A bricked motherboard is basically a motherboard that has stopped working completely. This is essentially the worst case scenario that you can find a motherboard in.
A motherboard gets bricked generally after a faulty BIOS upgrade. A motherboard can also be bricked if it came broken. This is often referred to as DOA or Dead on Arrival.
However, often the term bricked motherboard is used when something goes wrong during a BIOS update.
A bricked motherboard cannot be fixed easily and often you have to send it to the shop to get the technical help in fixing it. Sometimes even that is not possible and you are left with the option of buying a new one instead.
In the following text I will talk in detail about what is a bricked motherboard and also talk about how it happens and if there are any ways to fix a bricked motherboard?
So What is a Bricked Motherboard?
The term “Brick” is often used for electronic components that have been rendered completely useless. Essentially, they have become so dead that they no more useful than a solid brick.
Bricking is the worst form of bad. Bricking a device generally means that the device has become completely dead and cannot be fixed – at least not by any easy DIY means.
In addition to that bricking is often the result of a user error. Generally, a device does not get bricked on its own. Tampering with its setting can brick it.
Hence, following in this idea, a bricked motherboard is a motherboard that has been rendered useless by a user due often due to faulty software or firmware upgrade such as a BIOS upgrade.
Firmware / BIOS Updates and Why You Should Be Careful
Firmware or BIOS which stands for Basic Input Output System is the lowest-level computer program.
A low-level computer program is essentially a software that speaks directly with the hardware. As such it stores all the low-level hardware information.
Hence, unlike with the high-level operating systems like Windows or MacOS, if something goes wrong with BIOS, your motherboard will essentially have no means to communicate with the rest of the hardware including the chips and the controllers on the motherboard as well as the with the attached components like the CPU, RAM, Hard Drives etc.
In other words, a corrupted BIOS means, a bricked motherboard.
Again, the term “brick” is not just limited to motherboards, you can also brick your phone if you make a mistake when upgrading its firmware.
What Causes Motherboard to Get Bricked?
One of the most common causes of a motherboard getting bricked is a fault during its BIOS update.
Now, people upgrade BIOS for many reasons.
Some people upgrade BIOS in order to enable support for newer CPUs, others upgrade BIOS in order to get better options and features to control their hardware.
But in all cases, upgrading the BIOS is a complicated and a very dangerous endeavor.
Here are the common issues that can lead to a bricked motherboard:
1. Power Failure During BIOS Update
One of the most common causes of motherboard getting bricked is a powerful failure during BIOS update.
There is huge warning for a reason when upgrading BIOS or any firmware that tells you to be careful with the power supply. There has to a stable power supply when upgrading BIOS.
You MUST make sure that you DO NOT let the PC shut down while the BIOS update is taking place. Make sure you do not remove external power and also make sure that it is not on battery.
Unlike with Windows or MacOS, with BIOS update, you DO NOT get second chances.
2. Power Surges or Damage to BIOS Chip
If the BIOS chips on your motherboard get physically damaged through heat, electrical shocks, short circuit due to water damage etc, that can also lead to a bricked motherboard.
How to Recover or Fix a Bricked Motherboard?
Well simply put, you cannot fix a bricked motherboard. A motherboard that is bricked is literally as good as a brick.
However, depending how skillful of a technician you are, there are some DIY ways to fix even a bricked motherboard.
In all cases, you will basically need to remove the BIOS chip from the motherboard.
1. Removing and Replacing the BIOS
One of the easiest ways to fix a bricked motherboard, if you are skillful enough, is to remove the BIOS chip and then replace it with a new one.
To do this, you will first need to identify where your BIOS chip is on the motherboard. You can refer to your motherboard’s manual for this or you can simply read the onboard labels.
Once you have located the BIOS chip on the motherboard, you have to then identify its specs.
This includes its package type. Package types are as follows:
- PLCC: Plastic Leaded / Leadless Chip Carrier
- DIL: Dual in Line Package
- SOP: Small Outline Package
You also have to identify its manufacturer and model name. All this is inscribed on top of the BIOS chip in tiny letters. You will need a magnifying glass to see the details on the chip.
For instance, the chip above has the following details:
- Manufacturer: SST
- Part Number: 49LF004B 33-4C-NHE
- Package Type: PLCC-32 (7 pins top and bottom, 9 pins left and right = 32 pins)
Once you have identified what BIOS chip your motherboard has, it is then a matter of finding it on the internet, I recommend Ebay or Ali Express and then waiting for it to arrive.
Once the chip arrives, you will have to carefully remove the old BIOS chip and replace it with the new one making sure that none of the intricate circuits are damaged in the process.
2. Use a Programmer to Write a New BIOS to Chip Manually
Another way to fix a bricked motherboard is to use a programmer that can write directly to the EEPROM devices such as the BIOS chips.
You will need to remove the old bricked BIOS chip and then carefully place its pins into the EEPROM Programmer such as the CH341A as shown above.
You will also need to find the BIOS binary (BIN) file for your specific motherboard. This is will require you to do some digging.
Once you have the file, you can use the EEPROM programmer to rewrite the BIOS onto the chip.
Finally, you will need to solder the chip back onto the motherboard carefully.
As you can see, while there is a way to fix a bricked motherboard, it is no easy feat and requires some serious technical skills.
Hence, it is better to avoid bricking the motherboard in the first place. You should avoid upgrading BIOS unless if you absolutely have to.
If you have any more question regarding what is a bricked motherboard or if you have any helpful suggestions then let us all know below.
Also Read: What Happens When CMOS Battery Dies?