Dell precision M6500 workstation keeps shutting down on its own

I have a workstation that have had a problem with its VGA card or monitor cable for 8 months, until recently I got  a new VGA card to replace but still I had a problem with it shutting down automatically.

I ordered a monitor cable to the main board and replaced it and the PC started working for longer times (Yesterday 1 and half hour) and then it suddenly shutdown.

I tried removing hard disks, removing 1 ram piece and tried removing the keyboard, lights led ..etc the machine after lasting for an hour and half it started shutting down in less than 5 minutes then.

I am out of options on how to diagnose this machine. is there anywhere to possibly know whats the reason for the shutdown?

The processor's heat is around 30-60C and the GPU is about 60-70C.

Could this be the main board damaged? Is there anywhere I could make sure 100% what it is?

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Mohammed HamadaSenior IT ConsultantAsked:
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dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
Could be power supply as well.

It seems that it runs for about an hour then shuts down, each successive start it runs for less time.

Try starting it after 24 hours of rest and see how long it lasts.
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Does it shut down when you are working at it? Or does go down when nothing is happening on it?
When you start it again - do you get a message that Windows recovered from a failure or something like that?
Mohammed HamadaSenior IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
if i leave it for a day, it says for an hour and then after that it shuts down in about 5 minutes. I tried with battery but same problems occurs.

The shutdown happens anytime either when I work or when it's just starting! If I leave it on the bios screen it shuts down by it self and turns on by it self.

I thought maybe the led light panel has an issue or causing a mass so I removed it and that made the pc last longer but it kept on shutting down then later.

No messages or anything on Windows, I have dual boot on it and tried also on Linux Mint and it also shuts down there.. the shutdown happens as if you're pulling off the power cable
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Any chance to try another power supply unit?
Have you checked that all coolers are working properly and the system is not overheating?
Temperature measurements aren't always exact, they depend on the sensor and chipset working properly. Remove the heatsink from the CPU and GPU, and very thoroughly clean all the surfaces. With the heatsinks removed you also get a better view of the mainboard. Look at the electrolytic capacitors. If they show signs of them bulging, cracking or leaking, they are bad and can be replaced .

Add a very small drop of fresh thermal transfer paste to the top of the CPU and GPU, then firmly and properly re-attach the heatsinks. As was already mentioned earlier, also make sure the fans rotate smoothly. If they don't either replace them, or grease their bearings (that sometimes helps), and make sure everything is free of dust.

Also as has been mentioned, the PSU could be bad. The most common cause of failing PSU's are also bad electrolytic capacitors, so if you see signs like that in the PSU you know it is bad....
William FulksSystems Analyst & WebmasterCommented:
What kind of video card are you using? It could be the power supply may be lacking the proper wattage to run it and that's causing power issues with your PC.

You also pointed out that it was having video problems before - have you checked the motherboard for blown capacitors?
Mohammed HamadaSenior IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
@noxcho no I don't have any other power supply.

@Rindi, The machine is left naked without any cover and I am able to put my hands directly on the CPU and the GPU copper tube. but I will try to get a paste for it and try it since the VGA card is brand new.

@William the VGA is nvidia m3800 dedicated graphic (For the dell workstation)

Could the new VGA card be fake replica of the original one? before I placed the new one, I was able to work on the PC even with the old VGA but the colors were just messy but there was nothing with the PC .. the power was just fine.
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
Just realised this is a laptop.  So if this happens with either using charger or battery then it is not a power problem.

If it is only happening with the new VGA card then the problem lies with the card and most likely poor cooling on the card.

It seems that both the old card and the new one are giving problems.  If the new card is under warranty then use it.
Mohammed HamadaSenior IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
I got it from ebay, and this is the second time I get a new VGA card! first time I got one the pins were broken and I had to send it back to get a new one .. I waited about 3 months to get the new one since the local dell distributor sells it for a crazy price I can't even afford.

I thought there's anyway to check if there's any electrical problem within the machine! any tool or equipment I can buy to check where exactly the problem lies rather than buying another VGA that might not also be the problem.

