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Dell Dimension Keeps Powering Off


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#1
radjxf

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My son has an old Dell Dimension 2350 running XP sp3 that recently decided to just spontaneously shut off during boot-up.

I opened the case, and first thing I see is the heat sink is hanging half-off of the CPU since the plastic mount is broken.

I replaced the mount, cleaned and applied dielectric grease.....still doesn't fix it.

I purchased a refurbished power supply.....still does the same thing.

I inspected every inch of the motherboard and it's various cards and RAM. Two capacitors on the video card are blown. I replaced the video card with a new one from Ebay. Still doesn't work.

I've also inspected the RAM, and reinstalled both 512 sticks. Pulled the power AND the motherboard battery for several days, and replaced the motherboard battery with a new one.

Just as before the hardware replacements, it will sometimes make it all the way to the desktop, but usually shuts down before the desktop appears.

I know this is an old PC, but it's just for my 10 y/o to use...I was hoping to bring it back to life if possible.


Thanks in advance for any help.

Edited by radjxf, 02 June 2011 - 08:56 PM.

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#2
Spyderturbo007

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I replaced the mount, cleaned and applied dielectric grease.....still doesn't fix it.


I just wanted to clarify that you just used the wrong terminology, because thermal compound is what you need to use between the heatsink and CPU. Dielectric grease is totally different and will not perform the same function.
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#3
Digerati

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Agreed. Dielectric grease is typically used to seal out the elements in electrical connections exposed to the weather.

You say you found two blown caps on the graphics card - did you inspect the motherboard for leaky or bulging caps too? That would be my suspicion, assuming the CPU or it's socket was not damaged by the apparent rough handling.
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#4
radjxf

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Thanks for the replies.

I thoroughly inspected the motherboard. Every cap looks fine.

I was told by some locals, that the dielectric grease was fine. Could this actually be causing the problems? I live in MT; I very highly doubt I'll find some of the thermal compound here without ordering it.
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#5
Digerati

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If you don't have a Radio Shack or Best Buy, then you will need to order some. See my sticky, TIM. If your dielectric grease is mostly silicone, as most is, it is probably doing some good. But I would replace it with the right stuff as soon as you can.
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#6
radjxf

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Thanks Digerati.

I found some Arctic Silver thermal compound at Radio Shack for (gulp) $10.50 for a tiny tube.

I followed your sticky to the letter. The machine booted up to the desktop first try, but powered off after approx. one minute. I fired it up again...this time it didn't make it to the desktop and shut down.

Any more ideas before I throw this thing out?

Thanks again.
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#7
Digerati

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Yeah, that stuff is expensive - but should last along time.

I am leaning towards the PSU, but you already tried a second so that is not good - assuming the refurbished supply is good.

If me, I would disconnect all drives, USB devices and all but one stick of RAM and see what happens. It should make it through POST and halt when it cannot find a boot drive. If it does not make it through post, try the other RAM stick. If still no luck, then it looks like the CPU, or motherboard.

You said two caps were blown on the video card. Define "blown". Were they leaking or bulging? Or fried, as in burnt? You inspected the motherboard - did you inspect for leaky or bulging caps there?
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#8
radjxf

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Yeah, that stuff is expensive - but should last along time.

I am leaning towards the PSU, but you already tried a second so that is not good - assuming the refurbished supply is good.

If me, I would disconnect all drives, USB devices and all but one stick of RAM and see what happens. It should make it through POST and halt when it cannot find a boot drive. If it does not make it through post, try the other RAM stick. If still no luck, then it looks like the CPU, or motherboard.

You said two caps were blown on the video card. Define "blown". Were they leaking or bulging? Or fried, as in burnt? You inspected the motherboard - did you inspect for leaky or bulging caps there?


Thanks, I'll try to perform the above procedures when I have time...

The two caps on the video card were popped open on the "score lines" made into the top. There was some beige-colored 'stuff' that had leaked out of them. I can find nothing else on the entire motherboard, etc. that appears the least bit out of the ordinary.
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#9
Digerati

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The two caps on the video card were popped open on the "score lines" made into the top. There was some beige-colored 'stuff' that had leaked out of them.

Yeah, the perfect description of leaky capacitors. The score lines are actually pressure relief points and are designed to split open slowly when internal pressures get too high. Without those pressure relief points, the capacitors can actually explode open with a considerably loud "pop".

