My desktop machine, on Tax day (back in Mid-April), decided to exhale its magic smoke. It was at a very inopportune moment — we had just finished doing our taxes but had not yet printed them. At the time I narrowed the problem down to “not the hard drives” and put them in another, somewhat slower box I had that I wasn’t currently using (a good reason to keep older systems around). Luckily, the drives booted up without any problems, we finished the taxes and all was well. The system ran a bit more slowly, but, good enough.
About 2 weeks ago I decided to troubleshoot the dead system. I put things back together, and, what do you know, it came up without any complaints. I chalked this up to “maybe a fan got stopped and things had just overheated”? Maybe the “smoke” wasn’t the magic kind but some other variety? So, I used the system for a couple weeks without any problems until I went to put in a new wireless card. I shut down the system, installed the new card… and it wouldn’t boot. Nothing I tried would make it even display the POST (power on self test) or even display the video card info that shows before the POST. I tried a different power supply, re-seating everything. I tried pretty much everything.
So, I ordered a new CPU (Athlon 3500+), Motherboard (Gigabyte GA-K8NSC-939), and Power Supply. The installation of the new parts was quick and easy and everything seems to be working splendidly. I plan to try to move the processor to my MythTV box… if it works on that board, that system will gain a nice speed bump (from an AMD Athlon XP 2000+ to a 3200+), or, I may just learn that the problem was that the CPU died (which I doubt, I think the problem was probably the motherboard).