What Shorts Out on a Laptop Motherboard?

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Many components in a laptop can become troublesome and “short out” over time due to overuse. Though you might not see sparks fly as these issues arise, the internal mechanisms of the laptop are very susceptible to temperature and voltage regulation, as well as physical damage due to wear and tear. Knowing the symptoms produced by the usual faulty components can save you time and money when troubleshooting.

Overheating

  • Overheating in laptops is a very common occurrence. Unlike desktop computers, laptops have very little space for airflow and heat dissipation. The CPU and hard drive rely on extra heat sinks and internal fans to keep the internal temperature from problem levels. If the internal temperature rises too high, there are failsafes to shut down these components before irreversible damage is done. Excessive overheating can cause these components to short out and result in either the Blue Screen of Death or complete shutdown.

Capacitors

  • Regulating the power along the motherboard, capacitors are vital for proper chip functionality. However, these components can become defective due to overheating. Once a capacitor becomes defective, visible by bulging from the top and/or bottom, chips may short out as too much voltage is transferred. Because capacitors are hard-soldered to the motherboard, these components are tricky to replace, usually meaning a new motherboard or laptop is needed.

Power Jack

  • Also soldered to the motherboard, the power jack is the component that gets the most wear and tear over time. With the external power supply line constantly being inserted and removed, there is a great deal of pressure put on the points of contact to the motherboard. Once these soldered points become brittle and loose, charging will not happen without wiggling or holding the power line at a certain angle. Further damage can happen while placing extra pressure on the edge of the motherboard.

Monitor Video Ribbon

  • If only the monitor is going black -- rather than the whole computer shutting down -- there could be an issue with the video ribbon. This paper-thin, long ribbon connects the monitor to the GPU for video input. This ribbon is very brittle and can become dislodged, shorted, cracked or even completely broken through extensive opening and closing of the laptop lid. Unfortunately, the entire laptop must be opened to replace this cable, which is time consuming and requires experience.

References

  • Photo Credit Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images
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