One of the most dreadful issues you can face with any PC is the infamous Blue Screen of Death. If you have been around computers for long then there is a high chance that you may have experienced this at one point or another.
Blue Screen of Death seems to appear randomly. It often happens when you have recently installed new hardware or if you have updated your PC. It can also happen as soon as you boot up a recently bought or built PC.
This issue often begs the question “can motherboard cause blue screen of death?”. The answer to the question, however, is NOT a definitive yes. Almost any hardware, both installed internally or plugged in externally, can cause Blue Screen of Death.
In the following text I will clarify what Blue Screen of Death is and whether motherboard can cause it.
What is the Blue Screen of Death?
The Blue Screen of Death is basically a name given to an error that typically freezes your PC randomly and produces a blue screen with the error message highlighted. This is often followed by your PC shutting down entirely.
Majority of the time this issue is NOT a cause for a concern particularly if it happens once in a blue moon.
However, if it happens regularly, it could point to a serious underlying issue. Since this issue happens randomly, it could seriously hamper your work or your gaming sessions.
Can Motherboard Cause Blue Screen of Death?
There are many issues that can cause the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). The issues can be related to both hardware or the software.
As such, BSOD can certainly be caused by your motherboard. However, to test whether your motherboard is the real culprit, you have to isolate the issue first.
You can check if the BSOD is being caused by your motherboard using the process of elimination:
1. Did You Recently Update Your Windows or a Driver?
We can begin the process of elimination by first looking at the most simple and easily fixable issues.
Did the BSOD appear AFTER a recent Windows or Driver update? If you have updated the drivers for your motherboard, graphics card etc. then this could cause the BSOD.
To fix this, you can use the built-in Windows Recovery utility for going back to the last known good configuration.
You can access Windows Recovery through the Control Panel or by typing Recovery in the Windows Search Bar.
Once in Windows Recovery, select “Open System Restore” to start the process of uninstalling any recent drivers or updates.
2. Unplug All External Hardware
This is another fairly simple step.
USB devices, particularly USB storage drives, can often create software conflicts.
If a peripheral device is the cause for issues, you can fix this by simply removing them.
3. Check for High Temperature
If any of your hardware is heating up beyond its limit, then both the hardware and Windows has a fail-safe system of turning your PC off. Before the fail-safe system goes into action, you may see a BSOD.
There are two main culprits that can often exceed their nominal temperatures: CPU and Graphics Card.
If you haven’t provided adequate cooling to your PC OR if the thermal paste between the CPU and the CPU fan has worn-off, then that could result in exceedingly high temperatures.
High temperatures can often manifest themselves in the form of your PC lagging. While gaming you may often see frame drops and stutters.
You have to make sure that the temperatures are in safe range (Lower than 90° C or below, ideally less than 60° C).
4. Check for Viruses
Another fairly common cause of the BSOD is viruses. BSOD is more often caused by viruses than motherboards.
Viruses can manifest themselves in many different ways including your PC slowing down, weird files appearing in folders, or in the worst case scenario: BSOD.
Viruses can easily be removed through up to date antivirus software. You do not really need to purchase expensive anti-virus software. You can simply use the Built-in Windows Security / Windows Defender utility.
You do have to make sure though that the Virus Signatures are always updated. You can do this through the Windows Update service.
Of course, if the BSOD issue on your PC is so severe that you can’t even boot up your Windows, then you wouldn’t be able to access any of the built-in utilities including Restore or the Security utility or even check the temperature utilities.
This would naturally bring you to the next steps:
5. Check Internal Hardware
We can start the process of figuring out whether the issue lies with an internal hardware by first performing a preliminary inspection.
For starters, if you have built a new PC, then check that ALL the hardware is properly inserted into their respective slots and that all the power cables from the Power Supply Unit are connected.
Also many dedicated graphics cards require multiple PCIe power cables from the PSU. Make sure they are all connected.
Often a loose graphics card or a loose SATA connector leads to hardware issues including BSOD.
You can also check if the CPU thermal paste has worn-off by removing the CPU fan.
If the PC is old, then there is a very high chance that accumulation of dust and debris could be causing hardware issues. As such, give your PC a thorough cleaning.
6. Reset BIOS and Overclock
You can also try resetting BIOS to its default settings. You can do this either through the BIOS itself or by removing the CMOS Battery from the motherboard and putting it back in after 5 seconds.
Resetting BIOS is particularly helpful if you have recently overclocked your CPU or GPU. Unsafe overclocking is one of the major causes of BSOD.
Resetting BIOS brings the clockspeeds back to their default state.
7. Disconnect Internal Hardware
This is a bit a more technical step.
You need to remove all the excessive hardware and leave just the bare minimum in order to see whether the issue in fact lies with the motherboard or not.
A PC needs a CPU, a RAM stick and a Boot Drive as a minimum to start Windows.
So if you have two RAM sticks, start by removing one of them. Remove the RAM stick and restart your PC. Bad RAM sticks are another major cause of BSOD.
Do the same for hard drives. Keep your boot drive (the one with Windows) plugged in and remove the rest (disconnect SATA data cables).
And finally, remove the dedicated graphics card from your PC. Once you remove the dedicated graphics card, you will then need to connect your monitor to your motherboard video output ports for display.
You can remove the components incrementally with restarts each time you remove a new component to zero-in on the culprit.
You can also check RAM sticks, the drives, and the dedicated graphics card on a different PC to verify if they are functioning properly.
Once you strip all the internal hardware and if BSOD still persists, you will be left with three culprits:
- Boot Drive
You can test your Boot Drive on a different PC too, just like the RAM sticks, to further filter down to two culprits: CPU or the motherboard.
At this point, it would be wise to call up the manufacturer for your motherboard and ask them for repairs.
8. Start PC in Safe Mode
While you are at, you can also try turning on your PC in Safe Mode.
Safe Mode strips Windows just down to the most basic functions. If your PC works normally in Safe Mode and if no instances of BSOD appear in Safe Mode, then the issue Most likely lies with the software and your motherboard is fine.
You can learn how to start a PC in Safe Mode here.
9. Reinstall Windows
If the boot drive is failing or if your PC works fine in Safe Mode but not normally, or if a Virus has damaged the files beyond repair then it would be wise to do a clean reinstall of your Windows.
10. Test Motherboard on a Different PC
If all else fails, you can try using your motherboard with a completely different PC.
This, however, is a difficult task. This not only requires good technical expertise on your part, but also the right compatible hardware including a compatible CPU and RAM sticks.
As such, testing a motherboard with a different system is generally not an adventure you can do by yourself easily. You will most likely have to refer to a technician or contact the motherboard manufacturer.
Long story short, motherboards CAN cause Blue Screen of Death BUT they are NOT the only cause.
As such, in order to zero-in on the actual cause of BSOD, you often have to start a process of elimination as BSOD is an error caused by multitude of factors relating to both hardware and software.