Testing Standard Documentation in Advanced Testing

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Motherboard Testing

Tex 20:37, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

There are a multitude of items to check in motherboard testing..
Check for SATA ports If there are NO SATA ports on the motherboard:
  • Remove the heatsink and, if it is of use on other types of motherboards, save it. Otherwise, recycle the heatsink.
  • Remove the processor and save it for testing later if it qualifies (it is of the minimum speed and processor type).
  • Remove the button battery and save it for testing later.
  • Remove any jumpers and save them.
  • Recycle the motherboard.
If there ARE SATA ports go on to the next step.
Check if it is a DELL motherboard
  • Remove the heatsink and, if it is of use on other types of motherboards, save it. Otherwise, recycle the heatsink.
  • Remove the processor and save it for testing later if it qualifies (it is of the minimum speed and processor type).
  • Remove the button battery and save it for testing later.
  • Remove any jumpers and save them.
  • Recycle the motherboard. DELLs require a special chassis and cannot be universally mounted in third party chassis's.
If NO go on to the next step.
Is it a BTX format motherboard, a multisocket server board, or have a non-standard ATX format?
If YES then
  • Remove the heatsink and, if it is of use on other types of motherboards, save it. Otherwise, recycle the heatsink.
  • Remove the processor and save it for testing later if it qualifies (it is of the minimum speed and processor type).
  • Remove the button battery and save it for testing later.
  • Remove any jumpers and save them.
  • Recycle the motherboard.
If NO go on to the next step
Check for visible damage
  • Check for blown capacitors. Do a careful visual check. Then do it again. This will save you wasted time further down the road. ANY domed capacitors warrant recycling the board.
  • Check for damaged sockets or other damage to devices on the motherboard. If it is a socket 775 or socket xxxx check carefully for bent socket pins with a magnifying lens. If there ARE bent pins recycle the board. It's not worth time repairing the socket.
  • Check for dark areas on the underside of the board where a device (surface mounted) may have over heated. Recycle the board if you find any.
  • Broken or missing memory slot attachment arms are no reason to reject a board as long as the board passes all the other tests.
Prep for testing
  • Place the motherboard on the test jig.
  • Orient the motherboard so the external ports (printer, PS2, USB, etc.) are facing you
  • Have motherboard testing kit on hand
Check for CPU The CPU heatsink may be installed, but someone may have removed the CPU prior to submitting the motherboard for testing.
  • If it DOES have a CPU installed, just test the board with the existing processor.
  • If NO processor is in the CPU socket find the appropriate CPU for the board.
  • Look up the motherboard user manual for the appropriate CPU to use. A library of motherboard manuals is usually kept on the Advanced Testing research laptop. If the manual does not exist, perform an internet search to find one and save it to the appropriate folder on the laptop.
  • Try the highest processor speed for the socket type.
Installing a processor in the CPU socket BE CAREFUL! Processor pins are gold alloy and bend easily. Use the standard practice for inserting CPU's in the motherboard socket as recommended in the user manual.
  • If you bend a pin or pins, you can use a 0.5 mm mechanical pencil and magnifying lens to right the bent pins. If you snap off any of the processor pins, recycle the processor. Each pin is required for proper functioning of the CPU.
Apply THERMAL grease on the processor Use only enough thermal grease on the top surface of the processor to provide a thin film coating. Applying too much thermal grease creates a barrier that traps heat in the CPU causing premature failure.
Install the heatsink
  • Make sure the heatsink is clean - use the air compressor to blow out dust if needed
  • Visually verify all parts are present and they work
  • Some motherboards have 4 pin heatsink power connectors. It is best to USE 4 pin heatsinks in this case.
Install memory Refer to the user manual for appropriate memory.
  • If a U.M. is not available, start with DDR 400 MHz 1GB memory stick.
  • If DDR2, use 1 GB 667 MHz memory stick.
  • For each reboot, place the memory stick in a different memory slot until all slots have been verified as functional.
Install video Use on-board video connector if present.
  • If no on-board video present, select a TESTED GOOD video card appropriate to the type of on-board video slot present
  • Connect the video cable - use an adapter if needed.
  • If motherboard has a dual SLI video option, verify the small selector card in the middle of the two video card slots is inserted indicating Single Video Card Use.
Install PS2 mouse and keyboard connectors
  • If one or the other is missing from the external connectors, use USB mice or keyboards
Install IDE devices
  • If there is only one IDE connector on the motherboard, connect the IDE hard drive.
  • If there are 2 IDE Connectors, connect the hard drive to IDE1 and the CDROM reader to IDE2.
  • Before connecting the cables, visually verify the pins of the connector(s) are straight.
