cabling. If you're not careful you can kill the card or other connected devices by short-circuiting the LNB PSU.

    Currently the only other possible explanation which I can think of that might explain all these symptoms is a dying or overloaded PSU. Not able to supply enough power at boot to init all devices??? Killing devices with out-of-spec power rails???

    The help is much appreciated.

    I don't think the noise is coming from the power supply, but it's hard to tell exactly. Is there a way to test your theory about a failing power unit by removing other items that are draining power (if so, which ones would be the best ones?). I've never done it, but my guess is a failing PSU is a relatively simple switch (compared to changing the motherboard)?

    I need to think where I can find a PC with a PCIe slot and Sat connection to test the DD card. Another thought is that the PCIe slot on the motherboard has failed, so I can maybe test the slot with another PCIe card.

    When you say "full power cycle (ie. shut down + cold boot)", what do you mean exactly? I did remove the DD drivers completely (plus the 'hidden' ie not-currently installed devices under device manager), removed the card physically, disconnected the power supply completely and removed the CMOS battery to give myself the best chance of win10 recognising the device on re-install.

    Also, what are "out-of-spec power rails"?

    Ironically, I now have a fully working system with 2 LAN connectors being recogised (I've now turned the onboard LAN off via BIOS) and MP working fine - expect no TV because no TV cards!
     

    mm1352000

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    Is there a way to test your theory about a failing power unit by removing other items that are draining power (if so, which ones would be the best ones?).
    No, not a definitive way.

    Another thought is that the PCIe slot on the motherboard has failed, so I can maybe test the slot with another PCIe card.
    Yes, that would be a good test. (y)

    When you say "full power cycle (ie. shut down + cold boot)", what do you mean exactly?
    I mean Windows shutdown (ie. PC fully off - no need to disconnect power, CMOS battery), wait 10 seconds for power to drain/settle, then turn on the computer again (cold/clean boot).

    To be clear, I gave that advice because it seemed like you were expecting Windows might detect the missing network interface after "reboot" (which I assumed meant Windows restart). If you want Windows to detect missing hardware, my experience has been that restart is insufficient because the power is not removed (and so the hardware and BIOS are not fully restarted).

    Also, what are "out-of-spec power rails"?
    Sorry, engineering jargon. :oops:
    It's too technical to explain in full, but in short:
    • "Spec" is short for "specification".
    • A "power rail" is a power supply output with a specific voltage (eg. 12 V, 5 V, 3.3 V etc.) and current limit (eg. 15 A).
    • Power supplies must provide certain rails where the voltages must be within certain minimum and maximum limits according to ATX specifications.
    • If a power supply output voltage is not within the allowed limits then that is an "out-of-spec power rail".

    I've been thinking about this situation more, and I'm more convinced that the motherboard is not failing. The onboard LAN controller is likely to be part of the chipset which also contains the SATA storage controller, IDE storage controller, USB controller(s), PCI controller, PCIe controller etc. If the motherboard were failing due to chipset failure, I'd expect other functions (eg. storage) to be affected as well.

    More questions...
    Your motherboard has 2 PCIe slots - one x16 and one x1. Which one were you plugging the tuner card into?
    I assume you connected the tuner's power connector?
     

    SwissBuster

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    I've been thinking about this situation more, and I'm more convinced that the motherboard is not failing.

    Good to hear, and I hope you're right.

    Your motherboard has 2 PCIe slots - one x16 and one x1. Which one were you plugging the tuner card into? I assume you connected the tuner's power connector?

    I'm writing from a train so not 100% sure, but the TV card is plugged into the smaller slot (about 1", I assume this is x1?). The graphic card is in the larger slot (x16?). The LAN card is in the PCI slot and one PCI slot is free.

    I connected the card by slotting it into the PCIe slot - There is no seperate power connector (unless I'm missing something...). Note that the card has been working fine plugged in like this since early this summer. It's this card.
     

    mm1352000

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    I'm writing from a train so not 100% sure, but the TV card is plugged into the smaller slot (about 1", I assume this is x1?). The graphic card is in the larger slot (x16?). The LAN card is in the PCI slot and one PCI slot is free.
    Okay.
    Your assumption is correct - the smaller slot is x1 and the larger slot is x16.
    I was going to say that if you had the tuner card plugged into the x16 slot then you may need to try it in the x1 slot. Sometimes the x16 slots are reserved for video/GPU cards only.

    I connected the card by slotting it into the PCIe slot - There is no seperate power connector (unless I'm missing something...). Note that the card has been working fine plugged in like this since early this summer. It's this card.
    Hmmm, I've never seen that card before. I had assumed you had a Cine S2 or DuoFlex with CI. I'm surprised the card doesn't have a separate power connector (like the Cine and DuoFlex do). That means it will be drawing all its power from the PCIe allowance (75 W???). If the PCIe connector can't supply enough power then maybe that is why it isn't recognised. We'll have to wait for the results of your tests (tuner card in another PC, or another card in the same slot)...
     

    SwissBuster

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    I won't be able to test until this weekend. I've also sent a note to DD to see if they can advise... Maybe there is a way to connect a seperate power supply after all.

    Thanks again, MM:
     

    SwissBuster

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    Figured this out when I got back home, with some technical help from Digital Devices. It turns out there is a small power cable directly on the card which is soldered on the card very close to the PCIe slot. When mounting the card in my PC, the cable/solder was pushed again the plastic of the PCIe connector, and this dislodged it - so no power to the card. A quick bit of soldering and careful remounting (so the repair wasn't immediately broken) and I have a fully functioning card again.

    Thanks, MM, for keeping me focussed on logical remedies... I could otherwise quite easily have gone down the new motherboard route!
     

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