How to Tell if Motherboard is Dead? – 6 Ways to Know

As you all know a motherboard is a printed circuit board connecting the different parts of a computer altogether. A problem you may have encountered is that it becomes faulty and eventually stops working. In that case, a common question generally arises: how to tell if motherboard is dead?

Chiefly, you can witness several signs and symptoms that indicate a dead motherboard. These include the inability of PC to turn on, random freezing, beeps and POST errors, or the Blue Screen of Death. On inspection, you may find that the lights won’t turn on, the parts may be damaged followed by charred circuitry and a burning smell.

It’s important to note that a problem with the motherboard will severely affect the performance of a computer and create issues with other components. So, you should understand the symptoms and deal with them promptly to avoid further problems.

Below we review some of the common methods to diagnose whether a motherboard is dead or not in detail.

How to Tell if Motherboard is Dead?

How to tell if motherboard is dead
There is no one solution fit all scenario here. You have to check multiple reasons and then come to a conclusion.

The symptoms of a dead motherboard are similar to that of the failure of other components such as CPU and Power Supply Unit (PSU). Even for a technician, it can be a challenging task to diagnose a failed motherboard as other hardware and software issues must be eliminated first.

Moreover, if the motherboard is dead, other parts such as hard drives and fans may still be working but your computer may not turn on.

You can look over the following to make sure that it’s the motherboard that’s the culprit.

1. Your PC won’t turn on

The most obvious sign of a dead motherboard is that your desktop or laptop won’t turn on or it shuts down or freezes randomly. In that case, you should be considering the software issues first as the main reason.

If you have ruled out all the software problems (including that of the operating system itself), then you can consider hardware failures including the motherboard.

2. POST Errors and Beeps

If your motherboard becomes faulty, your computer may turn on, but it may not be able to make it past the POST (Power on Self Test) test and boot. You may see POST error codes that may appear on the screen. In this case, it becomes necessary to research them as they are also indicative of a faulty motherboard.

Other than this you may hear single or multiple beeps when you turn your PC on. They are a definitive sign of a hardware failure including the board.

You may consult the motherboard’s manual in this regard to find out more information related to the pattern of beeps that may occur.

3. Blue Screen of Death

In some instances, you may see also increased Windows errors or the Blue Screen of Death. These are also the signs and symptoms that the motherboard is failing and may gradually become dead.

Again, it’s important to research the error code you are getting to find out more information. Then you can take an action promptly to let the problem be diagnosed correctly and go-ahead with a resolution.

4. The Lights Won’t Turn On

motherboard lights
Motherboards have several lights indicating its health. If they don’t turn on, then something is wrong.

Another big indication that the mainboard has ceased to function is that the computer doesn’t POST at all and the board’s power light or LEDs won’t turn on. You can easily observe this after opening the casing of your desktop. Do note that for a laptop it may be difficult to view as you need to remove its back.

5. Damaged Parts

If you are experiencing the above symptoms you can visually check the motherboard. A malfunctioning board may have damaged, leaking, or bulging capacitors. These are small components of the board that may appear as if they will blow.

Usually, the reason for such capacitors is due to overheating. If you sight them, then you can assume that the motherboard has probably failed and needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

6. Burning Smell

Look for any damage on the battery like electrical components known as capacitors.

In some cases, you may smell a burning odor. It usually indicates that a specific component has overheated. It usually happens if a capacitor and another electrical component on the motherboard has worn out.

If you encounter such a situation, we strongly urge you to remove the part. Otherwise, it may have already damaged the motherboard that’s causing the irritating smell. You can also see charred or burned circuitry that further provides the evidence in this regard.

Also Read: How To Tell if CPU is Bad?

The Reasons That Cause a Motherboard to Die

Doubtlessly, a motherboard is a sensitive, complex and delicate component of a computer and prone to damage. Though motherboards normally have a long lifespan, they can malfunction and die quickly or with time if things go wrong.

There are several reasons for motherboard failure with the primary being overheating. The following are the common ones:

  • Overheating: Heat generated inside the computer can wear out the motherboard with time and lead to its failure.
  • Overclocking processor and graphics processing unit (GPU) for longer periods
  • Too much dirt and dust inside the CPU socket
  • Incorrect or partially connected cables
  • Failure or lack of adequate cooling components like fans and heatsinks
  • Abnormal differences in voltages
  • Power surges and electrical spikes
  • Static electricity especially when handling the motherboard with bare hands

Also Read: Best Motherboards for Video Editing

Why a Healthy Motherboard is Critical?

The motherboard, also known as the mainboard, is a central component of any computer, whether desktop or laptop. It provides a socket for fitting the CPU along with slots for RAM, external ports for peripherals and internal ports for storage devices.

It’s also a means for all the components such as processor, RAM, hard drive and the graphics card to receive power from the power supply.

Therefore, a motherboard makes the foundation or backbone of any computer. It can become bad and cease to function due to various reasons. In this case, it’s not able to communicate between the various components, making the computer unusable.

Also Read: Best Motherboards for VR


In this article, we looked at different ways and approaches that provide the answer to the common question: how to tell if motherboard is dead.

The option that’s feasible if your existing motherboard has been diagnosed as dead is to get a working or new one that is of good quality. You can replace it at home if you have ample knowledge and experience of building a PC.

We reiterate if you are inexperienced in this area, then it is best to get your computer checked by a certified technician.

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We are team of two engineers with a keen interest and a passion for PC builds and hardware. is essentially the culmination of our enthusiasm towards this subject. We review PC peripherals and hardware, talk about custom builds and informative topics regarding troubleshooting issues, understanding a component better and general tips for DIY PC builders.