12 Signs of Motherboard Failure: How To Know When It Is Failing?

It’s difficult to distinguish the signs of motherboard failure from other computer errors. That’s why this article is your ultimate resource for identifying a faulty motherboard.

12 Signs of Motherboard Failure

We’ve identified 12 signs that alert that the motherboard is about to fail or it has already failed. At the end of the article, you’ll have all the necessary information to diagnose your motherboard.

Table of Signs of Motherboard Failure

Error Signs Description
Computer does not boot When you push the power button, your computer does not turn on.
Computer fails POST test If your computer fails the Power On Self Test (POST), something is wrong.
Abnormal restarts While working, your computer suddenly shuts down and turns on by itself.
Windows Blue Screen of Death Windows BSOD occurs when Windows cannot function properly, or a hardware error occurs.
Computer does not recognize external drives When you plug in your flash drive or external drive, the computer does not show that you’ve plugged it in.
Computer freezes during use In the middle of work, your computer becomes unresponsive, and you have to force a shutdown.
Slow performance Your fast computer starts degrading in performance, and tasks take hours to complete.
Excessive heat Your computer heats up above the normal power limit.
Burning smell When you turn on your computer, you perceive a burning smell emanating from the computer.
Punctured capacitors The capacitors have opened up, and you see part of their content spill out.
Burnt spots on motherboard When you open your system casing, you see burnt brown  spots around integrated circuits.
Diagnostic LED Lights An orange LED light means there is a problem with the motherboard.

The List of Signs of Motherboard Failure

After checking the above table, you now know the common signs that alert about motherboard issues. Now let’s read about each of them to understand what your next steps must be.

– Computer Does Not Boot

At first, you may ask: Will a computer turn on with a bad motherboard ? No, it won’t, and it’s the first sign that your motherboard has failed. That’s because a motherboard contains parts like the CMOS battery and graphics card. Situations you can’t control can cause problems between the board and these components.

For example, when you push the power button, the board should work, and so your computer boots up. But when the board does not know that you’ve pushed the power button, something has gone wrong. As a result, all components remain in a state where they have no power, so the computer won’t boot. When this happens to your computer, it’s a motherboard problem.

– Computer Fails the Power On Self Test (POST)

Your computer depends on functional hardware parts that support its working process. If something prevents these parts from working, it’s the motherboard. That’s because it contains crucial computer parts or their connector ports. This lets these parts work as expected, so when the motherboard fails, they will not work.

That’s where the POST comes in, it’s a diagnostic test carried out by your computer’s firmware. The purpose of the POST is to ensure your computer hardware parts are in good condition. If your computer passes the test, that’s when it will boot. Your computer failing a POST is what happens if motherboard is damaged in laptop, and you’ll hear a beep code.

– Abnormal Restarts

Your Windows PC will restart when an error occurs; after the restart, you can get back to work. This is a normal restart, but what’s not normal is when your PC restarts itself with no warning. As a result, you need to investigate the cause of the restart for you to understand what’s going on. First, this can be a software-related issue, so you can scan your system using an Antivirus.

Second, check for external devices connected to your system; they might be the culprit. Yet, if either does not prevent the abnormal restart, your motherboard is at fault. Here is why, during your normal PC operation, everything works in harmony. From the hard drive, RAM, and other components needed for a functional computer.

Abnormal Restarts

These components are either on the motherboard itself, or are connected to it. This makes the motherboard a point of failure, and when it fails or it starts to fail, it’ll affect your computer. As a result, you’ll notice unwanted occurrences, like an abnormal restart. That’s because your Operating System will have problems using the motherboard components.

As a result, it’ll restart in anticipation that it’s a temporary hardware issue. But, it’s the motherboard itself, so it gets stuck in the restart loop.

– Windows BSOD

Windows will show a BSOD when an error occurs, it’ll contain information about the error. The BSOD will contain a diagnostic message and an error code. You can open the internet and search for the error code; if you find out it’s a software issue, you can fix it. But, if it turns out to be a hardware problem, it’s a sign of a failing motherboard.

The motherboard could have reached its end of life; as a result, it can’t support system components. Some examples include the CPU and the RAM; if it’s the RAM, Windows will not work because it needs it. Without a certain amount of RAM, Windows cannot function well, so it shows the BSOD.

