Why did the fan in the Dell Optiplex 320 spin really fast, but yet the computer doesn't boot up?

rschmauch
rschmauch used Ask the Experts™
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I've been having a wierd issue with some Dell Optiplex computers at my workplace. The issue I've been having concerns the fans spinning very fast and loud as if the computer is going to take off, but yet the computer doesn't boot up, the power light turns yellow and the fan moves loudly. I've had this happen on at least 3 Dell Optiplex 320 computers. I even had one happen in a newer Dell Optiplex 380.

What I did was unplug the computer and then I would go into the system and pull out the plug from the power supply. Then, I would unplug a few other things such as the hard drive and reseat the RAM. After doing that it seems like the fan is real quiet like it should be and then boots up normally.

I don't know how that would solve it, but why in the world would this happen in the Dell Optiplex systems? What does this loud and fast noise from the fan mean? It seems like this is the only issue I've been having with the Dells so far and it's the exact same issue on these 4 systems.
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Does this occur all in the same area, possibly power strip, wall outlet, etc. Try it in a different place.

Author

Commented:
No, each time this happened it was in a different room.
Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software Engineer

Commented:
The fan problem is consistent with the POST failure.  If the system fails to POST, the fan runs "fail-safe" at its maximum speed, since fan speed control is enabled as part of the POST. Find the reason why the system is failing to POST, and the fan business will be solved as a side effect.
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Commented:
One thing I ran into with a newer Dell Optiplex is that this happened when I installed an ATi video card to handle HDMI output.  I don't know that HDMI had anything to do with it, but the computer would start to POST and the power light on the front of the unit would go orange.  Booting stopped and the fan raced.

Have you added any internal components to these systems at any time?

Author

Commented:
Nope, nothing new was added.

Commented:
You might want to look at power supplies anyway.  If it isn't that, something else is messing with the POST.

Are there numbered lights in the front or back of the PC?  Those show a sequence when the machine boots.  See if you can capture the sequence and then compare it to a perfectly working 320.  Post the sequence here, please.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
you can try a bios update, or reset the bios
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
This sounds suspiciously like the problem that occurs when the AC power is suddenly interrupted while the computer is on. Since it seems to run after you do the unplug and mess about thing... it seems that it is a stalled power supply. When I start a computer and it just runs up the fan and doesn't boot, I turn it off ( hard shutdown) unplug or turn off the power supply, then press and hold the power button for 10 seconds or so, plug back in and it usually boots up just fine.
Have you been having any power outages in your area lately?
Chris BRetired

Commented:
Had this exact issue with a number of HP desktops. This was always the contacts in the 20 or 24 pin psu to motherboard plug. Next time one does it, remove and reseat this plug a few times to see if this fixes it. If so, a light spray with CRC or similar should resolve the issue of resistance build up. (Don't get it on the mobo).

Chris B

Author

Commented:
As far as I know, there hasn't been any power outages that I know of.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
what about my posts ?

Commented:
Have you tried any of our suggestions yet?

Author

Commented:
What ever I did solved the problem for now. I'm just wondering if it's going to happen again to another computer in the future.

Commented:
What did you do?

Author

Commented:
I unplugged a bunch of things and reseated some hardware and that solved the problem somehow.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
it may have been a bad contact, but i doubt it..i fear it will come back

Commented:
OK.  Go ahead and close this question.  Reopen it if the problem comes back.  If you feel that any of us helped you, please reward points.  Otherwise, ask for a refund.

Good luck!
RojoshoRTCC-III Level-2 Support

Commented:
Hello rschmauch,

Sorry for chiming in a bit late, but two things to consider...

Reading through this thread, one thing seemed to strike me as odd.  You mentioned that you 'think' you solved the problem by unplugging things and reseating things.  One symptom that could also be addressed with these steps is something is 'overheating' and the time you took to 'unplug and reseat' maybe been enough for something to cool down.  These sort of problems are very erratic and do not follow a pattern as it depends on too many variables that affect the 'symptom environment' (Doors open when they are normally closed is a good example).

May I suggest that you check the System Event logs to see if there where any clues such as Warnings to possible hardware issues.

Are the serial numbers in a close set of each other?
  . If so, then it would be time to call the vendor and see if there are any recalls or problems that can be narrowed down to serial number ranges.

I know that you feel that your AC is good, but have you considered grounding and phase loading problem.  A quick and dirty test:
  1. With a volt meter set to AC measure the following:
        a. Hot to Ground = HG
        b. Hot to Neutral = HN
        c. Ground to Neutral = GN
  2. Do the math == | HG | - | HN | > .5VAC (Should be less then .5vAC)
        . 1.0 VAC is the upper limit and is acceptable.
        . As you move to a value greater then 1.0VAC then the more you are looking a 'phase imbalance' and should have it professionally investigated.
  3. The GN value should be ZERO with .25VAC as the upper limit - think about it, Ground and Neutral should be 'electrically potentially' the same, meaning that both should be ZERO.

I have seen poor AC loading, poor Grounding and overloaded UPS units do strange things to systems.

I hope this did not cloud the issue.

Rojosho...

Author

Commented:
Tried it and it worked.

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