Hardware Only POSTing when graphics card lifts up motherboard on mobo box

Goldsmith

Posts: 9   +1
Hi everyone!

I'm building my first computer, and a bit boldly I chose to do it from purely used parts, mostly for sustainability reasons, though that can of course be a big factor in the problems I'm experiencing now!

So I assembled everything in the case, turned it on, and all the fans were spinning and LEDs lighting up which seemed good, but nothing was showing on the screen which I learned means it is not POSTing.

I found some troubleshooting guides and by following them tried then removing it from the case and assembling the computer on top of the motherboard's box. This didn't seem to work at first, but by a bit of a fluke I found a position where it POSTs. I've reproduced it and played with many different things to gather knowledge and understanding, which I got somewhat successfully, but I'm not 100% sure how to explain the phenomena I am experiencing and I was hoping this community could be of help in either spotting an obvious oversight I made as a newbie, or help me with what the best next steps are for troubleshooting?

I will post pictures and my build components in a list below, but first here is the info I have from my experimenting:
1. The only way I have got it to POST is when I have my graphics card in the PCI 2.0 (furthest down on my mobo) slot, and the metal bar that sticks out further down than the mobo is tall, rests on the box, therefore lifting up the mobo.
2. If I let the metal bar from the graphics card rest outside the box so the mobo is flush with the motherboard box, it doesn't POST
3. If I put my graphics card in the PCI 3.0 slot (the one above, which is also the one it SHOULD be used on as far as I know), and let it rest on the box, the fans slow down in the way that it's done when it POSTs (when it doesn't POST the fans just stay at full speed until I turn it off), but nothing shows on screen
4. I have once had the fans slow down when I had it in the PCI 3.0 slot and flush with the box, similar to above in nr. 3, but all other times the fans didn't even slow down
5. Moving it from flush with the box to on the box or the other way around after powering it on didn't cause any differences and/or crashes
6. Removing the graphics card completely (which also means it's flush with the box) also doesn't POST
7. I think two times the CPU fan didn't start when I turned on the computer, once I checked the CPU power cable was properly in restarted and it worked, the second time I just restarted and it worked, which is pretty dodgy though!

My best guess right now is that there's a problem with the motherboard, and I should try getting a new one, but as I said above I'm aware I'm a newbie and maybe completely misdiagnosing it.

I also ordered a motherboard "buzzer", so I can get the beep codes which should come one of these days, so hopefully that can help a bit too

I also think it's worth noting that:
1. My power supply is only 400W when pcpartpicker.com says it needs 330, I don't know if that is enough margin for a pc
2. The main 24pin power cable for the motherboard seems to be hollow inside one of the 24 pins, I'm not sure if this is normal?

In the pictures below you can see the 5 positions:
1. No graphics card in
2. Graphics card resting on box in PCI 2.0 slot
3. Motherboard flush with box in PCI 2.0 slot
4. Motherboard flush with box in PCI 3.0 slot
5. Graphics card resting on box in PCI 3.0 slot

and in the last picture you can see the 24 pin power cable for the motherboard.

My components are:
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1800X 3.6 GHz 8-Core Processor
Motherboard: ASRock B450M Steel Legend Micro ATX AM4 Motherboard
Memory: G.Skill Aegis 16 GB (1 x 16 GB) DDR4-3000 CL16 Memory
Storage: Samsung PM863 960 GB 2.5" Solid State Drive
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2 GB Video Card
Case: Fractal Design Focus G ATX Mid Tower Case

And then just a big thank you in advance if you decide to help me out of my pickle!
 

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Kshipper

Posts: 526   +117
TechSpot Elite
That 400w power supply is a bit low in my opinion. You can get a quality Seasonic or Corsair 500-550w Bronze PSU for a good price and have the extra headroom you should have for a 1800x CPU and a graphics card. Even though your graphics card is old, it needs power too. I assume you have power leads connected to it too? (You probably do since you got a POST a few times). The card should be in that slot with the metal around it (the largest slot closest to the CPU). That is the slot that it will work best. The metal part of the graphics card should not be resting on the box but you should let it hang over the box or just inside the box. Basically you want the entire graphics card edge connector into the graphics slot. Letting that metal part push up on the card is only going to cause problems since it will push the card out of the slot slightly.

