Knowing when your motherboard has gone bad is not always easy. There are, however, a few telltale signs that can help you determine if it’s time to replace your motherboard.
In this article, I’ll discuss some of the ways you can tell if your motherboard is no longer functioning properly and what you can do about it.
Before I talk about how to tell if your motherboard is bad, let’s first take a look at some of the reasons that make a motherboard go bad.
What makes a motherboard die?
There are a few reasons that make a motherboard die. One of the most common reasons is overheating. Overheating can cause a variety of problems, including damage to the motherboard’s circuitry.
This is why I always suggest keeping your computer’s case well-ventilated. If you don’t, the motherboard or other components like the CPU may overheat and fail. You should not only invest in a good cooling system with heatsinks, CPU coolers, and fans but also make sure that there’s plenty of air circulation inside your computer’s case.
Finally, you should clean your computer of dust at least once every six months. Dust can clog up the fans, causing the motherboard and other components to overheat. This is especially true if you have a laptop; laptops tend to overheat more quickly than desktops because they have less space for air circulation, so make sure to clean the fans and vents regularly.
Another common reason why a motherboard might die is a power surge. If your computer experiences a power surge, it can damage the motherboard and other components like the central processing unit and memory.
It is not very difficult to protect yourself from power surges. You can purchase a surge protector for your computer and an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).
A UPS will provide a few minutes of backup power in the event of a power outage, which is more than enough time to save your work and properly shut down your computer.
There are many other reasons why a motherboard might die, such as a faulty capacitor, a blown fuse, or corroded connectors, but the ones I’ve listed are the most common.
Now that you know some of the reasons why a motherboard might die, let’s take a look at how to tell if it’s gone bad.
Related Article: How To Connect Extra Fans To Motherboard
Signs that your motherboard is bad
It is not that easy to tell if your motherboard has gone bad because the symptoms and signs of a motherboard failure are the same symptoms and signs of another hardware failure, such as a failed hard drive or CPU.
So, let’s see some of these signs, and later we will talk about the diagnostic procedures.
1) The computer is not starting up
The first sign that you have a faulty motherboard is if your computer is not starting up at all. If you turn your computer on and nothing happens, it could be that the motherboard is dead.
There are many other reasons why your computer might not be starting up, such as a failed hard drive, CPU, or PSU, but more on that later.
Related Article: How To Connect The Power Button To The Motherboard
2) Blue Screen of Death
Another sign of a failing motherboard is if you are getting a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). A BSOD could be caused by a problem with Windows, as not all blue screens are due to a bad motherboard.
According to Microsoft, the vast majority of blue screens are caused by: “… third-party driver issues and low-level software problems.” Hardware problems are only a small percentage of the total.
Troubleshooting the blue screen of death is not that hard. You need to check the error code that is displayed on the blue screen and then look up the solution on the internet.
3) Crashes and Errors
Other symptoms of a motherboard failure are crushes and errors. If your computer is suddenly crashing or giving you errors that it never gave you before, it could be that the motherboard has failed.
Again, there are many other reasons why your computer might be crashing or giving you errors, such as a bad hard drive or incompatible software. We will talk later about what to do if you are getting crushes or errors.
4) The computer smells hot
If your computer is smelling hot, it could be that your system is overheating and the motherboard fails. You should immediately check your computer’s temperature and see if it is in the safe range.
If your computer is overheating, you should take some measures to cool it down, such as cleaning the fans and vents and installing a new cooling system. If you have done some overclocking recently, you should also lower the clock speed.
Related Article: What Is CPU Throttling & Thermal Throttling?
5) Motherboard LED lights and Beep code
Some motherboards come with LED lights that indicate different problems. If your motherboard has these LED lights and they are blinking, you can check the manual to see what each light means.
Another symptom of a motherboard failure is beep codes. Beep codes are sounds that the computer makes when it is starting up. These codes can help you troubleshoot the problem.
You can find more information about beep codes and what each code means on the motherboard manufacturer’s website.
Related Article: What Does The Red Light On Motherboard Mean & How To Fix It
Dead motherboard vs Software problems
Now that you know some of the signs that your motherboard might be bad let’s take a look at how to tell if it is actually the motherboard that has failed or if it is a software problem.
If you are having problems like crashes, errors, and the blue screen of death, then probably it is a software problem or a misconfiguration.
So before you crack open your computer and start replacing parts, you should try to troubleshoot the problem.
So let’s see when it is probably a software problem and what you can do about it.
1) You have Overclocked your CPU recently
If you have overclocked your CPU recently and now your computer is crashing, giving you errors or the blue screen of death, it is probably because of the overclocking.
If your motherboard doesn’t get the required power to support your overclock, it can cause many problems.
