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I would first check for bent pins in the CPU slot.
Thanks Edward for the suggestion. I looked very closely this evening but could not see any visibly bent/damaged pins in the socket.
I fiddled this morning a bit by installing the old x3085 & managed to get video & and error-free POST!
I am back to where I started though & cannot get the system to boot or access setup.
I have a wireless USB keyboard mouse which is reported as being detected by the BIOS however I simply cannot get into setup. I have tried different USB ports to no avail. Trying to track down an older PS/2 type keyboard to plug into the keyboard connector.
Seems the USB ports were disabled during the BIOS clearing. I found a PS/2 keyboard & was able to get into the BIOS.
This board is extremely finicky regarding the heat-sink being securely (properly) attached.
What a ride... :-0!