My first hardware debacle

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My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Thu May 10, 2012 8:17 pm

So I got the parts for an upgrade yesterday, ivy bridge i5-3570 and an ASUS P8Z77-M motherboard. I was just going to put this into my old case, but things took a turn for the worse during my build. I have put together many systems before, and never had any real problems with the fiddly bits. I have to admit I surprised even myself with my bad luck, although I think poor decisions and frustration definitely factored in there. I must admit I am a bit embarassed about how this build went, but do kinda feel it's only partly my fault. Read below the bold if you want to feel my pain, otherwise I just wanted to know if people think there might be something wrong with my PSU.

So now I am in a bit of a conundrum, the new motherboard that I tried was probably flaky due to damage, but there is a chance that my PSU (Corsair 520w) has unstable 5v power. The problem is that the SB_PWR light on the motherboard would blink / flash constantly, from what I have read this indicates there is an issue with the 5v power supply to the board. After many attempts I did get a solid green light and the board even booted into BIOS, however I found that this was only intermittent, and it didn't matter if the motherboard was in my case, out of my case, or whether it had other components connected. Most of the time the SB_PWR would be flashing green, and occasionally it would stay solid and I could boot the board. The thing is, my PSU does work with my old motherboard (Gigabyte 965P-DS3), it powers up just fine every time. Do you think that proves that it is working OK? Would a newer motherboard require more stable power than my old board? (the new motherboard is an asus P8Z77-M). Could there be a problem with the PSU that exists but isn't apparent with my older motherboard?

FYI, I have ordered a Noctua NH-D14, a carbide 400R case, and a replacement motherboard P8Z77-M. Since I had to replace the HSF, and I decided a new case will make the build much more convenient. Plus my current case doesn't have a proper bay for an SSD. I'm not sure if I should also get a PSU to be on the safe side, I was hoping to have this all sorted out before diablo 3 is out on tuesday but now chances of that are looking slim :-?


The gates of hell opened for me, but it was a few days too soon...
==============================================================
So my new parts arrived in the mail, it's just a new cpu and motherboard this should be super easy I thought. I already had some spare RAM and a Video Card, so I decided to get straight into it. I proceeded to remove my existing motherboard, drive cage and general wires and bits to clear space for the new motherboard. Shifted the motherboard standoffs to M-ATX positions. Fitted the motherboard, screwed it into place. Put the CPU into the socket and clamped it in. Attached the stock heatsink fan, to what I thought was a suitable position. And then it all goes wrong.

I realise that the way my HSF is mounted the cpu power wire would have to go across the top of the fan (could have still worked but wasn't ideal), but I would rather the wire ran neatly downwards from the side of the HSF. So in my infinite wisdom I decide to remove the HSF and rotate it 90deg so that the wire is closer to the fan header. Bad move! I get 3 of the heatsink clips to remove easily by rotating them in the direction of the arrow, but the fourth one is very stiff and clicks when I turn it like it's stuck or not actually releasing. I play around with this for a while, hoping that it will unclick like all the others did but no luck.

I figure since its not unclipping after a lot of effort, I should remove the motherboard from the case and maybe I can push the clip from the back side and get it to come out. So I remove the motherboard and try poking the black clip nub from the back of the board with a pair of plyers. This has virtually no effect on the stuck clip, and sadly in my effort to exert force I create a very thin scratch on the back of the motherboard (oh good!). I look at the scratch and think to myself, well it is very minor but it is a scratch none the less, hopefully I didn't just kill the board (I will post a pic of the scratch later). I try again to rotate the clip from the front side for the last time, and eventually give up since it simply will not unclip. I test another clip to make sure I am not misunderstanding, and sure enough it clips and unclips as I would expect.

So I give up on the idea of getting the HSF off the board, and re-clip the other 3 clips into place. Now I want to know if I have killed the board or not with the scratch. So I put the motherboard back in the case, attach all the power cables, memory, video card and so forth. All set, turn on the power (plug in psu and turn on) the SB_PWR green light is flashing on the motherboard but at this point I haven't realised what it means. I try turning on the machine, nothing, not even fans spinning up or any beeps or anything.