The "stuff" that leaked out is the electrolyte. Better made cards, motherboards, and PSUs use solid capacitor instead of electrolytic, when possible.
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#10
radjxf

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Yeah, that stuff is expensive - but should last along time.

I am leaning towards the PSU, but you already tried a second so that is not good - assuming the refurbished supply is good.

If me, I would disconnect all drives, USB devices and all but one stick of RAM and see what happens. It should make it through POST and halt when it cannot find a boot drive. If it does not make it through post, try the other RAM stick. If still no luck, then it looks like the CPU, or motherboard.

You said two caps were blown on the video card. Define "blown". Were they leaking or bulging? Or fried, as in burnt? You inspected the motherboard - did you inspect for leaky or bulging caps there?


I performed the above procedure, with each stick of ram and no dice. Still powers off while performing the POST...

Is the CPU integrated into the motherboard? I'd be curious how to identify the motherboard just to see how much a replacement would cost, just for kicks.
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#11
The Admiral

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A little late to the party, sorry.

Right below the PS/2 mouse & keyboard connectors, there are four tiny diagnostic lights that change as the computer POSTs. These lights keep track of where the computer is at during POST, that way if it hangs, the lights show exactly which component is hanging up the POST. If your computer is shutting down during POST, watch those lights and see which lights are on when it shuts off. Do it a couple of times to make sure it is consistent. Then post back here with the light sequence (note the A, B, C, and D, and yellow/green) and we'll figure out what is going on.

Protip: check out Dell Support for the diagnostic codes yourself.
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#12
The Admiral

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As an additional note, the CPU is not integrated, it is a Socket 478 seat. Looks like the Dell part number for the motherboard is 7W080, but I can't confirm that - just a quick google search.
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#13
radjxf

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A little late to the party, sorry.

Right below the PS/2 mouse & keyboard connectors, there are four tiny diagnostic lights that change as the computer POSTs. These lights keep track of where the computer is at during POST, that way if it hangs, the lights show exactly which component is hanging up the POST. If your computer is shutting down during POST, watch those lights and see which lights are on when it shuts off. Do it a couple of times to make sure it is consistent. Then post back here with the light sequence (note the A, B, C, and D, and yellow/green) and we'll figure out what is going on.

Protip: check out Dell Support for the diagnostic codes yourself.


Thanks, Admiral.

After turning it on, D lights up yellow, followed by a very fast sequence that I cannot record. Then the lights remain as A=yellow, B=green, C=green, and D=yellow until the machine shuts off. Acc to the Dell link you supplied: "A possible floppy or hard drive failure has occurred".

I also tried this with the floppy unplugged, and the HD unplugged with the same results.

The hard drive sounds normal, no unusual noises....it just doesn't stay on long enough to obtain much diagnostic info.

Thanks again.

Edited by radjxf, 20 June 2011 - 08:35 PM.

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#14
The Admiral

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If me, I would disconnect all drives, USB devices and all but one stick of RAM and see what happens. It should make it through POST and halt when it cannot find a boot drive. If it does not make it through post, try the other RAM stick. If still no luck, then it looks like the CPU, or motherboard.


Do the diagnostic lights change if you boot this way? All you should have in your mobo is your processor and a stick of RAM. No hard drive, no graphics card, no CD drive. If the same YGGY pattern occurs, try with the floppy plugged in. After each reboot (for troubleshooting purposes) you should be draining the flea power (unplug the power cable, hold down the power button for 15 seconds to drain the extra power).

Also, where are you seeing the YGGY code? It isn't in the page I linked to you....
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#15
radjxf

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If me, I would disconnect all drives, USB devices and all but one stick of RAM and see what happens. It should make it through POST and halt when it cannot find a boot drive. If it does not make it through post, try the other RAM stick. If still no luck, then it looks like the CPU, or motherboard.


Do the diagnostic lights change if you boot this way? All you should have in your mobo is your processor and a stick of RAM. No hard drive, no graphics card, no CD drive. If the same YGGY pattern occurs, try with the floppy plugged in. After each reboot (for troubleshooting purposes) you should be draining the flea power (unplug the power cable, hold down the power button for 15 seconds to drain the extra power).

Also, where are you seeing the YGGY code? It isn't in the page I linked to you....


Now, when all I have connected is the mobo and one stick of ram, I get all green lights---then it shuts down after being on the same amount of time as before.

Here is where I found the former codes when all was still plugged in: My link
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