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5 years old Dell crapped out. Tell me why.

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August 21, 2009 7:16:42 AM

So I and a friend were at my place, about to lay down a track using my computer and his recording hard/software, when he pulled the tower out and the computer suddenly shut off, and I haven't been able to turn it on ever since.

Now, I can still hit the button, and the computer will start running; the fans will blow, the drives will spin, etc, but it does not communicate with the monitor at all. It is very similar to problems I used to have with my monitor, where I would move it the wrong way and the power cord would slip out, and I would have to fiddle with it to get it to work right again.

I have gotten differing opinions on what the problem is: my workmate, who is an expert PC builder and gamer, thinks it is a faulty cable; the reason he cites for this is that, once the tower is turned on, the monitor light will turn from orange (idle) to green (active) for a split second, then turn back to orange.

I rode over to a local computer shop and the guy said that he thinks it's the mobo, because "98% of the problems" he finds are because of motherboard issues.

My friend who was here the night it died insists that the problem "can be nothing other than the driver," but he doesn't know much about PC's and he has been contradicted by both of my other sources.

I really have no idea what it is, but I can tell you it ISN'T the monitor, because when I disconnect it and turn it on the little color box shows up and floats around. I don't see any reason it should be like this, though; everything turns on and acts like it's working, but the monitor appears to be getting no signal from the tower. And all he did was bump the thing.

Anyway, I'm definitely going to be building my own, brand-new PC (see my other topics), but between then and there I'd like to not have to borrow laptops from friends and family members, cuz I really hate laptop keyboards. :sweat: 

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a b C Monitor
August 21, 2009 2:23:24 PM

First of all, it's not a driver. A video driver could cause the resolution issues, but you wouldn't lose video output.

The shop that says 98% of the problems are motherboards are trying to rip you off. Motherboards don't die that easy. But to replace them can be expensive (probably why they diagnose most problems as the board).

Do you still get the normal beeps when you hit the power button? Since the fans and HD start spinning, it's likely booting fine.

Do you have an add on video card or onboard? It sounds like a video card, I'd start there.
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August 21, 2009 2:51:58 PM

To throw an accurate percentage out there... I would say that 99% of problems like this occur at the physical layer which includes things like simple connections.

If there is an add-in video card, is it all the way in it's slot?

Is the cable connecting the monitor to the computers video output firmly connected?

I've recently had 2 video card failures from blown capaciters, the computer would not boot w\ the video card in and once I pulled it or replaced it all was well. I've only had to replace a motherboard 2 times, EVER.... so that's definitely on the less than 1% of my pc troubleshooting and repair list.
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August 22, 2009 7:20:37 PM

Quote:
Do you still get the normal beeps when you hit the power button? Since the fans and HD start spinning, it's likely booting fine. Everything starts correctly.

Do you have an add on video card or onboard? It sounds like a video card, I'd start there.
I'll check, but I think it's onboard.

Quote:
Is the cable connecting the monitor to the computers video output firmly connected?Pretty sure, yeah.


Thank you for the help guys.
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a b C Monitor
August 22, 2009 10:45:12 PM

If everything is booting up correctly and you aren't getting video output, try putting a video card in it and connect the monitor to the video card.
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August 23, 2009 7:29:26 PM

Do you have a Dimension 8400?

Whether you do or not - at that age there will be many similarities - I recommend reading this thread where many reported similar symptoms - but the causes turned out to be quite varied.

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tom...

I suggest you start with checking the video card as suggested above. Then proceed to try to borrow and insert another video card and then a monitor cable - if one makes a difference test yours on another machine to prove out the problem.

Then check every connnector inside and outside the case - since the case was moved immediately before onset, it could be something as simple as a lose wire.

Then inspect the mobo for signs of power (burn) damage - enlarged caps or burn spots. Pull off the mobo power connectors and see if the connector appears damaged - then reinstall if looks ok.

Then I would try to borrow another PSU and see if that resolves the problem. If not, you will need to start dissassemblying the PC component by component and checking - as disccussed in some detail in other thread - down to breadboarding if necessary.

One other thing to consider - for a factory built computer - yours is getting pretty old - probably about 70 in people years. It is just old and could be prone to many end of life issues. Keep your backups current.
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August 31, 2009 10:58:36 PM

try another monitor 1st if you can, might save opening up your Dell (although they are designed to be easily opened up)

then try another cable

then open up the case and check the card (gfx) or insert one if you have onboard - keep us posted we'll get there
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September 2, 2009 4:10:27 AM

***UPDATE***

Well, I never figured out what the problem was, but I was able to fix it. Apparently all I had to do was fiddle with the power plug, and then just out of nowhere it started up again. I shut it down like normal that night, then when I tried to turn it back on the next day, I had the same problem, except it made this strange beeping sound out of the back. I didn't know what it meant, but I just turned it off, fiddled with the cord, plugged it back in and voila, it worked. I used it for a week and then I got the same problem, except now it won't start no matter how much I fiddle (lol).

The tower seems to be working fine, fan is running and I can hear the drive spinning, just it won't give a signal to my monitor or my keyboard and goes beep.

It's a Dimension 3000.
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