Install the power connectors Make sure the power switch on the power supply is in the off position before connecting any power connectors.There are, potentially, 3 types of power connectors to be connected.
  • 20 pin Molex connectors (main power)
  • 24 pin Molex connectors (main power) - These connectors are actually a 20 pin connector with a 4 pin add-on
  • 4 pin Molex connector (+12V power)
  • Install the main power connector first, then the 4 pin connector. It is very easy to forget the 4 pin connector and if you do the motherboard will not boot.
Install a button battery Button batteries are necessary for retaining BIOS settings when power is absent.
  • Battery orientation is motherboard manufacturer dependant.
Clear the CMOS chip On the motherboard, usually in the upper right quadrant and near the button battery, there will be 3 posts with a jumper on 2 of them marked CLRRTC or CMOS. On some of the newer motherboards there will be a momentary pushbutton on the motherboard marked CMOS. These perform the same function.
  • If there are the 3 posts present, move the jumper from pins 1 & 2 to pins 2 & 3. Wait 10 seconds. Then return the jumper to pins 1 & 2.
  • If there is a momentary pushbutton, push and hold the button for 10 seconds, then release.
  • This clears all user supplied BIOS settings and returns all settings to the factory default.
Set the audio header jumpers Find the audio front panel header and put jumpers on pins 1&2 and 5&6
Power up the motherboard The following is the power-up procedure:
  • Follow the instructions in the user manual (this is the long version)
  • Short version - find the front panel header post group. Take a screwdriver and momentarily short the 2 pins labeled PWR
  • If there is no label indicating the power posts, they are usually the two on the sides of the header group immediately following the key post (missing post).
  • If you found the correct power posts, put a momentary pushbutton switch on those 2 posts. Makes reboots much easier.
Uh oh - the motherboard is beeping furiously at me! Power down the motherboard. The beeping normally means either:
  • You have the wrong speed memory installed. Power down the motherboard, choose the next slowest speed memory card, and reboot. This usually fixes the beeping problem.
  • You have the wrong processor speed/FSB speed/L2 cache size cpu installed. Refer to the user manual for the motherboard for the correct speed processor. If no user manual is available try a processor with a slower FSB speed, smaller L2 cache, or slower processor speed.
  • Make 2 or 3 attempts at fixing the beeping problem before deciding to recycle the motherboard.
The heatsink fan powers up, but I get no video. You'll know if you have video because most monitors have an LED lit power button that changes color (usually green) when the motherboard senses a video sync signal. This could be due to many issues:
  • The onboard video isn't working. Either use an external video card in the video card slot or use a PCI based video card and reboot.
  • The motherboard doesn't like the video card you are using. Change out the video card - twice. It COULD be something other than a video card causing the problem.
  • Wrong speed memory. Use only memory that has been pretested by Advanced Testing.
  • Wrong/bad processor. Use only processors that have been pretested by Advanced Testing.
  • Check for blown caps - again.
  • Check to see if the CLRCMOS jumper is in the correct position. Normally, this means pins 1&2 are jumpered, but this is manufacturer dependant. A jumper in the wrong position will sometimes prohibit the motherboard from booting.
  • Look at the motherboard...is there an open 4 pin Molex connector? You forgot to plug in the +12v.connector, dummy ! Turn off the power supply, plug it in, and try again. Wow, you've been at Freegeek too long today...
The button on the monitor turns green and I get writing on the screen Congratulations ! You have a successful boot. The next trick is to intercept the booting process so you can configure the BIOS.
  • Once the initial black and white screen appears on the monitor look for and indication of what key sequence to enter to get into the BIOS configuration area.
  • This key sequence USUALLY involves hitting the DEL, F1, F10, or F12 key.
  • If NO indication appears on the screen about which key to enter, start entering the above keys as soon as you get a green light indication from the monitor.
OK - I have the BIOS screen up...what now ? First things first...
  • Use the arrow keys to move the cursor to the exit selection
  • Select the choice which loads the system DEFAULTS
  • Arrow key back to the first screen and read how to progress from one field to the next. Sometimes you use the TAB key and sometimes is requires use of the arrow keys.
  • Enter the current date and time.
BIOS choices A discussion of how to select all the choices available to all the BIOS's is beyond the scope of this instruction manual. BUT, typically the following choices are made:
  • NO floppy support
  • ENABLE hyperthreading
  • ENABLE boot time diagnostic screen
  • ENABLE quick boot
  • ENABLE support for all USB devices
  • ENABLE support for all IDE devices
  • ENABLE IDE bus mastering on all channels
  • ENABLE SATA devices as IDE
  • ENABLE SMART monitoring of disks
  • ENABLE sound
  • ENABLE ACPI support if available
