Why is my laptop clicking and not turning on?

If your laptop is making clicking noises and refusing to turn on, there are a few potential causes to investigate. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through the most common reasons for a clicking laptop that won’t power up and provide solutions to help get your device up and running again.

Quick Overview: Common Causes of a Clicking Laptop That Won’t Turn On

Before diving into detailed explanations, here is a quick overview of the most common culprits behind a clicking laptop that does not power on:

  • Faulty power button
  • Loose/faulty internal connections
  • Dying hard drive
  • RAM issues
  • Failed motherboard
  • Loose/broken cooling fan
  • Faulty power adapter
  • Depleted/dislodged CMOS battery

Read on as we explore each of these issues in more depth and provide troubleshooting tips to revive your unresponsive laptop.

What’s Causing the Clicking Noise?

First, it’s important to understand the source of the clicking or tapping sound. This can provide clues about what hardware components may be malfunctioning inside your laptop.

Some common culprits include:

  • Hard Drive: If the clicks are coming from the area of the hard drive, it could indicate a problem with the drive itself or with the drive head mechanism. Clicking noises from a hard drive usually mean it is starting to fail and will need replacement soon.
  • Cooling Fan: A clicking, tapping, or grinding noise coming from the cooling fan often means a broken fan blade or motor. This can cause the fan to physically hit internal components.
  • Optical Drive: If you have an optical drive, clicks and taps may signal problems with the drive motor or internal motion mechanisms. This is especially likely if the noise occurs when trying to access the drive.
  • Power Button: A faulty power button can produce clicking noises when pressed. The switch mechanism inside the button itself may be broken.
  • Loose Internal Components: Things like cables, connectors, and RAM sticks can click if they become loose and rattle around inside the chassis.

Why Won’t My Clicking Laptop Turn On?

Now that you have some clues about the potential sources of the noise, let’s talk about why your laptop with the clicking issue fails to power on when you press the button.

There are a few key components involved in the laptop power-on process to review:

  • Power Button
  • Motherboard
  • CPU
  • RAM
  • Power Supply

If any of these components are damaged or faulty, it can prevent your laptop from turning on properly. Let’s go through some of the most common issues with each component that could cause startup failure:

Power Button Problems

The power button is the first thing you press to turn on a laptop. If it’s damaged or not functioning correctly, this vital startup switch won’t be able to trigger boot-up.

  • Broken power button switch/contacts
  • Power button cable became loose/disconnected
  • Short circuit in the button wiring
  • Bad solder joint on power button connections

Motherboard Issues

The motherboard is at the heart of a laptop’s operation. If it’s faulty, the system can exhibit all kinds of weird behaviors, including failing to power on.

  • BIOS corruption or motherboard firmware problems
  • Failed capacitors or voltage regulators
  • Dead CMOS battery (see more below)
  • Short circuit causing safety shutdown
  • Loose/disconnected cables and connectors
  • General motherboard component failure

CPU Troubles

While less common, sometimes CPU issues can prevent or disrupt the boot process.

  • Faulty or dead CPU processor/chip
  • CPU fan failure leading to emergency thermal shutdown
  • Loose CPU power connector or damage to CPU socket

RAM Problems

Issues with the system memory in your laptop can also lead to startup problems or failure.

  • Corrupted RAM sticks or bad memory sectors
  • Incompatible, mismatched, or unseated RAM
  • Damage to RAM slots or connectors

Power Adapter/Supply Issues

A laptop needs steady power from its adapter and internal supply to boot up. Related failures include:

  • Faulty power brick/adapter
  • No charge left in the battery
  • Damaged DC power jack on laptop
  • Bad connection to motherboard from power adapter
  • Blown fuse on motherboard power input
  • Failed internal voltage regulators

Dead CMOS Battery

The CMOS battery on a motherboard provides power to the BIOS/firmware settings and the real-time clock when the system is off. If it’s dead or disconnected, the laptop may fail to boot or have issues starting up.

