How to Tell if a Processor Is Bad

by Tricia Goss ; Updated September 28, 2017

Items you will need

  • Second processor

  • Driver downloads

  • Anti-static wristband

  • Fan

  • Motherboard

Your computer's processor, sometimes referred to as the "CPU," is the machine inside your terminal that executes computer programs. Because of its vital purpose, if your processor fails you will have major computer problems. While processors do not usually fail outright, there can be other problems that cause them to stop working. If you believe there is something wrong with your computer's processor, do some troubleshooting before you spend money on a replacement or expensive technician.

Swap the processor. Remove the processor that seems to be problematic and install a spare or remove one from a working machine, if you have one. If it still doesn't work, you have other problems. If your machine works with the good processor, take it out and put your original one back in. If it still does not work, you will need to replace the processor.

Attempt to turn on the computer. If it does not power up at all, check the processor fan and see if it turns. A nonworking fan will cause the processor to overheat.

Turn your computer on and let it run for a while. Turn it off and open the case. Following the manufacturer's instructions, use an anti-static wristband to ground yourself. These wristbands are available at most office supply and electronic retailers. Carefully touch the processor. If it is too hot to touch for more than a few seconds, your processor is overheating.

Try installing or running an application. If they will not install or run, update your computer's drivers. Contact the system's manufacturer for current driver downloads.

Replace the motherboard, if you are comfortable doing so. Check the "Resource" section of this article for a detailed instructional video. Try replacing it with a spare or one from a working machine if you have one, or purchase a new motherboard. Your current motherboard may be bad or incompatible with the processor.

Tip

  • Check cables, your power supply and other peripherals to make sure it is not a much simpler fix.

Tip

  • Use extreme caution when performing any work on a computer that is still connected to a power supply. You risk electric shock and severe injury or death.

About the Author

Tricia Goss' credits include Fitness Plus, Good News Tucson and Layover Magazine. She is certified in Microsoft application and served as the newsletter editor for OfficeUsers.org. She has also contributed to The Dollar Stretcher, Life Tips and Childcare Magazine.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera http://www.sxc.hu/profile/grina001