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How To Diagnose and Troublshoot CPU Problems

These are some symptoms that may be caused by the CPU. Other components may also cause these same symptoms, check the general diagnosis page for more information.

Whether a complete failure or an intermittent problem, CPUs rarely fail. However, if it does fail, it is most commonly as a result of some sort of electrical anomaly such as a power surge, brown out or spilling a Pepsi on it and causing a short. A faulty CPU, memory or motherboard may be impossible to distinguish. They each can cause some of the same symptoms. The symptoms may repeat frequently or infrequently. The same problem may repeat or you may get a variety of strange behaviors.

In most cases, the only way to know for sure if a CPU is causing a problem is to replace it with one known to be working. Since most people don't have spare CPUs sitting around, this solution is usually a last resort. That is why in this table we try to steer you to other causes that are more easily tested and ruled out before replacing the CPU.


Click on underlined items for further information

We had a power failure and now my PC doesn't work or doesn't work properly

  • The Operating System may have been corrupted.

  • The power supply may have been damaged.

  • The motherboard may have been damaged.

  • The memory modules may have been damaged.

  • The CPU may have been damaged.

Nothing happens when I turn on the PC but I do hear the fan running.

  • The power supply may have failed and needs to be replaced.

  • The power supply may not be properly connected to the motherboard.

  • The memory modules are not properly installed or have failed.

  • The motherboard may have failed.

  • The CPU is not properly installed or has failed.

The PC freezes randomly

  • Many things can cause random freeze ups, software is the most common cause. The CPU is the least likely of all things to cause freeze ups.

The PC randomly shuts itself off

  • The power supply could be overheating, check that the fan is working.

  • The power supply could be failing.

  • See also your BIOS and Control Panel power settings.

  • The CPU may be overheating, check the CPU fan.

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