How to Tell if a Motherboard Is Defective

By Ty Arthur

The motherboard is the backbone of your computer as it is the piece that all of the other components are connected to. If your computer will not boot up properly or power on at all the problem may potentially lie with the motherboard. Because so many other components are connected to the motherboard you will need to troubleshoot each other part first.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Replacement processor
  • Replacement RAM modules
  • Replacement video card

Step 1

Turn the computer off and then remove the power cable from the electrical wall outlet. Plug a power cable from a different electrical device into the outlet and power it on so that you can rule out the outlet as your problem. Connect the computer's power cable back into the outlet.

Step 2

Power the computer back on and place your hand behind the case near the power supply. Wait a few moments to see if any air is pushed out of the power supply by the cooling fan. Replace the power supply instead of the motherboard if the fan is not working.

Step 3

Shut down the computer again and pull out all of the cables from the back side of the case. Remove any other devices you have connected to the front ports on the computer such as a USB printer or jump drive.

Step 4

Set down the computer so that the left side panel is facing towards you. Unlock the side panel from the computer case by removing the case screws if there are any. Twist of the thumbscrew or pull up on the metal holding latch if the computer does not use case screws.

Step 5

Remove the screws holding any expansion cards to the case and then pull them off the motherboard. Pull out all of the cables running from the motherboard to the power supply and drive bays. Pull out the screws holding the motherboard to the case. Pull the motherboard straight up out of the case and set it down carefully on a flat non-metal surface.

Step 6

Check to make sure that there is no physical damage to the motherboard such as bent pins or burnt transistors. Purchase a new motherboard and place it back in the case if there is any visible damage.

Step 7

Remove the screws holding the power supply to the case and slide it out of the drive bay. Set it down near the motherboard and connect the SATA cable from the motherboard to the power supply. Connect the power cable from the power supply to a wall outlet. Plug cable from the computer's monitor into the corresponding port on the motherboard.

Step 8

Remove the RAM modules and replace them with another set. Press down the power button on the motherboard with a screwdriver or another flat object. Wait to see if the computer loads up without error, which will indicate that the problem is with the RAM modules instead of with the motherboard.

Step 9

Power the motherboard back off and replace the processor with a different one. Turn the motherboard back on and see if the system boots up normally, which will indicate a defective processor.

Step 10

Turn the motherboard off and replace the video card with a different one. Power the motherboard on and see if the system boots up, which will indicate a defective video card.

Step 11

Replace the motherboard if the system still will not boot up after all of the other components have been checked.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always ground yourself before working with a computer's internal parts by touching your hands to any metal object connected to the floor.
  • Be extremely careful not to touch the motherboard or any of its connected components while it is powered on as the electric shock can lead to injury or even death.

References & Resources