Testing my computer motherboard and CPU for failures?

Computer CPUA bad computer motherboard or CPU can cause an assortment of different issues on your computer. Below are just a few of the possible issues you may encounter. It is important to remember that the issues below can also be caused by more than just a bad motherboard and CPU.

  1. Computer does not boot, instead you get a beep code. See the POST and beep code page for additional information about beep codes.
  2. Random computer crashes causing General Protection Fault error messages, Illegal Operations, Fatal Exceptions, etc.
  3. Computer randomly reboots.

There are different ways to test your computer's motherboard and CPU to determine if it's bad or has flaws that are causing issues with your computer. Below is a listing of these recommendations.

Visual hardware check

The first thing to do is a visual check of the motherboard. A common cause of motherboard issues or failure is bulged or blown capacitors. Check the top of each capacitor to see if it is bulging, even slightly, or if the capacitor is leaking, which is an indication the capacitor is blown. If you find any bulging or blown capacitors, that is very likely the cause of any motherboard issues in your computer.

For the CPU, a visual check will require you to remove the CPU from the computer. Once the CPU is removed, check for bent pins on the side that is inserted into the motherboard. If you find a bent pin, that is likely to be the cause of issues with the CPU and computer.

It may be possible to replace a bulging or blown capacitor, but it will require precision soldering to install a new capacitor. Bent pins on a CPU can be bent back into place, but very carefully. It is easy to accidentally break off a pin when trying to bend it back into place and if that happens, the CPU will definitely have to be replaced.

If a visual check shows there are no obvious visible issues, you should use a software utility or hardware tools to diagnose the problem.

Software and Hardware solutions

Below are a couple software programs designed to test your computer's motherboard and CPU. However, with the complexity and wide variety of computer motherboards and CPUs, these programs may not detect every possible failure.

  • Hot CPU Tester - Great tool for testing a computers motherboard and CPU. Easy to run and use to look for failures with your computer. Hot CPU Tester also includes a burn-in feature for new computers or computers with a new motherboard or CPU.
  • Intel Processor Diagnostic Tool - If you have an Intel processor the Intel Processor Diagnostic Tool is a great free utility for testing variety of Intel processors.

There are also some excellent hardware tools for testing and diagnosing motherboards and CPUs. Below are a couple of these tools.

  • PC-doctor - A fantastic, but not cheap, solution often used for service centers and technicians to diagnose computer hardware issues including motherboard issues.
  • Ultra-X - Another great collection of products that can help test computer hardware, including the motherboard.

Replace the motherboard and CPU

If you tried using one of the above software programs or hardware tools to test the motherboard or CPU and it is determined that one or both are bad, then replace them. There is typically no way, or at least no easy or cheap way, to fix either piece of hardware.

If you have not tried a software or hardware tool to analyze the motherboard or CPU, you may want to take your computer to a computer repair shop and have them diagnose the problem. Be aware that they may also recommend replacing the motherboard or CPU if they find either or both to be bad.