A computer motherboard is one of the most hardest pieces of hardware to troubleshoot, because the symptoms are too similar to other pieces, the best way to make sure the motherboard or mobo is failing is to boot your computer with just crucial components connected (CPU, RAM, and motherboard), and see what happens, if it displays the same symptoms, then you have 3 suspects.
If the problem is when booting Windows, then you will have to include the hard drive, but the hard drive troubleshooting symptoms are much different from that of a motherboard, so don't worry about this, just install it if your computer seems to pass the initial boot.
Remember that troubleshooting your computer it's just like playing the game "Clue" you need to eliminate the suspects in order to find the culprit. Keep in mind that it's very rare for a motherboard to fail especially if it's a good motherboard, so try every troubleshooting available.
Reasons a motherboard fails
A Motherboard can fail for a number of reasons:
- Electricity and voltage spikes
- Dust, smoke
- Fan failure or heating issues
- Force or pressure
If you live in a place with a lot of voltage spikes, I suggest you get a voltage regulator outlet or a backup (this usually comes with this feature) and will prolong your motherboard life over time. Clean your fans at least once a year even if you live in a clean place, dust can play a significant part in hardware failures, from fans not working to hardware connectors not working well because of dust.
Motherboard failures can be similar to the ones the power supply has,
- Everything powers on but you can't see a live screen
- Computer turns on for just a few seconds then turns off
- Some peripherals work others don't
- System shuts off randomly
If peripherals don't work, don't look if it's connected right, take the peripherals out clean their connectors and reattach them again, see if there's any change, try connecting something else to that same connector and see if it works.
Because the motherboard failure symptoms can be confused with those of the power supply, always keep a spare power supply so you can replace it and see if the problem persists, for example when a computer powers on but fails to give you a live screen, there's a possibility the power supply and motherboard may be damaged so you need to be sure you have the correct piece of hardware.
Prolong your motherboard life
To keep your motherboard running effectively for years, just make sure your computer is clear of dust, dust makes the fan work more and this cause a reduced life span, if the fans fail to produce enough cooling to your computer not just the motherboard, ALL of the hardware components take a beating, so be careful about this.
There are two things that can be done to try to save your motherboard, these things can be done whenever your BIOS fails to register a new component and you are sure it's the motherboard:
- Check the cable connections
- Reset the CMOS
- Update the BIOS
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