How to Test Motherboard Without CPU?

There are many reasons why you would want to test your motherboard without the CPU attached. Essentially, this test would allow you to troubleshoot your motherboard and point to where a certain fault lies.

Testing a motherboard without a CPU is quite simple. You have to make sure that it is connected to the power supply unit and is placed on a safe material. You CAN have the rest of peripherals and components such as RAM and hard disk attached if you wish, but you don’t have to.

You may also have to learn how to jump start your motherboard in the absence of a Power ON switch.

Basically, in the end you should expect to hear beeping sounds or LED flashes from your motherboard.

Below we will talk in detail about how to test motherboard without CPU and also touch base on how to troubleshoot the issues.

Why and Should You Test Your Motherboard without CPU?

There is nothing wrong with testing your motherboard without the CPU, the only thing you have to keep in mind is that the your PC will NOT pass the POST ( Power-On-Self-Test).

You will see nothing displayed on your screen as well because the motherboard does not have an onboard graphics processing unit. If you have a dedicated GPU installed in the PCIe slot, that too wouldn’t work without the CPU.

The only thing that you may observe are beeping sounds, if your motherboard has a beep code speaker, and LED flashes.

Testing if the Motherboard is Dead or Alive

On many occasions it becomes necessary to test if the motherboard is dead or alive.

Imagine you are building your computer and you have just purchased a new motherboard. If thereโ€™s a fault in it and if it came DOA (dead on arrival), it may become more problematic to identify the root cause AFTER you are done building your computer.

Hence, many desktop PC builders and gamers prefer to test their new motherboards BEFORE installing the CPU. This is often called the Pre-build bench test.

This is because as motherboards are sensitive components of the computer, they are prone to damage especially due to mishandling from shipping. There also can be a factory error to provide a non-functional motherboard.

This test may also become necessary if your PC has suddenly stopped working. You may want to perform this test to check if your motherboard is working properly.

Also Read:

How to Test Motherboard without CPU?

motherboard without CPU

Here is how you can test the motherboard without a CPU.

1. Unbox For Bench Testing

Bench test is when you test the PC components outside of the case.

First, unbox your motherboard. Next, remove it and set it on a anti-static foam or material found inside the packaging or on a large piece of cardboard. You can even just place the motherboard on the box that it came with.

Do NOT place the motherboard on a bare metallic or conductive surface! Motherboards have a lot of solder points on the bottom. You do not want these points to come in contact with a metallic surface when turned on.

This is the reason why motherboards inside the case sit on standoffs. These lift the motherboard off from the CPU case so that it does not come in contact with the conductive material.

motherboard standoff
Brass Standoffs go into the case and hold the motherboard off from the metallic case surface.

2. Plug in the Power Connectors

You will need to attach 2 power connectors

  • 8 Pin for the CPU power connector on the motherboard
  • 24 Pin for the motherboard power connector
how to test motherboard without CPU 1
Location of the connectors

The layout of your motherboard may differ, but this generally is the location of where you can find the motherboard and the CPU power connectors.

how to test motherboard without cpu 2
24 and 8 pin power connectors

Both the 24 Pin and the 8 Pin cables are provided with the Power Supply Unit.

how to test motherboard without cpu 3
Connectors from the PSU attached to the motherboard

Note that my Power Supply Unit also came with a spare 4 pin CPU connector for older motherboards and systems.

These days almost all motherboards come with an 8 pin CPU power connector. The 8 pin provides about 280 watts of power to the CPU, while the 4 pin connector only delivers half as much at about 140 watts.

In the very rare instance that you have a very old system, you would use the 4 pin connector for CPU power.

3. Installing Other Components (Optional)

You can have the rest of the components such as RAM, hard disks and the graphics card installed if you wish, however, they won’t be of much use here without the CPU.

So whether you have them on or not would not make a difference. Although I would recommend that you at least have the hard disks unattached to save you from the risk of losing data due to any mishap.

4. Connect PSU to the Wall Socket

Go ahead and connect the Power Supply Unit to the wall socket. Make sure the power supply unit is also placed on a non conductive surface and make sure that you are grounded.

It would also be best to wear plastic slippers/shoes and to wear non-conductive electric gloves.

