A computer’s motherboard connects all the components; if it fails, your computer may be rendered useless.
Suppose your PC is acting up like freezing out of the blue, not detecting attached components, or simply not turning on for some reason. Then there can be a vast range of culprits involved, and the motherboard is one of them.
Sure telltale signs can indicate that your motherboard is failing or is just poorly configured.
For instance, if your system freezes and lags with no other plausible cause, that could indicate a wrong motherboard setting. On the other hand, if your system does not even turn on despite being connected to the power supply unit, that could indicate a hardware issue with the motherboard.
Visible signs of damage can mean the part is damaged, so you’ll need to look out for them. Additionally, if your motherboard comes with a status indicating LED lights or a beep code speaker, you can use it to understand the cause of the issue.
Sometimes, the motherboard may seem bad, but the actual cause could be misconfigured item or a bad connection between components.
In the following text, I will discuss how to tell if the motherboard is bad or failing.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Misconfigured Motherboard vs. Bad Motherboard
You must understand the difference between a misconfigured motherboard and a failing motherboard.
A misconfigured motherboard can be fixed by fixing the underlying issue. This is software related.
On the other hand, a lousy motherboard has key physical components that are failing. This can include a bad capacitor, a failing CPU socket, or a damaged power connector.
Also Read: When to Upgrade Motherboard?
How to Tell if Motherboard is Misconfigured?
A misconfigured motherboard CAN be fixed. You cannot pronounce a misconfigured motherboard bad or dead!
If your computer is getting slower, crashes frequently, or is not recognizing installed hardware, you may need to confirm if the motherboard is, in fact, just misconfigured.
A few causes of motherboard misconfiguration include:
1. Overclocking of Components
Check if the CPU is overclocked. Overclocking is when a higher voltage is given to the CPU to improve performance.
If your motherboard does not have the suitable physical capacity and robust components such as power VRMs and a good Phase Power Design, it could fail in overclocking.
You can check if your CPU is overclocked via BIOS.
Also Read: How to Check if CPU is Overclocked?
In addition to that, sometimes the PCIe BUS can also be overclocked. This can cause some severe erratic behavior with your motherboard.
How to Fix This Issue?
If the issue with your motherboard lies with overclocking, there is generally a relatively easy fix.
You need to access your BIOS at the PC startup. It can be accessed by repeatedly pressing the DELETE, F10, or F2 keys. However, the specific key can be different from motherboard to motherboard.
Once you have accessed your BIOS, there is often an option for “RESET TO DEFAULT.”
Select this and “SAVE and RESET” from the BIOS. This should bring your system back to its default settings.
The following image shows a typical BIOS. On this BIOS, pressing F9 would bring it back to its default settings, as shown in the menu below.
2. Recent BIOS Update
Another cause of a misconfigured motherboard could be a bad BIOS update.
Unfortunately, you cannot re-install the original BIOS with a key press. You’ll need to re-flash your motherboard again to bring it back to the original version.
It can brick your motherboard if something goes wrong during the BIOS update process.
Also Read: What is a Bricked Motherboard?
3. A Loose Device
Another culprit for erratic motherboard issues could be a loosely connected device.
RAM and PCIe expansion cards are often not firmly affixed in their respective slots.
If your PCIe expansion card is undetected, the issue could be as simple as plugging it firmly into the slot. People often confuse this with a wrong PCIe slot on the motherboard.
Other times, dust can get packed into the crevices of the PCIe slot rendering any attached device inoperable.
Therefore, before pronouncing your PCIe slot on the motherboard dead, it is better to clean it, plug the device in properly and verify with another expansion card.
Also Read: How to Tell If a PCIe Slot is Bad?
How to Tell if Motherboard is Bad or Dead?
If you are confident that the issue is not a misconfigured motherboard, then there are seven ways to check if the motherboard is bad or dead.
- Disconnect All Components Except for Power Supply Unit
- Check the CMOS Battery
- Check Whether the Motherboard Performs POST on the Screen
- Check POST LED and Beep Code Speaker
- Check Your Motherboard with a Second Set of Components
- Check for Physical Signs of Damage
- Replace the Power Supply Unit
1. Disconnect All Components except Power Supply Unit
The first action is to check if the issue lies with the motherboard or connected components.
Disrupt all components, i.e., CPU, RAM, Hard Disk, or any other connected peripheral devices like keyboards, USB drives, etc.
You would want to bench test for this, meaning take the motherboard out of the PC case and place it on an anti-static material.
Plug the Power Supply cables into the motherboard and turn it on by jumping the power ON pins on the front panel header.
If the motherboard turns on and shows signs of life by flashing lights or making beep codes, then that could indicate that your motherboard is not, in fact, dead and that the issue could lie with any of the connected components instead.
Read in Detail About Bench Test Here: How to Test Motherboard Without CPU?
2. Check the CMOS Battery
Often the cause of a dead motherboard is as simple as a dead CMOS battery.
The CMOS battery is responsible for powering up the BIOS. It maintains the system settings even when you turn your PC off.
