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Toshiba Satellite L55-B5294 fails to start

Posted on 2016-07-24
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Last Modified: 2016-09-03
Hi,

  I have Toshiba Satellite L55-B5294 laptop (Intel Core i5-4210U Processor 1.7GHz;  8GB DDR3L-1600 RAM; 750GB 5,400RPM Hard Drive; Win7 Pro) that shows pitch black screen when turned on. Other times it boots to OS no problem. Before giving up on this, what other troubleshooting (or part replacement) would you recommend?

Thanks.
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Question by:sglee
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John Hurst earned 167 total points (awarded by participants)
ID: 41726836
Try to boot several times with a bootable DVD of any kind (Knoppix, Ultimate Boot CD or other).

If the machine boots properly several times in a row, the hard drive or operating system has gone defective.
If the machine fails the same way as with the drive and disk, then it could be a motherboard / switch error.
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41726850
I have thought about that too, so I bought an SSD and put it in, but it failed to turn on.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41726852
Then you have a motherboard failure. Could be the switch circuit or an intermittent CPU (thermal compound dried up).
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41726854
I am aware of MB failure possibility. The reason for posting this question is to see if there are other components (besides MB) that anyone would recommend replacing.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41726856
If you replaced the hard drive, that is the only common component. I assume you removed any accessories like USB keys.
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41726859
Yes I removed USB flash drives.
I am currently running Windows updates because there was some type of graphics related updates included.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41726861
Graphics updates should not cause erratic startups.
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Expert Comment

by:Justin Smith
ID: 41726862
Might have something to do with dead RAM. Make sure you test the RAM if you can. I believe this happened to me in the past.
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Assisted Solution

by:noxcho
noxcho earned 167 total points (awarded by participants)
ID: 41726865
Have you checked that power connector is not loose? Sometimes the bad PSU makes this kind of problems as well.
RAM could hardly be the cause because with a defect RAM the reproducing of the problem is quite stable. Means it would always fail to start.
Another troubleshooting is connecting an external VGA monitor to this laptop and checking if the problem reproduces.
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by:Justin Smith
ID: 41726877
I've had RAM do exactly this. It would start up fine most of the time, then sometimes it just failed. Then eventually, it just stopped starting altogether. OP, does this sound familiar? It took me forever to figure out my problem, so maybe it will help. Hope it does.
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 41726882
At the times you have nothing on the display, can you hear the PC starting up (HD activity, the HD LED flickering)? Or if you attach an external display, does it always work? If that is the case, it is probably just a problem with the display or the cable between the display and the mainboard.
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41726898
After Windows update, it rebooted. I noticed that it took a long time to display anything on the screen - like a few minutes. Now I am wondering if the user thought that the computer was not working because of long delay. But in fact the computer was working in the background and for some reason it was taking unusual amount of time to go thru post-boot process.
I am going to update BIOS and go thru power off and on routine several times.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41726902
That is a change to the question and your observations. Please let us know about the BIOS update.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 41727067
why would you update the bios?  any reason?
personally - if not needed, i don't do it
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41727449
The laptop already had newest BIOS. I was under the wrong impression when it came up for me. It still does the same.
When OS comes up, it takes a few minutes, but other times, it shows pitch dark.
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 41727464
Again, when it stays dark, can you see the disk LED flickering, and does the disk sound as if windows is starting?
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by:nobus
ID: 41727466
maybe it is doing an AV scan??
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41727525
I was under the wrong impression when it came up for me. It still does the same.

And you replaced the hard drive and you removed accessories.

So back to motherboard issue or (as others have suggested) memory (which is normally easy to check.
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41727550
LED StatusI have the laptop in front of me this morning, so I will do any test you want done.
First, I see two lights: (1) Power  (2) WiFi. But I do not see HD status light, so it is hard to determine if HD is running or not.
Next time when it comes on, I will remove Anti-Virus.
As to the hard drive goes, I installed Win7 on a brand SSD drive on another PC and inserted SSD into this laptop, but the it is the same result.
I doubt it is memory.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41727559
So then with all eliminated, it is related to the motherboard. Can you reseat the CPU? (new thermal compound)
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41727560
@nobus
Since the laptop is running on new SSD with Win7 only, there is not Anti-Virus program.
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41727563
@John,
 "Can you reseat the CPU? " --> Do you think it is CPU overheat issue? If that is the case, then the laptop should boot always when the CPU is cold. But that is not the case.
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by:rindi
ID: 41727570
If there is no HD LED, listen for disk activity (provided it is a conventional disk and not an SSD).
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by:sglee
ID: 41727572
My goal when I was posting this question was this:
I knew that more than likely I needed to replace the motherboard.
But since it costs a lot of money and I can't return it once I buy it, I wanted to know if there are other components that I try before buying a replacement MB.
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by:sglee
ID: 41727579
@rindi
Currently SSD is running on the laptop.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41727593
It takes a very short time (perhaps under a second) for a CPU to overheat

