Motherboard Problems

Motherboard Failure is a Rare Event

Gigabyte MotherboardOutright motherboard failure is fairly rare in a new system, and extremely rare in a system that is already up and running.

Most problems with motherboards result from a bad initial set up or a failure of one or more of the components that are connected to it. For example, getting a system delivered through the post that has a loose component or a disconnected cable is quite common.

There are a surprisingly large number of possible causes for what may appear to be a motherboard failure.

When trying to track down a possible motherboard problem it's best to avoid the very difficult diagnostic steps, especially replacing the motherboard, until you have exhausted all the other possibilities that can appear, at first, to be motherboard problems.

Before you carry out any work on your computer make sure you protect your PC's delicate circuits from static electric charges on your body by properly grounding yourself. If you don't have a grounding strap at least ground your body by touching the metal part on the outside of your PC's case before touching the inside of your PC or any component, including the motherboard.

First of all, if you have just recently installed this motherboard, or performed upgrades or additions to the PC of any sort, or you have just built your own PC, you should read this section, which contains things for you to check, which may cause problems after you have been working on your computer.

1. If the PC isn't booting at all, make sure you have at least the minimum hardware in the machine to make it work i.e. a processor, a full bank of memory, a video card (or video built into the Motherboard) and a hard drive. Make sure that all of these components are inserted correctly into the motherboard, especially the memory modules. Also connect a monitor so you can see any on screen messages.

2. Try removing all the optional devices from the motherboard, including expansion cards, external peripherals, etc. and see if the problem is resolved.

3. Double-check all the motherboard jumper settings, carefully. Make sure they are all correct. Happily, most modern boards do not have jumper settings, which makes things a bit easier.

4. If you can, check the processor type, bus speed, clock multiplier and voltage jumpers.

5. Reset all BIOS settings to default. These conservative settings make sure an overly aggressive BIOS setting isn't causing the problem. Set all cache, memory and hard disk timing as slow as possible. Turn off BIOS shadowing and see if the problem goes away.

6. Double-check all the connections to the motherboard.

7. Check the inside of the PC's case to see if any components seem to be overheating. Check that all the fans are working.

8. Inspect the motherboard physically. Check to make sure the board itself isn't cracked. Make sure there are no broken pins or components on the board. If there are, you will have problems with any component that uses that connection. Check for any components that may be loose in their sockets, and push them gently but firmly back into the socket.

Other Problems

Problems with memory modules, power supplies, video and even BIOS settings can produce symptoms that seem to be motherboard problems. This next section looks at some of these areas.

Partially inserted memory modules can cause all sorts of strange behaviour that might appear to be motherboard related. So carefully check that they are properly seated.

Also try removing and replacing your memory module to see if this solves the problem. With more than one memory module try removing them all and then try each one in turn, as one may have failed.

If fitted, you should also try to check the AGP or PCI video card by replacing it with another one, preferably a simple straight VGA card that is known to work.

If the power supply is older, or you have added many new drives to a system with a weaker power supply (especially one that is less than 200W) then you may have a power supply problem. You may want to try replacing it with a suitable upgrade.

You could also have a BIOS bug or other problem. Check your motherboards manufacturer's technical support resources for any known problems with your particular motherboard.

Some newer viruses, when activated, overwrite part of the BIOS code in systems that employ a flash BIOS. If the BIOS is corrupted, the system won't boot. Some newer PC's come with a boot block feature that enables them to recover from a corrupted BIOS situation. If the BIOS code is damaged, a tiny built-in program will look on the floppy drive (which usually comes with the purchase of a motherboard and from some PC manufacturers) for the appropriate files to reload the BIOS. You should contact the motherboard (not BIOS) manufacturer for further instructions.

If your PC does not have a boot block feature you can usually purchase a replacement BIOS chip from the motherboard (not BIOS) manufacturer. Physically replacing the chip with another that has the right code will solve the BIOS problem.

Finally...

If all else fails try swapping the motherboard with another one and see if the problem resolves itself. If it does then the original motherboard was probably faulty (If this is a new motherboard, you may want to consider returning it for an exchange rather than buying a new onebuy a motherboard).

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