Using a Motherboard Tester

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RonnieV

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May 5, 2006
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I recently purchased a Elston Micro PCI PC Post Tester to help me troubleshoot computers with potentially faulty motherboards.

The documentaion that accompanies this item is very sparse, but if I understand correctly, when placed into an empty PCI slot, the card displays a series of numbers during boot up. If boot up hangs somewhere along the process, the last numbered displayed can help identify a precise problem with the board.

I've tried the card on a Gateway E-2000 where fans are working on the mobo but no video is displayed; on a Dell Optiplex GX270 with a set of similar symptoms; and with a working HP PC and with a working Dell Optiplex GX270. The only thing this card has displayed is "FF" which the documentation says means that the BIOS has already passed control to the operating system. It's appears almost immediately after the mobo has power and stays on ubtil I turn the PC off.

This puzzles me as two of the four PCs I've used it on has onboard video that isn't responding. I would think I'd get some indication of a defective mobo on these PCs.

I've done a cold boot with all the above PCs but all I've seen is FF. Does anyone with experience with a mobo tester - especially one from Elston - have any thoughts of what's I'm doing wrong? Or should I simply send this item back to Cyberguys?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
 
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They got my money, too. I fail to see the usefulness of it as my result was about the same in that I got nothing that made sense.

Wasted money.

Face it: The only thing on a main board that I have ever managed to "fix" are swollen capacitors. If it hangs in POST or will not hand off to the OS, will not light up the screen and you have no swollen capacitors, it's toast.

My experience? That card is useless.
 
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Jul 19, 2005
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I've looked at motherboard testers, but because of ever changing circuitry (processors, chipsets, RAM, etc) I'm not sure if it would be possible to build a motherboard diagnostic tool.
 
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Yes, and it has always been that way. There were some testing utilities in the earlier years; but, let's face it. If anything at all goes bad on that board, it's toast. So what difference does it make if it is the computer clock, real time clock, IDE controller, the BIOS, etc. It's still just as useless.
 

RonnieV

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Joined
May 5, 2006
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28
Just to put a period on this thread, I spoke with a knowledgeable tech at CyberGuys today who provided some helpful info. While he couldn't explain why the FF code that indicated that that the OS had taken control of the boot process was appearing so quickly, he indicated that FF generally indicated the mobo was working correctly. Sure enough, one of the boards I believed defective is fine. Before speaking with the tech, I had traced my problem to the CPU. Once I substituted a different chip, everything was fine.

Finally, when I revisited the documentation for the diagnostic card, I did find a phone number and email address for Elston to be used for support. My bad and my apologies for the error in my earlier message.

Ron
 
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