My good computer died - I think I need a mobo

Last year I boughtthis computer:

It started having some weirdness happen (the smart card reader stopped working; the speakers randomly cut out) and then it just died yesterday.

Whenever I try to boot it, it won’t let me into the BIOS or anything; it goes right to saying “reboot and select proper boot device or insert boot media in selected boot drive and press a key”.

Please tell me this sounds like the problem is the mother board and NOT the hard drive.

Also, if you could suggest a new mother board and processor that’s roughly equivalent to what I have, I’d appreciate it!

Define “bought it last year.” The product page says it wasn’t released until July of 2009. Is there any chance it’s still under warranty?

I don’t have experience with your problem, but googling the error message suggests that there’s a possibly fixable problem with the hard drive, not the motherboard.

Any chance you have a Cd you can boot from? You could make something with your alternate computer, as you said this is your “good” one. You could even boot from a floppy if you have a floppy drive. An old Win98 floppy would work. Your goal is to see whether you can start the computer. If you can, it points to the HD as the problem. Always good to have a cloned HD nearby. I keep one mounted with the power plug pulled.

Any chance you have a Cd you can boot from? You could make something with your alternate computer, as you said this is your “good” one. You could even boot from a floppy if you have a floppy drive. An old Win98 floppy would work. Your goal is to see whether you can start the computer. If you can, it points to the HD as the problem. Always good to have a cloned HD nearby. I keep one mounted with the power plug pulled.

PS. Another thing always worth trying is to pull off the cable to the HD and replug it a few times in case that’s all the problem. Such things happen.

Sounds like the hard drive to me, try booting from a Linux Live CD (such as Ubuntu), you can use this to back up your documents to an external hard drive and then set to work trying to fix the filesystem of your HDD.

I bought this computer in October of last year at Best Buy (hey, I was in a pinch!), so it’s out of warranty.

I’m downloading Ubuntu on this crappy old laptop now. Can I just install it on an external hard drive, hook that up to the now busted computer, and have it boot? Or do I need to create a boot disk with this computer?

ETA: I just found my set of recovery discs (3 CD-Rs). If I use those, will they wipe my hard drive? Or can I still get my data off once I use those discs?

If you have to use rescue disks, it’s going to wipe your hard drive :frowning: But if you buy an external drive and some recovery software, you might be able to rescue the stuff that’s over-written. I was able to when a secondary hard drive keeled over on me. The cheapest generic recovery software sold on ebay at the time worked better than all the others I tried.

Before you do all this, though, I assume you tried pressing f-10 (I think) a bunch of times as you booted to see if it could repair things?


The computer shop called a couple of days ago, and the mobo is the culprit. I’m out of warranty, so it looks like I need to repair or replace this PC. he shop recovered all of my data onto an external drive that I left with the computer, so I’ve at least got that going for me.

Can anyone recommend a replacement motherboard for that computer? I linked to it in the first post, in case you missed it. :wink: The shop said they would have to search to find one to use my existing memory, but I didn’t think four 2GB sticks of DDR2 SO-DIMM was a hard type to match.

Am I better off (cost-wise) just replacing the whole PC? We use it for Facebook, word processing, various internet stuff, some Civilization V, and Fallout: New Vegas. I don’t need high performance, just stability and light gaming by today’s standards.

What are they looking to charge you?

What they need to look for/order is a board compatible with all your components.

They may have boards with 4 DDR2 slots but not on hand in a socket AM2.

Even if they are just looking to replace the board with a compatible one you need to reload windows for best results.

Assuming you brought this into my shop

about 3 hours@$49/hr for backup your docs/music/etc, replace motherboard, and reload windows, replace docs.

Asus Motherboard M4A785-M $105

Total $261.19 out the door inc sales tax on motherboard.

It may be light gaming by today’s standards but with PCs you have to think long term, in 2 years time do you want to be able to play games that have been released around that time? You don’t want to spend a lot to repair the PC today and then have to upgrade it in the near future to move with the demands of newer games.

Like drachillix said it depends on how much they are going to charge you for the repair. I personally don’t replace motherboards very often at all, the cost nearly always exceeds the value of the PC (in other words if it was a car it would be an insurance write-off) but if they do you a decent deal and you aren’t looking to keep pace with PC games then it may be worth doing.

I already owe them around $120 for the data recovery, and the shop wants $400 for the board, installation, and reloading the OS (and possibly my data).

However, I have non-magnetic tools and am not afraid to put in my own parts. I took it to the shop mostly for the two things I can’t do on my own: diagnosis and data recovery.

If I walk away now, I only owe them for the data recovery. I’ve never replaced a motherboard on my own, but I can’t imagine it’s too difficult. My biggest problem with that project is that I don’t know how to choose a motherboard and processor that the rest of those stock parts will work with.

I appreciate all of the help so far. The SDMB is coming through for me again!

