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Diagnosing a Motherboard or CPU Failure

written by: Regina Woodard•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 12/7/2010

As technology grows and grows, there will inevitably be a time in which one needs to replace their computer system. But what happens when you begin to experience a motherboard failure or when the CPU goes bad?

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    A computer's motherboard is like a town filled with busy highways and freeways, sending information to and from different locations within your computer and the motherboard itself. The CPU is the central hub of this town. It executes all the necessary information required to keep your computer running.

    But what happens when your motherboard and CPU stop working? The town shuts down - stores close their doors, cars sit abandoned on the streets, and the valuable cargo of data that needs to be sent to the processor and executed now sits still and useless.

    Obviously, this is something that you'd like to avoid, or at least have a warning about. But what are the signs?

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    When the Motherboard or CPU Fails

    When a computer experiences a motherboard or CPU failure, it usually comes in a form of various warnings, like system errorsMotherboard or CPU Failure/CPU Bad  that display on the computer monitor or strange beeps that the user has never heard before. In worse case scenarios, the computer itself refuses to turn on.

    The easiest way to determine whether your computer is having a problem is to listen to the beep codes. Beep codes are a way for your system to tell you what is going on and what is not going on. When a computer is turned on, it goes through a POST test, which stands for power on self test. This is essentially the computer testing all of the components to make sure that everything is working properly. If everything appears to be normal, the computer may give a short beep or it may not beep at all. This is determined by the type of BIOS that is being used on the motherboard itself.

    Motherboard companies, such as MSI and ASUS, use different BIOS for their product, so each of these have their own beep codes.

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    What Should You Do?

    Before you go out and purchase another motherboard or CPU, there are a few things you can try. If your computer continues to turn off and on, it may not mean that your CPU is bad, but that it may be overheating. There are a lot of things that can cause this, including dust buildup on your computer's fans or the temperature of the room in which your computer is located.

    An immediate solution is to remove the side panel of your computer case to allow cool air inside. Depending on the placement of the PC, placing a small fan near the case can also help to cool it. This obviously isn't ideal, however, so you'll want to find a better solution (such as moving your PC or buying a case with better airflow) quickly. If your computer still overheats after this step, there may be a problem with the processor heatsink.

    The best way to determine a motherboard's error is to listen for the type of beep code that happens during POST. If you know the manufacturer of your motherboard, check their website to determine what BIOS is being used; this will help you better identify what the beep codes mean. If the computer does not POST, your motherboard may be down for the count, but make sure that the mobo is receiving power and that no components are improperly secured before throwing in the towel.

    In the event that diagnosing and testing does not help, you may need to purchase a new motherboard. Be sure that you know about your current system set up so that you do not run into issues when you receive your new board.

    Image content @ TigerDirect






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