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Dell PC power on problem (amber light flash once then nothing)

Last response: in Motherboards
April 8, 2014 6:02:22 AM

Dell Vostro 220, power up problem 2 months ago. Pressing power button, amber light flash once then nothing. Repeat, nothing. After about 100 tries, before I gave in, somehow the PC started.

Since I turned on the PC 2 months ago, I have kept it on. At night I put it into sleep mode (with blue light flashing, not hibernation). For the first 2 weeks, I can wake up the PC by clicking the mouse. Then clicking on the mouse didn't work any more, so I had to press and hold the power button for a few seconds to shut down the PC, then in a few seconds press the power button again to power on. However, if I only put the PC to sleep for a short time, say 30 minutes or so, then I can wake it up by a mouse click.

Weird thing is, shortly after I turn off the PC, when I press the power button, after about 2 seconds delay, amber light will flash once, then blue light came on then the PC starts.

When the PC is on, it works fine without any problem. So I used this trick to keep it alive.

Unfortunately, today my nephew came over and he shut down the PC when he left. By the time I found out, the PC was left in the "cold" for a few hours, and I haven't been able to turn it back on again. Same as in my last post, it will flash amber once when I press power button, then nothing.

Most strange isn't it? I am considering the following 3 problems:

1. CMOS battery failure: not sure if CMOS battery issue would prevent power on at all though?
2. PSU failure: not sure because the PC works fine when it's on.
3. Motherboard failure: could it be some capacitor issue? since If I keep the PC on, or just in sleep mode for a short time the PC seems to boot up or wake up no problem.

Please Help!

April 8, 2014 1:43:00 PM

I think you got it with #1. I've seen a weak CMOS battery prevent a Dell from booting before. Weak battery in, no boot; battery out, boot with complaint about low battery; weak battery back in, no boot; fresh battery in, normal boot.

I'd guess that what's happening is the battery voltage falls just below what's needed to boot. If you leave the power on, the PSU powers the circuitry so the battery doesn't have to and it can recover a little voltage to back above the threshold. If the power is off, the battery starts to drain again. Wait a little while, and the machine will boot, but wait too long and the battery voltage will fall below the threshold and no boot.

It's cheap and easy to change the battery, and I'll bet it'll fix the problem.
April 8, 2014 7:48:05 PM

Thanks for the tip, I'll replace the battery and update the result in a few days.
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April 15, 2014 8:11:55 PM

Replaced the CMOS battery. Same problem. But again I am keeping it "on", sleep mode only at night.
a b V Motherboard
April 16, 2014 9:01:57 AM

Amber light - motherboard failure, back up all your files ASAP and get ready for the worst.

Consider new/different PC at this point.