Troubleshooting Motherboard - how do you know it is the physical motherboard and not an embedded device?

Troubleshooting motherboard errors is like trouble shooting your car when it won't start. Is the battery dead, is it out of gas, is the spark getting to the spark plugs.

See where I am going with this. Your problem could be any where from the power cord plugged into the wall socket all the way to the keyboard.

When you have a failure and have ruled out all the external devices [mouse, keyboard, commercial power, and monitor] then you start on the internal devices, hard drive, cd rom, floppy, video card, any installed auxiliary cards like the sound card, NIC, power supply, and so forth.

One indication that your motherboard is experiencing problems is when you power it up and goes straight into the BIOS setup. Some times you will get an error message about why it went into the BIOS setup, some times nothing but the setup screen. Another indication is with the newer motherboard one of the embedded devices has failed, you can press on and install a card to replace that device or if under warranty send it back to the manufacture for repair or replacement.

Troubleshooting Motherboard errors:

So what is your motherboard doing that is out of the ordinary? Troubleshooting Motherboard, first look for burned components...

  • Not starting at all?
  • Dumps to BIOS setup?
  • Can't see the hard drive or cd rom?
  • Mouse not working or intermittent?
  • Keyboard not functioning?
  • No sound from the embedded sound device?
  • No network connectivity from the embedded NIC?
  • Your USB will not connect on one or more ports?

Well let's see if you can fix that failure.

Before we run down the list did you get a POST error or fault beep code? If you did then go to the manufactures web site and look it up, this will be faster than trying to find the solution through this check list.

Question: Have you changed anything in the BIOS? Added any new cards? Removed any cards? Added memory? Upgrades of any kind?

If you have changed any thing from the BIOS to adding or removing cards or devices then the fault may not be not your motherboard!

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If you have not changed any thing then we know that the failure has something to do with hardware, let's assume that the power supply, mouse, keyboard, and video is good.

First go into BIOS, check the time and date [yup, this is an indicator] if it has reverted to the default time [any time other than the current date and time will be the default] then your internal battery has died and needs to be replaced. You can set the time and date and reset all the BIOS settings but when you power the system down you will lose those settings and have to do it again when you power it back up. [This is assuming you have your computer connected to a power strip with surge protection and power everything down while not in use!]

If the BIOS settings are correct then we need to look at your problem.

When Troubleshooting Motherboard Observe ESD! 

Troubleshooting Main Board instructions:

Normal trouble shooting is to reseat all cable connections including power connectors, memory, cards, and the processor [use care while removing and reseating the processor!].

Troubleshooting Motherboard- fault still persisting?

If reseating everything did not cure your failure next disconnect all cables from your mother board, remove any cards with the exception of the video card, leave the power to the motherboard, the memory, and the processor. Did the problem go away?

Let's assume that your problems is not an embedded device [sound, nic, video, or usb] and it persists once you have the board stripped down to minimum support devices [mouse, keyboard, video card, and memory].

You are down to four possibilities:

  • The processor is failing [over heated and intermittent].
  •   See  Trouble Shooting Processor
  • A memory module has failed.
  •                                                See  Troubleshooting Memory problems
  • Something on the motherboard has burnt and is shorting out.
  • See Component Repair on a Motherboard
  • A auxiliary wire [power led, hard drive activity led, reset button, or soft power button] has shorted out.
After checking the memory [if you have two or more memory modules try removing one if that doesn't work swap them out] and the aux wires and the failure persists  you will need a magnifying glass to look at all the ic's and wire traces on the motherboard looking for burnt areas or ic's.

Note: If you have an IC or a internal trace (in between the layers of the motherboard) that has burned through there isn't any you can do but buy a new motherboard.

For those that want to do low level component repair this page is a short tutorial on repairing damaged components.

See the   Self Computer Repair Unleashed! 2nd Edition. for more tips and safety procedures. (view a sample of the manual).

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You keyboard isn't thirsty, and it doesn't need calcium. Milk and other liquids will ruin a keyaboard!


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