After you have seen your computer on for hours, it is time to throw some light on the inside of it. Even if you are not interested in seeing its parts up-close, specific problems require you to crack open the case. However, before you start taking things apart, make sure that you have all the necessary tools.
The following is a list of the most important ones:
1. Phillips head screwdriver:
Used to open the case, mount hardware components and take them out when not needed. You can use an 8-piece or 15-piece set, depending on how many different types you have in your toolbox.
2. A Torx screwdriver:
Used for removing motherboard standoffs, among other things.
A grounding wrist strap:
Attached to the metal part of your case, using a wire ensures that you will not suffer any short-circuits or electrical shock when working inside your computer.
3. Anti-static mat:
Another essential piece of equipment is an anti-static mat which allows you to place items on it while working. You can wipe it clean with a damp cloth when you are done, and the surface will be completely safe.
Before you start taking apart your PC, please take a couple of minutes to read its manual so that you know how to take everything apart in the correct order without damaging any parts or cables along the way.
Following are the critical point. By following these points, you can check your motherboard successfully.
- First, make sure that your motherboard is installed in the case and secured using standoffs (nuts with screws on top). This might not be necessary if you will use a test bench rather than an actual computer case.
- Next, ground yourself by touching metal parts of your case with one hand and touching the case with the other without letting go. Once you are grounded, you can take out your motherboard and set it on an anti-static mat.
- Next, locate all components: CPU socket, RAM slots, and PCI/AGP expansion slots. You will need to test them later thoroughly, so take a moment to familiarize yourself with their locations.
- Motherboard failures often occur around or near these sockets and slots. Unplug everything from the motherboard except for the power supply connector at the end of its cable, as well as any fans attached directly to it. If possible, turn off your computer before you do this; if not, unplug the power cable from your hard drives to be on the safe side.
- Now, you can lift your motherboard and lay it down with its bottom facing up.
- Please take a good look around. Most issues manifest as bulging capacitors (7), warped surfaces, burned traces, or damaged sockets.
- Sometimes motherboards fail electrically rather than physically; they will not generate any output, even though all components are correctly installed. In such cases, check whether or not there is continuity between the pins in the center of the CPU socket and those of any expansion slots.
- To complete this process, check out all connectors on the board for signs of damage.
- After locating problems like these during your testing, you can start with the most likely cause. If your motherboard is not working because of no power, ensure that its main power connector is seated correctly.
- If it has power, but none of its components are detected by the BIOS, check whether or not memory modules are seated correctly in their sockets and whether or not they are loose.
- If there are no beeps after powering the PC, remove all devices plugged into the motherboard except for RAM modules, then try again; if this works, start disconnecting each device one by one to find out which one is causing trouble.
- As a last resort, reseat every component: CPU socket, RAM slots, and any PCI/AGP expansion cards. Reboot and test. If you are still encountering problems, test your motherboard with another CPU (if possible) or replace it with another one.
- Your final option is to contact the manufacturer for support, but note that some warranties only cover manufacturers’ defects, not failures caused by improper installation or incorrect use of parts.
- The process of diagnosing hardware-related issues on motherboards has been made considerably more accessible thanks to modern operating systems. Since they can reset BIOS settings to default values, you can save yourself the trouble of having to reconfigure them manually after clearing CMOS RAM.
- If you have recently changed components in your computer, update your system drivers so that its chipset, audio card, and other details will all be recognized correctly. Your new hardware may also interfere with other parts – if your motherboard is not powering up, for example, plugging a USB device into one of its rear ports might have caused a short circuit.
- If you have recently overclocked your CPU or GPU, reset BIOS settings to their defaults so that the PCI-Express bus does not get overloaded. This should be sufficient to avoid any potential damage to your computer.
Beeps from the motherboard
Before reaching out for professional help, please take note of the exact sequence of beeps emitted by the speaker on the board, as they can be accommodating in diagnosing hardware issues. The following table lists all possible codes:
One prolonged followed by two short beeps:
The CMOS battery has no charge; adjust the date and time settings.
One prolonged followed by three short beeps:
BIOS ROM checksum error; backup BIOS is corrupt or missing.
One prolonged followed by four short beeps:
BIOS ROM file has the wrong format.
A series of short beeps during bootup:
No memory modules are detected; check their orientation and installation in all available sockets.
A continuous beep after powering on the computer:
Video card, motherboard, or RAM problem; reset BIOS settings to default values.
If you happen to have a spare video card/motherboard/RAM module on hand, swap them one at a time with your current hardware (if possible) to identify the faulty component. Alternatively, use another computer if you can access yours remotely. If your motherboard does not have a speaker, you can check the BIOS beep codes for serious hardware failures using a free program called PC-Speaker.