Is My Budget Media Player Box Dead? Cheapest Way to Bring It Back to Life?

I've had this old remnant box of PC components I've put together as a sort of budget media player, backup of my NAS, I've even used it as an office PC for home schooling from time to time:) When my NAS was having issues it was also a good backup Plex server. I've been using it for a good few years with this configuration. Any spare components I get my hands on I end up chucking in this and upgrading it but it's pretty much a budget box (apart from NAS HDD)

It started playing up recently and not booting into Windows. I would have to restart a few times. I've also had massive problems with the GPU and the cooling fan that got very noisy (a Radeon HD6750 - very old and power-hungry). Had to limit fan rpm to keep it quiet after cleaning it. I don't game on it but I needed HDMI to connect to the TV I had in that room. The mobo has onboard graphics as well but no HDMI.

Here's the list of components:
CPU Intel Core i3-2120 3.3 GHz Dual-Core Processor
MOBO Gigabyte GA-H61M-DS2 mATX LGA1155 Motherboard
RAM Kingston (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-1333 CL9 Memory
HDD Samsung 840 EVO 250 GB 2.5" Solid State Drive
HDD 2x 4TB WD RED WD40EFRX
* GPU old - PowerColor Radeon HD 6750 1 GB Video Card (still works but noisy and power hungry)
* GPU new - replacement MSI GeForce GT 710 1 GB Video Card (slow but silent due to passive cooling and use very little power)
I'd prefer to keep the passive cooled new GPU (was an Amazon AU purchase so I could return that within 30 days quite easily)

CASE Zalman A1 mATX Case
PSU Zalman 400W ATX Power Supply

So a couple of days ago it wasn't booting and I realised the battery on the mobo was a little flat (just under 3V so I replaced it). Still not booting and stuck on bios logo.
New video card arrived so I tried that. Still stuck on bios logo.

I've tried clearing CMOS with jumper, removing the battery and disconnecting power for a few hours and again stuck on bios logo.

The keyboard is PS2 and I can tell it's working because I can restart with control+alt+del and I can see the lights coming on for caps lock and off if I press it. But it seems to freeze on DEL, END, F12, F9 (any of the options to get to Bios or Boot screen or system info). It can restart so not really freeze but just not accepting anything to proceed to BIOS.

Is my mobo finally dead? Any chance of bringing it back somehow? The only option I've not tried is using onboard graphics and no separate video card at all (but I would need a VGA cable which I no longer have). I'd have to borrow a monitor with VGA too.

I've disconnected all SATA devices, tried a single HDD, tried with 1 RAM slot, reversed RAM, reseated GPU, tried OLD as well as the new GPU. Maybe the actual Graphics slot is partially dead but I do get to see the Gigabyte bios logo (just cant get to BIOS).

I've also tried another keyboard (a USB one I had). Still the same problem. It gets detected because it also responds to Control+Alt+Del restart command but it doesn't seem to register when I try F12 for Bios or DEL or END or F9. I press those buttons in quick succession or hold them down. It doesn't make a difference.

So what's likely to be dead? Should I remove CPU as well?

Seems very hard to get another mATX mobo for this compatible with CPU and RAM etc so I'm contemplating an upgrade of mobo/CPU/RAM perhaps something with onboard graphics as I'm sure there's something quicker than the Geforce 710 that's passively cooled. I also dont want to have to wait for ages. I've ordered some stuff on ebay from China recently a few weeks ago (not computer-related) and it looks like it will get there in another 3-4 weeks :(

Any ideas? What would you do? I need it to be quiet and cheap. I direct play Plex media from NAS to Chromecast and this machine is only on if there's transcoding needed or I am updating the NAS backup.

Comments

  • You are asking someone to diagnose which part is faulty. Take it to your local computer store and ask them.

    If you want a replacement PC then this is a different question.

    • I think I've done alright in troubleshooting mostly but I'm looking for a second opinion to see if I've missed something. I've been building computers for ages but this one's got me stumped…

      I'm also looking for some feedback on upgrade paths in case I can't figure out if it's the mobo/PCI slot/GPU that's stuffing up the enter bios situation. I'd want to retain mATX case + PSU+ HDD+SDD+ etc but I'm not in the loop about a good CPU+mATX combo that will fit with my existing components. I think Ryzen G CPUs are probably overkill for my needs. I saw some cheap builds based on 3200G but that seems hard to get these days.

