Believe it or not I finally accidentally fixed it.
I just got in a new cheap mid tower case today, a cooler master elite 430, the ONLY thing I hadn't swapped out was the case. So it a last ditch effort I moved all the parts over and what do you know it booted and is now running AMD CCC vr. 12.8 :grin:
I am still not sure what it was, maybe a power connector wasn't fully seated (although I think they were all checked at least twice), maybe some sort of odd grounding problem with the motherboard. The case was an old recycled dell inspiron 530 I have for testing and it has the dimpled stand offs which are a bit larger than the screw in ones...
I'm not sure what but everything seems good now so far...knock on wood!
For under $125 total investment (recycled HD) it seems like a pretty good little machine now that its running.