Just installed new RAM. Failed to turn on and smokes. Help appreciated.


Jan 22, 2008
Built an HTPC box recently with a couple new parts and a bunch of parts I had lying around from an old build. Was using 4 gb of triple channel memory and wanted more, so bought an 8GB kit (this one)

Disconnected everything, opened up the case, swapped the RAM sticks, plugged everything back in and tried to turn it on. Nothing. I open the side of the case and a rather large puff of smoke issues out of the case. It looked to be coming from the CPU/RAM area, but impossible to really tell. I quickly turned it off and unplugged everything.

My pc-savvy friend just happened to be visiting while this happened and suspected the PSU, but didn't know. Any guesses on this one? I'm thinking I should start with the PSU and see if that fixes. Not sure where to go from there. Replace mobo/CPU?

System components:
Intel i5-3570k (new), asrock z77 pro4-m (new), RAM linked above (new), Intel HD4000 graphics, (3 year old) Corsair 750TX, Fractal Design Define Mini case (new), Intel X-25M G2 160 SSD (old), WD Black 2TB storage drive (old), Blu-Ray Drive (old)
I would start by tracking down where the smoke came from. Perhaps some pins were bent inside the CPU socket causing a short.
I would start by tracking down where the smoke came from. Perhaps some pins were bent inside the CPU socket causing a short.

I should have elaborated a bit more. The HTPC was functional for over a month before this happened. The only thing I did was replace the RAM. I went from some older G.Skill Pi Black series RAM from a triple channel set (3x2GB) that I used for an old i7-920 build, to the RAM I linked in the OP.

Further, the smoke is gone now (there wasn't much to start with), and it was almost impossible to tell exactly where it came from anyway.

I appreciate the advice nonetheless.
Well AsRock is known for having less than good quality motherboards.
Is it possible that if you had the ram voltage set manually in the bios to something much higher than 1.35v you could have fried the ram?
Things that get hot enough to smoke tend to change color, there should be a visible mark maybe on the back of the board.
Remove Ram and inspect sockets and connections for scorch marks.
Replace old RAM and try?
q2 Do the motherbard connected fans at least begin to power on ?
q3 Does the power supply fan power on at all?

Remove power supply. Use paper clip trick to power on. use Digital Multimeter to check voltage, check connectors for scorch marks or melted plastic.

IF power supply checks out remove board, place on cardboard, and start with MB, CPU, COOLER, and one RAM card in designated slot (usually furthet from CPU).
Plug in power supply Try each Ram separately
Appreciate the suggestions guys. I don't think it was the RAM. I understand that the RAM will still function on higher voltages, and my previous RAM was still 1.5V RAM.

I did try putting the old RAM back in and turning it on. The PC didn't fully turn on, but it did give me a momentary blue light on the power LED and the CPU fan did spin for a split second. Also, it seemed like when I held the power button down, the blue light continued to flash, albeit only for a second at a time.

I'm wondering if it's either the PSU or the motherboard at this point. I'll continue to troubleshoot with the suggestions that tourist made.
I'd take a close look around the CPU socket, where the CPU voltage regulator is located, including around and even under those big heatsinks over the MOSFETs, and I mean shine a flashlight to detect even the slightest burn marks. Also try sniffing in the area, maybe using a straw to pinpoint the smell.

It's possible the PSU isn't putting out all 3 positive voltages, and it would be best to test that with a digital multimeter.

Were the RAM sticks locked down? I've seen one case where a stick wasn't locked in place and was crooked enough to cause a short.

BTW when I get new RAM, I add only one new stick and test it before inserting another.