How to Troubleshoot a Clicking Laptop That Won’t Turn On

Now that you understand some of the potential issues preventing system boot-up, here are some steps to troubleshoot a clicking, non-responsive laptop:

  1. Remove/Replace External Power: Unplug the power adapter from the wall and laptop, wait 60 seconds, and firmly re-insert it to reset the power. Try turning the laptop on again after this.
  2. Check Power Adapter: Verify the power brick LED is on and try a different working adapter if available to rule out a bad adapter.
  3. Remove Battery and CMOS Battery: Unplug power, remove the main battery and CMOS battery, hold down laptop Power button for 30 seconds, reinsert batteries, and connect power again before trying to start.
  4. Reseat Components: Open the laptop case and reseat the RAM, cables, and internal connections in case something is just loose and rattling around.
  5. Test Individual RAM Sticks: If you have multiple RAM modules installed, remove all but one stick and try different stick combinations to isolate faulty RAM.
  6. Try External Monitor: Connect the laptop to an external display via HDMI or VGA cable and check for any signs of life on-screen as you try to power up.
  7. Remove Non-Essentials: Take out any discs in the optical drive, USB drives, SD cards, and other external peripherals/attachments that are not vital for system boot.
  8. Remove and Reinsert CMOS Battery: Take out the small CMOS battery from the motherboard for a few minutes then reinstall it to reset BIOS settings.

Following this step-by-step troubleshooting guide should help identify any loose connections, faulty components, power issues, RAM problems or battery failures preventing startup. If the above steps don’t resolve the clicking and failed boot-up, the motherboard itself is likely defective and will need repair or replacement unless the issue is isolated to a removable component like the RAM or CPU.

Fixing a Clicking Hard Drive That Won’t Boot

As mentioned previously, one of the most common sources of a clicking noise and no boot-up is a malfunctioning hard drive. Let’s go into some detail on troubleshooting hard drive failure in a laptop that won’t power on.

  • First, confirm the clicking sound is coming directly from the hard drive area of the laptop. This area is usually on the underside of the chassis towards the front.
  • If you have important data on the drive that hasn’t been backed up, your best bet is to contact a data recovery service to attempt extracting the data before proceeding.
  • If the data isn’t necessary, you can try removing the hard drive and booting the laptop without it installed to see if it will start up.
  • Alternatively, replacing the faulty hard drive with a new solid state drive (SSD) or hard disk drive (HDD) may allow the laptop to boot normally again.
  • Be sure to reinstall the operating system on the new drive and replace any recovery partitions from the original drive if possible.
  • If the laptop still won’t boot from the new drive replacement, the issue is likely with another component like the motherboard, RAM, CPU, etc.

A clicking sound from a hard drive usually means it’s starting to fail mechanically and should be replaced. Continuing to operate a clicking hard drive risks permanent data loss when it stops working entirely. Getting a new SSD or HDD and doing a fresh OS install is the best recovery option in most cases of a clicking hard drive preventing boot-up.

How to Fix a Loose/Faulty Cooling Fan Causing No Boot-Up

As mentioned previously, cooling fan issues can also produce clicking noises and failure to power on in some cases. Here is a quick troubleshooting guide for dealing with fan-related no start-up problems:

  • Open the case and inspect the fan visually to check for broken blades or deformities.
  • Listen closely to isolate the clicking sound and confirm it is coming from the fan itself.
  • Check fan power connections and make sure the fan cable is plugged firmly into the motherboard.
  • Look for obstructions like wires or cables touching the fan blades and move them away.
  • Try holding the fan blades still while booting to see if startup succeeds without fan movement.
  • Replace the fan with an identical replacement part if available. Make sure it is well-seated and connected.
  • Try removing the fan temporarily if possible to test for startup without the fan plugged in.
  • Monitor system temperatures closely if booting without a fan to avoid damage from overheating.

