RIP: Asus M3A-H/HDMI bursts into flames

February 20, 2009 // 2:26 p.m.

Tags: #flames #motherboard #rip

Companies: #asus

All right, so the title sounds quite dramatic and I know the rule, "pics or it never happened" but unfortunately we were more concerned about yanking the power switch and reaching for the fire extinguisher before grabbing a camera. Sorry.

RIP: Asus M3A-H/HDMI bursts into flames

So we swapped out an Athlon 64 FX-62 dual-core for a Phenom X4 9600 B2 stepping chip in Harry's machine. Both have a similar TDP and Harry needs the two more cores that the Phenom has for his work.
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However, despite the fact our little Asus motherboard was happy enough for nine months sweating it out with a socket AM2 Athlon 64 FX-62, the AM2+ Phenom clearly broke the back of it because we first lost the Enermax PSU powering his machine in a plume of smoke. After replacing that, we then lost the motherboard, which actually caught fire.

RIP: Asus M3A-H/HDMI bursts into flames

Typically a bad PSU shouldn't cause a motherboard to catastrophically fail, but it depends on the overcurrent/overvolt protection used within. Although our Enermax 700W Noisetaker is a good five years old, there was no visible damage - all of the capacitors were still sealed and not leaking. Nothing was touching causing a short circuit either.

We suspected that the problem was due to limited motherboard support on some AM2+ boards - last year we discovered quite a few of the low-end motherboards don't support the high-end Phenoms. Was the Asus also one of them? Asus' website clearly states support for 125W Phenom chips, with the 95W 9600 B2 specially QVL'd here.

We contacted Asus who were understandably very concerned about what had happened and has spent the last few days trying to replicate the problem to no avail. We've sent the board back to Taiwan for further analysis and Asus will send the MOSFET part back to their supplier to take a look at too. We'll let you know what Asus finds in a future post.

RIP: Asus M3A-H/HDMI bursts into flames
RIP: Asus M3A-H/HDMI bursts into flames

At the end of the day, we're just putting it down to "one of those things" - things fail, there's a little panic and then life moves on. We had originally decided it was Asus' fault because the board was incapable of handling a high powered Phenom, however after a week's worth of investigating and reflection, it doesn't seem to be the case.

What do you think? Is it a failing on Asus' part, a bad Enermax PSU or just more bang for our buck?
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