So I double check I have the power button headers on right, remove the video card and memory so it's just the cpu and motherboard. Try disconnecting and reconnecting the power connectors. All I get is a flashing green light. I look up about the flashing green light, and not much info to be seen other than some forum posts that claim its due to unstable 5v power. I decide to double check the PSU by putting back in my old motherboard, are sure enough it boots up on the first try, no problem. So I think the PSU is ok, next I decide to eliminate a grounding problem. So I put the new motherboard on an antistatic bag outside the case by itself, connect up the two power cables from the PSU and turn on the PSU. The green light flickers, but then goes solid. Great I think, maybe I just had grounding issues or I didn't connect something properly. So I put it back into the case and try again, sure enough it goes back to a flashing green light.

Long story short, and plenty of trial and error. I checked for grounding issues, and even tried things like checking the motherboard standoffs or possible contacts under the board, tried it with no motherboard face plate, removing installed parts so it's just the CPU and Mobo. It turns out that -sometimes- the SB_PWR light goes solid after a few seconds, sometimes it takes 15-20 seconds, but most of the time it just stays flashing, or blinking. When it goes solid, I press the power button and booted into the bios. It was reading 5.08 or 5.048 volts or something, which looked normal to me.

At this point I am thinking, this sucks it doesn't seem like its my fault that the HSF wouldn't unclip, yet maybe I shouldn't have tried to push the pin through from the back side of the board (futile anyway, definitely do not try doing that). I figure I should try RMAing the board since it's kinda my fault but kinda not, so I set about trying to get the HSF off the motherboard. Incredibly, as I begin to remove the clips I find that not one but two of the clips are now stuck in place. Son of a...

At this point I begin to relax because I realise that no matter what happens I'm screwed, and there's no way this new system is going to be up and running smoothly any time soon. It turns out that the best method for removing these stuck clips is to use a flat head screwdriver to gently rotate the clips in the direction of the arrow. However, even despite using that method the internal black pin inside one of the clips broke off and I ended up having to remove the remaining bit of white plastic stub with embedded black pin with some pliars.

The finale to all this is that in my state of frustration and carelessness I managed to bend the CPU socket pins. I removed the remaining stub of HSF clip and proceeded to prepare the motherboard to be put back into its packaging. I wiped off the thermal residue from the cpu, and unclipped it and set it aside. No problem. Then I remembered the black cpu socket protector that came with the motherboard. "I had better put this on to protect the pins!" So I go about trying to figure out how this thing slides into place, and in the process manage to bend pins on the cpu socket. It will be interesting to see just how it clips on when I get the replacement board, it does seem like a nice trap for ruining your board that they created. In the end I couldn't even see how it was supposed to clip on safely, but as soon as I realised it had happened I pretty much gave up. Because with the bent pins, good luck getting an RMA on the board. /facepalm

In hindsight I can see that I should have approached this situation with much greater care, although it does feel like I am a victim of poor design. Particularly on the "socket protector" and the HSF clips.

I will try post a picture of the scratch when I get home from work, to share the carnage. I might also try straightening the pins but I don't hold much hope for that. As you can see from the pics it is only a tiny scratch, it's not very deep either I think it looks deeper in the pic because of the lighting. It's about the thickness of a hair.
Image
Image
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Last edited by blitzy on Fri May 11, 2012 5:00 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Thu May 10, 2012 8:37 pm

Intel's heatsink mounting pins suck.


I'd still be leery of a possible inadvertent ground. An easy way to do this is to have an extra standoff under your motherboard where it doesn't match up with a hole. Count the 8 mounting holes in your motherboard and match each of them up with the standoffs.

Another easy way to ground out your +5V line is by attaching a USB port incorrectly or attaching a USB port to a firewire header or vice-versa. Finally, you can also cause problems if you short or mis-wire the motherboard fan power connections.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Thu May 10, 2012 8:59 pm

Hi JAE, thanks for your suggestions. At the time I double checked the motherboard standoffs were an exact 1:1 match with the holes on the motherboard and had none of the USB headers connected. I only had the CPU fan plugged in, and that uses a keyed connector so I don't think I got that wrong either.

