If the CPU is the brain of your computer, the motherboard is the nerve center that connects all the components and pieces together. Every piece of data and hardware that your computer uses requires the motherboard to connect everything, from the power supply to the printer. Understandably, problems with your motherboard creates problems with other aspects of your computer's performance, and any signs of a malfunctioning or failing motherboard should be tended to as soon as possible to avoid any further problems.
Patterns of Warning Beeps
When your computer powers on, it performs a series of self-diagnostic tests to check the various components and assure that everything is functioning properly. After these self-checks are complete, it issues a single beep – or two beeps in rapid succession – to announce that everything checks out. If your motherboard is failing, this single of double beep will instead be replaced by a series of beeps, designed to indicate the problem. The specific beeping patterns and their meanings vary by computer and are typically spelled out in your manual or on your manufacturer's website.
Failure To Power Up
One pretty obvious sign that something is amiss inside your computer is the machine's refusal to power up. This symptom, unfortunately, is not restricted to a malfunctioning motherboard, as a failing power supply or malfunctioning wall outlet could also prevent power up. Your power supply can also suffer an early death at the hands of your motherboard, as a failing motherboard can release a powerful electrical surge as it expires, which your power supply attempts to intercept before it causes any other damage inside your computer.
Nonfunctioning Components and Ports
A failing motherboard begins to lose proper control over the various other components attached to it, meaning that attached cards, RAM or USB ports may suddenly and inexplicably stop working. A silent symptom, this may not be immediately detected of you don't use the particular “dead” component much. While it's entirely possible that the particular component may have died on its own, if any replacement parts also refuse to work, your motherboard is likely failing.
Monitor Display Problems
Display problems don't always point to a failing motherboard, but in some cases the monitor may give an early warning before your board dies entirely. Colors may flash suddenly on your screen, and the LEDs within your computer may blink or change colors. Actual warnings may appear on screen, alerting you to problems with your motherboard or BIOS settings.
In some cases, a physical problem can be seen on the motherboard, such as scorch marks from short circuits or failing capacitors. Verify that all the connections to and from the motherboard are secure, and try removing all other components and powering up. Programs such as Hot CPU Tester and PC Doctor are available to scan and test your computer's components, including the motherboard, for signs of failure.
Replace the motherboard inside desktop PCs as soon as a problem becomes evident, to avoid the sudden death of your computer. Although this is inconvenient, replacement is the only way to assure no further problems or damage to your computer's other components. Laptop motherboards aren't as easy to deal with, as the compact and cramped nature of internal laptop components makes changing a motherboard virtually impossible for the average user. Laptop motherboard repairs or replacements can also be quite expensive, and replacing the laptop may offer a better option.
- TFS Networks; Tell Tale Signs of Basic Computer Hardware Issues; Greg Eddolls
- Laptop Tips: Motherboard
- Guidesk.com; Laptop Motherboard Failure; Lewis Grant; April 2010
- Computer Repair Calgary: Signs of Motherboard Failure
- ComputerKnowledgeForYou.com: How to Spot a PC Motherboard Failure
- Computer Hope: Testing My Computer Motherboard and CPU for Failures?
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