The new machine here costs about 5000 USD! and from Ebay it's not that cheap as well :(
if you have another disk around, install an OS on it and test if it still shutdown; this will show if the problem is hard or soft
if it is hard - replace the parts one by one is the only sure way to find what's wrong

this may help :
here my laptop troubleshooting guide, i hope it helps you :
- remove all external devices
-you can disable devices from BIOS to test (sound, lan, etc..)
- if no display - test with an external monitor
- test if it runs from battery alone, or from AC alone
- test also with a known good battery !
***some laptops have a reset button - if you have one use it!
- remove battery and AC adaptor, hold power button for 20 sec, connect AC and reboot --> any display ? if NO -->
- disconnect all disk and cd drives, battery , and other cards and peripherals, leave only 1 ram stick
- boot -->any display ?
-if you can access the bios battery, remove the battery, AC, and bios battery for a minute to reset the bios
or test it, it should read 3 V
*** you can test the disk on another pc, if you like !
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
>>  any tool or equipment I can buy to check where exactly the problem lies rather than buying another VGA that might not also be the problem.

Not really any that I know of.

Generally in these types of cases you check for faults by swapping components in and out.  In your case it is the video card, but the old one was proving faulty and this new one seems to be doing much the same.  If the card has a heatsink you can remove and repaste and then try again.  Check the heatsink is flush against the GPU and associated chips.  Also try running with a fan blowing down onto the heatsink, I believe you have the case open so that may well be possible.
Logan JamesElectronics TechnicianCommented:
One thing you can try is running the laptop without the battery plugged in. I've had a simular problem and it turned out the active power controller for the charging of the battery had failed and when it tried to switch between battery and power supply it would shut down.
also look in event viewer for problems
i assume there are no DSOD?  if so - look for minidumps in windows\minidumps, and post them here
Mohammed HamadaSenior IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
I am not sure what's going on with this crazy computer but it started working now all of a sudden... I have left it since I posted last time and now I lastly tried the new VGA and since today morning it didn't shut down at all. it works properly and everything on it seems to be working pretty well.

I left it for 4 hours and now I'm posting directly from it on Windows 8.

I am posting 2 pictures of the pieces that I have replaced.
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
Probably more testing and use is required to see if problems have gone away.  Seems at this stage to be a bad connection somewhere.
Mohammed HamadaSenior IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
I was doubting that the problem might be related to the monitors cables and the socket of the VGA card. I thought I didn't put it properly and that because the previous monitor cable had some issues with its cable it might've affected it.

Until now I didn't do any test for the VGA or did something that would expose the GPU to pressure. but i'll try to play a game and see if it works or not.
Mohammed HamadaSenior IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Thanks Nobus,

One last question, I have 4 memory slots on this machine and now it has 2x4GB ddr3 rams 1066Mhz. I would like to upgrade the ram to 32 GB but would appreciate to know if does it have to be 1066Mhz or it can be more? would that work or not?

Thanks a lot.
The speed of the RAM can be more or less, that doesn't matter, except that if the higher speed is supported, the system will still run at the speed of the slowest RAM in the system. Not that memory speed makes much difference to the user. Normally you won't notice.

You would also have to check whether the board supports 32 GB, and it is best to have matching pairs of RAM and that those pairs are installed in the correct slots, so they run in dual channel mode.

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Mohammed HamadaSenior IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
I checked the M6500 machine specs and it says that if you have quad core processor then it supports up to 8GB 1600 mhz ram for each slot. so I am assuming that I can replace my installed 2x4 rams with 4x8 1600mhz without an issue?

This is the pdf from dell.
It is always best to use memory configurators like where you can input your PC or mainboard model, and then the proper RAM for your PC is output. Or take the PC to your local PC shop and ask them whether you can try the modules before you buy them. That guarantees they will work. I've often seen issues where a module didn't work even though according to the specs it should have.

Something that also can be important at times is to make sure you upgrade the BIOS, as that sometimes adds support to previously unknown modules.
Mohammed HamadaSenior IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
It gave me this page and said that it supports upgrade to 16GB, but I'll go as you said i'll just take it to a local shop and test all 4 of them there and if the PC works then i'll upgrade them right away.

Thanks a lot Rindi and everyone else
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