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Gateway Solo 9550 laptop won't power on.

A Brief History:

I have a Gateway Solo 9550 Laptop running Windows XP Pro that I bought in February 2002 with a 3-year parts/labor warranty.  In April of 2004, the laptop died and wouldn't power up.  I had to send the laptop back to Gateway, and they promptly fixed it and returned it to me.  They told me they replaced an internal power supply and repaired a cable.

Last week (literally days after the warranty expired), the laptop died again, in the same fashion as in April of 2004.  The support person I spoke to at Gateway said it sounded like a motherboard problem and that it would cost $399 for them to look at the laptop, PLUS the cost for parts.

How it died:

Both times the laptop died, it happened over the course of an hour or so:

1.  First, the laptop began to slow down opening and closing applications.
2.  Then the laptop would hang and not respond to anything, including CTRL-ALT-DEL to view processes.
3.  I powered the laptop (which was frozen in an application) off using the power button, waited a couple of minutes, then powered back on.
4.  The computer would begin to power on, and the fan would make a different whirring noise than usual, almost like it was bogged down, but the laptop would flash the "Gateway" Screen then would hang while trying to load the operating system.
5.  I tried booting in SAFE mode, but the system would hang again while trying to boot up in SAFE mode.
6.  Then after I tried to boot up in either SAFE or normal mode for about four tries, the computer died and wouldn't respond to any presses of the power button.

I've tried:

1.  Pressing the RESET button.
2.  Removing the battery, trying to power up, and putting the battery back.
3.  Removing the AC power, trying to power up, and putting the AC power back.
4.  Removing the hard drive, trying to power up,  and putting the hard drive back.

None of these worked had ANY results.  No fans or anything.  The only lights I have are two lights on the front of the machine, which only go out when I take the battery out.

Does this sound like a motherboard issue?  Can I troubleshoot and possibly repair this myself?  What is the internal power supply that the Gateway tech said was replaced in April 2004?  Could it be that again?  Could it be a fan on my motherboard?  And what would cause this to happen again after being repaired last April?  Could any of this be caused by another defective part that is taxing the power supply or motherboard?

Any help would be appreciated.  Even if it's to say that I should just pay Gateway to fix the laptop.

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1 Solution
drransonAuthor Commented:
I think I should also note that when the battery is in and I get several lights on the front of the laptop, I also can hear a (faint) high-pitched sound.  This leads me to believe there is some power going through the machine somehow, and that it isn't a power-supply issue.

How could I determine if this is as simple as a worn out fan?
To me it sounds like the powersupply. Does this notebook connect directly to the mains or is there a small powersupply between the mains connector and the connector to the PC?
Can you run it on AC only (battery removed)?
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If it is the powersupply, you could get that (and other parts) here:


drransonAuthor Commented:
There is a small power supply between the mains connector and the connector to the PC.  But on AC only (that is to say, with the battery removed), I don't get any lights or high-pitched noise or anything.

When I put the battery in (with or without the AC power connected), I get a few lights on the front of laptop and I can hear a faint, high-pitched sound as if the laptop is getting SOME power, but the laptop won't power on.

That would mean the battery still has a small rest of power left, but not much. Do you have a multimeter with which you could measure the output you get on that powersupply? To me it does look as if that is gone, and a new one, according to my previous link would be $79.--
drransonAuthor Commented:
Ah, I don't have a multimeter.

I think you're suggesting that the AC power supply went bad, and that the laptop started using the battery's power, and now the battery doesn't have enough power left to power up the laptop.  Correct?

The only problem with that scenario is that in the few times I've switched over to battery power (I accidently unplugged the AC power from the back of the laptop, or I blew a fuse in my apartment), an indicator of battery power has always immediately popped up in the bottom right-hand icon tray.  I didn't get this indicator at all before my computer began to freeze up and eventually crash.

Or are you talking about some internal power supply that may need to be replaced?

I suppose I may have to buy the new power supply to see if that's the problem...
I guess it's better if you can ask them if you can send it back if it isn't that.

Your above suggestion does seem to put a new light on the problem. The problem is that if nothing works it is very difficult to make a reliable diagnosis.

Another option would be the auto/air adapter, which is cheaper than the powersupply ($49.--).

The internal power board which probably was changed the last time also seems to cost $49.--, but if it is the mainboard you'd have to pay $400.--. For that you'd have to decide if it is worth repairing. If it is one of those internal parts, you'd also have to get that replaced. Doing that on a notebook can be pretty difficult for most people, even for professionals. It's not the same as repairing a desktop. Anyway, I'd first go for those external options.
drransonAuthor Commented:
rindi --

Hmm.  Yes, I'm 90% certain it was the internal power board (and not the motherboard) that was replaced by Gateway last April, because the computer came back to me in three days, and all of my files and programs were in perfect order.  (If they had replaced the motherboard, wouldn't that have required a re-load of the Operating System?)

What would cause the internal power supply to go out twice in 10 months' time?

From your message I'm guessing that it is a bad idea for me to attempt replacing the internal power supply on my own.  (I have never opened a laptop.  My experience with the insides of desktops is nothing more than adding cards, memory, and/or drives.)  Though it sure would be a lot more affordable if I could do it myself.

Would you recommend letting Gateway repair it, or do you have any other recommendations?
Changing the mainboard wouldn't make it necessary to reinstall the OS, unles it had different hardware on, which is very unlikely.

Notebooks often use parts which are at their limits, for size and performance, and these things often break quicker for that reason.

If you know someone who is used to repairing electronic parts and small devices, or if this is a finemechanic, I'd ask this person to help out. But if you don't feel confident in repairing the laptop, it is probably better to get it repaired by a gateway or whomever they use as contractor.
drransonAuthor Commented:

I was checking out the Mundo Corp site and saw that they also do repairs for a reasonable rate.  I'm going to send the laptop to them to repair.

I'm going to accept your comment that includes the Mundo Corp link, even though all of your answers have been specific and helpful.

Thank you so much for your time!

No problem and thankQ.

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