A computer’s motherboard connects all the components, and if it fails, your computer may be rendered useless. This can result in failing to beat deadlines or losing valuable work. Read on if you want to know how to tell if motherboard is bad.
Visible signs of damage can mean the part is bad, so you’ll need to look out for them. If your motherboard comes with status indicator lights or a beeper, you can check those too for error codes. You may also need to do some extra troubleshooting to gain more insight.
At times, the motherboard may seem to be bad, yet the real cause is some misconfigured item or a bad connection between components. Status LEDs can indicate if this is the case, yet, breadboarding (building a PC outside the case) on a new PC can help catch issues earlier on.
How to Tell If Motherboard Is Bad?
If your computer is getting slower, crashes frequently, or is not recognizing installed hardware, you may need to confirm that the motherboard is still functioning as intended. So, how to tell if motherboard is bad? Here are few ways.
- Check for Any Erratic Performance
- Check for Physical Signs
- Check Whether the Motherboard POST
- Check the Reading Status Indicators
Let us look at each of these in detail
1. Check for Any Erratic Performance
If the performance of the computer is generally unstable, this can be a sign that you have a bad motherboard.
While most of the time the issue lies in any of the connected components i.e a bad RAM, GPU, Hard Drive etc, if all the other attached components check out, then the issue of a bad performance most probably lies with the motherboard.
To be sure, however, you need to do some testing. This method is ideal if you have another compatible system on which you can test your motherboard.
You will need to take out the motherboard and wire it up in the second system. This process can be tedious and error-prone, and it’s also advisable to not use it with any of its original components, just to help rule them out as part of the problem.
If the motherboard performs just as poorly on the other computer, then it probably has a problem and will need immediate repairs or replacement. Granted, this method only applies if you have another computer to test it on.
2. Check for Any Physical Signs
Physical damage can be a result of anything from poor handling to accidental electrical surges. And, this can, in worst cases, damage your motherboard.
If you’re comfortable with opening up computers, this method will be fairly easy. Just be sure to read all the related warranty information first, before proceeding.
Next, disassemble your computer to the point that you can easily access your motherboard. Once here, keenly inspect the board.
a. Check for bends or breakages
What you’re looking for are physical signs of damage, and even the most minute of scratches on some of the PCB tracks can cause the whole thing to fail. Telltale signs include abnormal bends or cracking on the surface of the board.
You should also check for subtle markings on the board if you had been in contact with it recently.
b. Water Damage
Some computers have tiny stickers that get discolored when they come into contact with a significant amount of moisture. You should check these if present to rule out any possibility that your motherboard may have suffered water damage.
Other symptoms include component corrosion or the actual presence of liquid on the board.
c. Short Circuits
While these may be harder to identify, you should at least take a keen look at the board and try to see any indicators of electrical problems like a short circuit.
One thing to look for is any signs of burns on the motherboard that may have been caused by electrical failures
3. Check Whether the Motherboard POST
A Power-On Self-Test is a process that happens when the computer is starting up. It aims to detect any issues on the system hardware. It’s a safety measure.
If there is any issue detected, the POST generally displays where the problem is coming from.
However, if the POST does not show up at all but the CPU does power on, then the issue could lie with the motherboard.
Before ruling that the computer does not POST, ensure that everything is firmly connected as it needs to be and that the power supply is actually working and the displays are wired up correctly.
4. Check the Reading Status Indicators
Some motherboards come with status LEDs or beepers that emit various error codes when the system has a problem.
The various codes can signify problems with the memory, display, or even the motherboard itself.
For example, 9 beeps indicate a problem with the ROM or BIOS, and this means that you’ll need to do more troubleshooting of the motherboard to determine the root cause of the issue.
Various beeping code sequences can come in handy on how to tell if motherboard is bad.
Check your motherboard manual. The manual should have all the information regarding the beeps and the LED indicators and what they mean.
b. LED indicators
LED indicators are used on some motherboards to show the status of various components. The number of LEDs and what they represent will depend on each manufacturer’s design.
Furthermore, it is common for older motherboards to have just one LED rather than have multiple for different components
When to Hire a Technician?
If you have exhausted all your options or if you are not comfortable with servicing electronics, this is an easier method for how to tell if motherboard is bad.
A reputable technician has the tools to test and troubleshoot the computer extensively and hunt for a problem that many users might miss. This method is also handy if you plan on fixing the motherboard, or any other bad hardware, eventually.
Naturally, this is only suited for computers or motherboards that are well past their warranty periods, otherwise it will be easier to just get the manufacturer to do the work for you.
Expert Guide on How to Troubleshoot a Motherboard
The following video shows advanced technique on understanding the issues with a failing motherboard. However, it does require you to invest in a few cheap devices like a PSU tester, a beep core speaker and POST codes reader Card.
So how to tell if motherboard is bad? The first thing you need to do is ensure everything is correctly connected so that you don’t spend too much time searching for a problem that doesn’t exist.
From then on you should proceed to check the motherboard for any signs of damage and also listen for beeps and also look at the status LEDs on the board if present.
It is important to test your motherboards as soon as you begin to notice unusual behavior so that you can catch problems earlier on before they cause more damage to your system.