PC won't start up it's not a broken motherboard.

A few weeks ago, I turned on my Windows desktop PC and it would not turn on at all. Symptoms and SEO:

  • screens would not receive signal
  • keyboard received no power
  • unable to get into BIOS
  • fans would spin
  • computer tower looked like it is running
  • could not get any sort of output at all

What was even more peculiar about this is that the same problem occured for my other Intel NUC as well on the exact same day. My first thought was that I had infected my home PCs with a virus I carried in via a USB drive used at work. (This turned out not to be the case, but serves as a friendly reminder to run your virus program at least monthly… because it turned out i had 2 trojans and a bitcoin miner on my laptop.)

The other theory I had was that a Windows update caused this. (could still be a reason)

Here’s what I did:

  • read all of the articles on the first page of google.
  • turned it off and on
  • unplugged power for some time, then turned it back on
  • cleared the motherboard’s CMOS (This will reset your motherboard back to factory settings I think)

None of this worked and eventually I took the machine to PLE hoping they could do some magic. They offer a free on the spot assessment, which I did not know about. The technician’s diagnosis was a faulty motherboard. He tried a different power supply, swapped and reseated memory, tried a different monitor and graphics card, checked connections. He attached a little internal speaker to the motherboard and explained that the fact the motherboard is not producing a sound indicates a damaged/dead motherboard. His suggestion was to buy a new motherboard.

I almost bought it as well (his advice—not the motherboard).

After doing some last minute, desperate googling I followed a trail of hyperlinks before reading an inconspicuous comment on a blog post. The poster suggested to remove your motherboard’s clock battery, leave it out for 5 minutes, then plug it back in and turn on the machine.

I could not believe my luck because that same approach solved the issue on both of my desktop machines!!! It saved me thousands of dollars! This should honestly be something the PLE technician should have tried as it is such a simple troubleshooting approach.