So you are looking at $520 for the complete repair. I would bin it if I were you, take a look at the towers only section on BestBuy (i’m guessing you are in the USA). If you spend a little more ($600-700) you could get a nice new machine with a warranty that will see you into the future better than your current PC.

EDIT: replacing a motherboard can be a bit tricky depending on your ability. Getting the CPU seated with the thermal paste and the heatsink fastened correctly is a tripping point for a lot of people. As is connecting up the LEDs and power/reset buttons.

What’s wrong with just using your old CPU in a new mobo? If you were using all the onboard video and audio, you can more or less drop in any mATX AM2 motherboard that supports DDR2. They’ll all have SATA for your storage and USB headers, which I assume that card reader plugs into. You would need to buy new thermal compound to reinstall the CPU, though. The stock heatsinks aren’t terribly difficult to install.

If you wanted to legitimately upgrade, on the other hand, I’d just scrap it all. Spending more than several hundred dollars probably isn’t worth it right now for a legacy socket and memory.

It’s not rocket science, but a little ignorance can cause a lot of damage.

If you don’t know what ESD precautions are or what the little tube of goo is for (or you didn’t know you needed a little tube of goo) then you probably shouldn’t do this on your own, or at the very least you need some education before you do.

You also need to have a good idea for what to look for when you push the power button and nothing happens.

If you are doing gaming, you want a pretty decent video card.

Also, I got Fallout for xmas, and it crashes extremely frequently on my system. I’ve been poking around on the net a lot today, and I’ve learned that Fallout really has a lot of things wrong in it. However, for some folks it works just fine. You would be wise to do some poking around and find out what video cards work with this game without issues, and what cards have good enough performance to run the game smoothly. I’ve seen a lot of complaints about the performance of on board video interfaces.

[Points to previous post]

…there is a hint there…

Thats just a motherboard with your existing CPU.

The price they quoted you is what we would charge for a new mobo, CPU, and RAM. installed, windows reloaded.

Whats their hourly rate?

Just a side note as someone who works in the biz. Costs for recovering and or preserving data are not technically part of the “fix” for any legal intents and purposes thats also why warranty work pretty much never covers it. Even if you buy a new machine, that does not give you back your data.

Part of why in my biz, alot of businesses would rather spend $400 on a fix instead of $500 on a new machine, then another $300-$400 getting all their software resetup and configured, recovered data transferred and imported into software…etc, etc. If a new board alone would fix it…problem solved.

No but that money has effectively already been spent. Perhaps unwisely since the OP could have bought his own external caddy for less than the cost of the data recovery.

The OP isn’t a business though so it is irrelevant what businesses may prefer. Also, any business that keeps vital data on a client machine without backups deserves to be taught a lesson :wink:

I hate to say it, but you may have gotten scammed. Whenever I get this error, it just means that the boot priority in the bios got reset somehow. Most board do not default to the HDD as the primary boot device, so if the boot priority gets reset to the defaults, you will get this message.

The fact that you cannot get into the bios is odd, however that may also be the default. Most bioses let you turn off the prompt for entering the bios and IIRC, in some cases you can turn this off entirely. In that case, you need to do a bios reset. I’d explain how, but I guess it’s moot at this point.

Replacing a m/b presents a few problems to the newbie.

  1. application of thermal past to cpu
  2. proper seating of heat sink on cpu
  3. connecting fan of heat sink to proper terminal
  4. proper seating of memory modules and PCI cards
  5. connecting front/rear panel indicators and input/outputs.

None of these is a big deal if you know when something is done correctly and when it isn’t.

I could probably talk you through it, but not being there means I might tell you the wrong thing. Feel free to pm me though.

There is also the issue of re-installing the OS. I’ve done this many times with Windows XP and once so far with Win7. It’s not pretty, but it generally works.

As for recommendations, I only found one board on new egg -

The problem is that micro-atx boards tend to only have 2 memory slots.

He got the error before taking it to the shop. He could be getting jerked around by a shady shop, thats part of why I asked about the hourly rate etc. The price he mentioned was about right for a swapout of a new motherboard with new ram and CPU (which will invariably be a significant upgrade as well as solve the problem. A bad hard drive or a motherboard not communicating with drives would also generate similar errors.

I got the computer back today. They charged me $85 for the data recovery (less than their posted price!) and suggested I call HP. I did so, and HP isn’t willing to do anything for me.

This leaves me in a crappy place. For the price of a new motherboard, processor, and RAM, I can buy a new computer. I don’t really want to do that, but this laptop I’m using now is almost 5 years old and on its last legs. My wife and I need a computer for work, but we don’t want to drop $600 on a new machine right now, especially since the dead one was only 16 months old. I also would like to finish Fallout: New Vegas, and this laptop can’t do that.

So, do I get a new board, or just buy a cheap computer like this?

Is there anywhere that I can buy a computer without an OS and use my product codes from the dead HP to put Win 7 on it to save some money? Or am I better off buying the machine I linked above?