I think the thing that convinced me that I most likely broke the board with the scratch was when I took the mobo out of the case and put it on the box on an anti-static bag, all I had connected was the two PSU connectors (i never remember what theyre called) and SB_PWR would only sometimes stop blinking and stay solid. I wish I had tried the board before I scratched it so I at least knew that it was to blame. Now there's three possibilities, damaged mobo (most likely), bad PSU, or the off chance that the board was already faulty before I scratched it which I doubt.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Thu May 10, 2012 9:08 pm

Ah I too have witnessed the awesomeness of the Intel cooler. You would think that a company that made billions per quarter would have the best heatsinks on the planet. It could be the PSU, but if it's not then call it a lesson learned. Unless it's a server chip any Intel cooler/heatsink immediately gets tossed.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Thu May 10, 2012 10:21 pm

It's like Derfer said in the thread you linked, the problem is with the materials and precision. I had always shrugged it off as "good enough" since my last build went without problems, even though they seem flimsy and don't click properly sometimes. They still worked in the end. Now I finally struck one that was below par for quality and I learned the lesson the hard way.

I decided to order a PSU anyway, I don't want to risk having an unfunctioning PC on diablo launch day. Seasonic X-Series, 560W ATX PSU. Hope all the parts make it in time. I also hope everything works from here, coz that was all my money :lol:
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Fri May 11, 2012 12:36 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:Intel's heatsink mounting pins suck.


I'd still be leery of a possible inadvertent ground. An easy way to do this is to have an extra standoff under your motherboard where it doesn't match up with a hole. Count the 8 mounting holes in your motherboard and match each of them up with the standoffs.

Another easy way to ground out your +5V line is by attaching a USB port incorrectly or attaching a USB port to a firewire header or vice-versa. Finally, you can also cause problems if you short or mis-wire the motherboard fan power connections.



WTF? I thought this fries the motherboard...

@topic

Me thinks that it's your fault....i have installed and uninstalled Intel stock coolers before and all you need to do is use common sense and a flat screw driver. If the cooler, from quality control reasons, failed to work as advertised during the disassembly process, i would have immediately called the Service department of the store from where i bought it instead of risking to do what you did.

Ofc, that said, i noticed the design itself is kind of poor and i too agree that they should have better stock coolers in the first place. But most importantly, where you failed as a PC builder is when you thought that it was OK to reposition the cooler (and brake off the TIM contact) just so the fan power cable would be closer to the fan header, even though it could reached it "as is". I'd bet you didn't even intend to replace the TIM.

I think, if you want to know my opinion, this is all due to your newbyness. I too did something simillar with my first DIY build, but i learned from it and this was one of the lessons - If the cooler is installed correctly and the cable reaches the fan header without touching the fan IT'S DONE. No more tampering required, it's mission accomplished.
Last edited by Arclight on Fri May 11, 2012 12:52 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Fri May 11, 2012 12:48 am

I'm about to build an almost identical system to you (the parts are already here - just need to assemble this weekend).

I am suddenly a lot more nervous!

Best of luck with your (re)build!
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Fri May 11, 2012 4:10 am

@ Arclight, yeah I fully admit I handled the situation poorly. I let the frustration get to me and tried to take the quickest route to getting the problem solved.

On the point of contacting the service department, maybe in USA there is better customer service because over here with things of this nature it's an uphill battle. If I had of called them to complain they would just say "you put it on too hard, you broke it" or whatever explanation they want to justify the HSF getting stuck. Since the majority of HSF clips do install without a problem they can get away with blaming user error, but it doesn't change the fact that there is a small % of people who get screwed over through no fault of their own. Just search the net and you will see I'm not the only one who's had this happen. I have built 2 PCs using the same intel HSF clip system before and they "just worked", I hardly batted an eyelash mounting the HSF.

