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HP and Compaq Desktop PCs - Troubleshooting Motherboard Issues

This document is for HP and Compaq desktop computers.
Motherboard problems are rare. When a computer cannot start or freezes during use, the problem is usually related to another hardware component, such as a video card, or memory (RAM).
If you can identify the symptom the computer is showing, check the Troubleshooting specific symptoms. Follow the instructions in the section that matches the symptom.
If you cannot identify the symptom or do not see the symptom listed, go to the General hardware troubleshooting section for hardware and motherboard troubleshooting.

Troubleshooting specific symptoms

If you know the symptom the computer is showing, use the section that matches the problem to try and resolve it.

General hardware troubleshooting

These sections provide information to help you determine if the problem is actually with the motherboard or if a different hardware component is causing the issue. Follow the steps, in order, until the problem is resolved.

Step 1: Using HP diagnostic software to test for hardware problems

If your computer was purchased after 2001, it probably contains a software program called Hardware Diagnostic Tools or PC-Doctor. These programs test the hardware components and provide useful information about any components experiencing problems.
Follow the steps in one of the following sections to use this program to test the motherboard and other hardware components for problems.

Step 2: Resetting or updating the BIOS settings

Incorrect BIOS settings can cause problems with the computer. Follow these steps to reset or update the BIOS settings:

Step 3: Reducing heat inside the computer

Many problems can be resolved by reducing the heat inside the computer, including the following:
  • The system freezes.
  • Windows stops responding.
  • When starting the computer, it often stops at a black screen and does not open into Windows. Windows usually stops responding when it does open.
  • Mouse and keyboard stop responding.
  • Windows 7, Vista, XP - Computer unexpectedly restarts or displays a blue screen.
    Windows 95, 98, and Me - Frequent Fatal Exception, Illegal Operation, or General Protection Fault error messages occur in several software programs.
    These errors are not predictable. If these errors occur only in one software program, the issue is probably related to that software program and is not heat related.
    For more information, see Reducing Heat Inside the Computer to Prevent Overheating. If the steps in that document do not resolve the issue, continue with the next Step.

Step 4: Checking connections of internal components

If internal components, such as RAM, video cards, and drives are not seated or connected properly to the motherboard, the computer does not run smoothly. Follow these steps to check the connections:
  1. Unplug all cables except for the power. Write down each cable location if you do not already know where it connects.
  2. With the power cable removed, press the Power button on the front of the computer for 5 seconds.
  3. Remove the screw(s) that retain the panel or cover from the rear of the computer.
    Location of the screws on the rear of the computer
  4. Slide the side panel off from the rear of the computer.
    Slide off the side panel from the rear of the computer
  5. Gently press down on the outside edges of all cards and memory modules that are inserted into the motherboard to better seat them. Do not press too hard.
  6. Gently press down on the connectors of all cables to seat them.
  7. Replace the panel or cover and screw(s), reconnect the computer cables, and turn on the computer on.
    If the issue is resolved, you are done. If the issue is not resolved, continue with the steps in this document.

Step 5: Removing and replacing hardware components to find which one is causing problems

In most cases, issues are caused by a different hardware component than the motherboard. Use these sections to test the other components that could be causing problems.

Step 6: Using HP Vision Hardware Diagnostics, Hardware Diagnostic Tools or PC-Doctor to test the system again

After performing the troubleshooting steps, use HP Vision Hardware Diagnostics, Hardware Diagnostic Tools or PC-Doctor again to test the system. For help using these programs, see Using HP diagnostic software to test for hardware problems.
If the steps in this document do not help, have the computer serviced. HP recommends using an Authorized Service Provider. To find a service provider, Contact HP for further assistance.






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