How to Tell If a Motherboard in a Computer Is Fried?

By Melissa King

On an average day, your computer behaves normally, operating the way you command it to. When a computer suddenly stops working for no obvious reason, the motherboard may be at fault. The motherboard is the heart of any computer. It's where everything connects, such as your video card, hard drive, memory and CD drive. If the motherboard doesn't work, nothing else will. To find out if your motherboard is broken, look for a few tell-tale signs.

Step 1

Press your computer's "Power" button. If it doesn't turn on, your motherboard may be broken. Nevertheless, this doesn't definitely indicate a broken motherboard since other problems might cause a computer to not turn on, like a faulty power supply. If the computer does turn on but shows strange numbers or a "BIOS failure" message, this is another indication of a motherboard issue.

Step 2

Check for component failures. If the motherboard is failing, certain components that you know work, such as your sound card, may suddenly stop functioning. If several components fail at once, a dying motherboard is a strong possibility.

Step 3

Power off your computer, if it is on, and unplug it from the electric outlet. Remove the computer's cover panel. In some computers, this slides off. Other covers are held on with screws.

Step 4

Check the motherboard for damage or rust. The motherboard is the large, relatively flat board in the back of the computer. It has many cords and wires connected to it. Look at the capacitors, which are tiny cylinders. If they seem rusted, the motherboard might be broken. Bent or damaged parts are another clue. If there are any loose screws in the computer case, remove them. Loose parts may cause problems with the computer.

Step 5

Replace other components in your computer, if possible, to verify whether another component has caused the problem. For instance, replace the power supply, RAM and hard drive. The motherboard will still work if another component was at fault. If this doesn't correct the problem, replace the motherboard with a new one. Connect all of your cards and components to the new motherboard. If the computer subsequently functions, the old motherboard was broken.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always discharge your body's static electricity before touching computer parts. Do this by briefly touching a metal object, like your computer's case.