Also, when it came to getting the clips removed I did use a screwdriver and gently turned in the direction of the arrows. This didn't work, hence the clips were faulty and not working by design. It's easy to think "I could've done it better", but that is certainly over simplifying it. Two of the clips "just worked" and unclipped in a single twist, if they all did that I wouldn't be here. Obviously I didn't just hamfist this thing and go straight in and try to twist it as hard as I could, I started out gentle, turned it in the direction of the arrow, applied a little lifting force while turning, apply a little pushing force while turning. None of that worked, it just made a plastic clicking sound like something was stuck and just rotating in it's place. It seems that the part that was supposed to move was fused together.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Fri May 11, 2012 4:14 am

NarwhaleAu wrote:I'm about to build an almost identical system to you (the parts are already here - just need to assemble this weekend).

I am suddenly a lot more nervous!

Best of luck with your (re)build!


I'm sure you will be fine, just remember if you are feeling frustrated to stop and do something else for a while. Some parts are delicate and require a bit of patience to work with. I think the other bad thing I did was cleaning out my case of dust and formatting a new drive before trying to do the install. Having done all of that, and after a days work, I was feeling impatient and that affected how I handled things. It's a good idea to make a nice clear workspace ahead of time so that when you get the parts, you can get into it and not be cramped or tripping over things. That was another thing that added to my frustration.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Fri May 11, 2012 10:52 am

kc77 wrote:Ah I too have witnessed the awesomeness of the Intel cooler. You would think that a company that made billions per quarter would have the best heatsinks on the planet.

No, you'd think they've figured out how to maximize their profits. Not the same thing.

kc77 wrote:It could be the PSU, but if it's not then call it a lesson learned. Unless it's a server chip any Intel cooler/heatsink immediately gets tossed.

I've come around to that view on AMD's stock retail coolers as well. The last few I've had have been obnoxiously loud and barely able to maintain reasonable core temps under 100% load. One of 'em even had huge gouges in the base and needed to lapped down. Now I don't even bother with the stock HSFs -- if I'm building an AMD system, I make sure I've got a Coolermaster heatpipe cooler on hand for build day.

At least AMD's standard retention clip mechanism is easy to work with. Guess they learned their lesson from all the crushed CPU cores back in the Socket A era...

Edit: While it is probably a long shot in this instance, I've seen bent pins on fan headers cause PSU ground-outs. Had an Asus motherboard show up once with the pins of one of the case fan headers mashed together, causing the +12V rail to ground out. Until I noticed the bent pins I thought it was a DOA motherboard and was going to RMA it. After straightening the bent pins with a pair of needlenose pliers the motherboard booted right up, and it has been fine ever since.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Fri May 11, 2012 12:04 pm

First off... Man that sucks. Nothing worse than a build going bad. I feel for you.

I would try RMAing as much as you can if it doesn't cost too much, bc in the end New is better than Scratch and Dent. But, I have gotten spare parts from friends and random craigs purchases that have been used with pretty good results. You can bend your cpu pins back and it should be fine. I've done it with multiple cpus (all AMD) so I can't attest to how Intel cpus will respond. I got a mobo that had an almost identical type of scratch for $15 off a guy that didn't want to spend the time to RMA/return it. Been working for years ha.

I wouldn't worry about assigning blame... What's done is done. Learn from it (greater care, different brand, etc) and next time you'll be fine. Don't beat yourself up, there's always tomorrow. Hopefully you can get your stuff replaced at a minimal cost.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Fri May 11, 2012 12:14 pm

bru_05 wrote:You can bend your cpu pins back and it should be fine. I've done it with multiple cpus (all AMD) so I can't attest to how Intel cpus will respond.

Not at all the same thing. Intel CPUs have contact pads (no pins), with little metal "fingers" in the socket that press up against the pads. He damaged the socket, not the CPU.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Fri May 11, 2012 12:55 pm

just brew it! wrote:
bru_05 wrote:You can bend your cpu pins back and it should be fine. I've done it with multiple cpus (all AMD) so I can't attest to how Intel cpus will respond.

