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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
About Me:
Hi everybody, I'd like to put my years of experience troubleshooting/fixing computers at your service (and for your sticky consideration). As I mentioned in my "Swedish Fish Theory" thread I'm a former Geek Squad agent. I was the guy in the back fixing all the computers who's face you didn't see unless you had a really technical question that could stump one of the guys on the front counter (all of whom I trained). I worked on up to 40 computers at a time (I wired the work area myself), and we checked in ~8-20 computers on an average day - they were done on average in 1.4 days when I was a full timer (we only had 1 other tech, whom I also trained)... needless to say I fixed a few computers in my 4 years there. It was a good job to get through college on, and I learned/found/invented a couple VERY useful tricks that I haven't ever seen posted about for diagnosing "dead" desktops.

A few notes:
--This works for both AMD and Intel motherboards, but I posted it here as all my PCs are Intel and I can only put it in one place - the fix is universal though.
--Yes, I've had times where a motherboard smelled burnt, but it was still a bad CPU and the motherboard worked.
--I've seen DVD drives stop a computer from POSTing.
--I've seen a failed PS/2 keyboard make a computer not POST.
--The PG signal is still pretty widely used on motherboards. PSU testers won't fail it every time, but if even it fails ONCE out of 20 tries, it's almost definitely a bad PSU.
--The voltages on the PSU tester I linked aren't perfect, but they're pretty close. It passing the PSU tester just means the PSU is "good enough" to get the motherboard through POST (the voltages can be unstable under load), but if it fails it is definitely bad. I ignored high voltages on it once and lost a motherboard to that PSU dying 2 days later.
--Booting a motherboard with the BIOS battery out won't damage it, but it will erase all your BIOS settings and in a few RARE cases may reflash it back to what the board shipped with (seen this maybe 20 times total). This is significant if you're using a very new CPU on an older board, keep a copy of the appropriate BIOS handy as you may need to re-flash your BIOS.

Places the error code is normal according to the manual (incomplete list):
--Gigabyte P45, P55, P67, x58 - This as the last step of POST to show a boot attempt is made (Thanks to kiwiasian)

Places it staying there is a problem verified from the manuals (incomplete list):
--MSI x58 - This is the CPU and power check on boot (hanging here means it can't pass this check)
--ASUS x58, P67, Z68 - Reserved error (according to tech support it's a short)
--ASRock x58, P67, Z68 - Reserved error (same BIOS as ASUS, asuming it's the same error)
--EVGA all chipsets - Unlisted in their documentation (I've heard EVGA techs call it "Fault Found" and that it's a short)
--Gigabyte x79 - Reserved error

Tools (a very short list):
--A PSU tester - I use this one. It's reliable, gives you the unloaded voltages of every rail, and checks the "Power Good" signal from the PSU. If you don't have a PSU tester, then you need a spare PSU that you know works. One of these two is a MUST for fixing/testing "no POST" or FF situations
--A small flat blade screw driver (for removing the BIOS battery) or something equivalent - I usually use my pocket knife.

Firstly, if you're computer beeps or gives any other error code, look it up and fix it accordingly, the guide below is for the FF error code or if the computer won't POST at all.

The dreaded "FF" POST code, or no POST at all (this fix is best done outside a case to ensure the case isn't shorting the motherboard):
1) If you know what burnt electronics smell like, then smell your motherboard. I'm not joking. Specifically around the VREG (left/above the socket), Southbridge (below the socket) and Chipset (right of the PCI slots) areas. If you smell burnt electronics, keep that in mind if you hit step (7b) below as that'll means its the motherboard 99.9% of the time.
2) Test the PSU with the tester, if it's not beeping/blinking at you then it's ok (if you're using the one I linked). Unplug and re-plug the 24-pin connection several times. Keep an eye on the "PG" and see if it ever reports 0ms or 999ms as this means it's a bad PSU (since this is unloaded it won't fail the PSU tester every time even though it will fail the motherboard every time). If you don't have the PSU tester, swap in your known-good PSU.
3) With the PSU verified to be good, plug in ONLY the power to the motherboard (20+4-pin and 4/8-pin CPU power, but NOT the 4-pin molex connection if it has one). Disconnect EVERYTHING else from power (hard drives, DVD drives, etc).
4) Remove all RAM. Remove all GPUs. Remove all other PCI/PCI-e cards. Unplug all the cables (including SATA, IDE, FDD, SAS, USB, Firewire, HD Audio, and all the switches but the power switch) from the motherboard. You should have just your MoBo, CPU, HSF, PSU and a power switch connected right now. Disconnect EVERYTHING from the front and back panels of the computer, including your mouse and keyboard.
4a) if your computer does NOTHING when you hit the power button, plug the reset switch into the power switch pins on the motherboard and use the reset button in case the power button has gone bad - yes, it happens, no it won't damage anything.
5) Remove the BIOS battery and leave it out until you're told to put it back in.
6) Power on the computer. If it beeps or gives a POST code other than FF then go to (7a) below, if not check out (7b)