– Computer Does Not Recognize External Drives

As a computer user, you’ll have external drives that you plug into your system USB Ports. These drives could be a USB drive or Solid State Drive (SSD) that you will use on your system. When you plug these drives into your system, your computer will recognize and mount them. But, if it does not, ensure the drive is in good condition, or plug it into another system.

If it works, and it doesn’t on your PC, it’s a sign of a bad motherboard, and before you know it, the PC will stop working. That’s because the motherboard contains the USB ports, and when the board starts to fail, so does the USB. As a result, your PC will not recognize external drives, even if they are not USB drives. For example, the microSD card reader, headphone jack, and HDMI port.

– Computer Freezes During Use

Two important components sit on the motherboard that your computer cannot do without. These are the Random Access Memory (RAM) and Central Processing Unit (CPU). While you work on your computer, what you are doing happens in the RAM, and it’s processed by the CPU. If the RAM is not enough, or your Operating System can’t find it, your computer will freeze.

Computer Freezes During Use

Now, the main question is, what can cause this? First, RAM occupies slots on the motherboard. Depending on your computer model, you might plug or clip the RAM to the motherboard. When the motherboard starts to fail, it’ll have trouble identifying the RAM.

If this happens while you are working, everything freezes because there is no memory. That’s the memory that your Operating System needs while you work on your computer. The moment it no longer has access to that memory, everything comes to a halt. The computer will no longer respond, and yet again, this is a sign of a dying motherboard.

– Slow Performance

Modern computers use the latest generation of Intel processors like Core i7 or Core i9. These processors deliver top-notch computing performance, and everything works very fast. From web browsing to file transfers and the computer boot up process, everything. Then, if, for some reason, your computer starts to slow down, there is a problem.

It can be slower boot-ups or file transfer reduced to kilobytes per second (kb/s). All this will affect your workflow, and it all points to your motherboard. That’s because the motherboard and its components ensure everything works smoothly. When it starts to fail, the components can no longer work at their best, so you’ll notice a slow down in performance.

– Excessive Heat

By default, your computer heats up under workloads, but it’ll do this under its power limits. This ensures it’ll keep on working without interruptions, and at some point, it’ll cool down. That will happen either through the computer’s cooling fan, or you stop working. But, If your computer generates excessive heat under light workloads, something is wrong.

First, excessive heat is a sign that your motherboard is in really bad shape. When a motherboard starts to fail, it will generate heat above the normal threshold. At one point, this heat will affect other system components, causing them to fail as well.

– Burning Smell

A burning odor is part of motherboard overheating symptoms. This is an obvious sign that your motherboard is going bad, and it’s best you shut down your computer. This will help to prevent any damage to other system data such as the disk drive. The main cause of the burning smell is excessive heat and power surges.

Burning Smell

That’s because there is a limit to the amount of power supply for your motherboard. This depends on whether it’s an x470 or x570 motherboard. For an x470 motherboard, it’s 4.8 Watts, and for x570, it’s 11 Watts. A motherboard damage occurs when it receives more than its specified Watts.

– Punctured Capacitors

If you notice punctured capacitors, it’s a sign that your motherboard could fail at any time. The capacitors got punctured as a result of voltage or current overload. This happens if your computer has no surge protector that’ll protect it from a high current. So when a high current comes in from a power supply unit, it goes to your motherboard, resulting in damages.

– Burnt Spot On Motherboard

Among the signs of a shorted motherboard are burnt spots on the motherboard. You can see these burnt spots as a result of physical damage from a short circuit.

Burnt Spot On Motherboard

This can happen when you turn on your PC, and it can result in a dead motherboard. As a result, your computer will not boot up, and you’ll need to change the motherboard.

– Diagnostic LED Light

Motherboard diagnostic LED light is how to know if CPU or motherboard is broken. These LED lights vary depending on the motherboard, and they can mean many things. A LED light can show if there is a problem with the CPU or RAM. But if you see the orange color, it means your motherboard is not good.


When your motherboard does not work, it’s not a good thing, but it helps if you know how to fix faulty motherboards.

We’ll leave you with the following important points:

  • When your computer fails to boot, it’s a sign your motherboard has failed.
  • Short circuits can damage your motherboard.
  • An abnormal restart indicates a problem with the motherboard.
  • Orange LED light means there is a problem with the motherboard.
  • If your computer fails the Power On Self Test, it could be your motherboard.

Now that you know why your motherboard fails to work, you can troubleshoot it or take it to a technician.

Leave a Comment