When the CMOS battery dies, the motherboard becomes inoperable.
However, this is very simple to fix. Just locate the CMOS battery on your motherboard (it is pretty hard to miss) and replace it with the appropriate coin battery.
Also Read: What Happens When CMOS Battery Dies?
3. Check Whether the Motherboard Performs POST on the Screen
Some motherboards, when they turn on, show the POST screen.
A Power-On Self-Test (POST) is the motherboard’s initial test to check if all the hardware and sub-components are in order and functioning correctly.
If an error is detected in critical components like the CPU, RAM, hard disk, or even the motherboard itself, the POST screen may display the issue, highlighting where the problem lies.
Crucial Points to Note Here
For starters, if your motherboard performs the POST function and displays it on the screen, there is a high chance that the motherboard is working fine.
A dead motherboard often does not display any screen at all.
Also, if you do not have the CPU attached to your motherboard or the CPU is bad, no POST screen will be shown since the CPU powers the video output ports on the motherboard. NO CPU=NO GPU=NO Display
Also Read: Will Motherboard POST Without CPU?
4. Check POST LED and Beep Code Speaker
Some motherboards come with status LEDs or beepers that emit error codes when the system has a problem.
a. Beep Code Speaker
If your motherboard does not display the POST screen on the motherboard, it may generate POST function Beep Codes to indicate where the issue lies.
Many motherboards come with a built-in beep code speaker. Often the beep code speaker is found with the PC chassis. If your system doesn’t have a beep code speaker, you can procure one from an IT store.
If the POST function identifies any issues with the hardware, it will generate a beep sound code. The number of beeps it makes indicates where the trouble lies. So for instance
- 1 Beep – issues with the memory
- 2 Beeps – issues with the motherboard
- 5 Beeps – issues with the CPU
- 9 Beeps – indicate a problem with ROM or BIOS
PCMag.com has a list of beep codes and what they indicate.
b. LED indicators
LED indicators are used on some motherboards to show the status of various components. The number of LEDs and what they represent will depend on each manufacturer’s design.
You must refer to your motherboard’s manual to understand what LED lights entail.
Also Read: How to Fix Computer Turns on But No Display?
5. Check Your Motherboard with a Second Set of Components
One radical approach you can take is to test your motherboard with another set of CPU, RAM, Hard Disk, and Power Supply units.
If the issue persists, then the problem lies with the motherboard itself.
Also Read: How to Tell if CPU is Bad or Dead?
6. Replace the Power Supply Unit
If your motherboard shows no indication of turning on, the problem could lie with the power supply unit.
So to verify this hunch, test the motherboard with a spare Power Supply Unit.
If the motherboard does NOT turn on or shows no sign of life even after replacing the Power Supply Unit, then that could further indicate the issue lies with the motherboard.
7. Check for Physical Signs of Damage
Physical damage can be a result of anything from poor handling to accidental electrical surges. And this can, in worst cases, damage your motherboard.
a. Check for bends or breakages
Even the most minute scratches on some PCB tracks can cause the whole thing to fail. Telltale signs include abnormal bends or cracking on the surface of the board.
b. Water Damage
Some computers have tiny stickers that get discolored when they come into contact with a significant amount of moisture.
You should check these if present to rule out any possibility that your motherboard may have suffered water damage.
A sub-ambient temperature, for instance, can cause condensation. If your PC had been placed next to an air conditioner, condensation could have occurred.
c. Short Circuits
While these may be harder to identify, you should at least look at the board and try to see any indicators of electrical problems like a short circuit.
One thing to look for is any signs of burns on the motherboard that electrical failures may have caused.
Also Read: How Much is a Motherboard?
So how to tell if the motherboard is bad? The first thing you need to do is ensure everything is correctly connected so that you don’t spend too much time searching for a problem that doesn’t exist.
From then on, you should check the motherboard for any signs of damage, listen for beeps, and look at the status LEDs on the board if present.
It is essential to test your motherboards as soon as you notice unusual behavior to catch problems before they cause more damage to your system.
Also Read: How Long Do GPUs Last?
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. What are the common symptoms of a bad motherboard?
A bad motherboard can cause various symptoms like computer freezing, random restarts, blue screen of death (BSOD), strange noises, and peripherals not working correctly.
2. Can a dead motherboard be fixed?
If the motherboard is dead, it cannot be fixed. However, some minor issues can be resolved by replacing or repairing the faulty components.
3. How long does a motherboard last?
A well-maintained motherboard can last for up to ten years. However, the lifespan can be affected by various factors such as usage, power surges, overheating, and physical damage.
4. How to check if a motherboard is dead?
To check if a motherboard is dead, you can perform a visual inspection to look for any physical damage or signs of overheating. You can also perform a diagnostic test using a multimeter or a POST card to check if the motherboard is receiving power and if the components are working correctly.
5. Is a dead motherboard covered by warranty?
Most motherboard manufacturers offer a warranty that covers defects and malfunctions. However, if the motherboard is damaged due to user error or physical damage, it may not be covered by the warranty. It’s essential to check the warranty terms and conditions before making a claim.