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Dell XPS 8500 Hangs in BIOS

Posted on 2014-02-08
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Last Modified: 2016-11-23
My client has a Dell XPS 8500 that has been in service since November 2012.  Recently, it hung (froze) in the BIOS.  Hard booting it (holding the power button until it goes off) has resulted in the same condition when the computer is started.  There are no recent hardware or software changes.  I would like to know what should be done to resolve the problem and would also like to know if this is a probable hardware issue (motherboard)?  All suggestions will be appreciated.
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Question by:bbaumberger
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 39844694
If the computer does not get beyond BIOS at all, it would appear to be hardware (motherboard issue).

If it get just beyond BIOS and attempts to access the hard drive, it could be a root kit virus.

Try starting it with a bootable CD (Ultimate Boot CD or equivalent). If it will not boot this way, then it is a hardware problem.

Please let us know.
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garycase earned 125 total points
ID: 39844713
There are several things that could cause this ...

(1)  A motherboard failure;
(2)  A failed/failing power supply
(3)  A memory failure
(4)  A failed CPU
(5)  Another failed component that's "pulling down" the voltages from the motherboard.

#4 is least likely;  and #2, #3, and #5 are the easiest things to check/eliminate.     The first thing I'd try is unplugging (both power and data) all other devices (hard drives, optical drive, etc.) and see if that changes anything.    Then I'd remove all the memory modules and insert a single "known good" module to see if that changes the symptoms.    If not, I'd try a different power supply.    If none of those help, then it's almost certainly a failed motherboard.

Note:  It's also possible that something got corrupted in the CMOS and is causing this.   To check for that, turn off the power supply (but leave it plugged in so you have a good ground unless it doesn't have an on/off switch);  remove the CMOS battery;  and wait about 10 minutes.    Then replace the CMOS battery and turn it back on.
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Author Comment

by:bbaumberger
ID: 39844779
Thanks so much to both of you who responded with excellent guidance so promptly, particularly on a weekend.  I will not be working on the computer until 2/10 afternoon, so will add comments then about what I learn.
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Assisted Solution

by:web_tracker
web_tracker earned 125 total points
ID: 39844804
Hanging in the bois screen and hanging during the POST or the Dell logo are two different things. The computer should not automatically boot to the bios, on a Dell computer, unless there is some type of error message. Normally when the computer is first turned on the computer goes through a POST, power on self test.  This is where the computer tests the hardware components before it releases the sequence to the device that has the operating system. If the computer is hanging up during its the initial POST, such as the Dell logo, then it definitely is a hardware issue such as the power supply or ram memory. If the screen is black with a flashing cursor or just black then there could be something wrong with the hard drive or the operating system on the hard drive. Or the computer can not find a device that it can boot to. If there are two sticks of ram I would remove one stick and see if it will boot, or swap the ram modules to see which one will cause it to complete the post. Sometimes just the reseating of the ram may solve the problem.
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by:nobus
nobus earned 125 total points
ID: 39845010
i suggest to use the minimum setup for troubleshooting this :
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Components/Motherboards/A_1945.html                  (Short-overview-of-how-to-troubleshoot-bad-hardware-when-a-pc-does-not-post)
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by:Seth Simmons
Seth Simmons earned 125 total points
ID: 39845683
agree with web_tracker - looks like a memory issue also based on my experience with dell systems and servers.  dell systems will opt to go to the bios if it detects a memory change or error during post. often times swapping modules or receding in it's current slot resolved the majority of memory issues on my power edge servers
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Author Comment

by:bbaumberger
ID: 39861894
I tried all the hardware diagnostics suggested by garycase and still had the same problem with the computer hanging at the beginning of the BIOS progress bar.  Therefore, it looked like a motherboard problem, so called Dell technical support (warranty in effect).  By the time I called Dell, the computer had been turned off for about an hour following the reseating of memory, etc.  Lo and behold, with the Dell technician on the phone, the computer booted.  I saw a message about the keyboard flash on the screen.  When it got to the user account login screen, as soon as I typed the letter "M", the beginning of the account password, i saw a message about invalid password.  Replaced the keyboard and saw the same message when logging in normally.  Booted in safe mode and logged in without any problem.  Booting in normal mode resulted in the same issue with an invalid password displayed after typing the letter "m".  Decided it might be a malware issue.  Took the computer to my office.  Plugged in my peripherals and the computer booted normally - no log in problem!  Returned computer to client's location and confirmed that it would function normally with the new keyboard.  So, this is one of the more bizarre problems that I've encountered because there is not a clear cut resolution.
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Author Closing Comment

by:bbaumberger
ID: 39861898
Thanks to all for excellent suggestions and fast responses.
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by:garycase
ID: 39862047
Glad it's working ... but clearly that's yet-another of the computing world's "forever unsolved mysteries" :-)      You might want to set the BIOS to ignore keyboard errors ... that should at least allow the system to boot if there's an issue with the keyboard -- and sometimes these will "self-resolve" after the Windows driver takes control.
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Expert Comment

by:web_tracker
ID: 39863271
I agree with Garycase, especially I notice problems when using wireless keyboards, so ignoring the keyboard errors in the bios makes sense. Some times the wireless receiver has issues until the system loads drivers in the windows environment.
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Author Comment

by:bbaumberger
ID: 39863290
The original keyboard was a wired Dell keyboard.  It was replaced with a wireless keyboard, so your suggestion about ignoring keyboard errors in the bios is a great idea.  That will be a simple tweak!  Thanks for the follow-on dialog.
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by:nobus
ID: 39864073
i just hope the problem does not come back...these disappearing  ones have a tendence to return later
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