  • ENABLE the on-board video controller as the first video device, otherwise use the AGP or PCIe controllers.
  • ENABLE smart cpu cooling fan control
  • ENABLE Boot from other device
  • After power off - STAY OFF
  • DISABLE support for the floppy controller, MIDI, SERIAL ports, PRINTER port, LAN boot chip, boot-up floppy seek, full screen logo, RAID
  • Boot Device Priority: CD, hard drive, all others disabled
  • SAVE your choices, exit, and reboot
  • Move your memory stick to another slot (need to test ALL memory slots on the motherboard)
  • Plug in the ethernet and sound cables
  • Make sure you have a music CD in the CD/DVD player
Boot UBUNTU UBUNTU should boot to the KDE graphical desktop
  • If the booting process (GRUB) insists on checking the hard drive file system for errors (FSCK), let it. It only does so when it has detected a file system error of some sort which it determines to be "of concern".
  • If the operating system does NOT boot to the graphical interface, retain the services of one of the UBUNTU gurus to correct the problem. This will probably require replacing the IDE hard drive with a newly imaged one.
The testing starts...
  • The PS2 mouse should work (cursor moves). If not, plug in a USB mouse and use it.
  • Select "SYSTEM/ADMINISTRATION/SYSTEM MONITOR" and see what type/speed cpu you are working with and make note of this data on the label which you are going to stick on the back of the motherboard. Stop the monitor process (kill the window).
  • Plug in a USB mouse to each USB port and verify it moves the cursor.
  • Start up Firefox and go to an off-site web site to verify the ethernet port works (the MICROSOFT site is usually good to cause some gasps of disbelief...). Kill the window. If there is no ethernet access and you KNOW the cable is live, this is not a show stopper. An Ethernet PCI card can be used for internet access. Make note of this on the motherboard label.
  • If there are two IDE ports and you have the CD/DVD player attached to the second IDE port you should be seeing an icon on the desktop which says "AUDIO DISK" (or something to that effect...). Double left click on the icon and you should see a listing of the contents of the music cd. Double left click on any of the tracks listed and you should bring up a media player window of some sort (depends on how the system was set up) and start hearing music from that track. If none of the above happens (no indication of a cd player attached), recycle the board. OR, and this is crucial, TURN THE VOLUME UP. Then look around as if nothing unusual has happened. Throwing one's hands up in the air and declaring out loud "NO PROBLEM" is sure to raise eyebrows and suspicions.
Shut the system down - GRACEFULLY Use the system halt icon to shut down. Crashing the system eventually causes a LINUX brain hemorrhage and it will stop booting correctly.
  • POWER OFF the power supply.
Boot from the SATA drive Now we verify that SATA works correctly:
  • Remove the IDE hard drive cable from the motherboard
  • Attach the SATA drive cable to SATA0 (SATA1 if there is no 0).
  • Move the memory stick to a new memory slot if there are slots which have not been tested yet.
  • Turn on the power supply and power up the motherboard
  • If you get to the UBUNTU logo you need go no further. Power down the system.
  • Remove the SATA connector and connect to a new SATA port.
  • Remove the video cable and video card if using a card.
  • Insert a PCI video card and attach the video cable.
  • Power up the motherboard and at the UBUNTU logo, shut down again.
  • Move the PCI card to an unused slot and repeat the power-up sequence until all slots have been tested.
  • Note any discrepancies on the motherboard label.
  • Power off
  • Remove all cables, cards, memory, and power connections.
Finalize the testing process
  • Fill out the motherboard label completely
  • Attach label to the back (solder/non-component) side of the motherboard.
  • Put the motherboard in an anti-static bag
  • Take the motherboard to the store for pricing
  • Kick back, return to Advanced Testing, and brag to everyone that you successfully tested a motherboard at Freegeek. Be prepared to be pummeled with apple cores, mouse pads, and used chewing gum.


Reasons NOT to reject a motherboard on preliminary inspection

  • Missing PS2 ports as long as there are USB ports available.
  • Missing on-board sound (resolved with PCI based sound cards).
  • Missing LAN ports (resolved with PCI based LAN cards)
  • Missing on-board video (resolved by PCI, PCI-e, or AGP slots on the motherboard)
  • Missing PCI slots - as long as there are PS2 or USB, video, and sound ports on the board.
  • Broken or damaged Northbridge, Southbridge, or SUPERIO chip heatsinks can be replaced as can any on-board fans.

Motherboards GENERALLY have a standardized layout as follows:

  • Upper left quadrant contains the memory slots, main power connector, floppy connector, and either one to two IDE connectors (if any...)
  • Upper right quadrant contains SATA connectors, SOUTHBRIDGE chip, RAID connector (if any), front panel header, USB header(s)
  • Lower right quadrant contains AGP/PCIe video slots, PCI slots, button battery (this can actually be in this quadrant or the upper right), PCI extender slot, and audio header
  • Lower left quadrant contains the CPU socket, CPU heatsink, the 12 volt power connector (4 pin Molex), and all the external connectors