How to Diagnose Motherboard or Processor Problems

By T.M. Wit

Troubleshooting computer hardware problems can be a pain. If your computer will not turn on or complete its boot sequence, it can be difficult to determine what the source of the problem is. Often, finding out what the problem is can be more time consuming than fixing it. Your computer has an error reporting tool that can be utilized to diagnose processor and motherboard errors.

Step 1

Unplug your computer from the wall and open up its case.

Step 2

Remove all plug and play expansion slot cards. This includes your video card, sound card and any other external card you may have in use.

Step 3

Reconnect your computer to its power supply cord.

Step 4

Turn on your PC and listen for a beep. Your computer runs a diagnostic upon start-up called “post.” Post checks for the basic requirements for your system. This includes RAM, processor and motherboard and basic video functions. If these three basic elements are working properly, you will hear one beep from your computer's speaker and you can be assured your processor and motherboard are still working.

Step 5

Count the number of beeps you hear (if more than one) as this will help you determine if your processor is functioning properly. The number of beeps reported by your computer at start-up will tell you what the problem is. If you are running Phoenix BIOS, make sure you count and write down the beep sequence.

Step 6

Read your motherboard's BIOS instruction manual; there will be a section on the “post” start-up which identifies each problem associated with the number of beeps reported. Five beeps means a processor error for most standard AMI BIOS systems. Identify the problem associated with the number of beeps to safely determine what problems your CPU and motherboard are experiencing.

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