Forum Thread

Can some PC cases short circuit motherboards?

Hawk2007 20,944 805 July 20, 2011 at 11:11 AM
My basic question is has anyone heard of a faulty PC case that shortcircuits motherboards?

The reason I ask is that I have an Antec gaming case that's about 6ish years old. I had an Asus Socket 478 board in there for most of the time and most recently a gigabyte 1156.

During the time with the Asus board, I went through no fewer than four boards (that I can think of). Asus exchange it each time to their credit. The first board in there, literally lasted fewer than 48 hours and I had to RMA it through Newegg. The next one lasted a little over a year and poof. New one lasted a few months, poof. New one lasted maybe a year, poof. On the last one, i gave up since 478 and Pentium 4's were out of date with quad and hex core processors widely available.

Now, I recently had a gigabyte Motherboard fail in much the same way. The computer is just working, and then poof, the motheboard dies.

I'm using high quality parts. I.e. for PSU, Antec or Corsair. Memory: Corsair exclusively. I have no dedicated graphics card (I don't PC game).


I can't say for 100% certain the motherboard is shortcircuiting, but I don't know how else to describe a motherboard that just goes poof and stops working. I have never overclocked these boards as I'm fine with the performance they give OOB.

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#2
I don't see how a case could "short circuit" anything?! The metal case wall is parallel to the circuitry. Faulty heatsink design might short circuit something... but in any case (no pun intended) I don't see how short-circuiting would lead to delayed failure. It would be pretty instantaneous. Sounds like AC power is the common element (or any components you are reusing). Did you try a line conditioner or UPS?
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#3
I have shorted out MBs before. If you are pressing on them you can put the bottom solder points in contact with the metal case.

check the screws are appropriate and not too large

The back (expansion card slots) can get shorted out too if it is not a good fit along the edge of the MB. Remember they are many layer PCBs, you could theoretically short out one layer to another.

That being said, unless you are plugging/unplugging RAM/CPU/heatsink/expansion cards/power supply connectors, I doubt you would create this short circuit. You would have to be doing something physically to the board at the time.
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#4
Quote from bsg75 View Post :
I don't see how a case could "short circuit" anything?! The metal case wall is parallel to the circuitry. Faulty heatsink design might short circuit something... but in any case (no pun intended) I don't see how short-circuiting would lead to delayed failure. It would be pretty instantaneous. Sounds like AC power is the common element (or any components you are reusing). Did you try a line conditioner or UPS?

I've always had the power supplies for my monitors/computers/laptops etc through an APC UPS. I have never had the line conditioned per say (not sure what that involves).

Thanks for the advice though. Maybe I just have bad luck.

btw - nice username. BSG is one of the best shows I've ever seen and I've been taking my sci-fi friend through it for the past few weeks. We finished up season one last night and he jumped up out of his chair in the last few minutes of season one and what they did.
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#5
Quote from beefcake78 View Post :
That being said, unless you are plugging/unplugging RAM/CPU/heatsink/expansion cards/power supply connectors, I doubt you would create this short circuit. You would have to be doing something physically to the board at the time.

Thanks. Yeah, I'm definitely not doing that --- hot swapping or cold swapping (yes, I've seen one guy hot swap ram).

I'm not doing anything fancy or even hi-voltage taking at the time the boards go. If anything, it's just a webpage or two open or the machine is booting.

I feel better that the case is probably not short circuiting the boards. It's just the only common denominator between the two builds. All of the components I buy are high quality, name brand stuff.
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#6
you can test if the board's shorting from the case by putting paper washers between the standoffs and the motherboard when you screw it down.

are you reusing the PSU? or is this a brand new PSU?
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#7
If the PSU was bad to begin with but not completely died it could slowly ruin as many motherboard as possible.

I wonder if you've checked the PSU output or even the power socket and see if there is any voltage fluctuation.

socket478/P-4 system might have the capacitor issue but I haven't heard about those in newer systems.



Quote from Hawk2007 View Post :
My basic question is has anyone heard of a faulty PC case that shortcircuits motherboards?

The reason I ask is that I have an Antec gaming case that's about 6ish years old. I had an Asus Socket 478 board in there for most of the time and most recently a gigabyte 1156.

During the time with the Asus board, I went through no fewer than four boards (that I can think of). Asus exchange it each time to their credit. The first board in there, literally lasted fewer than 48 hours and I had to RMA it through Newegg. The next one lasted a little over a year and poof. New one lasted a few months, poof. New one lasted maybe a year, poof. On the last one, i gave up since 478 and Pentium 4's were out of date with quad and hex core processors widely available.

Now, I recently had a gigabyte Motherboard fail in much the same way. The computer is just working, and then poof, the motheboard dies.

I'm using high quality parts. I.e. for PSU, Antec or Corsair. Memory: Corsair exclusively. I have no dedicated graphics card (I don't PC game).


