How To Tell If Raspberry Pi Is Dead: What Is Killing Your Pi?

One predicament among Raspberry Pi users involves figuring out how to tell if Raspberry Pi is dead.

You may experience utter panic in that context.

Don’t fret. Instead, looking at Pi-killing factors to uncover the problem would be best.

This article tells you about scenarios related to the device powering up or the operating system.

You can then find answers to your Pi recovery questions!

Table of Contents

Has Your Raspberry Pi Failed?

Monitor the green (ACT) and red (power) LEDs as the Pi loads. It helps you spot the big issue.

These will either blink in some manner or remain completely on/off, indicating the board works or no longer functions.

You can glance at the table to assess the condition of your device. 

Red/Green LED IndicatorAn Explanation and Solution
On/Blinking randomlyThis references insufficient voltage distribution to the Raspberry Pi board. Ensure the power supply works correctly, or adjust the voltage it receives. 
On/Patterned blinkingA faulty poly fuse or incorrectly configured power supply bricked the Pi, preventing the startup process from occurring. Confirm both components work as intended. 
Off/OffFully operational, the bootup process begins. No need to apply a fix. 
Off/Blinking randomlyThis references insufficient voltage distribution to the Raspberry Pi board. Ensure the power supply works correctly, or adjust the amount of voltage it receives. 
On/OffEither the microSD card or operating system is corrupt. Flash the OS again, or utilize a different microSD card.

In addition, a dead Pi won’t generate any video output while loading the recovery.bln won’t fix the issue. 

What The Number Of Flashes Indicates

The green LED will blink in a patterned manner, representing bootup errors that may help explain device failure.

These apply to all RPi boards, excluding Raspberry Pi 4. 

Number of FlashesEvent
3Corrupt start.elf boot code
4The system cannot locate the kernel. img
7The system cannot locate kernel.img
8Unrecognizable or faulty SDRAM 

The table below applies to Raspberry Pi 4:

Number of Elongated Flashes/Brief FlashesEvent
0/3Bootup failure
0/4Cannot locate the start.elf boot code
0/7Kernel image missing
0/8Faulty SDRAM
0/9Not enough SDRAM
0/10Entered HALT state
2/2Cannot read partition
2/3Extended partition
2/4File signature and hash mismatch
4/4Doesn’t support board
4/5Firmware issue
4/6Power disruption Type A
4/7Power disruption Type B

Potential Causes Of The Raspberry Pi 3B+ Death

Close-up image of a Raspberry Pi 3B+ with GPIO header.

Close-up image of a Raspberry Pi 3B+ with GPIO header.

Incorrect connections on your Raspberry Pi  3B+ increase the overall chances of the GPIO experiencing a shortage.

In turn, this ultimately causes the device to fail, making it unusable. Some examples of poor handling and connectivity involve:

  • Too much current in the Raspberry Pi
  • Improper GPIO connectivity 
  • Providing the GPIO with over 4V
  • Connecting the 5V pin with the 3.3V pin
  • Connecting the 3.3V pin and 5V pin with the GND

The Raspberry Pi’s poly fuse component will prevent damage if you accidentally connect the VCC to the GND.

Otherwise, a damaged poly fuse can’t close that connection, leading to an irreparable and bricked board. 

Moreover, if you connect the 3.3V pin to the GND, the PMIC ultimately malfunctions.

This happens because the rails no longer operate in that scenario, destroying your Pi.

Connecting the 5V pin to the PMIC’s silicon railing also causes the Raspberry Pi board to fail.

Your Pi board will also die if you provide over four volts to the GPIO.

Fixing Your Raspberry Pi Computer

Repairing the Raspberry Pi may not seem like an easy task.

Repairing the Raspberry Pi may not seem like an easy task.

Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to repair your device after failure.

Since you’re working with a multi-layered PCB, you can’t replace any defective component unless integrated on the board’s opposite side.

So technically, you must perform test points (a difficult procedure) to locate the problem.

Use a voltage meter to measure the output of GPIO pin 1 (3.3V) and GPIO pin 2 (5V).

RPi boards stacked atop each other.

RPi boards stacked atop each other.

Try powering up the Raspberry Pi to determine if the 3.3V and 5V pins work correctly.

Your device could have a bad microSD card if it fails to start while the GPIO pins one and two output the proper voltage level.

Otherwise, the poly fuse component is potentially at fault if pin two doesn’t output 5 volts. 

Bad Polyfuse

As mentioned, a bad poly fuse will eventually brick your Raspberry Pi device.

You can try solving that issue by putting the Pi idle for a full day, allowing it to self-repair.

Moreover, surrounding it in cold temperatures may also help influence and boost the recovery time. 

Defective PMIC

If your Pi dies due to a broken PMIC, you will find it extremely difficult and tedious to recover the device.

Generally, a zero voltage reading on pin one (3.3V) results in a defective PMIC.

Replacing the PMIC with a different one could solve that problem.

However, this potential solution is problematic because it needs certain register values to function.

In that case, you must collect those unknown values from an operational Pi, a tedious task.

Consider purchasing a replacement Pi board instead, a better option.

No Video Output

Raspberry Pi’s power supply connects to a USB-C adapter.

A working Raspberry Pi should produce video output.

Sometimes your Raspberry Pi 4 won’t produce video on the screen, making the system appear unbootable/dead.

This device features dual video HDMI ports (HDMI0 and HDMI1).

It should always connect to the HDMI0 port.

Otherwise, the wrong connection results in zero video output, which means you’re out of luck. 

Power Supply Unit

Raspberry Pi’s power supply connects to a USB-C adapter.

Raspberry Pi’s power supply connects to a USB-C adapter.

Ensure your power supply unit (PSU) works since issues will lead to Pi failure.

The Raspberry Pi 4 utilizes a 5.1V/3A power supply through a USB-C plug.

Earlier models generally rely on a micro-USB for power.

You must ensure the PSU and Pi have a similar power rating.

That way, your small computer board will receive just the right voltage. 


It’s a guarantee that you will have difficulty recovering a dead Pi device.

Don’t sweat buckets and put yourself into a frenzy if that happens.

After all, the next best thing you can do is buy a replacement.

And why not — they’re fairly inexpensive! So you can go ahead and get right back to work on those unfinished projects.