With the black screen issue...when the system boots normal and the fans are quiet but you have no screen think about playing with the input control on the screen. I know they should scan for signal but sometimes older models don't do it on their own (especially HDMI).
 

neeyik

Posts: 1,877   +2,191
Staff member
If the motherboard was resting on any kind of a metal surface, I'd suspect that when it flat, it was shorting across something (using the graphics card to raise off that surface slighlty, would prevent this). However, since the surface you're using is a cardboard box, this leads me to be suspicious of the graphics card's PCI Express interface - especially since it is an older product that the motherboard.

During POST, the only pins that are used are the 11 pairs before the key notch, as these contain the primary +12V and +3.3V power lines, as well as the SMBus system for activating the card - the rest of the interface isn't used until after POST. Raising the card up slightly would alter how well it's connector pins sit inside the motherboard's PCIe slot.

Since everything is a used part, and the graphics card is the oldest main part, I'd start by looking very carefully at the pins. Check for any signs of wear or damage; use an eraser to remove any surface blemishes and then use a very small amount of rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth to finish cleaning them. Let it dry thoroughly before testing again.

The PCIe 3.0 slot on the motherboard is likely to be more worn than the PCIe 2.0 one, although that will depend much on its former life. There's little you can do to check and clean the connections in these, unfortunately.
 

Goldsmith

Posts: 9   +1
Thank you so much for your input both of you! I'll definitely take that into consideration as I try to continue my troubleshooting journey, those are really valuable inputs!
 

Goldsmith

Posts: 9   +1
If the motherboard was resting on any kind of a metal surface, I'd suspect that when it flat, it was shorting across something (using the graphics card to raise off that surface slighlty, would prevent this). However, since the surface you're using is a cardboard box, this leads me to be suspicious of the graphics card's PCI Express interface - especially since it is an older product that the motherboard.

During POST, the only pins that are used are the 11 pairs before the key notch, as these contain the primary +12V and +3.3V power lines, as well as the SMBus system for activating the card - the rest of the interface isn't used until after POST. Raising the card up slightly would alter how well it's connector pins sit inside the motherboard's PCIe slot.

Since everything is a used part, and the graphics card is the oldest main part, I'd start by looking very carefully at the pins. Check for any signs of wear or damage; use an eraser to remove any surface blemishes and then use a very small amount of rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth to finish cleaning them. Let it dry thoroughly before testing again.

The PCIe 3.0 slot on the motherboard is likely to be more worn than the PCIe 2.0 one, although that will depend much on its former life. There's little you can do to check and clean the connections in these, unfortunately.
Oh one thing though neeyik was that it still doesn't POST without any graphics card in it at all, and it should do that right? I forgot to mention that in the post but I also tried without a graphics card lifting up the corner of the motherboard in case that bending of the motherboard was what made it POST and it didn't help either.

That was the biggest hint for me that the problem was more likely to be in the motherboard than anything else (though of course it could be in several parts), do you have any expert input to that observation possibly?
 

neeyik

Posts: 1,877   +2,191
Staff member
Oh one thing though neeyik was that it still doesn't POST without any graphics card in it at all, and it should do that right?
The Ryzen 7 1800X doesn't have an integrated GPU, so without a discrete graphics card installed, the system has no way to generate a display output. Thus the motherboard is configured to not POST if no displayer adapter is detected in any of the PCIe slots.

It could well be a faulty motherboard - unfortunately the only way to remove it from the list of suspects is to try another way. That said, the one you currently have is just over a year old (Asrock launched that particular model in January 2019); the graphics card, on the other hand, is 8.5 years old, as Asus released their 660 Ti models in August 2012. I'd personally be a lot more suspicious of that, than the motherboard.
 

Goldsmith

Posts: 9   +1
That’s an amazing insight neeyik! Makes complete sense. Thank you so much, I’ll definitely try out a different graphics card then.

Really glad I posted here :), is there any way to give back to the community at my level of newbieness?
 

neeyik

Posts: 1,877   +2,191
Staff member
That’s an amazing insight neeyik! Makes complete sense. Thank you so much, I’ll definitely try out a different graphics card then.

Really glad I posted here :), is there any way to give back to the community at my level of newbieness?
Just let us all know how you get on with your problems. Hopefully the solution you come across will be useful to other visitors 🙂
 

Goldsmith

Posts: 9   +1
Hi! So a little update after some more efforts:

The pins on the graphics card looked quite clean, but I still gave cleaning them a shot as recommended by neeyik. Sadly that didn't provide any improvements.

