Your computer's motherboard is an important component that plays an important role with the other components that you can and cannot install. However, motherboards have a reputation for being fussy about troubleshooting, which some PC enthusiasts dread of ever touching, let alone trying to replace one. In rare cases, motherboard problems can even occur with a new PC. These include random restarts, rejection of the startup process, and ongoing crashes with fatal exceptions, illegal operations, and general protection error messages.
Fortunately, some of the most common problems you may encounter with your motherboard are relatively easy to troubleshoot. All you need is a little patience.
Not enough strength
Yes, listing "Check the Power" as the first step in a manual is a bit clichéd, but an absolute must here as motherboards have not one but two power connections. There is a 20- to 24-pin main connector and a second four- or eight-pin connector that is hidden by the processor socket. Many people forget the second connection – we did it in our early PC building days. So check that both are properly connected. Unplug and plug them back in if you're not sure how well they fit.
Make sure both plugs are seated properly and match the correct power cords. This will solve many problems, especially those that arise the first time you install a new motherboard. You should also consider running hardware and utility diagnostics if your PC can do so, such as: B. the Intel Processor Diagnostic Tool, CPU-Z and PassMark Performance Test.
Components not installed properly
Components can cause a motherboard to malfunction if not properly installed. In some cases, your computer may not even go through POST (a self-test mechanism used by PCs during the startup process) or even turn on. Possible culprits are the processor, graphics card, and memory.
Improperly seated graphics card and memory are the most likely causes of your problems, as problems in these areas are easy to miss. Examine the graphics card and make sure that it sits evenly across the width of the PCI Express slot. Then press it down firmly just to be sure.
The RAM slot has two plastic wings that should snap into place over the sides of each memory stick. These should be upright 90 degrees from the surface of the motherboard and inserted securely around the tabs on each side of your RAM sticks. If one or both of the wings are slightly crooked, the RAM is not installed correctly.
Properly installing a processor is much more difficult, but it's worth checking to see if you're really at a loss. Make sure that the pins and slot on the processor and motherboard are properly aligned. Once inserted, the processor should sit flat on the surface of the socket. The processor heat sink should also be tight.
For more help installing or reinstalling a processor, see our guides on installing Intel and AMD CPUs.
A short circuit
Motherboards are filled with capacitors and solder joints that carry data and power from one part of the board to another. As you may have noticed, the motherboard is held up from the PC case by a series of screw-in standoffs about a quarter of an inch thick. These are there because the motherboard can short out if it makes contact with other metallic components – causing the capacitors to blow out, bulge, and even leak fluid – which makes performing a physical inspection of components critical to diagnosing problems power. However, if you are not very comfortable with your skills with a soldering gun, it is best to have a professional to replace your capacitors.
A motherboard that shorts out may not get through the POST, may complete the POST, but then behave erratically or may start up but randomly crash. Failure to pass the POST process is the most common symptom. However, other situations can arise if there is only occasional contact between the motherboard and the case.
Check how your motherboard is installed. Make sure that you have used the standoffs that keep the motherboard from touching the case, and make sure that unsupported parts of the motherboard don't bend toward the inside of the case. Also check that all internal cables are properly shielded with a rubber or plastic exterior.
No power switch connection
The power switch on the case of a computer is connected to the motherboard with a small, thin two-pin cable. Without this important, but easily overlooked connection, your computer will not start. This is because the motherboard will never be commanded to press the power button unless the cable is connected to the correct pins on your motherboard. It's hard to believe that a bent or misaligned pen could cause you so much distress, but with a steady hand and a steely solution, this problem can be solved. Be aware that trying to straighten pins can easily break them and will require you to swap out components like your CPU. So think long and hard before you try it yourself.
Connecting the power switch can be difficult. Unlike so many other motherboard connectors that make improper installation impossible, the power button is usually just labeled with small symbols like Pwr + and Pwr-. Things are made worse by the fact that the front power button connection is part of a group of connections. Accidentally connecting the power supply to pins that control the reset button or the hard drive indicator is therefore easy to commit.
To fix this problem, you will need the manual to confirm where the power button is and (may) need a magnifying glass to properly align the connection with the pins. If you can't find your manual, your motherboard manufacturer should have a PDF version of it on their company's website. Just look for the model number of your motherboard.
Incompatibility of the UEFI / BIOS hardware
The Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) and the Basic Input / Output System (BIOS) connect the firmware of your PC with the operating system. They help remind your computer what it is and what to do when you turn it on for the first time. This also includes the detection of hardware errors.
Motherboards are shipped from the factory with a BIOS or UEFI that can handle modern hardware. However, it is not guaranteed that the hardware released will work after shipping. Even new processors that fit into the motherboard's CPU socket may not be immediately compatible and require a BIOS or UEFI update to fix the problem.
In this case, your computer may not send POST or POST, but it will refuse to start your operating system. The solution to this situation is simple, but a little frustrating. You will need to reinstall the old hardware that you removed first to confirm the problem and start your computer. Once you've done that, you can start your computer, go to your motherboard manufacturer's website, and find the latest BIOS / UEFI version. Install it, then try installing your new hardware again.
Troubleshooting motherboards, while difficult, is by no means impossible. Learning how to use them is an important skill for any PC maker. The experience you gain from replacing your motherboard gives you the opportunity to use the same computer for a decade (or more) by swapping out the internals if necessary. Don't be intimidated. While the above issues are far from unusual, they can be resolved with a little patience. However, if you feel overwhelmed or lack fine motor skills, you can also contact the manufacturer or a computer repair technician.