The Dreaded FF Boot Code

Hey all fellow techs!

I been dealing with an issue regarding POST of my computer. Let me explain and give some insight first and perhaps those of you who have ran into this issue in the past can give me a good starting point on top of what the manual already says to do.

PC Info:
Motherboard: Asus Crosshair 5 Formula Z - AM3+
CPU: AMD 8350
GPU: Asus Strix GTX 980
RAM: 16GB Rampage

So this problem started few months ago where the PC would just turn off, but it doe snot really turn off. What happens is the fans, LED lights etc in the case continue to operate like normal, but a hissing sound would come from speakers and the screens are black. So I kill the power in the back, wait about 30 seconds, and power it back on. POSTs normally and I am back in business till few weeks/days later it will do it again, randomly, idle or under load.

Lately though, here is the clincher, when it happens and I kill the power switch, I turn the PC back on the the motherboard shows a F.F. error according to Asus its a Fault Found error. Could be anything, I know. Now keep this in mind, if I let the PC sit for a few hours say 2 hours ad come back it will POST and boot again. I keep the power killed completely though. If I try and boot it after the crash happens it just does F.F. Leaving it to sit unplugged for about an hour or 2 and come back it will boot again until few weeks/days later when it decides it wants to crash again. I also removed all the RAM modulus and the FF errors still shows on the motherboard.

I am unable to replicate the problem either. I ordered a PSU tester kit and will check the PSU see what voltages etc are coming out of it. It will crash under load or just idle watching YouTube. Temps are not an issue as I can tell when it is really hot and also have temp checks on it regularly.

Sorry for the lengthy post and thank you for taking the time to read this thread. I would just seek some advise where its a good place to start on top off what Asus says to do. Perhaps some of you with similar boards and configs found a solution and I can use it to my advantage.

Oh boy, intermittent problems!

The standard advice for a non-booting system is, of course, to take all the parts out and put them in one at a time until it doesn’t work anymore. But since you’d need to keep your system on the bench with no ram for weeks, that won’t work. If you have spare parts you can swap in, that might be a workable solution—i.e. change out all the parts you can, and put your normal parts back one at a time. Any nonessential parts could be just removed without replacement, and added back in the same way. Oh and also clear CMOS, unless you’ve tried that.

You mentioned the speakers hiss when it crashes. Are they plugged into the mobo’s integrated audio, or connected another way? How loud was the hiss?

When it crashes, you have to use the power supply’s switch, correct? I assume that panel power button doesn’t do anything, even when held.

Does it always give you the FF code now, or only sometimes?

I looked up the manual for your mobo, and it says that codes FB-FF are “reserved for future AMI error codes”. (I’m assuming the FF you saw was on your mobo’s 7-segment displays [Asus calls them Q-Codes]. Is this correct, or was the message on your monitor?) FF might actually mean “fault found”, in which case the manual is out of date, but it seems more likely to me that something has gone wrong, and the mobo is not able to handle the error, so the output is simply stuck high or stuck low (FF in hex is all ones in binary). You might have a short. Have you tried…hitting it? If a conductive element is very close to the case, a little bump might put them in contact. Could explain the unpredictability, and maybe some charge is left on a capacitor which has to leak out before a boot can happen.

I would update the bios, if you haven’t already. If you have, try rolling it back (found a thread where some dude had to roll back to 0901). It’s strange for a hardware problem to develop spontaneously in this way—the parts all have worked in the past, they’re too new for the capacitors to be leaking, and it hasn’t been put under mechanical stress or abuse (so far as I know).

That’s all I’ve got, wish I could give you more specifics. Best of luck with troubleshooting.

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Hey MrFigs

Thank you for reaching out to me and taking your time to reply.

To answer your first question l, Yes I am plugged in mobo directly. It’s a quiet hiss kind of like a radio station that’s out of frequency? It’s not super loud but it is continuous and just sits there while the monitors are black.

Second question, yes the power panel switch does not do anything even when held, but the reset switch does. However the board continues to show F.F. But I can hear all my drives initializing etc.

The F.F code is constant. Even when I power it down and boot it up it usually goes through a cycle of different codes till it reaches A.A which is a good thing as it’s been like that when I got it new. However the F.F is now constant until I let the PC sit for a while power removed and power it back on it will cycle the codes and boot normally. Keep in mind during the F.F code on the board the screens are black with no output at all. Like the PC is off.

I hope I answered your questions clearly and let me know if I need to elaborate or add additional info. Meanwhile I’ll try the remove all non-essential personal and work from there. It’s so strange you mention the bad capacitor. The PC has to sit with power killed completely for an hour or so before it will attempt to boot. Out of curiosity, I went ahead and shut it down normally via shit down before I went to bed. I tuned it back on and boom F.F again. So I removed power and will turn it on again before I go to work and it should boot back up…should.

I did try gently nudging and wiggling the case around as well as the heat sync too. Perhaps even the roll back of bios may resolve the issue too.

Thanks again I’ll keep at it and report back my findings unless you have additional info.

Tbh it’s pretty unlikely that any component is bad besides the mobo. If something was wrong with any other part (even including the cpu in some cases), there should be a more descriptive q-code. Integrated audio hissing indicates that the board is powered (which we knew from the LEDs being on), but it’s feeding garbage data to the DAC (or something similar—audio hissing isn’t supposed to happen).

Instead of pulling everything out of the board and waiting for it to crash, you could wait for an FF bootloop and then pull out the ram, cards, etc. If you still get an FF with only cpu, heatsink, and power, I’d put serious money on the motherboard. Sadly, unless there’s an obviously-fried component, it’s impossible to know what’s failing. And since you’re probably out of warranty by now, and can’t RMA…better hope it’s the BIOS.

One more thing to test is a system speaker. Cheap, tiny piezo speaker that plugs into the front panel header. When you boot, even if it fails, it should beep out a code. One beep for success, endless beeps for no ram, etc. If it doesn’t beep at all, that usually means the mobo is ded. (This is how I diagnosed my broken mobo 3 years ago.)

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Really? Interesting.

I actually do have a PC speaker attached. It did used to beep but now that you mention it I have not herd it beep in a long time.

I will make sure to verify the speaker is in securely. I’ll find a spare one to or order one just to rule out bad speaker. Overall perhaps your right. The board is dead. I mean it works for the time being right now I’m writing this on my PC but only matter of time.

Also wanted to point out when the PC decides to power spike my game freezes and drops frames like crazy. Then the game recovers runs fine for a few minutes and then boom all goes black and the hissing sound comes from speakers. It’s not a heavy game, just World of Warcraft.

As far as the board goes your right, impossible to know and I am not aware of any bad smelling fried components. I could poke at it with my multi-meter but I am not that technically inclined to know what readings are right. Anyway thanks so much again for all your feedback. This really makes the project much less overwhelming.