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    Choosing and fitting a motherboard - leave it to the profressionals?

    Hi all! A computer I sold to my brother recently broke half-way through watching a film - no idea why, but it no longer starts, but just instead makes 4 short beeps and the fan runs, but this is all (the beeps repeat after a short silence).

    I googled the beep code and it suggests its either a memory or motherboard issue. I have tried replacing the graphics card and each unit of RAM (I had a new card and 3 sticks of RAM that had all been installed about 6 months prior to the problem) but to no avail, so it would appear that it must be the motherboard which is broken.

    I assume (or atleast hope!) it would be cheaper to replace this than scrap my PC - but I have no idea where to start! I am not computer illiterate, but neither am I a professional: I have experience in fitting graphics cards/RAM but these don't require tools, and I imagine a mobo would. Further, I have no idea what kind of motherboard I would need to buy, or where I would buy it from, or what it would cost!

    These are my computer specs:
    Dell Vostro 200 (E6320 C2D @ 1.83MHz, 4MB Cache)
    3GB RAM (2 dell sticks and my newer, better 1GB stick)
    Cant remember the graphics card offhand, but its nvidea and I think an 8-series
    More available on request (might be good if you tell me how to get it without the PC being on!)

    All and any advice appreciated guys, thanks,
    Chris

    21 Comments

    short beeps is normally memory error, take one out and try too boot , if it fails try the other memory if you have more then one installed

    Original Poster

    I have 3 sticks of RAM fitted, I have tried booting with just one at a time, to no avail, which would imply theres nothing wrong at the RAM end wouldnt it?

    Motherboards in general tend not to fail , I would exhaust all other options b4 doing this.
    If you really do have to change it then get a piece of paper and make a note of all the wires you will be removing ( it will save time later)
    I would definately look at the ram , but to do this it is always a good idea to unplug the pc from the mains and then testing with only 1 ram stick.
    My knowledge is probably about the same as yours but thats how I would do it.
    gl

    Original Poster

    Joey Bloggsy;7399055

    Motherboards in general tend not to fail , I would exhaust all other … Motherboards in general tend not to fail , I would exhaust all other options b4 doing this.If you really do have to change it then get a piece of paper and make a note of all the wires you will be removing ( it will save time later) I would definately look at the ram , but to do this it is always a good idea to unplug the pc from the mains and then testing with only 1 ram stick.My knowledge is probably about the same as yours but thats how I would do it. gl



    That's what I thought, and nothing happened that should have aggrivated it either (I have never looked at overclocking, the PC wasn't running any programmes except media player at the time, and there were no parts fitted newer than 6 months old!) and so I tried swapping graphics cards to the old one that came with it, and trying to boot it with just one (different) stick at a time, but sadly to no avail.

    btw , I assume you have taken the cd out of the drive ( i know silly question but ppl do do dat )
    disconnect the drives and anything else you can think of , then start pc.
    definately try to eliminate the powersuplly and graphics card aswell b4 changing mb.

    Thats about as far as i can probably go in helping you
    gl

    Not sure if it would help, but try taking the processor out and the battery (mobo) for a few minutes. It should reset the motherboard.

    LMK if it works.

    Original Poster

    Joey Bloggsy;7399297

    btw , I assume you have taken the cd out of the drive ( i know silly … btw , I assume you have taken the cd out of the drive ( i know silly question but ppl do do dat )disconnect the drives and anything else you can think of , then start pc.definately try to eliminate the powersuplly and graphics card aswell b4 changing mb.Thats about as far as i can probably go in helping you gl



    How do I go about eliminating the power supply as a factor? it's deffinatly not the gfx card.

    gd_miester;7399361

    Not sure if it would help, but try taking the processor out and the … Not sure if it would help, but try taking the processor out and the battery (mobo) for a few minutes. It should reset the motherboard.LMK if it works.



    Will give that a go mate - is taking the processor/mobo out and refitting and putting back in again it as simple as it sounds?

    Original Poster

    dcx_badass;7399408

    You don't need tools o ther than a screw driver to change a mobo. Just … You don't need tools o ther than a screw driver to change a mobo. Just make sure you're earthed and DO NOT forget the spacers on the back.



    Can see this going horribly wrong

    It's no more difficult than changing any other component except that there's a lot more stuff to plug and unplug (and you'll probably have to reinstall windows as well).

    Original Poster

    EndlessWaves;7400475

    It's no more difficult than changing any other component except that … It's no more difficult than changing any other component except that there's a lot more stuff to plug and unplug (and you'll probably have to reinstall windows as well).



    Ah, so any data on the hard drive is lost, as refitting a mobo resets everything?

    CReilly;7399378

    How do I go about eliminating the power supply as a factor? it's … How do I go about eliminating the power supply as a factor? it's deffinatly not the gfx card.Will give that a go mate - is taking the processor/mobo out and refitting and putting back in again it as simple as it sounds?



    Make sure you put the CPU chip back in the right way and don't bend the pins when putting it back in!

    CReilly;7401778

    Ah, so any data on the hard drive is lost, as refitting a mobo resets … Ah, so any data on the hard drive is lost, as refitting a mobo resets everything?



    no, but when you replace a mobo with a different one the chipset maybe different so you will need to reinstall windows and the chipset drivers

    CReilly;7401778

    Ah, so any data on the hard drive is lost, as refitting a mobo resets … Ah, so any data on the hard drive is lost, as refitting a mobo resets everything?



    No, you'll have to reinstall windows because all the drivers will be set up for the old motherboard and can cause crashes or entirely refuse to boot with the new motherboard. In theory you can sort it out manually, but it's usually just quicker to reinstall.

