Did you know that you can test your motherboard without a CPU? Yes, that’s correct, if you’re purchasing a motherboard and you want to check if it’s working, or if you’ve found an old motherboard and you want to see if it’s alive, then you don’t need to install a CPU to test it.

Now you may be wondering, how can I do that? Well, worry not, because from unboxing your motherboard to learning what the beeps mean, this guide will walk you through every step of testing your motherboard without a CPU.

Let’s get started! 

Key Takeaways

To test a motherboard without a CPU:

  • Safely place your motherboard on a non-conductive surface.
  • Plug in the 24-pin motherboard connector and the 8-pin CPU connector.
  • Connect the Power Supply Unit to the wall outlet.
  • Turn on the motherboard by manually jump-starting it or by using the case’s Power Switch cable.
  • If you see any blinking LED lights or listen to any beep sounds, then your motherboard is working.

How To Test Motherboard Without CPU

Step 1: Safely Place Your Motherboard

Z690 Motherboard
Here is a Z690 Motherboard – Image captured by Tech4Gamers.

Before we begin with the testing, you need to make sure your motherboard is placed safely. For instance, if it is inside a case, then you don’t need to worry about it. However, if you have bought a brand new motherboard, then you will be testing it outside the case, and for that, you will have to place it safely.

First, unbox your motherboard, and take out the foam or the soft material that it was protected with inside the box. Next, place your motherboard on that material. Alternatively, you can also place your motherboard on its box, on anti-static foam, or on any cardboard material.

All you have to do is make sure that the motherboard is NOT placed on any bare metallic or conductive surface. That’s because your motherboard has lots of solder points at the bottom, and these points must not touch any metallic/conductive surface when it is turned on. This is an extremely important safety measure because it can harm your motherboard and even kill it.

Optional Step: Plug In Additional Components

This step is optional and not at all necessary. However, if you’ve other PC components like RAM, GPU, HDD, and SSD lying around, then you can also plug them in before installing the CPU to test the motherboard.

These components will have zero effect on the motherboard testing, as they are completely useless without the CPU. However, if you plan to build a PC, and you don’t have a CPU just yet, then you can plug the other components in to save some time.

Step 2: Plug In The Power Connectors

Gigabyte Ultra Durable Z370 HD3
24-pin connector

Once you have safely placed your motherboard, you need to plug in the power connectors. If you look at your power supply unit, you’re most likely to find an 8-pin connector that powers your CPU and a huge 24-pin connector for your motherboard. There may also be a 4-pin connector but that’s for old CPUs so you can ignore that.

Next, before you continue, keep in mind that motherboards and electrical components in general are quite fragile. So, you’ll have to use a gentle hand to not break anything. 

Carefully plug in both the 24-pin and the 8-pin connectors.

Step 3: Power Up The PSU

PSU connected to wall outlet
Plug PSU to wall socket

After connecting your motherboard with the PSU, you need to plug the PSU into the wall socket to power it up. Just like with the motherboard, make sure the PSU is also NOT placed on a bare metallic or conductive surface. You can use an anti-static foam or a cardboard box to place your PSU on.

Remember to ground yourself and wear non-conductive gloves along with slippers when dealing with electrical components. 

Step 4: Turn On The Motherboard

An image in the guide of Tech4gamers
Power Switch connector

Once everything is connected and plugged in, it’s time to finally turn on the motherboard to check if it’s working. First, you need to look for the Power Switch Pins. They are usually located on the motherboard’s Front Panel Header. However, if you cannot find them, then go through your motherboard’s manual for instructions.

Next up, you need to connect the Power Switch cable that is coming from your case to these pins. The cable will look similar to the one highlighted in the image. Once the cable is connected, simply press the power button on the case to turn on the motherboard.

Now you may be wondering, this is only possible if the motherboard is inside a casing. So, what if I’ve placed the motherboard on a cardboard box as discussed earlier? Well for that, you can bring a case near your motherboard to use its Power Switch cable, or you can jump-start the motherboard manually.

The latter option is a bit tricky, and you need to proceed carefully. To jump-start, the motherboard manually, take a flat-head screwdriver, the smaller the better, and simply touch the two Power Switch Pins with it.

This way, you won’t need a casing to turn on your motherboard. However, make sure to not touch any other pins in the process as it can short them.

Step 5: Check If Motherboard Is Working Or Not

Finally, once the motherboard is turned on, you will see if it’s working or not by beeping sounds or LED lights. Look around for blinking lights, and listen for any beep sounds. If you notice any signs of life, it means your motherboard is working.

Usually, the blinking pattern of the LEDs and the duration and frequency of beep sounds indicate what’s wrong with the computer like memory or CPU error. But since you have not plugged in anything, you’re bound to have errors. So, ignore them as they’ll be fixed when you continue to build your PC.

However, what if your motherboard does not have any internal beep speaker or LED lights? Well, even though it is highly unlikely to happen, there is still a workaround for such a scenario.

coolermaster fan
LED fans working

First, power off the motherboard to prevent any damage. After that, connect a fan to the 3-pin fan header usually labeled SYS_FAN1 on the motherboard.

Once the fan is plugged in, turn on the motherboard again, and if it’s working, then the fan will start spinning. Consequently, if your motherboard has internal beep speakers or LED lights, and it shows no indication when turned on, then it means that the motherboard is likely dead.

To Sum Up

You can easily test your motherboard with a CPU. All you’ve to do is place the motherboard on a non-conductive surface, plug in the power connectors, connect the power supply unit to an outlet, and finally turn on the motherboard either by manually jump-starting it or by using the case Power Switch cable.

From here, if you hear any beeps or see any LED lights, then it means your motherboard is working. 


How do I check if my motherboard has LED lights or internal beep speakers?

You can go through your motherboard’s manual to check if it has LED lights and/or internal beep speakers. Alternatively, you can look for them on the motherboard as the LED lights are easy to spot, and the beep speaker will look like a black cylinder.

Is there any other way to test a motherboard without a CPU?

Yes, you can also use a multimeter to test your motherboard without a CPU.

How to check which motherboard I have?

To check your motherboard model, press the Windows + R key and type “msinfo32“. In the System Information window, your motherboard info will be shown next to BaseBoard Manufacturer, BaseBoard Product, and BaseBoard Version. You can also check your motherboard model from its box or its manual.

What do I do when my computer beeps twice instead of turning on?

2 beeps mean there is something wrong with the motherboard. In that case, check if your motherboard is under warranty and replace it. Otherwise, you can also send it for repairs.

Also Read: How Long Does it Take to Build A PC?

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Ali Rashid Khan is an avid gamer, hardware enthusiast, photographer, and devoted litterateur with a period of experience spanning more than 14 years. Sporting a specialization with regards to the latest tech in flagship phones, gaming laptops, and top-of-the-line PCs, Ali is known for consistently presenting the most detailed objective perspective on all types of gaming products, ranging from the Best Motherboards, CPU Coolers, RAM kits, GPUs, and PSUs amongst numerous other peripherals. When he’s not busy writing, you’ll find Ali meddling with mechanical keyboards, indulging in vehicular racing, or professionally competing worldwide with fellow mind-sport athletes in Scrabble at an international level. Currently speaking, Ali has completed his A-Level GCEs with plans to go into Business Studies, or who knows, perhaps a full-time dedicated technological journalist.