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Processor Troubleshooting Techniques

Processors are normally very reliable. Most PC problems will be with other devices, but if you suspect the processor, there are some steps you can take to troubleshoot it. The easiest thing to do is to replace the microprocessor with a known good spare. If the problem goes away, the original processor is defective. If the problem persists, the problem is likely elsewhere.

Table 3.44 provides a general troubleshooting checklist for processor-related PC problems.

Table 3.44 Troubleshooting Processor-Related Problems

Problem Identification

Possible Cause


System is dead, no cursor, no beeps, no fan

Power cord failure

Plug in or replace power cord. Power cords can fail even though they look fine.


Power supply Failure

Replace the power supply. Use a known-good spare for testing.


Motherboard failure

Replace motherboard. Use a known good spare for testing.


Memory failure

Remove all memory except 1 bank and retest. If the system still won't boot replace bank 1.

System is dead, no beeps, or locks up before POST begins

All components either not installed or incorrectly installed

Check all peripherals, especially memory and graphics adapter. Reseat all boards and socketed components.

System beeps on startup, fan is running, no cursor on screen.

Improperly Seated or Failing Graphics Adapter

Reseat or replace graphics adapter. Use known-good spare for testing.

Locks up during or shortly after POST

Poor Heat Dissipation

Check CPU heat sink/fan; replace if necessary, use one with higher capacity.


Improper voltage settings

Set motherboard for proper core processor voltage.


Wrong motherboard bus speed

Set motherboard for proper speed.


Wrong CPU clock multiplier

Jumper motherboard for proper clock multiplier.

Improper CPU identification during POST


Update BIOS from manufacturer.


Board is not configured properly

Check manual and jumper board accordingly to proper bus and multiplier settings.

Operating system will not boot

Poor heat dissipation

Check CPU fan; replace if necessary, may need higher capacity heat sink.


Improper voltage settings

Jumper motherboard for proper core voltage.


Wrong motherboard bus speed

Jumper motherboard for proper speed.


Wrong CPU clock multiplier

Jumper motherboard for proper clock multiplier.


Applications will not install or run

Improper drivers or incompatible hardware; update drivers and check for compatibility issues.

System appears to work, but no video is displayed

Monitor turned off or failed

Check monitor and power to monitor. Replace with known-good spare for testing.

If during the POST the processor is not identified correctly, your motherboard settings might be incorrect or your BIOS might need to be updated. Check that the motherboard is jumpered or configured correctly for the processor that you have, and make sure that you have the latest BIOS for your motherboard.

If the system seems to run erratically after it warms up, try setting the processor to a lower speed setting. If the problem goes away, the processor might be defective or overclocked.

Many hardware problems are really software problems in disguise. Make sure you have the latest BIOS for your motherboard, as well as the latest drivers for all your peripherals. Also it helps to use the latest version of your given operating system since there will normally be fewer problems.

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