  • +1

    Try on-board if you can get access to vga. Your bios has been reset and you may need to configure it to pci gpu.

    • I might have to borrow a VGA cable + monitor. You're right. I distinctly remember an option in there about choosing onboard graphics OR PCI GPU. With bios reset you would think it's clever enough to detect if the PCI slot is populated…. but maybe it's not. And there's graphics output from HDMI on PCI GPU but maybe the BIOS shows up via VGA

    • according to the manual the default option for Init Display First is PCIE not Onboard - so if the BIOS reset has worked it should default to that. It's not looking promising with this VGA cable option :(

      • +2

        If you are getting anything on the monitor then it must be detecting the card correctly. With nothing connected except monitor (i.e. no drives, no keyboard, no USB stuff, etc) it should still go past the BIOS screen and give you a boot failure. If it is still stuck on the BIOS screen then it is most likely the Mainboard (tiny chance of RAM or video). Failure of the H61 motherboards is quite common, so that meshes with a mainboard issue too.

        • Cheers - I'm almost certain it's the mobo now

          Got to find a cheap mobo with hdmi onboard + cpu + ram I think…

  • +1

    Get the firestick 4k $59 and send the pc to the tip

    • It mostly bargain very old components but it's great to have a backup of the NAS. I supposed I could get 2x 4TB portable HDD + Firestick 4K :)

    • Not OP - but how good is the firestick vs chromecasts? I have like seven chromecasts but keep getting these discount coupons for amazon stuff from prime

      • +1

        It's a great device for $59. Newer version is called 4k max is $99 and has more ram (2 gig vs 1.5) and newer os ( Android 9 vs Android 7 )

        • Is it really worth it for someone with 7 chromecasts? I sort of liked the idea of a remote but it's one more thing to misplace considering chromecast can be controlled from phone/tablet etc

          • +1

            @slick7: it can do a lot more than a chromecast once you dig into it. Have rarely used my chromecast (third gen) since installing my firestick.

  • +1

    Get an Optiplex or similar off eBay. You can swap your RAM, HDD and GPU - problem solved!

    I think you'll really struggle to get a mobo at a decent price, and it still mightn't solve the problem.

  • Cheers. Another good idea to consider Presence. I've bought something like that for my mother in law late last year from a deal posted on ozbargain (a refurbished Optiplex SFF with SSD). Perfect for her office type work + internet browsing.

    Just need to have enough space for 2X full-size HDDs and the SSD and have HDMI out. I'd probably prefer to keep my PSU and have that ability to replace with a normal PSU if it fails instead of Dell weird spec - that's probably the only negative with those sort of Dells.

  • +1

    So no HDs and no GPU and cant get into bios?

    • Pretty much - with no HDDs connected, I can't get into it. I've tried with both graphics cards (old noisy one and new one and their behaviour is identical). I cant try onboard graphics because I'd need VGA monitor and VGA cable. I will probably have to borrow something to ensure it's not somehow defaulting to onboard graphics. The mobo manual says by default BIOS will go to PCI slot graphics and only if there's no card in there to onboard. Both graphics cards do output BIOS logo via HDMI but they don't allow you to enter bios options visible on the screen like F12/DEL/END etc :(

      I would assume screen will not show anything via HDMI on both graphics cards if the onboard graphics is operational. The manual suggests there's an option in there where onboard graphics + PCI GPU can operate together (for 2 monitors but not default) and I doubt it would show BIOS via onboard and BIOS logo only on the other

  • +1

    Update: MOBO lives on - borrowed VGA cable and onboard graphics works fine. Had a message to say BIOS was reset and that I had to go into bios or load safe/optimized settings and have had not problems after config and a few restarts…

    but both video cards are not letting me back into bios when I put them back in and connect to HDMI so perhaps the PCI slot is broken. I'll see if I can update BIOS. I seem to be on the second last version.

    • Update 2: after using onboard graphics I've managed to update BIOS (latest version had some fixes to detection of some video cards) and the new video card is now working perfectly. I didn't think Geforce 710 would benefit but turns out my bios was from 2013 :) Coincidentally the old video card also works (but I'll be trashing it due to noise and how power hungry it is). The passive cooling on the video card makes the system super quiet. I've turned down the other fans slightly and now my NAS is audible on the other side of the room :)

      Thanks everyone for the advice on this. I'm glad I didn't have to spend money to fix this budget media player box.