Whenever you use the same computer day in and day out, you quickly get used to its habits and quirks. However, how can you tell when a simple quirk is actually a sign of a larger problem? Here are a few ways to see if a faulty motherboard is the culprit.
What Exactly Is the Motherboard?
The term motherboard refers to your computer’s main circuit board, which controls and connects most of the systems and components. In addition to memory, the motherboard supports hard drives as well as attachable video, sound, and network cards.
Symptom #1: Overheating and Erratic Behavior
Has your computer been locking up or rebooting on its own? It may be shutting down momentarily to protect itself from overheating. Your power LED may not turn back on after a reboot, even if your computer is still operating. This could be a sign that the motherboard is not transmitting information as well as it should.
Be sure your computer is kept in a controlled environment, as any elevated temperatures can cause problems. If the system is otherwise functioning but still having problems, it could also be due to the power supply unit (PCU) or other components. Check a couple more signs to help narrow down the source of the problem.
Symptom #2: Beeping
If you have noticed some erratic behavior but are not convinced that the motherboard is the problem, listen for a beep the next time you turn on your computer. Many motherboards will send out distress beeps to indicate a problem, and yours may even have an indicator for Power On Self Test (POST) codes. These error codes may be able to help identify the problem: for example, if the motherboard does not recognize the video card or RAM. Unfortunately, this may not be the most reliable method as some code translations may not be accurate. If your computer beeps as you turn it on, consider physically taking a look at the circuit board. Keep in mind that laptop motherboards are typically more difficult to access as well as much more expensive to replace than desktops due to how integrated they are.
Symptom #3: Misshapen Capacitors
If you decided to peek at the motherboard of your PC yourself, closely examine the numerous cylinder-shaped electrical components, known as capacitors. If these appear to be swollen or bulging, there is good news: you have managed to isolate and identify the problem! Unfortunately, this means that your motherboard is likely failing and may have to be replaced. Many computer crashes and screen distortions can be linked to aging and ailing capacitors, and these are also the main reason that motherboards fail.
If your capacitors still seem shapely, there are a few other things you can inspect. Check the fit of the motherboard within its case (to make sure it is reading cards correctly), and look for broken or loose clips, which may enable cards to move around or overheat.
What’s the Prescription?
You may want help to ensure that the motherboard is causing the problems, not the power supply or any added components such as the RAM. If you think the motherboard may be the culprit, contact a computer repair specialist for assistance. If the circuit board does need to be replaced, consider doing so as soon as possible to help lessen the risk of damage to other parts within the system.