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How to Troubleshoot a Motherboard That Will Not Power Up

written by: Nicholas•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 4/27/2010

When building a custom PC, there is nothing more frustrating then getting done with the entire build, only to find that your motherboard will not even power up. In a situation like this, you may be wondering if the motherboard is defective. If so, you need to go bark at Newegg for a refund.

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    Motherboard Not Powering Up

    Asus Rampage Before we get started with troubleshooting, it should be mentioned that this article focuses on custom PC builds. If you are looking for information on a manufactured PC that won't boot, such as a Dell, Gateway, or HP, this article probably won't do you any justice. For those types of issues, you may need to contact support from your PC manufacturer. However, you can always try the following steps. They may work if you just bought a Dell, and it is not powering on as well.

    When doing a custom PC build, there are several different things that can go wrong. But not to worry, even the most experienced PC builders sometimes don't get a boot up immediately after the build. Motherboard not powering up is usually an easy thing to fix. Worst case scenario, you got a bad motherboard and need to return it and request a replacement.

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    Troubleshooting Motherboard Not Powering Up

    The motherboard not powering up can usually be fixed by pinpointing the problem, which could really be anything. A lose connection, a wire in the wrong spot, etc. You need to start disconnecting things and checking connections to find the reason why your motherboard is not powering up. Here are the general steps:

    • Make sure that you are wearing an anti-static wrist wrap.
    • Make sure that the power supply switch is in the off position.
    • Disconnect the power cord from the back of the power supply.
    • Scan your motherboard and make sure that everything is connected securely.
    • Reconnect the power cord, flip the power supply switch to the on position, and try powering the PC on.

    There is a very rare chance that the above steps will work. But for times sake, go through them. One loose connection could be preventing your motherboard from powering on. Next:

    • Disconnect the PC from power.
    • Grab your motherboard manual and find the pages referring to jumpers. Double check every single jumper wire, particularly the case power button. Try disconnecting the power wire jumper wire from the motherboard, and reconnecting.
    • Reconnect AC power and try powering up the PC.

    If the motherboard still does not power up:

    • Disconnect the PC from power.
    • Check the connections for your case fans. One wrong case fan connection could prevent your motherboard from powering up. Try disconnecting the case fan from the power supply and motherboard (if attached) all together.
    • Reconnect AC power and try powering up the PC.

    If the motherboard still does not power up:

    • Check each wire on the power supply, and make sure that it is connected to the proper spot on your motherboard. You may need to consult your motherboard wiring diagram for this, but one wrong connection could mean that the motherboard is not getting power.
    • If this does not fix the problem, start back tracking. One by one, disconnect each component from your motherboard. Start from least essential first, and move on to most essential. For example, the case fans are not really essential for your motherboard to power on, but something as minor as case fans can prevent the motherboard from getting power. Upon disconnecting each component from your motherboard, try powering the motherboard on. It is very likely that there is one component, probably hooked up incorrectly, that is preventing the motherboard from powering on. Make absolutely sure that you disconnect the motherboard from power when removing each wire.

    If your motherboard is still not working:

    • If you have an old computer laying around, go get the power supply out of it and try it on the non working motherboard. This may only work if the power supply from the other computer has similar connections with your custom build power supply, and it is compatible with your motherboard. There is a good chance that it is.
    • If this power supply doesn't work, there is a good chance that you have a faulty motherboard, DOA.

    Finally, if your motherboard is still not powering on:

    • You may want to start the build from scratch. Disconnect all components from your PC, even the SATA cables, and reconnect everything. This may actually work in fixing the motherboard not powering up issue.