Dell PC spontaneously restarting, Mobo issue?

Hey all! I bought a Dell Vostro 430 CI7 about 3 years ago and last fall it started spontaneously restarting at seemingly random intervals. Having been in contact with Dell and found out my service tag has expired, I am on my own trying to fix this horribly frustrating problem.

The restarts happen on average 0-5 times per day (0 is extremely unusual) and it's NOT a blue screen or typical Windows error but a reset more as if the computer had suddenly lost power, kinda like a fuse just blew or something. BUT, it's also not completely instantaneous but always preceeded by a 1-2 full second freeze before it dies. Whenever I'm working on it and my mouse cursor suddenly freezes on the screen, I know the next second it will just go *blip* and die to reboot with a "Windows was not shut down properly" error. The anticipation for these moments have now become a bit like my own personal water torture session, saving like a madman (and still often just not frequently enough) and waiting for that next crash :cry:

There are two reasons I'm *suspecting* it might be a motherboard issue, but of course I really don't know what causes this.

First of all, because I've soon replaced almost everything in the can except for the Mobo and Processor. I replaced the default PSU with a Corsair HX650W, the main chassi fan is gone and replaced now with 4 (!) extra fans to keep temps as low as possible. Main hard drive was last week proven faulty with damaged sectors and I finally thought I was on to the problem, only to have another crash maybe 5 hours after installing a new main drive. Also the default graphics card has been replaced with a Gigabyte gtx460.

Second reason, is the motherboard is the only thing showing suspiciously high temps. Right now during normal Windows 7 usage it putters away at 63 deg Celsius but if playing any demanding games or such, it quickly rises to the 80-90 interval (mind you this is with 4 fans and the chassi side permanently removed since awhile back. Yes I dust often :D ).

Anyway, I know at certain points in the past BEFORE this problem occured, with the chassi closed and only the original single fan running, I've at some points seen motherboard temperatures of up to 102 deg C on this sucker. Even though it didn't cause any crashes at that time, I have a slight fear it could have done some permanent damage to the motherboard maybe making it more unstable or such? Strange thing is though, the crashes don't seem to correlate in any way with the temperatures. It can run fine for a long time at 85 C and then next day after 1 hour running at 60 C it suddenly dies several times in a row.

It also seems to die mostly when I'm on the computer working on it, actively doing stuff. When I leave it running over night it's pretty much always fine when I come back into the office in the morning, but can then often crash again after just half an hour or so of actively working on it.

Anyway, I've heard these motherboards (generally speaking) should be able to withstand up to 110+ C but I actually don't know specifically what mobo is mounted in this model per default so I can't look it up for sure. Pretty much all the specs *except* that were available where I ordered the computer. Does anybody know what make and model of motherboards Dell used for Vostro 430 CI7 (6 GB) three years ago and what it's max temp tolerance is? Processor is Intel Core i7 860 2,8 GHz 8 MB with P55 chipset.

I should also mention I've tested the RAM with memtest86+ after a reboot, but only for 2 passes (roughly 1.5 hours). Maybe I should run it longer just in case? I've heard certain memory errors can be more random and only pop up after a long time of continous scanning.

Sorry for a very long post but I wanted to detail the problem as best I could. I really hope someone could shed any kind of light whatsoever on this extremely irritating problem. Starting to run out of things to try, not to mention hope in general :(
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  1. The Dell Vostro 430 comes shipped with a 350 watt PSU that I wouldn't even want in my Windows 98SE rig.

    Get at least a 650 watt PSU and all your problems will be solved. You might have to purchase direct form Dell as their PSU fitting is different from standard PSU's but using a standard power supply unit, you can at least get 2 screws to fit in place to hold the PSU.

    When Dell ship out their computers, the PSU is only standard to what has been shipped with the PC and not extras that the user may install.
  2. TenPc said:
    Get at least a 650 watt PSU and all your problems will be solved.

    I know my post may have been a lot to read but to quote myself about halfway through, "I replaced the default PSU with a Corsair HX650W" so sadly all my problems won't be solved with this step alone.

    Anyway on the 6th of February I went over the box once more in a very thorough cleaning. I disconnected every single component from the motherboard, carefully vacuumed and dusted out the box, motherboard and every component separately, and then reassembled it all again.

    After that cleaning, the computer actually ran fine for 9 days until the 15th, when it suddenly crashed again. Then it crashed one more time on the 17th and now today the 18th the third crash happened so it seems the problem still persists. Not sure if this is any indication it's dust-related, or just a sheer coincidence.

    I'm also noticing after this last crash that I can't start a few programs that were running at the time it crashed, so I'm guessing it's because Windows didn't close the files correctly and it's probably only a matter of time before I start losing some really important work files this way :??:
  3. Same problem for me but didn't crash so often. No solution for now. I clean the dust too. I suspect the memory. During one memory test the computer crash but ont the next 2 tests it passed it without problem. Also 1 memory slot had a problem: I see the memory in the Bios (4x2) but Windows see only 6Go ???. So So I use different memory on 2 slots (2x4) to avoid the problem. It's this new memory who didn't pass the test. I haven't no problem before the memory change. Maybe the problem is the board related to memory slot ?

    Also I have some of these V430 at work and 3 of them have some problems with onboard lan card who can't reach 1 Go and/or didn't work at all some time.
  4. Hi there, I think you may be on to something with the memory suspicions. My pre-boot memory tests ran fine so I dismissed the memory maybe too early, but just as an experiment after a day with 4-5 annoying crashes I thought I would start testing the memory physically to see what would happen.

    I had upgraded my computer to 8 GB (the problems happened before the upgrade so it's not just the new memory) so I yanked out both of the blue socket DIMMs, leaving only 4 GB in the black memory sockets. This was this monday the 25th and so far even though I've put the computer through a lot of stressful and memory intense operations, I have had no crash now for a full work week!

    Of course I also had a week without crashes after a proper dust cleaning and de+re-assembly of all the components so I'm not taking anything out in advance, but if you also say the memory seems dodgy on your machine I think this may be it. Could the Vostro 430 universally just have bad memory sockets maybe?

    For me, when I got the computer, the blue socket next to the processor was in use and the 3rd slot away from the processor was the only free one. That's where I added my extra 2 GB I upgraded to, but as I said the problem happened even before the upgrade so I'm suspecting it's the blue socket right next to the processor that's causing the problems for me.

    It would be interesting to hear if you came to any similar conclusions on your computer, maybe it's some problem in the line at the manufacturing plant causing similar errors on a lot of V430s.
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