In this case, you should try to lower the clock speed.
To fix this problem, you should enter the BIOS and check the clock speed. To enter the bios system settings, you first need to turn on your computer and then press the Delete, F1, or F2 key while it is starting up (the key you have to press depends on the motherboard).
Then, find the “Reset to default” or “Load Optimized Defaults” option and save the changes. This will set the BIOS back to its default settings and disable your overclocking.
2) You have updated your BIOS recently
A BIOS update can cause all sorts of problems. If you have updated your BIOS recently and now your computer is giving you errors, it is probably because of the BIOS update.
Fixing this problem is not as easy as the overclocking problem. If you have updated your BIOS, you need to reset your motherboard. If you don’t know how to do it, you can read our “How to Reset Your CMOS [Motherboard]” article.
3) You have changed your hardware recently
If you have just installed a new piece of hardware, such as a new graphics card or hard drive, and now your computer is crashing or doesn’t start, it is probably because of the new hardware.
In this case, you should remove the new hardware and try to start your computer with the old hardware. If it works, the new hardware is probably incompatible with your computer or is causing a conflict. Finally, check if the other components are firmly connected to the motherboard.
4) You have recently updated your operating system
If you have recently updated your operating system and now your computer is crashing, you might have a software problem.
To fix this problem, you can try to uninstall the update or restore your computer to an earlier state.
Related Article: Motherboard Orange Light: What Does It Mean?
How to know for sure that your motherboard is dead
If you have followed all the steps and still have problems or your PC is not turning on, it is time to investigate seriously.
1) Open your PC and disconnect all the devices from your motherboard.
The first step is to open your PC, disconnect all the devices from your motherboard and take it out. This includes the hard drive, graphics card, CPU, memory, and any other components.
Then you need to connect the power supply unit to your motherboard and jump-start it. If your motherboard shows any signs of life, such as beeping or LED blinking, then it is not the motherboard that is dead, and you should start checking the other components.
2) Check the power supply unit
If your motherboard doesn’t show any signs of life, you should check if you have a faulty power supply unit. To do this, you just need to connect the power supply unit to another functional motherboard and jumpstart it.
If the second motherboard is not working either, then this is probably the reason your computer isn’t starting. In this case, you should replace the power supply unit.
3) Check the CMOS battery
If you have jump-started your motherboard and it shows no signs of life, the next step is to check the CMOS battery.
To do this, you just need to remove the CMOS battery and replace it with another one. If the motherboard started working with a new CMOS battery, the old one was probably dead.
4) Check Motherboard’s POST screen
If your motherboard is not dead and the PSU is working, you should be able to see some kind of POST screen.
The POST screen is a basic test that your motherboard does when it starts, and it usually contains information about the type of motherboard, CPU, and memory (to do the POST, you should plug in some of your computer components).
If you can see the POST screen, it means that your motherboard is working, and the problem is with one of the other components. You can see on the POST screen the details about the component that is not working.
*To be able to see the POST screen, you should connect the CPU and the graphics card to the motherboard.
5) Check for Physical Damage
If you have followed all the steps and you still can’t find the problem, it is time to check for physical damage.
To do this, you just need to remove the motherboard from the PC case and look for any damages. If you see any damages, such as a broken capacitor or a melted component, then this is probably the reason why your computer isn’t starting.
In this case, you should replace the motherboard.
Ok, my motherboard is dead what should I do?
If your motherboard is dead, you should replace it. If you have a warranty that is still valid, you can send your motherboard to the manufacturer, who will replace it (Warranties from top brands like ASUS, Gigabyte, and MSI usually last for 3 years).
If your motherboard is not covered by a warranty, you should buy a new motherboard. You can either buy the same motherboard model, or you can buy a better model. If you decide to buy a new motherboard, you should make sure that it is compatible with your CPU and your memory.
You can compare your old motherboard’s specs with the new motherboard’s specs to ensure they are compatible.
After you have bought your new motherboard, you will need to install the CPU, the memory, and the other components. Just make sure to add the thermal paste to the CPU, and you will be good to go.
A rare problem that can happen is that other PC components have also died, such as the graphics card, the hard drive, or the power supply unit. If this is the case, you will also need to replace those components.
Finding out if your motherboard is not working can be a little tricky, but if you follow the steps mentioned in this article, you should be able to find the problem. If you have tried all the steps and you still can’t find the problem, you should probably take your computer system to a technician.
Did this article help? Let me know in the comments below.
Nick Ryley is a computer architect and the owner of The Pc Geekz.
His love for playing games got him interested in computers in the first place. He wanted to be able to build a gaming PC that could run all the latest games at max settings, and this has him pursuing a major in computer architecture!
He started this blog to help people out and answer some of the most common questions about computer building