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Motherboard vs. CPU Troubleshooting - Dell Dimension 3000

Experts,

Have a Dell Dimension 3000 (1 year old) that died during the process of a Palm Sync (so the owner says). Machine simply did  a hard shutdown and would not power up.  After all the basic troubleshooting with reseating cables, RAM, removing peripherals, etc., I replaced the power supply with brand new one.  The mobo power led illuminates.  Still no luck. Here is what else I have done to try and troubleshoot (with new power supply in place).  System has integrated video and no additonal PCI cards.

- Removed both RAM modules.  No power up.
- Removed CPU.  Pins Okay.  Reseated. No power up.
- Replaced CMOS battery with new one. No power up.
- Removed all IDE cables and power from IDE devices.  No power up.

Now the strange thing that I don't understand.  I removed the CMOS battery again to clear the CMOS.  I plugged in the power supply with the battery out and power plugged in to the HD.  The power comes ON and the HD spins, but I don't get a POST beep or anything else.  If CMOS battery is in, I get nothing.  Machine was moderately dusty when the case was opened.  Not the worst I have seen.

Anyone have any ideas on what this could be or why the power comes on when the battery is out?

Regards,
Stephen

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stephenm93
Asked:
stephenm93
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3 Solutions
 
CallandorCommented:
Odds are that it is a motherboard problem, not a cpu problem.  To be completely sure that the motherboard is not shorting on the case, take it out and see if it will boot on a cardboard box.  The only way to test a cpu is to try it in a known working motherboard.
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garycaseCommented:
Strange behavior with the battery !!

Motherboard vs CPU is probably the toughest call to make in troubleshooting, since when nothing's happening it's hard to say whether it's because no code is executing (dead CPU) or no code is being allowed to execute (motherboard failure).   I'd say the strange behavior with the battery tends to tilt the balance towards the motherboard being the culprit.

Did you try a BIOS reset (assuming the BIOS has a recovery jumper -- the manual's sparse on this, but I would assume the "clear password" jumper does a BIOS reset).

... but the bottom line is it's either the motherboard or CPU (as you've deduced), and the only way to confirm which one (in the absence of obvious physical damage; swelled/leaking capacitors; etc.) is to replace one-at-a-time.   I agree with Callandor about trying it outside of the case to eliminate a shorting issue; but if it still doesn't work I'd try a new motherboard first.
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PUNKYCommented:
Turn ON the system and check the four lights (next keyboard & mouse ports) on the back of computer see if all of them are green ON. If not,

1. Remove or disconnect hard drive, and then CDROM / DVD. If not,
2. Remove memory. If not,
3. Remove video card. If not,

The motherboard is died as 2 experts (above) said so.
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stephenm93Author Commented:
Thanks for the comments.

PUNKY...no lights at all.  Zero power.  Even when I removed the battery and the power supply kicked in, the diagnostic lights did not come on.

Looking for a Prescott board now.  I'll post after I install the new board.

Stephen
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willcompCommented:
Punky is correct about Dell diagnostic LEDs located on back panel (usually under PS/2 ports but not always) for newer Dimensions.

If any are lighting, may give you a good clue.  Here's how to decipher codes (look under diagnostic lights):

http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/dim3000/en/SM/adtshoot.htm#wp1059100
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garycaseCommented:
"...no lights at all " ==>  Of course not !!  (that was obvious from your question)  If the CPU isn't running, there will NEVER be any lights :-)   The diagnostic lights are driven by the POST code -- if the code isn't executed, there won't be any lights :-)

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willcompCommented:
OK so no diagnostic LEDs.  What about 5VDC power LED on motherboard?  Should be lit when PSU power cord is connected.
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stephenm93Author Commented:
LED lights up when power cord is in AND battery is installed.  Battery is taken out, LED goes bye bye.
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garycaseCommented:
willcomp:  From the question:  "... The mobo power led illuminates. "

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garycaseCommented:
Whoa !!   The standby power drops when the battery is out -- BUT the hard drive spins up !!  Even stranger than I thought ...

... time for a new motherboard !!
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willcompCommented:
Didn't reread the question.

I agree that signs point toward a faulty mobo (or a completely corrupt BIOS).
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stephenm93Author Commented:
Very strange.....I thought the battery connection might have a short.  When the battery is out, power is restored through the board to the peripherals.  New board has been ordered.

