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DELL Tower PC not starting

Posted on 2007-03-24
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Last Modified: 2008-01-09
Hi. Just received a used PC. It's a Dell, an old one its running windows 2000. I cant get it to boot. There is a rapidly blinking LED button at the front of the case, Voltage is correctly set. If I switch the mains off and on again the fan occasionally starts, remains on for a second or so, then cuts out, It has an odd PC case. At the top rear of the case there's an eliptical recessed button. Is this the power button, or does it open the case? The unit was driven in a van for 160 miles. its possible something is loose, but i cant work out how to open the case! Help!
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Question by:Nasturtiumman
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
ID: 18786329
Post the Service Tag number, then we'll know exactly what model you have.
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by:willcomp
ID: 18786378
Turn PC on its side with tabs for lock (ears with holes) facing up.  Press elliptical buttons on top and bottom (now sides) of case to release latch.  Case opens on hinges like a suitcase.  May take some effort to open.

That PC should have 4 small round LEDs on rear of case labeled A B C D.  Those LEDs provide a boot code and help identify errors.  Post which are green and which are amber.

While you have case open, remove and reseat RAM and video card.

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by:Mark
ID: 18786436
If you have the model number you can find the documentation on how to open it on the Dell site here
http://support.dell.com/support/systemsinfo/documentation.aspx?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs&~cat=12
There should be a service manual with direction on how to open the case.
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by:willcomp
ID: 18786443
Think I'd already told him how.
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by:willcomp
ID: 18786458
But, if you want pictures, here's a representative system with same case.

http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/dim4400/replace.htm#1101667
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by:Mark
ID: 18786493
1 picture is worth 1000 words, or something to that effect.
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by:jamietoner
ID: 18786544
If the power button led is blinking amber that would indicate a power issue. Also on many dell systems there are 4 leds in the back marked abcd what color are they when you try to power the system on?
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by:jamietoner
ID: 18786547
Sorry willcomp didn't mean to repeat the info on the leds.
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by:willcomp
willcomp earned 100 total points
ID: 18786566
jamietoner
OK --> no problem.

Blinking LED has meant failed motherboard as well in my experience.  Power supply or mobo are likely candidates.  Was hoping something just came loose before passing out the bad news.  All 4 LEDs are unlit in such cases since BIOS never initializes.
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Author Comment

by:Nasturtiumman
ID: 18786707
So many replies! Thanks. Will have to investigate tomorrow. As Arnie says ... I'll be back ...
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by:Nasturtiumman
ID: 18787693
Serial Number is HYJXT31 Model Number DHM (2003) Will have more time later to follow up the other replies ...
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by:KenO1964
ID: 18787746
A rapidly flashing power led would normally point me toward a bad motherboard or power supply.

First though,  once you get inside just check to make sure everything is seated properly and try again.
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by:Nasturtiumman
ID: 18788804
Havent got it open yet, but today it started to boot when I switched on the mains power. It got so far, maybe 10-20 seconds and died. No monitor display, but there are 2 graphics cards which is confusing ...
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by:Nasturtiumman
ID: 18788876
okay, i'm in the pc now. what a strange case. I can see now why it seemed to weigh twice as much as every other pc tower I have seen. There is a single yellow led which is lit on the mobo. I have taken out and re-seated all the components. I removed the PCI graphics card. Now it did the sorry attempt at a boot. It chugs away noisily, and the yellow led flashes as does another on the scsi card. I cant see the diagnostic led's anywhere ...then it just stops trying after 20-30 seconds ..
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Author Comment

by:Nasturtiumman
ID: 18788879
the led on the front of the case - its more of a flicker than a constant flash.
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
ID: 18788934
OK the Tag is for an Optiplex GX270 built in 2003, it's previous owners would have got rid of it towards the end of last year.

It should have shipped originally with Integrated Intel Extreme Graphics 2 onboard

If the card you have removed isn't of a higher spec than that there's a chance the onboard graphics were already fried.  TBH I'd put it back and use that as the output for your screen to see if you get anything at all.

It has an ATA controller

Assume you don't get any video output at all from it ...?
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by:KenO1964
ID: 18788972
I'm really thinking the motherboard is bad.  However,  it's a far easier thing to test to put in another power supply just to make sure it's not that.


My answer is motherboard though...
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by:willcomp
ID: 18788997
KenO1964 --> It's not necessary and not well received by other experts to repeat what they have already said.
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by:Nasturtiumman
ID: 18789000
Thanks. Masquerad  I put the spare graphics card back in. Again the same weird boot/cut out -no output on monitor. Checked the monitor on another system and its okay. Can you track ownership on these?
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by:KenO1964
ID: 18789015
willcomp:
KenO1964 --> It's not necessary and not well received by other experts to repeat what they have already said.


Thank you for your kind advice.  I'll take my leave of this place now.

Good luck everyone.
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☠ MASQ ☠ earned 200 total points
ID: 18789047
>>Can you track ownership on these?

