That’s all it took. One faulty capacitor, worth about 10 cents, to put my computer out of commission for nearly two days.
The capacitor in question sits on the motherboard and, judging by its placement, it regulates power to the main I/O chip (which explains why, among other things, the failing motherboard had trouble accessing disks.)
Other than this, my experience qualifies as a comedy of errors. After replacing the motherboard with an identical model, the system didn’t boot; it turned out that I inserted the processor incorrectly, bending (but fortunately, not breaking!) some of its pins. Then I found out that the BIOS of the replacement motherboard, which I purchased second-hand, was password locked. After I reset the BIOS, the system didn’t boot at all, it turned out it needed a PCI graphics card to come back to life. Then, the operating system didn’t boot… it turned out that the partition table and boot sector was damaged on the hard drives. Meanwhile, the floppy drive in this machine died, just when I needed it to boot from a Windows XP CD (extra drivers needed for the RAID controller in my computer come on a floppy.)
But now, the system is rebuilding the RAID mirror, and when that’s done, I’ll reconnect everything and try to resume where I left off two nights ago. Groan.
Oh, but I forgot: I also need to upgrade this motherboard’s BIOS, to ensure that it recognizes the dual-core CPU (which it presently doesn’t).
Which reminds me, I’ve been using this motherboard for years, and it’s been working well (apart from a failing chip fan and now, this failing capacitor.) But when I tried to install VISTA on a test machine with the same motherboard, VISTA didn’t work in its “enhanced” AERO mode… or, it did, but only recognizing one CPU core. According to ATI, it’s NVIDIA’s fault, as their AGP implementation is not fully multiprocessor compatible and VISTA has problems with that. But, I ask naively… how come XP worked so well on this motherboard for years? AERO may be pretty, but it’s still just bits that are being moved between motherboard and graphics card, is it not?