I can't say for 100% certain the motherboard is shortcircuiting, but I don't know how else to describe a motherboard that just goes poof and stops working. I have never overclocked these boards as I'm fine with the performance they give OOB.
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#8
Quote from IPT View Post :
you can test if the board's shorting from the case by putting paper washers between the standoffs and the motherboard when you screw it down.
Did you use the standoffs?
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#9
Quote from In_Like_Tim View Post :
Did you use the standoffs?
Iagree

Using standoffs, either brass or plastic ones under the board (between the board and the motherboard tray of the case) is required at all points where a screw goes through the board to mount it to the case. "Some" cases DO have raised cones built into the motherboard tray that take the place of standoffs, but many do not have a raised cone in every spot where a screw goes through the board for mounting -- those spots would need either a brass standoff or a plastic standoff to keep the board from being pushed down and making contact with the motherboard tray and causing a short.

Not having the model of your Antec case -- I can't google for pics of it to see if the motherboard tray has raised cones or not.

I haven't had to repair many computers in Antec cases and can only think of one I owned myself -- all those I have experience with required standoffs -- they did not have raised cones in the motherboard tray.
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Last edited by callpocket July 20, 2011 at 05:17 PM
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#10
Make sure you're using standoffs. Make sure there's enough clearance from the solder joints and the case. You can be safe with a sheet of plastic under the motherboard.

Paper/plastic washers on the standoffs defeats the grounding of the motherboard, and is usually not the best idea, but you could try them temporarily.

I would check the AC power, PSU, and the solder joints. Like I said, if you want to be sure its not the case, you could stick a piece of plastic (the pseudo hard plastic used under power boards) under the board. Other than that, I don't know what to tell you.
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#11
Quote from IPT View Post :
are you reusing the PSU? or is this a brand new PSU?

I went from an Antec with the Socket 478 to a Corsair with the Socket 1156. Yes, they were both brand new at the time.

Quote from In_Like_Tim View Post :
Did you use the standoffs?

Yes, I'm using the original brass standoffs that came with the Antec case back in the day (2005-ish).
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Last edited by Hawk2007 July 20, 2011 at 05:41 PM
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#12
Quote from callpocket View Post :
Not having the model of your Antec case -- I can't google for pics of it to see if the motherboard tray has raised cones or not.
http://www.antec.com/Believe_it/p...d=MTMwOQ==

It's an Antec Super LANBOY if the link does not work.

Quote from callpocket View Post :
I haven't had to repair many computers in Antec cases and can only think of one I owned myself -- all those I have experience with required standoffs -- they did not have raised cones in the motherboard tray.
Yes, it came with the brass standoffs. I don't think it had any of the raised cones you were referring to.
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#13
Ok, so you used the standoffs back 6 years or so when you installed your first motherboard into the case. Check them to make sure they are tight in the motherboard tray.

Check the backplate (I/0 shield) that came with the board to make sure it is snapped in tight to the back of the case.

If the above things are good -- I'd start looking in other directions:

How old is your surge strip? Does the light on it flicker? Replace it.

Have you done any testing on the outlet where you plug in your surge strip? GEt a tester and check it for a wiring fault. Could be a bad ground or loose wire to the recepticle.

After that, if the machine still runs, install some monitoring software that tells you about your PSU voltages. Just because it's new or only a year or so old, doesn't mean it's good.

If the machine will not run, try removing the video card and going with the onboard to see if you get any Joy. If no, try a different PSU.
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Last edited by callpocket July 20, 2011 at 05:59 PM
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#14
Mobos can short to cases because of copper power or signal traces being too close to mounting holes, either on the standoff side of the screw side:



Check each hole, not only with the standoff and screw centered but also with them off-center.

Sometimes a standoff is installed where there's no mounting hole directly above it, so it presses against the mobo.

Another problem is the case and mobo shorting at the corners because they flex too much or the mobo is warped. You want the mobo to be supported within 2" of each of its corners, and if you can't do that with standoffs, attach rubber or plastic bumper feet to the case to support the mobo corners.
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#15
Quote from Hawk2007 View Post :
Yes, I'm using the original brass standoffs that came with the Antec case back in the day (2005-ish).
Clearly something was wrong with the original setup. I don't know about now, though.
Doing the math, the new board could be as much as 3.5 years old, and maybe this was just bad luck. How old was the board?

What happens when these boards die? Is there no response at all, or something happens but no POST?
This felt like a bad CPU, but can't be if the new board is running a different processor.

Whatever is causing this is common to both builds. You say the case is the only thing.
Nothing else (inside the case)? You have a new PSU? What about any PCI or graphics cards?
It would be weird to think that a case fan would cause such a problem. What are the condition of the USB ports? Damaged and shorted pins can do weird things.
The most recent board that failed, have you tried POSTing it with it out of the case, on the bench, and nothing connected but the PSU and monitor? Might POST. Reset the CMOS and try it.
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