7a) If it beeps at you, or gives any POST code other than FF then turn it back off. Leave the BIOS battery out. You will now add in 1 piece of hardware, power it on, check if it POSTs (and gives any error other than FF), if it does, turn it back off and add the next component. Start with RAM, one stick at a time, then GPUs, one at a time, then other expansion cards, finally HDDs/DVD drives - rebooting between each and every part.
8a) If it starts giving an FF code or stops POSTing all together then the last component you added is bad.
9a) If it doesn't give a FF error code and is still POSTing with all your hardware back in, shut it down again, put the BIOS battery back in and power back on one more time. If it gives an FF code now, replace your BIOS battery.
10a) If it works with everything back in, then your motherboard lives to fight another day.

7b) If it still POSTs as FF or not at all in this condition remove the CPU, make sure the pins are intact, reseat the CPU and HSF and try it again. If it still posts FF you either have a bad motherboard (about 95% of the time or about 100% if you smelled burnt electronics in step 1) or a bad CPU (about a 5% chance).
8b) Swap in a known working motherboard if you have one to test the CPU is good, or bring in a spare CPU to test the motherboard with. Whichever part fails is the culprit, replace it and go again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Bump to share the knowledge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Still bumping to keep the loving going.
 

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Maybe I've been out of the BIOS code game for a while, but doesn't FF indicate that the board passed POST?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
FF is commonly "Fault Found" meaning the board is reading it's shorted or fried.

FF is frequently taken as the death of the board or some other component. With this fix I have a pretty good record of it no longer being the motherboard. Removing the CMOS battery makes a world of difference when testing/fixing "no POST" situations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
FF with no beeps, no video, etc is it failing to POST.

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/317089-31-890fxa-gd70-display-post-error-read-previous-forum-troubleshoot
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/159268-30-bios-post-code-tiger
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/289012-30-680i-motherboard-post-code-boot
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/276576-30-790fx-gd70-post
http://www.evga.com/forums/tm.aspx?m=494526&mpage=1
http://forums.nvidia.com/index.php?showtopic=152715
http://forums.techarena.in/motherboard-processor-ram/1413640.htm
http://www.overclock.net/t/797164/evga-780i-sli-no-post-ff-error

I can keep going but I think I made my point. Some boards may have that be the last code for completed POST. All seem to fail to FF though.

My ASrock and EVGA boards never show a FF on them unless they've failed. I never paid that much attention to my ASUS board because it never gave me a problem. I know gigabyte, XFX, sapphire, EVGA, MSI and ASUS all fail to this code (firsthand no-POST experience), I don't know off-hand which ones use it as a normal code.
 

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Nice, why do all of your links have either one post or say FF indicates POST successful?
A lot of times a system can only barely pass the video portion of POST but have a defective display output.

Hats off to you, tech all-star.
Quote:
I don't know off-hand which ones use it as a normal code.
RTFM
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by beers View Post

RTFM
Two things:
1) That wouldn't be knowing something off-hand, by definition.
2) If you're looking up "FF" for a BIOS code, then you're probably having an issue with your computer not POSTing.

OFF-HAND, EVGA boards show the temp after POST, not FF. My ASRock board doesn't show FF even once on startup. Neither do ASUS boards AFAIK because they use the same BIOS as ASRock boards do.

And to just end this having gotten several of "TFM":
--Asus x58, P67 and Z68 boards: FF = unknown / reserved error code. On a P6T7 boards that was POSTing FF when I called in the tech said it was "Fault Found" and to try it case-less (I already was) and if it's FF outside the case with just CPU/MoBo/PSU it's almost definitely a bad motherboard.
--ASRock x58, P67 and Z68 boards: FF = reserved error code
--MSI (all the ones I bothered to check): FF = Power on and first initialize CPU. So if it's hanging here, its not POSTing
--EVGA: FF is not listed in their tables, but I've been told repeatedly by their tech support FF is the catch-all no POST error they dubbed "Fault Found"

This thread is here to help people who's computers won't start, hopefully you learned something too.

