How to Know If a Computer Processor Is Dead

By Campbell Vertesi

The most catastrophic failure that can happen to your computer is probably CPU failure. There is no remedy except a replacement part and, depending on the cause of the failure, you may be replacing some other pieces, too. This guide will walk you through testing your CPU to see if it is indeed dead.

Things You'll Need

  • Your CPU and computer
  • Optional: CPUMark Benchmark software

Step 1

Power on your computer. The first thing it does is run a quick self-diagnosis called POST (Power On Self Test). If your CPU has failed completely, it will not pass POST. You will get a blank screen, and your computer will likely beep at you. If anything at all comes up on your screen, skip to step 3.

Step 2

Listen for any beeping from the computer. The beeps let you know which component of your computer is failing. The best way to tell if it's your CPU is to simply remove it from the computer and then power on again. If you get the same pattern of beeps, then bad news: Your CPU is toasted.

Step 3

Download and run CPUMark. If your CPU passes POST, it is working at least in a basic capacity. It is still possible for it to be running at a reduced capacity though, or with some features hobbled or disabled. CPUMark is free CPU benchmarking software that allows you to ompare the results with what you know about your CPU -- is it running at the speed it's supposed to run? What scores did other people get with your same CPU?

Step 4

Consider other points of failure. If your CPU gets through POST and can run a thorough benchmark program, it has definitely not failed. Other factors can be easily confused with a dead CPU such as RAM failure or overheating.

Tips & Warnings

  • Opening your computer to remove the CPU can be bad for the CPU. Make sure the power is off, the computer is unplugged and you are well grounded. Handle your CPU carefully.

References & Resources