    According to the Dell Manual 4 beeps is a memory error.
    Have you tried using 1 RAM stick from another PC?

    Have you removed and replaced the motherboard battery yet?

    If you do need to replace the motherboard check that the Dell one is a standard size as they didn’t use to be.
    It would be easier to replace it with a motherboard that uses the same chipset as you won’t need to reinstall Windows then.
    However if you have the original Dell version of Windows installed it will be locked to the BIOS of the motherboard so will probably cause issues if you replace it with a non Dell model. You’ll very likely have to attempt to activate Windows again so you’ll be at the discretion of Microsoft as to if they’ll reactivate it for you.

    If you’ve confirmed that it is the motherboard I’d consider trying to get a replacement Dell board to alleviate the Windows activation issue.
    Otherwise if it’s a standard size board you should be able to get one with the same chipset cheaply nowadays.
    But don’t forget to rule out the power supply first and everything else before replacing it.

    Original Poster

    wickedteen;7402802

    no, but when you replace a mobo with a different one the chipset maybe … no, but when you replace a mobo with a different one the chipset maybe different so you will need to reinstall windows and the chipset drivers



    Am a little confused here - surely reinstalling windows would lose all my data? Or are you saying i'll have the chance to access my data before rebooting, just that windows will be buggy until I reinstall?

    wickedteen;7402802

    no, but when you replace a mobo with a different one the chipset maybe … no, but when you replace a mobo with a different one the chipset maybe different so you will need to reinstall windows and the chipset drivers



    Any way to find one with the same chipset etc? And if not, where do find the necessary drivers - would they come with the mobo? Any advice on where to shop for one?

    Thanks all, rep left!

    Original Poster

    Agharta;7409171

    According to the Dell Manual 4 beeps is a memory error.Have you tried … According to the Dell Manual 4 beeps is a memory error.Have you tried using 1 RAM stick from another PC?Have you removed and replaced the motherboard battery yet?If you do need to replace the motherboard check that the Dell one is a standard size as they didn’t use to be.It would be easier to replace it with a motherboard that uses the same chipset as you won’t need to reinstall Windows then.However if you have the original Dell version of Windows installed it will be locked to the BIOS of the motherboard so will probably cause issues if you replace it with a non Dell model. You’ll very likely have to attempt to activate Windows again so you’ll be at the discretion of Microsoft as to if they’ll reactivate it for you.If you’ve confirmed that it is the motherboard I’d consider trying to get a replacement Dell board to alleviate the Windows activation issue.Otherwise if it’s a standard size board you should be able to get one with the same chipset cheaply nowadays.But don’t forget to rule out the power supply first and everything else before replacing it.



    I'll double and triple check everything first, im going up to his tomorrow to do just that. If this does fail, how do I determine whether or not its "standard size" and if it isn't how/where can I find a duplicate dell one?

    Again, thanks everyone, this stuff is really helpful

    CReilly;7401778

    Ah, so any data on the hard drive is lost, as refitting a mobo resets … Ah, so any data on the hard drive is lost, as refitting a mobo resets everything?



    Unless the motherboard is exactly the same.

    This honestly sounds like a quick fix.

    PM me if you want some real advice and not loads of different advice. I fix the father in laws computer every month or so, lol.

    The chipset is Intel G33 and ICH9 and it’s not easy to find one now as manufacturers tended to use the G31 or G35.
    There are loads of G31 boards on eBay from £30 delivered and I noticed a new Intel G35 board for £40 delivered; item 260523569796.
    As the G31, 33 & 35 are part of the same family there’s a good chance that you won’t need to re-install the operating system.
    But if you do need to re-install you may be able to do a repair install which will mean you won’t lose your data.

    The Dell motherboard if standard size will be mATX or Micro ATX format. I’d try asking on the Dell discussion boards to determine if it’s a standard mATX format.
    If you can’t find a suitable Vostro board you could try and find the equivalent Inspiron board which may be the 530 model; see eBay item 390137338329
    As I said before the advantage is that using a Dell board means you shouldn’t have any problem with your Windows license.
    I’d ask on Dell’s USA forums for advice on what to do if you determine that you do require a new board.

    Original Poster

    Agharta;7416068

    The chipset is Intel G33 and ICH9 and it’s not easy to find one now as m … The chipset is Intel G33 and ICH9 and it’s not easy to find one now as manufacturers tended to use the G31 or G35.There are loads of G31 boards on eBay from £30 delivered and I noticed a new Intel G35 board for £40 delivered; item 260523569796.As the G31, 33 & 35 are part of the same family there’s a good chance that you won’t need to re-install the operating system.But if you do need to re-install you may be able to do a repair install which will mean you won’t lose your data.The Dell motherboard if standard size will be mATX or Micro ATX format. I’d try asking on the Dell discussion boards to determine if it’s a standard mATX format.If you can’t find a suitable Vostro board you could try and find the equivalent Inspiron board which may be the 530 model; see eBay item 390137338329As I said before the advantage is that using a Dell board means you shouldn’t have any problem with your Windows license.I’d ask on Dell’s USA forums for advice on what to do if you determine that you do require a new board.



    Great answer, thank you

    I just remembered that my parents Vostro 400 uses non standard mounting for the CPU heatsink which may mean you can’t use a standard mATX motherboard. The only way to find out would be to remove the motherboard and look at what mounting holes it has. If unsure I suggest taking a photo to see if someone here can help determine the situation.
    I need to open up my parents system in the next 24 hours so I’ll take a look at the board whilst I’m doing that.

    Original Poster

    Thanks mate will take a pic when im there tomorrow!
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