Afraid not, if you go to this link and enter the Service Tag details you can find its support contract history.
http://support.dell.com/support/topics/global.aspx/support/product_support/en/product_support_central

I think by now the answer is you have a dead machine :(
Might be worth resetting the BIOS but MoBo/PSU failure does seem very likely
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by:Mark
Mark earned 100 total points
ID: 18789052
The diagnostic lights are on the back of the computer where the keybaord , mouse and other peripherals are plugged in.
The front power LED, when it is flashing what color is it.
This troubleshooting page tells you what each means http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/opgx270/en/ug/solve.htm#1236733

One thing to try is to toggle the power voltage switch on the power supply back and forth in case it hasn't engaged properly.
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by:Nasturtiumman
ID: 18789060
mmm . When I put the power cord in, the system boots up maybe once in 20 attempts. Is that a clue? I have a spare PSU ...
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by:willcomp
ID: 18789079
Remove all PCI cards and disconnect all drives (both power and signal cables).  Leave monitor and keyboard connected.  Remove anything else connected externally.  See if it will boot.

Before anyone suggests removing motherboard from case for testing  --> mobo is mounted on a metal motherboard tray and is removed by removing tray and will still be mounted on metal.  These Dells are unusual to say the least.  Same mobo without PCI extender was used in SFF Optiplexes as well.
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by:Davis McCarn
ID: 18789132
The LED on the system board is to indicate power and, since it is blinking, you need to try the other PSU.  If that doesn't do it, inspect the capacitors around the CPU's socket to see if any are bulging or have split open.
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Author Comment

by:Nasturtiumman
ID: 18789189
stripped it bare as willcomp suggested. Dead. Tried another PSU. Fan spins for a second then dies, each time I flick the switch...
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Author Comment

by:Nasturtiumman
ID: 18789194
Davis the yellow led on the board is constant, not blinking.
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Author Comment

by:Nasturtiumman
ID: 18789230
sorry Davismccarn you are right. The capacitors are okay, but as it boots the yellow light flashes alternately with the clunking noises, then stops flashing for a while, and when it falls silent, the light flashes very rapidly...
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Assisted Solution

by:Davis McCarn
Davis McCarn earned 50 total points
ID: 18789353
Here is a link to the manuals (user and service) http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/opgx270/en/index.htm
The system would run XP quite nicely and I would fix it if I were you, especially since this is an upgraded systemboard for $59, including shipping http://cgi.ebay.com/Dell-Motherboard-GX270-K5786-30-Day-Warranty_W0QQitemZ180097402286QQcategoryZ44943QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

Before you do that though, take the heatsink off the CPU, jiggle the ZIF lever on the socket a few times, then put the heatsink back on and try it.




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by:jamietoner
jamietoner earned 50 total points
ID: 18789438
A blinking power led indicates a psu or motherboard failure. Another psu didn't work so the motherboard needs to be replaced. Looks like the system is out of warranty so the motherboard DavisMcCarn posted would be a good option. Heres a link directly to more info about the dianostic and power led states.
http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/opgx270/en/ug/solve.htm#1235408
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Author Comment

by:Nasturtiumman
ID: 18789522
I cant locate these lights. Wonder if i`ve given the wrong model number HYJXT31 DHM is what it says on the case, but at the back of the pc there are no lights!
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by:jamietoner
ID: 18789530
On the gx270 they will be loacted between the ps/2 ports and the onboard video port
http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/opgx270/en/ug/sffabout.htm#1184495
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by:jamietoner
ID: 18789533
With a blinking amber power led the 4 diag leds are most likely off making them harder to see.
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Author Comment

by:Nasturtiumman
ID: 18789545
yes i found the lights. they are all off indicating a pre-bios failure?
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Author Comment

by:Nasturtiumman
ID: 18789549
i think the HD is bootable. Tried it in another PC and it booted as far as the Windows 2000 logo
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by:willcomp
ID: 18789821
I agree that it's motherboard replacement time.  Here are instructions.  It's a fairly easy process.

http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/opgx270/SM/EN/replbrd.htm

Mobo recommended by DavisMcCarn is very reasonably priced.
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Author Comment

by:Nasturtiumman
ID: 18803114
Hi Guys. Thanks for your efforts. it was fixed in the end by a bios reset via a jumper on the MOBO. Not sure how to award points in this situation.
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by:willcomp
ID: 18803288
Well, you got some useful information.  Just split points amongst those that helped.
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
ID: 18803756
How about the comment that said "Might be worth resetting the BIOS but MoBo/PSU failure does seem very likely" ;)

Seriously though there's lots of useful input in this one splitting the points would be a good idea
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Expert Comment

by:willyjlyles
ID: 18808569
One more thing that could be the problem:

A lot of motherboards will shut off after a certain amount of time if the CPU fan doesn't reach a certain RPM to keep from frying it.  I think all of these motherboards connect the CPU fan with a 3 prong connector, but I'm not entirely sure about that.  You might want to check the motherboard's manual to make sure it doesn't do that, or at least see if the fan has a 3 prong connector.  

I would bet that your motherboard is dead though, but it's worth checking before you spend the money on a new one.
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Author Comment

by:Nasturtiumman
ID: 18809691
Thanks I am really appreciative of all your help and time on this, and I will divide points among the main contributers, with an extra few for masquerade who did have the answer. I`m pleased to report that it boots every time now!
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Author Comment

by:Nasturtiumman
ID: 18809739
Will contact admin to have point re-distributed.
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by:Mark
ID: 18812038
Thanks
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