I'm trying to help a friend fix her computer - I'm not a techie, but I've had some success fixing others in the past with the help of smarter people available online at places like this :-)
When you turn the computer on you get the Dell screen showing BIOS revision 12 and a bar that starts out lit about 3/4" across and never progresses. There are normal startup sounds. The power light is green and stays green. I read somewhere to hold down the Fn key while turning on the computer and that results in a Diagnostic Boot Selected message in the upper right of the screen and the cap and scroll lock lights flashing - I thought that meant bad ram, but they don't flash if I don't use the Fn key when starting so, that's confusing.
I've figured out the battery is bad, I get flashing orange light 4x followed by green when it and the ac cord are both active and when I checked the battery indicator it lit up all 5 leds showing more than 60% bad cells. I've removed and reinstalled the battery, ram and hd. I've removed and reinstalled the ram in every conceivable combination with the results appearing as if Dimm A is no longer functioning. I've also removed and reinstalled the modem, and I've replaced the watch style battery on the motherboard.
Any help would be MUCH appreciated.
Note: I've also now tried verified working RAM from another computer with the same results. Also tried starting it up without the dvd drive and the hard drive as well - no change.
I had the same problem with an old hp am2 board. I believe it has one or more bad capacitors. They can be replaced if you have the right soldering skills, but I personally wouldn't try it. If you change to a non dell board, you may need a new windows coa number to reactivate windows.