I then purchased another graphics card, and it exhibited the exact same behaviour using that one as with my original one. That means it didn't POST on either of the PCIe slots when the motherboard was flush with the box, and not lifted up by the metal on the graphics card, but did POST when lifted up by said metal in the PCIe 2.0 x4 (but length 16) slot.

That information tells me that it's highly unlikely that the graphics card is the problem, as I assume for the above to happen would have to mean that both graphics cards I have purchased had exactly the same type of defect which seems extremely unlikely.

My thought is therefore to next try purchasing a replacement motherboard, and see if that can fix my issues, does that sound like a reasonable next step in the ears of the experts here on the forum?

Thanks again for taking the time to read about my issues!
 

neeyik

Posts: 1,877   +2,191
Staff member
It does indeed sound like the motherboard is somewhat goosed. It's a bit of odd thing to happen to such a relatively new board, though. One last thing to try: check to see if it POSTs, with the card sitting flush in either PCIe x16 slot, but with the motherboard held 'in the air.' In other words, try it with the motherboard not resting on anything at all - just hold it by the corner, ensuring your fingers don't touch any traces on the top or the underside.
 

Goldsmith

Posts: 9   +1
Yes I'll try doing that, reading back my post I can see that when I tried something similar it was without any graphics card inserted at all, which as we discussed wouldn't post as my processor doesn't have a built in GPU.

So we agree that in the case that made it POST that would be another point of evidence that the motherboard is the issue, right?

I also forgot to mention that I also received my motherboard buzzer, which did give me one more data point.

Generally when it doesn't post the buzzer doesn't say anything, but in the case where I have it in the PCIe 3.0 (x16) slot where the fans slow down as if it POSTs but nothing shows on the screen I get feedback in that case in the form of 5 short beeps.

From my own research that can also be consistent with an incorrectly connected GPU, though it seems like it can be from several things as if I remember correctly the label for that error code is just "process error"
 

neeyik

Posts: 1,877   +2,191
Staff member
It really does sound like the motherboard is toast - at this point, I'd personally abandon trying to source the exact route of the issue and just get another board. That said, professional curiosity would probably get the better of me and I start testing every solder point on the expansion slots :)
 

Goldsmith

Posts: 9   +1
Hi!

Sorry for the several week silence! It's been due to a combination of being baffled + being busy. The baffled part is because.... my computer works xD, and to be honest I don't really have any idea why haha. I've kind of been waiting for it to stop working again and...welll.. it just hasn't for now probably 2 weeks or so

So what happened was I tried your suggestion of lifting up the corner of the motherboard with a graphics card inserted, and it worked, and then I put it down flush again and it still worked, and I tried with both the new graphics card I had purchased and my original one, swapping them several times and it kept working.

It still wasn't working in my pci3 16x slot though, but just in the pci2 4x slot, but that was okay for me. I then tried putting it inside the case, it kept working, and I just kept iterating, properly installing it with wire management, installing OS etc. and well it just hasn't seen a fault since then.

Of course I'm happy it works, but also completely baffled. There's also a part of me that wishes I had tried booting it without lifting the corner just before because the last time I had tried booting it was probably the day before, and it seems like since it works in all those configurations suddenly it could just as well have been that something random occurred in the downtime, than the once lifting of the corner suddenly somehow fixed everything haha.

So yeah... Not much to take away from this for others that face a similar problem I'm afraid, but I'm of course happy to have a functioning computer
 

neeyik

Posts: 1,877   +2,191
Staff member
I have 41 years of experience with computers and in all that time, they still have the power to do things that just don’t obey any common sense rules of engineering.

Goldsmith: Work you darn thing
PC: No. Shan’t.
Goldsmith: (Tries a million and one tests). C’mon!!!
PC: Do you really not know what ‘no’ means?
Goldsmith: (Waits a while, does other non-PC stuff, then tries one last sneaky-boi attempt) So how’s about that ol’ PCIe x4 slot then?
PC: Today I have decided that I shall work. Regale at my splendour, you peasants.
 

Aranarth

Posts: 95   +83
Hmm maybe a crack in the board or bad solder point?

I've run across this a couple times (30 years experience) I just shrug and move on.

Either the issue never comes back or if it does, start swapping parts. (Hopefully not at my expense!)