Thanks again for all the comments.
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PUNKYCommented:
If the comp is still under warranty, and you call Dell support. Those steps to check LED's are what they will tell you to do so before they replace the mobo. You have no lights at all, then you need a new mobo. Even Dell wont go further to trouble shooting if the lights are out, and they never mention the 5 V LED or power light while on phone trouble shoot.
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stephenm93Author Commented:
Limited (cheap) 6mo warranty is history.  Owner wanted to save $$....now needs to spend $$.
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garycaseCommented:
"... You have no lights at all, then you need a new mobo ..." ==> OR a new CPU.   That's the dilemma with motherboard vs CPU troubleshooting.   Odds favor the motherboard here; but it COULD be the CPU  (although not likely with the strange battery-in/out issue).
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PUNKYCommented:
@ Garycase! "... OR a new CPU..." absolutely right :)

@ Stephenm93! "...Owner wanted to save $$....now needs to spend $$.." . We all want to save $$$, but in fact, the warranty from Dell is so expensive. It added up the final cost when we purchase comp.
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stephenm93Author Commented:
Agreed...seems like the 2-year on-site added another $200+.

I just hope the new board fits with no issues.   MSI PM8M-V for about $50 at TigerDirect.  Someone told me Dell is not necessarily following hardware standards in terms of being able to replace parts using retail suppliers.   I used to like Dell machines, but I'm starting to get annoyed.  I have two that I'm working on right now that seem to have the same issues.

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willcompCommented:
Since owner was synching his Palm when all went kaput, be careful reconnecting front USB header and check USB voltage with a voltmeter before plugging any USB devices into it.  Cabling and ports are probably OK, but doesn't hurt to exercise caution.
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willcompCommented:
Any standard uATX mobo will fit.  May have to change out backplate and that's about it.  The one you selected is a standard uATX mobo.  It has a VIA chipset which will definitely necessitate a repair install of XP.
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stephenm93Author Commented:
does the repair need to be done at system restart or will the OS at least boot once the board is in place?  Any experience on this end?
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garycaseCommented:
... the only issue you may have is activating XP after doing a repair install.   The Dell OEM version is tied to a Dell BIOS.   It almost certainly will not activate online, and will require a call to Microsoft's telephone activation center.   They MAY allow it -- or they may not.   I have a friend who did a similar replacement with a Gateway system (actually used the same make/model motherboard, but not a "Gateway" version), and they did provide him an activation key => but Microsoft's "Genuine Advantage" program still claims he does not have a "genuine" version of XP.

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garycaseCommented:
... the OS MAY boot => if so it will "find" a LOT of new hardware and attempt to install the appropriate drivers.   But with a completely different chipset it may also fail to make it to the Windows screen.   willcomp has more experience with VIA chipsets -- see what he thinks here ...
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willcompCommented:
OS will not boot.  XP will usually blue screen and reboot or hang.

I haven't had any problems activating Dell, Gateway, HP, and Compaqs.  Just explain what happened and be courteous.
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stephenm93Author Commented:
So, if I'm reading between the lines here:

1) run BIOS setup for new board.
2) Reboot to XP CD and reinstall/repair

Sorry if I've exceeded the boundaries of the hardware forum by asking OS questions.
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garycaseCommented:
You've got it ...

(a) install new board -- boot to BIOS to be sure devices are detected okay

(b) boot to XP CD and do a repair install

(c)  when prompted, attempt activation => it will fail, but then call Microsoft and explain you had to replace the motherboard & they should provide an activation key.

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willcompCommented:
Sorry to be so brief earlier, had to break for a meeting.

Looks like Gary has it well covered.  A couple of points based on my experience.

XP and 2000 require very similar replacement mobos to preclude a repair install.  Usually changing chipsets from same manufacturer (Intel, VIA, nVidia) will trigger a re-install.  In most cases, a mobo with same or very similar chipset in same family e.g. Intel 865 will not require a repair install, just driver updates.  Changing from an I845 to an I865 has resulted in repair install, at least for me.

To save time when you call M$, press 0 after entering that you need to activate XP.  That should take you to a live person and bypass automated process which is time consuming and will not work.

Let XP try to boot before repair install.  It may work, although not likely, and won't hurt anything.
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stephenm93Author Commented:
Thanks for all who posted.  I split the points as best I could since calandor, willcomp, and garycase all contributed towards the answer.

New mobo worked great with a little modifiication of the dell case to accommodate the cpu fan and heat sink differences.

Regards,
Stephen
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willcompCommented:
Thanks for the kind words, kinda missed on the points though.
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garycaseCommented:
You're most welcome ... but you should ask Callandor to open this back up so you can split the points again ==> you did miss willcomp in the split !!
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stephenm93Author Commented:
oops....my fault.  yes, please re-open.  my apologies.
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stephenm93Author Commented:
put the split in the wrong box.
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stephenm93Author Commented:
I think I got it right this time.  Thanks again.

Stephen
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