[Edit] I don't mean for this to come across as an absolute A-hole response, but AFAIK "FF" is not used as a "healthy" code anywhere. If you have any documentation that says otherwise, let me know and I'll add it to the OP. I do mean this to be a helpful thread, but if you're going to be an a$$ about it you'll get a similar response.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by CTRLurself View Post

[Edit] I don't mean for this to come across as an absolute A-hole response, but AFAIK "FF" is not used as a "healthy" code anywhere. If you have any documentation that says otherwise, let me know and I'll add it to the OP. I do mean this to be a helpful thread, but if you're going to be an a$$ about it you'll get a similar response.
From the manual of my motherboard: "FF: boot attempt (INT 19h)"

Source, page 135

With all the motherboards I have worked with in the past, FF always means normal boot. In fact, here is a photo of my POST code when my system is on and running.

400
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Wow... I'll update the OP (either tonight or tomorrow). Higher-end gigabyte boards I probably have the least experience with because I don't like that they won't cross-ship RMAs so I don't usually use them (they just make the cheapest-good 4 GPU x58 board that I've used a few times but that has no POST LED).

That is kind-of stupid though, for one manf to use that as the running code when all the others it's an error or the first step that you never see. I'm genuinely surprised.
 

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This could be very useful for me
biggrin.gif
In the last few months my PSU has slowly been failing and at the moment I am not 100% if it has failed but what it's doing when I try to boot it is no BIOS beeps, no video or anything that shows any sign of life other than my CPU spinning at 100% and my GPU fan spinning at normal speed. I don't have any testing equipment to see if it is definitely the PSU and I don't get any money until mid-Jan to buy anything. I just hope it's not the motherboard that has died.
frown.gif


The OP definitely deserves rep.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
OP updated with the starting of a list where that's a good or bad code by manufacturer/chipset. Gigabyte appears to have moved away from FF being a healthy code on the new x79 boards, they now list it as "Reserved"
 

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CNTRL: First off thanx for the info great read. I have this issue now, Instant "FF" code on power up. No beeps, No signal to monitor, can't get to BIOS, but all lights & fans running. So my mobo is EVGA Classified SLI 3. i was so sure it was the psu it went & purchased one and guess whaT......same dang code! So after reading & following your advise it's gotta be my mobo. I have a question though, I am using Crucial Ballistix Tracer Triple Ch Memory (3) 2gig sticks. When i power up all leds stay on constantly & when I remove (2) sticks I get activity on the (1) remaining stick, but only (1) row of leds blink. (ea. memory has 2-rows of leds ) Also only the "A" stick will do this, the other (2) stay-on.

ie...

When only (1) memory stick installed:
Stick "A" only 1 row of leds show activity. 2nd row "stdy-on"
Stick "B" both 2 rows constant-on
Stick "C" both 2 rows constant-on

When (2) or all (3) mem sticks installed:
Stick "A" leds constantly-on
Stick "B" leds constantly-on
Stick "C" leds constantly-on

I don't know if all this even means anything - I just want to be sure before I order up another board -.

Win7 64
i7-950 stock
EVGA Classified SLI 3 X58
EVGA GTX480 stock
Crucial B T 3x2 6gigs 1600Mhz DDR3 3 ch
WD VelociRaptor 300gb

all above running 2+ yrs without any probs..

Thanks for any info!

P.S. sorry about all the marble mouth questions
smile.gif
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Just to clarify, you did try booting with each stick individually in the first RAM slot? Or did you just try with the same stick in all three slots?

From what I can see, after a quick search on the web, the Ballistix LEDs don't really mean anything on a faulty boot attempt. The odds of all three RAM sticks going bad is pretty astronomical without some external failure, so if it's not the PSU (and you did try booting all three stick individually), odds are that FF code is a bad motherboard.

Hope that helps.

[edit] BTW if it gives you FF when you try to boot with all the RAM removed from the motherboard, it's not the RAM
 

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yea on older boards FF meant it isn't working, on Z68/X58 GIGABYTE boards it means fully functional or just working, On Z77 EVGA I think FF means failure. But anyways with the new UEFI you don't see FF anymore. ALso GB Z68/X58 used AWARD BIOS so it might make a difference who make the BIOS(R3E uses AMI), whether its AMI, AWARD or Pheonix. It could be useful for those guys. POST Codes also differ from one make to another, all UEFI are AMI based, however not all of them have all the same codes for the same problems. But this is useful for those having issues with FF code.
 

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Yes i did try each individually i was just wondering if the leds could relate to the board being in some fault - being how only one memory stick would show activity & the others not. So i agree i think the mobo is fubar:mad:

ahhh g-r-e-a-t
frown.gif


Thnx for quick response!
 

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I had an ASUS crosshair v formula z board with a 8350 CPU and ran into this FF error. Turned out to be a bad BIOs chip. After it was replaced it fired right up!!!
 
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