Laptop not turning on? Here’s how to diagnose your laptop for issues

Are you pushing every button on your laptop and it’s giving no sign of life?

It seems to be completely dead. You might be thinking that the battery is dead or it’s something to do with the power supply.

Let’s not jump to conclusions yet. Trying to fix a computer issue without thoroughly diagnosing the problem could waste you unnecessary money and labour.

Not to worry, we can show you how!

To find the right solution to your issue, we must accurately identify your specific startup issue.

When we say that a laptop is not turning on at all, it means that it appears to be completely dead. There is no response when you press the power button to turn it on, even when it is plugged in.

Other startup issues might include situations when the laptop turns on, but stays on a black screen.

Or it may turn on, but never boots to Windows or MacOS. It might even shut down after a few seconds while it is booting up.

If your laptop does not turn on all, you’re at the right place. Check out our other guides which can help you with

How to find out why your laptop is not turning on

Your laptop relies on its different components to work. Every part is necessary for the laptop to work properly, run software, play videos, and more. So once a part starts to fail, it may become quite noticeable when you use the laptop.

When your laptop won’t turn on, it means that a part essential for startup is out of service. The whole process will then be disrupted and the laptop won’t respond.

These essential components include the hard drive, motherboard, video card, and RAM.

A faulty power adaptor may also be the cause of a dead laptop.

To find out why your laptop is not turning on, you may try testing each of these components and repair faulty parts as needed.

When you can’t turn on your laptop at all, there are less options for diagnostic tests. You’ll have to make use of methods that involve taking out the part to test it.

If you do manage to turn on the laptop, you can run more tests on your system with pre-boot diagnostics and analysis software to get more conclusive results.

Hard drive failure

Hard drive repair

The hard drive is used as the startup disk for your laptop. Along with your files, it contains the boot files and operating system used to start your computer.

Whether your drive is a hard disk drive (HDD), or a solid-state drive (SSD flash storage), it can accumulate bad sectors and fail eventually. These bad sectors cause permanent damage which can corrupt files or even completely remove them.

When the boot files or OS is corrupted, your laptop will have trouble starting up. Essential files are missing or inaccessible, so the laptop might not even turn on. Other hard drive issues could include the blue screen of death (BSOD), SMART failure, or a Mac startup question mark folder screen.

How to fix a failing hard drive

The solution to a faulty hard drive is to first test it out to confirm the problem. Now as your laptop is not turning on, we’ll have to take the entire drive out and test it on a different device, preferably a desktop computer. Connect the drive via a SATA to USB enclosure and use hard drive analysis software like WD Data Lifeguard to diagnose problems.

If your laptop does manage to turn on to the logo splash screen, you may also use pre-boot diagnostics to test your system. At the logo splash screen, hold down a specific key to enter boot diagnostics. There you can test not only your hard drive, but components like the battery and RAM too.

After you confirm a hard drive failure, the next step is to replace the hard drive. While a quick fix with software can get your laptop on again, this is only an emergency fix that might only get you one more year on the drive. Replacing or upgrading your drive can get you a significant and long-lasting fix for your laptop. Learn more replacing a Dell, HP, or Apple Mac hard drive.

Motherboard, video card, and RAM failures


The motherboard (or logic board), video card, and RAM are all components essential to the laptop’s startup process as well as normal functioning.

We’ve put them together in one category because the video card and RAM are commonly embedded on the motherboard in modern laptops these days. So if you find an error with either part that is on the motherboard, you can conclude a motherboard failure.

The motherboard of a laptop computer is the circuit board where every part of the laptop communicates with each other. The processor makes decisions and these instructions are sent through the motherboard to be carried out by the respective components.

So when the motherboard starts to fail, components lose their communication channel and can’t work together. This could make the laptop unresponsive when you try to turn it on.

Components built-in on the motherboard, like the RAM and video card, are responsible for multitasking and the display respectively. When the video card fails, it can’t properly generate the laptop display feed, or not at all. For a RAM error, it will fail to provide readily available storage memory for quick multitasking purposes. These two parts also play a critical part in your laptop’s startup process.

How to test for motherboard issues

A motherboard failure is one of the hardest parts to test and repair, as there is no specific test for it. We’ll have to deduce the issue by eliminating other possible causes. This involves testing the RAM and video card.

Unfortunately, if your RAM and video card are both embedded on the motherboard and you can’t turn on your laptop to perform diagnostics, there’s no other option for you at home. Certain models of laptops do have detachable RAM chips, so you can test that. All you need to do is swap out the RAM with a spare stick of RAM and see if your laptop turns on or not. If it does turn on again, you can solve your RAM failure with a new replacement. If not, you might have a motherboard issue.

As we’ve mentioned, motherboard repairs are very hard to do. The motherboard is a delicate and intricate piece of circuitry, with a lot of connective points that regular consumers might not be familiar with. That said, you might want to get the help of a professional technician to repair your motherboard. Learn more about motherboard failure in our guide to motherboard repairs.

Power adaptor failure

A laptop’s power adaptor, or the PSU, is used to charge up your laptop for you to use it on the go. Your laptop requires a certain amount of juice to startup if it’s not plugged in. When you notice that your laptop isn’t turning on even when it’s plugged in, you might have a faulty power adaptor.

How to fix a power adaptor failure

Power adaptors can break from natural wear and tear, or maybe from accident damage like spilled liquids. You can simply test this out by using a spare adaptor on your laptop. If the light comes on and it charges your laptop, you’ve fixed the problem!

After following the above steps, you should be able to narrow down the culprit behind your laptop’s “murder”. Then you can move on to looking for replacement solutions to your faulty components. You may also use YouTube and repair guides on ifixit as a starting point to fixing your laptop all by yourself.

Professional repairs

Diagnosing a laptop

The limited options to testing your laptop for issues when your laptop won’t turn on at all can be pretty frustrating. You might not have the time, nor the tools. So is it time to take it to a professional for help?

It might be a good idea to just take your laptop to a repair shop, to save yourself the hassle.

Safemode Computer Service can fix this for you.

Conveniently located in Inner West Sydney, we are a quick stop from Sydney CBD as well. Call us up to set up an appointment, and we can help you test your laptop in-store.

Our trusted services are highly-rated across Sydney, and we take pride in supporting the community. We also can help you with computer upgrades, computer virus removals, and liquid spill repairs. Book an appointment at our Enmore store today.