Addressing cooling fan clicks, obstructions, and failures can often get a laptop powering back on normally. Just be sure to monitor temperatures whenever removing or troubleshooting the fan to avoid component damage from overheating inside the chassis.

Motherboard Failure Causing Clicking and No Power

If you still can’t get your clicking laptop to boot after trying the above troubleshooting tips, the problem may ultimately lie with the motherboard itself. Some signs of motherboard failure include:

  • No signs of power at all when pressing the power button
  • Not even the charging LED turns on when connected to power
  • You’ve tested components like the RAM and CPU in a working system and they are fine
  • Resetting the CMOS battery did not resolve the issue
  • Fan spins briefly then stops during attempted boot-up
  • Lights flash momentarily then turn off without boot-up

With motherboard failure, the system can exhibit odd behaviors like clicking, but never fully starts up. The many intricate components and circuits on laptop motherboards makes them prone to faults over time. Issues like liquid spills, power surges, or general wear and tear can eventually cause full failure.

Unfortunately, most laptop motherboard issues require board-level repair by electronics technicians, or motherboard replacement. Component-level troubleshooting and repair is very difficult for most home users. In some cases, extensive motherboard troubleshooting and repair costs exceed the value of an older laptop.

If you confirm the motherboard itself is causing the clicking and failure to boot, you may have to consider a replacement laptop or motherboard replacement/repair by a professional service. Motherboard diagnosis and repair is the only option for recovering a laptop with full board failure outside of warranty coverage.

When to Take Your Clicking Laptop to a Repair Shop

If you have tried all of the troubleshooting steps above and your laptop still refuses to start up, it’s probably time to take it in for professional repair. Some signs it’s time for the experts include:

  • You’ve tested components like the RAM, hard drive, and CPU in a working system and the issues persist
  • The laptop shows absolutely no signs of power when pressing the power button
  • You’ve reseated internal cables and reset the CMOS battery with no change
  • The clicking sound indicates a bad fan or hard drive that needs replacement
  • You don’t have the technical expertise to continue component-level troubleshooting

Third-party repair technicians have the skills, tools, spare parts, and experience to properly diagnose difficult, no-start laptop issues. They can test components like the motherboard and isolate failures to provide repair and replacement options along with their costs. In many cases, professional laptop repair still costs significantly less than buying a brand new replacement laptop.

Tips to Prevent Laptop Clicking and Startup Failure

While even well-maintained laptops can eventually develop issues, there are some prevention tips to help avoid clicking noises and boot failures down the road:

  • Keep the laptop’s cooling vents and fans free of dust buildup using compressed air
  • Don’t block air intake vents with bedding, pillows, or other items if using the computer in bed or on a couch
  • Avoid extreme temperature environments that could damage system components
  • Use a solid, level surface to prevent keyboard and motherboard damage from drops
  • Be gentle when inserting cables, USB devices, and SD cards to avoid motherboard damage
  • Regularly back up important data as a preventive measure
  • Avoid eating/drinking around the laptop to prevent spills on components
  • Consider using a cooling pad for intensive workloads to maintain proper temperatures
  • Shut down the laptop properly; don’t forcibly power it off during operation

Following best practices for handling, operating, and maintaining your laptop will give you the best chance of avoiding serious failures before the end of the system’s expected lifespan. But noise and no start-up issues can still occur occasionally despite your best efforts.


Laptops that click and fail to turn on present frustrating, but solvable issues in most cases. Following the step-by-step troubleshooting guide provided here will help you isolate the source of the noise and startup problem. Common fixes include reseating connections, replacing the RAM or hard drive, fixing the cooling fan, or specialized repairs for motherboard failure.

Make sure to listen closely to the clicking noise for clues and work through all power, battery, and component-related solutions. For difficult issues only specialists can handle, don’t hesitate to seek professional laptop repair services for assistance. With persistence and help if needed, you can usually get even the most uncooperative clicking laptops powering back up and running again.