Do I need to replace my motherboard?

It is more common for a component or peripheral to fail or cause a whole system failure than the motherboard. For testing purposes, we need to disconnect everything except the bare minimum to Power On Self Test or POST. This includes one piece of RAM, CPU, heatsink. power supply and monitor.

Let’s start with the most common issue. The power supply.

You press the power button on the PC and absolutely nothing happens. There are 4 common reasons for this.

          No power to the system from the outlet. Verify that the power cable is tightly connected and that the outlet is sending power. Plug something else into the outlet to verify.

          A failure in the front panel connection. Remove the front panel connection on the motherboard (the manual will have a diagram showing this connection) Dell, HP, Lenovo can have proprietary connections. If you have one of these systems, skip this step. Locate the power switch jumpers on the motherboard. Simply touch the 2 connections with a screwdriver. This is safe to do as it is a low voltage open/close switch.

          Power supply. While power supply testers are cheap, easy to find and use, they are not reliable or universal and do not put a load on the power supply. The easiest way to be certain if you have a bad power supply is to use another power supply from another system. Many power supplies are universal. They have a 24-pin connection to the motherboard and a 4 or 8-pin connection to the CPU. If you have a matching power supply, swap the connections and see if you get the system to power on.

If you still have no power, then you most likely have a bad motherboard.

The fan spins for one or 2 seconds and then powers down. This is usually a bad power supply, but further tests should be run.

System powers on, sounds normal, but no video signal. Very common with many solutions. Make sure you have the bare minimum connected for testing. 

          A failure in the front panel connection. We have seen the front panel connection cause this problem, but it is very rare. You can remove the connection and do a direct jump (described above) to eliminate this cause. 

          Bad RAM. Hopefully you have more than one piece of compatible RAM. We need to find out if there is a bad RAM stick or bad DIMM slot. When increasing/decreasing RAM, sometimes the power on time is longer. Please allow the system some extra time. Power on with one piece in DIMM 1. If it still fails try the other compatible piece in DIMM 1. Repeat this in DIMM 2 and or DIMM 3. If still no signal, 

          Bent pins. Check the CPU socket. Intel boards can easily have the socket pins damaged. If no-one has recently removed or installed a CPU, skip this step. 

          Video connection. Please test the connection to your monitor. Make sure it is tight, your monitor is set to display from the correct source and is powered on. If you are using a GPU or video card, you will need to either have a replacement to test or if your motherboard has on-board video you can remove the GPU and try a direct connection. Please note, your CPU must have graphics processing built in. Please check the specs of your CPU.

My system shuts off while booting or under strain. You may be having a thermal event. The CPU could be getting too hot. Make sure you do not have a buildup of dust and debris on your fans. If you suspect you are having a thermal event, you can remove and reapply the CPU thermal paste and or upgrade the CPU fan.

My system constantly crashes. Backup your system. Crashes are often software related or the sign of a failing HDD/SSD. After backing up your files, saving all your passwords etc, perform a clean install of your operating system. Transfer the files you need but refrain from re-installing all the previous software. Install what you need, as you need it. If a crash occurs after installing a program or importing files, you may have found your problem.

My system is running slow. This is not going to be a motherboard problem. It is likely a system with a lot of bloated software. It can also be a sign of heavier processing needed by modern software. Some upgrades may help, replace a hard drive with an SSD, double your RAM, upgrade your CPU. These things can be done cheaply when your system is 6 years old or more.

My system powers on then off after a few seconds, repeatedly until I unplug it. This is typically a power supply or RAM issue

My system powers on but all the fans are at full blast. This is likely a loose or failed CPU or . It can also be a bad front panel connection.

The motherboard is not recognizing my hard drive. Check your SATA connections. SATA cables easily break. Check the power connection as well. Enter BIOS and reset to factory defaults.

Dell Optiplex and Inspiron specific issues. In some older Dells, running 2nd and 3rd generation CPU’s, you may encounter a system no longer displaying video, without warning. There is often a very easy solution. Remove the RAM, power on for 30 seconds, power off, replace one or all RAM, power back on. Wait longer than normal. Hopefully you see signal after the board finally gets through the POST.

Why do you not talk about beep codes? Beep codes can be very misleading and are not universal. We do not use them in our daily troubleshooting.