5. Turn the Motherboard On

If Motherboard is INSIDE the Case:

If your motherboard is inside the case then turning on your motherboard is quite easy.

Basically, you need to find the Power Switch Pins on your motherboard. These are often located on the Front Panel Header.

Once the Power Switch Pin are identified, you can then connect the Power Switch Cable from your Case to these Pins.

You may have to refer to the your motherboard’s manual to find out the information regarding the exact location of the Power On Switch pins.

The following shows the Power On Switch pins’ location for my motherboard:

power swtich front panel header

Motherboard-manual-power-switch w
Location of Power Switch Pins on Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD3
power switch connector
Power Switch Jumper from the CASE goes into the motherboard Power Switch Pins

Once everything is connected, press the ON button on the Case, and you should be good to go.

Also Read:

If Motherboard is OUTSIDE the Case:

Many newer and higher end motherboards have a manual turn on power button located on them. However, if you have an older or a budget motherboard, then you will have to manually turn the motherboard on.

There are two ways you can go about this:

  1. Using the case’s Power On switch cables
  2. Manually jump starting the motherboard
Using the Case Power On Switch Cables

This is similar to the process we highlighted above.

Here, you will need to keep your CPU Case close to the motherboard so that the POWER ON SWITCH cables from the Case can reach the pins on the motherboard’s Front Panel Header. Then you can go ahead and simply press the turn on button on the case as you would normally.

Manually Jump Starting the Motherboard

The second option is to manually jump start the motherboard.

You will need a screw driver for this.

Basically you take the screw driver and with it touch the 2 Power Switch pins on the Front Panel Header.

jump start motherboard
Use a small precise screw driver to jump the pins of the Power On Switch

It would be wise to make sure that the screw driver does not touch any other pins here. Hence it is advisable to use a precision or a small flat screw driver here.

Also Read:

What To Expect? – Beeping Sounds and Flashing LEDs

If you test motherboard without CPU, then the first outcome to expect is that NOTHING will be displayed on your screen.

The other outcome to expect is that your motherboard will perhaps flash LEDs, make beeping sounds or both, or even nothing at all.

LED flashes and beeping sounds are essentially codes indicating where the problem lies.

Beeping Sound Codes

If your motherboard does have a speaker, it will make beeping sounds codes to indicate the issue.

The amount of beeps it makes basically would tell your where the problem lies.

For instance:

  • 1 Beep โ€“ issues with the memory
  • 2 Beeps โ€“ issues with the motherboard
  • 5 Beeps โ€“ issues with the CPU

There is a whole list of beep sound codes. You can learn more about them here. For instance, if you start the motherboard without a CPU but with RAM and other other components installed, you may potentially hear a 5 beep sound code.

If your motherboard DOES not have a built in beep code speaker, then you can invest in a very cheap one and install it yourself.

motherboard speaker
A beep code speaker that you can buy
beep code speaker w front panel header
Pins where you would install the beep code speaker

Also Read: How to Connect Motherboard Internal Speaker? (Beep Code Speaker)

LED Flashes

motherboard flashing leds
Your motherboard may flash LEDs to indicate what is wrong with it.

You may also see certain LEDs on your motherboard flash indicating where the problem lies. To understand what these LED flashes mean, you may have to refer to your motherboard’s manual.

Also Read: How to Reset Motherboard?

No Beep Sounds & No LED Light Flash

The final outcome that you may see is literally nothing.

If you hear no beep sounds and no LED flash lights, then do not fret. This still does not indicate that your motherboard is damaged.

Motherboards Without LED or Speaker

Some motherboard do not come with either of the two i.e beep sound code speaker and the LED lights for indicating where the problem lies.

In this situation, I would advice testing the motherboard through fans.

There are two ways you can go about this:

  1. Connect the Cooler Fan to the CPU_FAN header.
  2. OR connect the Case Fans to the 3 Pin FAN headers located on the motherboard which are often labelled as SYS_FAN (Note: not all motherboard have FAN headers).

Also Read: How to Connect Fans To Your PC?

In the second method, you are essentially powering the Case Fans through the motherboard instead of the Power Supply Unit. You will obviously need a Case FAN that has the three Pin connector

case fans
Case Fan with three pin connector

If the CPU or System Fans turn on, then you can be certain that the motherboard is receiving the power. This can POTENTIALLY indicate that the motherboard is OKAY, unless, of course, if an essential IC or controller is damaged. In that case the motherboard will still be receiving the power but may not start.