It is also just a suggestion .
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by:sglee
ID: 41727596
Since this morning I turned this thing on and off multiple times and I would say 1 out of 3 times, it boots from SSD, but it takes a minute or two to boot. By the time I forget about this laptop, I see something on the screen.
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 41727607
Connect an external display to it and see if you then always have an output.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41727616
By the time I forget about this laptop, I see something on the screen  <-- Does it remain running and run well?  Could be the display as mentioned, but it also could be related to the main board (1 out of 3 times, it boots from SSD)
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41727618
@rindi,

 Same when external monitor is connected.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41727622
So if the main guts of the machine, is it worth saving economically?
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41727634
" Does it remain running and run well? " --> Yes. When it boots to OS, yes it runs well.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41727641
There could be an intermittent fault on the main board.

What else?

Not OS (new one)
Not Drive (new one)
Not memory (checked)
Not accessories (removed).
Not display (same for external).

Motherboard, power sub circuit loom high.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 41727770
did you test it when running from battery alone, and from AC adaptor alone?
one or the other can be the cause ..
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by:Justin Smith
ID: 41728189
How is the Memory Checked? So many to dismiss my idea but did he actually test it. I don't understand why my idea is dismissed so easily. I was the same way and dismissed it until it was the problem. Don't mean to argue but wow.
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41728208
@Justin
  My apology. I can run MemTest86, but it is going to be a challenge to MemTest86.exe from DVD or USB on this laptop. I will try and post the result. If you have a Windows-based RAM test program, please provide the link.
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by:Justin Smith
ID: 41728646
Give this article a read-through. I think it will provide a lot of help.

http://www.cnet.com/how-to/test-your-ram-with-windows-memory-diagnostic-tool/
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41728718
@Justin
Thanks for the link. I will run that tomorrow and post the result.
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by:nobus
ID: 41728843
i do not advise running memtest from windows
best is to run from a bootable cd, or usb stick  -i use the UBCD for this
you can also simply swap the ram, or test with 1 stick if you have 2

but to me it does not look like a ram problem

did you test yet running from battery alone, or adapter?
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by:Justin Smith
ID: 41729462
but to me it does not look like a ram problem

did you test yet running from battery alone, or adapter?

Just give up on my advice. lol. I don't want to be bogging down your problem further. When everything else fails and the 15 people who said it's not a RAM problem and it turns out to be one, I expect a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Good luck.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 41729749
ha...
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 41749880
try installing another OS, and check what that does - same problem or not?
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41750741
"try installing another OS" --> I already have done that, but the same problem occurred.
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 41750883
The machine has a hardware problem. Is it worth saving.
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41750888
I don't think it is worth any more effort. I am currently looking for an used laptop so that I can swap out the motherboard.
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Expert Comment

by:Justin Smith
ID: 41750889
The machine has a hardware problem. Is it worth saving.

yup...i have a feeling which hardware as well.
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41750894
One final time ... do you think it is MB issue or some other component issue?
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 41750902
It is not an accessory issue.

So Motherboard, CPU, GPU, thermal compound, connections on the motherboard, power supply connections.
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Assisted Solution

by:nobus
nobus earned 166 total points (awarded by participants)
ID: 41751551
here is what i do with laptops :
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 !

===>>you can test if the mobo works outside the casing, connected to power and external video  !

you can also remove and reseat the video plug - it sometimes comes loose

for troubleshooting the display (LCD) problems : http://www.lcdparts.net/howto/symptom.aspx
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41756187
I appreciate your suggestions.
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 41774745
I agree with point distribution.
I just wanted to share the status. I have purchased the identical laptop on Ebay and simply moved the hard drive from failing laptop and installed it in the newly purchased used laptop. It worked great!
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