Not at all the same thing. Intel CPUs have contact pads (no pins), with little metal "fingers" in the socket that press up against the pads. He damaged the socket, not the CPU.


Well there ya go :-?
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Fri May 11, 2012 8:08 pm

just brew it! wrote:I've come around to that view on AMD's stock retail coolers as well. The last few I've had have been obnoxiously loud and barely able to maintain reasonable core temps under 100% load. One of 'em even had huge gouges in the base and needed to lapped down. Now I don't even bother with the stock HSFs -- if I'm building an AMD system, I make sure I've got a Coolermaster heatpipe cooler on hand for build day.

At least AMD's standard retention clip mechanism is easy to work with. Guess they learned their lesson from all the crushed CPU cores back in the Socket A era...


Usually if I'm buying AMD it's for an HTPC or some kind of use like that. I usually set the cooler low and as long as it doesn't shut down I'm good. It's retention mechanism is brain dead easy now. Speaking of AMD's old retention mechanism. Oh Abit KG7 how I loved thee. Anyway, back in the day AMD's retention mechanism was an exercise, literally. You would hold the back clip with one hand and then on the front clip you would take a flat head screwdriver and apply...LOTS AND LOTS OF PRESSURE. The front clip of the heatsink was always next to something you didn't need like a DIMM slot or a mosfet. Oh so much fun.

I would still take that heatsink any day of the week to the Intel plastic cooler though.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Fri May 11, 2012 9:51 pm

Yeah I remember having to clamp them down with a screwdriver, that was nerve racking alright :D
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Fri May 11, 2012 10:15 pm

The trick was to use a screwdriver that fit the slot exactly or to use a pair of needle-nose pliers that could be fitted into the slot. A loose fit wouldn't provide fine enough control of the tilt of the retaining clip.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Fri May 11, 2012 10:21 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:The trick was to use a screwdriver that fit the slot exactly or to use a pair of needle-nose pliers that could be fitted into the slot. A loose fit wouldn't provide fine enough control of the tilt of the retaining clip.

Even thinking about Socket A HSF retention causes a severe spike in the use of CH3CH2OH. At least my ThermalTake Volcano 9 (??) used all three clipping points on both sides of the socket.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Fri May 11, 2012 11:55 pm

I guess I dodged a bullet without knowing it a few months ago -- the last pin of the Intel cooler wouldn't come out, I became frustrated, so I cut the pin. Luckily I didn't damage anything of value.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Sat May 12, 2012 12:28 am

ahhhhh I hate threads like these. Somehow I keep operating under the delusion that "building a PC" involves little more than knowing all the right components and what connects where, and maybe a little dicking around in the BIOS if you have to.

then I read this kind of crap about bent pins and grounding issues and faulty 12V rails and all this stuff, and suddenly paying the premium for a pre-built system looks a lot more attractive.

Ugh. I don't want to have to go pre-built but I have ZERO appetite for this kind of nonsense. To me nothing would be worse than buying >$1000 worth of parts from Newegg and ending up with a non-functional, broken mess.

anyway sorry for thread hijack.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Sat May 12, 2012 12:39 am

Grape Flavor wrote:ahhhhh I hate threads like these. Somehow I keep operating under the delusion that "building a PC" involves little more than knowing all the right components and what connects where, and maybe a little dicking around in the BIOS if you have to..

In 99.99% of all builds it really is a TinkerToy operation. Remember that few post "yay. it all worked automagically" while everyone who has an issue posts in gruesome detail. Don't fall for the selection bias.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Sat May 12, 2012 12:47 am

Captain Ned wrote:
Grape Flavor wrote:ahhhhh I hate threads like these. Somehow I keep operating under the delusion that "building a PC" involves little more than knowing all the right components and what connects where, and maybe a little dicking around in the BIOS if you have to..

In 99.99% of all builds it really is a TinkerToy operation. Remember that few post "yay. it all worked automagically" while everyone who has an issue posts in gruesome detail. Don't fall for the selection bias.