In the end if you have made sure that the motherboard is receiving the power, the last thing to do is to actually attach the CPU and test your system.

Also Read:


In this article, I talked in depth about how to test motherboard without CPU. This is an essential step for many PC builders who want to test the components before installing them into the Case.

This test would highlight if and where the problem lies. Testing the motherboard without CPU is a great way of checking if the motherboard is alive or dead particularly when its brand new and you want to check if it came DOA (dead on arrival).

While I reiterate that the procedure is fairly safe, I would advise that you exercise caution especially if you are a PC builder or seeking to be one. This is because any mishandling or error on your side can also damage the motherboard.

Also, when in doubt, it is best to refer to an expert technician instead of fiddling around with the delicate components yourself.

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Atif Qazi
Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGuide101 and an expert in the computer peripheral industry with over two decades of experience. He has worked as a consultant for major companies and has a deep understanding of the inner workings of computer peripherals. He has a degree in Electrical Engineering and has served as a product manager and technical consultant. He is passionate about testing and evaluating the latest products to provide readers with reliable information.

13 thoughts on “How to Test Motherboard Without CPU?”

  1. My motherboard won’t start with or without the cpu, unless I disconnect the 4 pin ATX12V lead, then it will start with or without the cpu

  2. Hy Atif.
    Interesting read! Thank you for all this stuff.
    In my case I put only RAM, GPU and two case fan on mobo (Maximus VIII Ranger) and plug the PSU (TUF GAMING 750w). But only a red led line and the START button on the bord became power and are highlighted. When I press the START button (on MOBO or CASE), nothing happens. No fan are spinning, even not on the PSU. But when I JUMP the 2 pins (GRD and PSUon) with a papper clip on the 28 pins connector when it is pluged on the mobo, then all the fans are spinning (Case and GPU) an the MOBO indicate Q-Code 00 which refer to “Not used” in the description of the mobo. Is it possible that in this case, it is the power supply that is DOA? Or the Mobo needs to have a CPU installed to start properly!
    Regard, Phil

    • On some PSUs, the fan only turns on when it reaches a certain load. Have you tried jumping the motherboard from its front panel header with the PSU cable connected?

      How are you jumping the pins if the cable should be plugged into the motherboard? Also, as far as I can read from the spec sheet, the PSU does not have 28 pins connector. Perhaps if you can give more detail.

      Just in case, check the orientation of the pins when plugging the 24-pin connector into the motherboard.

      • Hy Atif, thank you for replying.

        No, I didn’t try to bridge directly the pins on the motherboard since I had already connected the case button wires, but I will give it a try.

        My mistake concerning the number of pins. Of course there are 24 and not 28.
        I bridged with a paperclip. You can easily do that from the top of the plug even though it is connected on the MoBo.

        The plug have a foolproof, it is almost impossible to be wrong when connecting. When I connected it, I didn’t feel any resistance that would make me think I had inserted it wrong.

        In a short time I will have a processor and I will come back here to inform about the result.

        Personally I think I had the bad luck to have received a new faulty PSU.

        We will see…

        • Hy
          OK, I’ve finally install a CPU to my mobo and you know what? Everything is working fine ๐Ÿ™‚ !!
          No faulty PSU!
          By the way, I have tested if I get POST screen when I disconnect everything else, RAM, GPU, only with the CPU in place, an that works.
          So I can say that not all mobo can be tested without CPU in place.
          I hope this can help…

  3. how to fix this issue , no qled flashing while im testing it. i don’t know what is going on in my new motherboard. the motherboard is dead or the cpu? before this issue. my system unit was peeing by my cat while running the pc, then i go to the technician they said replace a new motherboard. then i buy a new motherboard and i test it. and this is what happened check the viddeo
    sorry for my bad english.

  4. My motherboard shows dram error. I’ve started the oc without ram it beeps once and shows dram error. My cpu doesn’t heat when turned on. Is the cpu dead or motherboard?
    Note : When i turn it on. My cpu fan works along with other fans connected to motherboard.


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