PC Troubleshooting - Symptoms of a Bad CPU
By Stephen Bucaro
It's very difficult to determine if a failure is caused by the CPU because many other
components can cause the same symptom when they fail.
1. System fails to boot
2. System re-boots intermittently
3. General Protection Fault
4. Illegal Operation
5. Stop Error, or BSoD (Blue Screen OfDeath)
Actually, CPUs rarely fail, and about the only way to determine if the CPU is causing
the failure is to swap it out with a known working CPU of the same type and speed. Since
this is difficult, the best bet is to first rule out every other possibility.
Before suspecting the CPU, rule out all the possibilities listed below.
1. The Operating System
2. A peripheral port device
3. A bad memory module
4. The hard disk drive
5. The power supply
6. The motherboard
The Operating System
If your computer is not totally crashed, there are various methods you van use to restore the
operating system. The most decisive is to restore the system back to factory settings. This might be
considered the "nuclear" option because all the applications that you installed and all the documents
that you created will be lost. But this would eliminate the operating system as a possible cause of the problem.
For example, HP places a factory image on the system partition and provides a "System Recovery Manager"
utility to restore that image. To use this method; while Windows is starting, repeatedly press the
[F11] button, and when the HP Recovery Manager screen appears, select "System Recovery".
All major computer manufacturers provide a similar method to restore your operating system back to
the way it was when you first took it out of the box. After that, the first application you'll want
to install is an antivirus program.
A Peripheral Port Device
You can start by unplugging all peripheral devices. See if the system operates correctly with all
peripheral devices unplugged. If so, reconnect one peripheral device and see if the system still operates
correctly. Reconnect one peripheral device at a time until the problem reappears. Unplugging and
reconnecting peripheral devices is easy, but unfortunately there’s more to it. Each peripheral device
has an associated device driver.
A device driver is a piece of software that interfaces a hardware device to the operating system.
It's possible for a device driver to get corrupted or hacked. If your computer is not totally crashed,
you can use Device Manager to Update, Disable, or Uninstall a device driver to eliminate it as a
source of the problem.
Right-click on the Windows button and in the menu that appears, select Control Panel. In Control Panel
select the Systems icon, and in the left panel of the System page that appears, select Device Manager.
In the Device Manager window that appears, select a type of device that might possibly cause the problem,
and click on the greater-than icon to expand the branch and see a list of specific devices.
If you right-click on a specific device, a menu will appear where you can select to Update, Disable,
or Uninstall a device driver. You can also select Properties, and in the Properties dialog box that
appears, click on the Events tab to see if any error events occurred. Using this method you might be
able to fix a device driver that is causing the problem, but there are many device drivers on any
system, so replacing them one at a time would be very time consuming.
A Bad Memory Module
A defective RAM stick can cause really weird problems. If your mother board has multiple RAM slots,
you can remove the RAM from the higher number slots and see if that solves the problem. A system can
generally run without a full bank of memory. If not, remove the RAM from the lower number slots and
replace it with the RAM that you removed from the higher number slots. You can also purchase new RAM
that is the type your system requires.