How to Check Your Motherboard Health on Windows

We’ve already done the rounds in telling you how to check the RAM health and hard drive health of your PC, so next up on our health-check tour is that great big slab of chips holding it all together. The performance of your motherboard is something you might not notice in the day-to-day use of your PC. In fact, you might be inclined to blame a bad motherboard on something else in your PC entirely because an iffy motherboard can have an effect on your GPU, CPU, USB ports, the works.

There really is no hard-and-fast, all-encompassing way to check your motherboard health, but here’s a list of things controlled by your motherboard to keep an eye on.

As I mentioned before, this is a tough one to pin down. If your GPU stops working or you’re getting strange visual anomalies on the screen (particularly during gaming if you use a GPU), it may be a faulty PCI-E slot or the GPU itself. First, you should update your GPU drivers and reinstall them as necessary to make sure it’s not just a software problem with the graphics card.

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That failing, it’s worth inserting your GPU into another slot to see if the same problem reoccurs. If it doesn’t, then you know that the slot you removed it from is probably faulty. You could upgrade your motherboard BIOS to see if it gets rid of the problem, but if you,  you may need to look into a replacement.

Likewise, accessories like keyboards and mice not working should always be tested in different ports before you decide to bin them. Test the devices in different ports to see if they work normally. If they do, then you know it’s an issue with your USB ports. Don’t blame your motherboard just yet, though; go to Device Manager on your PC, scroll down to “Universal Serial Bus controllers,” then see if there are exclamation marks next to any of the ports. If so, right-click it, then click “Update Driver.”

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Even if there isn’t an exclamation mark, you can try the Update Drivers option just to make sure. Or you can right-click each of the USB port drivers one by one, then click “Scan for Hardware Changes.” Finally, you could try uninstalling each of the USB drivers one by one, then reboot your PC which will force it to reinstall (hopefully in full working order).

If none of this works, then the problem probably lies with your motherboard hardware.

Next, if your PC is beeping as you turn it on, slows down over time during a single session or keeps crashing, then you may have a problem with your RAM. Again though, it might not be specifically the RAM but the RAM slots that are the problem. To test this, you’ll need to open your PC, take out a stick of RAM, then switch the PC back on to see if it works normally.

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Keep doing this until your PC malfunctions again. When it does, try putting the RAM stick you took out in place of another RAM stick (leaving its original slot empty). If the PC malfunctions again, then you know it’s the RAM stick that’s the problem. If the PC works fine, then you know it’s the RAM slot and your Mobo’s faulty.

If your video outputs aren’t working at all when plugged into your motherboard, then the first thing to remember is that none of these will work if you have a GPU inside your PC. This is because by default your PC automatically switches off the motherboard ports when there are GPU ones available. (You can change this setting in the BIOS.)

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If you don’t have a GPU plugged in and your motherboard video ports were working before, then you should first try using different cables, making sure they fit snugly, and using a different monitor if possible. If the problem persists, go to Device Manager, then under Monitors right-click “Generic PnP Monitor” and try each of the options – “Scan for hardware changes,” “Update driver” and “Uninstall device” – one by one. If you do uninstall your monitor, reboot your PC to let it reinstall, then see if it works.

If none of this works, then you’re looking at a faulty motherboard, and it’s time to start looking for that warranty information.

Motherboards are a complex beast, and it will take quite a bit of hands-on fiddling and opening-up of your PC to really isolate whether issues are coming from the board or from other components. If you do open up your PC, make extra sure to check that all cables, cards, etc., are plugged in properly and tightly because in 80% of my experiences, the problem comes down to a loose connection.

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