Maybe so, but if I end up the 1% or whatever, I'm up **** creek without a paddle aren't I? Sitting on over a grand of useless hardware with neither the skills nor the resources to figure out why it won't work.

Oh well. I'll deal with that, and post about that, whenever I decide it's finally time to pull the trigger.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Sat May 12, 2012 2:29 am

Grape Flavor wrote:Maybe so, but if I end up the 1% or whatever, I'm up **** creek without a paddle aren't I? Sitting on over a grand of useless hardware with neither the skills nor the resources to figure out why it won't work.

Oh well. I'll deal with that, and post about that, whenever I decide it's finally time to pull the trigger.


I wouldn't let it put you off, the damage to the motherboard was my own fault for handling the situation poorly. Getting a dodgy HSF clip like I had is pretty unlikely, I've never had one get stuck like that before but even with a faulty clip it wasn't the end of the world. I just reacted badly and then made it the end of the world :oops:

I will be posting back next week once my replacement parts arrive with a successful build, and I have no fear at all of things going wrong because this has taught me to be more patient. Even if that HSF getting stuck was unavoidable, I could have found a safer way to deal with it. Maybe RMAing it right then and there would have been worth a go like Arclight said, but it would have been quite a hassle and I wanted the system up and running before diablo 3 is out (and hence why i ended up butchering it).
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Sat May 12, 2012 6:49 pm

Captain Ned wrote:Even thinking about Socket A HSF retention causes a severe spike in the use of CH3CH2OH. At least my ThermalTake Volcano 9 (??) used all three clipping points on both sides of the socket.

That was one of my criteria when selecting third-party Socket A coolers. Anything that didn't use all 6 tabs didn't make it onto my short list.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Sat May 12, 2012 7:03 pm

Dude! The scratch on your motherboard doesn't look all that bad when you take a closer look at the pic. They might not be cut at all and it's really just the bottom two tracers that look the worst. They might be fixable with some liquid solder or conductive paint. There are lots of video's on Youtube detailing how to fix a PCB trace.... I also found this simple Xbox repair.

It is difficult to tell what's going on with those CPU contacts. I think if you are patient you might bend them straight again, just do it carefully without causing metal fatigue.

This is me trying to be practical, though you will know better about what is possible.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Sat May 12, 2012 7:39 pm

The motherboard traces actually look like they are still intact.

The socket may be a lost cause. However, a large percentage of the connections on modern CPUs are actually redundant power and ground pins, since many contacts are needed to supply the huge amounts of current required. It is possible you got lucky and the damaged contacts aren't carrying any important signals.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Sat May 12, 2012 8:27 pm

just brew it! wrote:The socket may be a lost cause. However, a large percentage of the connections on modern CPUs are actually redundant power and ground pins, since many contacts are needed to supply the huge amounts of current required. It is possible you got lucky and the damaged contacts aren't carrying any important signals.


It would be some good luck after bad if they are redundant power or ground pins.

Its really difficult to tell from that picture. They look a bit mushed and at odd angles to me, but maybe not irreparable. I think the real problem would be if any of the pins are missing, creased or fatigued with fractures from being bent.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Sat May 12, 2012 8:42 pm

Unfortunately I don't have a lens that can focus at a close enough distance to take a clear macro shot of the bent pins, however I have taken a closer look and it does seem that they should be recoverable with a little patience and a steady hand. It is difficult to see from the picture, but none of them are bent at severe angles.

Image

Since I have a replacement board on the way, it will make it much less stressful dealing with the bent pins because even if I cant get it right it doesn't really matter. I am still going to try and get the board working again, and it will be interesting to see if it behaves differently with the new PSU.
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Re: My first hardware debacle

Postposted on Sun May 13, 2012 6:17 am

My condolences OP, that surely was a rough day...

Yeah I remember having to clamp them down with a screwdriver, that was nerve racking alright :D


Definitely gets the adrenaline pumping when you have to fumble around with a screwdriver on your brand new Build. :lol:

@Black protection clips: Oh how I hate these... took me 15 mins of figuring out how to put it onto my old board again.... <_<
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