Tuesday, November 10, 2015

How I brought a dead motherboard back to life !

Few months ago, one day, my PC suddenly stopped working. Whenever I turn it on , it would spin it's  CPU fan a second or two then stop. This kept happening over and over again. (after a while it only spinned once ). It turns on LEDs but it wouldn't POST (Power On Self Test).

Then I tried everything possible to fix it. Disassembled each and every part reassembled, and tried to identify the root cause by booting the PC after removing each component.

However I noticed that even when I removed all the components including graphics card and RAM sticks, motherboard did not gave any beep codes. It didn't identify anything.  That's when I figured out the problem must be with the motherboard itself  not with the RAM, graphics card etc. And Intel CPUs hardly die, I've never heard of such an instance. 

When most people find out that their motherboard is gone, what they do is purchase a new one (if warranty period is over).  But most of dead motherboard issues are caused due to corrupted BIOS chip. All you have to do is re-flash your BIOS chip. To do this make sure your motherboard has a socketed BIOS chip which can be removed and plug back easily.

Most BIOS chips looks like this
Location of this chip can differ from one motherboard to another. 
These are programmable serial flash memories.

My motherboard had a MX 25L8005PC serial flash installed. Which is a very common in most motherboards.

All you have to do is take out this chip and re-flash it with a fresh BIOS update, plug the chip back in it's socket , and you're done! Your dead motherboard will be back to life once again.
Then I researched on how to re flash a corrupted BIOS. And I came up with 3 possible solutions.
An MX25L8005PC serial flash

1.Buying an already flashed BIOS chip from eBay:

This is the first method I tried and it worked flawlessly. It cost me $11 including overseas shipping. This cost is lot less than buying a new motherboard , specially if your motherboard is a high end gaming one.Seller shipped this so fast and it arrived within a week. There are few eBay sellers who sells almost every available BIOS chips programmed with the requested BIOS update.

 However until this item arrives I tried other options as well , as I wanted to fix my motherboard as soon as possible. So I came up with two other options listed below.

2. Hot Swap your BIOS chip and re-flash:

Hot Swapping is a technique used to flash bios using another similar motherboard. You need to have access to a exact same motherboard model (different models with same chip might work). I tried this method as well and I can confirm it works flawlessly!  I wrote a separate post about how I did it. See below,

How I fixed my corrupted BIOS chip by Hot Swapping

3. Re-flash your BIOS chip with a chip writer ( Serial flash programmer)

This is a risk-free method and all you need is a Serial Flash Programmer.  I tried both above methods and they work great, but I am a person who play with BIOS settings too often and end up corrupting sooner or later. So I needed a quick solution that let me fix corrupted BIOS instantly without spending anymore money or without bothering someone else to risk their motherboard for another hot-swap. So finally this 3rd method was the perfect method I've ever tried. I wrote a separate post about how I did it. See below,

Hope you will find these post useful and maybe you'll get your dead motherboards working again! :)


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