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Dell E521 won't enter BIOS

E521 BIOS

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#1
nextx

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Hi there.

 

I have a Dell E521 that I can't get to enter the BIOS.

 

- I'm pressing F2 at POST and the screen displays "Entering BIOS", but it doesn't enter BIOS and seems to reboot, putting me back at POST.

 

So this is not a keyboard issue or a user error. The E521 simply refuses to complete the "Entering setup" process. 

 

An update on what I've tried:

 

Re-flashing BIOS (V 1.1.11)

Clearing CMOS (including leaving battery out overnight etc. after draining residual power)

Changing CMOS battery (two fresh Duracells)

Removing all unnecessary peripherals. 

Running Dell Diagnostics (All tests PASS)
USB keyboard to top-left port (although this possible solution was for older BIOS versions where "Enterting setup" could not be invoked)
Swearing at it.

 

Any other help and guidance is appreciated.


Edited by nextx, 28 March 2015 - 06:06 PM.

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#2
phillpower2

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:welcome:     nextx,

 

I'm pressing F2 at POST and the screen displays "Entering BIOS", but it doesn't enter BIOS and seems to reboot

 

 

Concentrating only on the BIOS issue for now, To access the BIOS press F2 when the Dell logo appears, press every few seconds until the message Entering Setup appears, if this does not work it suggests that the BIOS chip may have issues.

 

Something for you to try, with the computer shut down, disconnect the main power cord and any peripherals, remove the CMOS battery, press the power on button for 20 to 30 seconds, leave the computer in this state overnight, next day, replace the CMOS battery, connect only the power cord and display cable, power up the computer, tap F2 when the Dell logo appears, post back with an update for us. 

 

TIP

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#3
nextx

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Thanks for the reply :)

 

I have tried various combinations of pressing F2 (pressing continuously, once and even after/until the status is "entering setup") to no avail. As mentioned, getting the "entering setup" status is no problem, it's doing what it says that is the issue. It seems to have a brief think about it, and then just reboots. I've always treated it well, taking it on holiday/spa days, but for some reason it isn't repaying the favour.

 

I spent last night backing up the system so will try to the power-off/CMOS cycle over the next couple of nights and will get back to you with findings. 

 

I'm assuming that if the BIOS chip is the issue, then the most inexpensive solution would be a replacement motherboard? 


Edited by nextx, 25 March 2015 - 03:57 AM.

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#4
phillpower2

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No worries do it when you can  :thumbsup:

 

Can I just ask you to confirm whether or not the computer has PS/2 type ports for a wired keyboard and mouse, the user manual says not, if not can I ask you to make sure that any USB keyboard is connected to USB port 1 on the rear of the case, see attachment below;

 

You are welcome btw  :)

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  • Dell USB ports.jpg

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#5
nextx

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Yeah, can confirm there is no PS2 and that after reading other forums, I made sure a wired keyboard was in that USB specific port. Although it seemed that the specific USB port addressed an issue with BIOS versions before 1.1.11 where you couldn't invoke setup via any other port. 

 

I have just stripped the box bare, removed the CMOS, held power down for a good minute, and will now let it rest overnight.

 

I'm losing hope to be honest. I may just have to spend the rest of the machines life going into the boot menu in order to start Windows.


Edited by nextx, 25 March 2015 - 05:19 PM.

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#6
nextx

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OK, so after completing the steps, I was unable to get the machine working: A new error appeared about diskette 0 not being found and I was unable to invoke the boot menu, and despite the CMOS battery being in place, it had a low voltage warning.

 

Also, I am still unable to get into the BIOS.

 

A few more reboots and I was able to get into the boot menu, although I am still having to let it go to the diskette missing page, and then press F1 to continue which then gets me back to boot menu.

This is a bit worse then when it was, although I can still boot windows via the boot menu. The diskette issue is something I need to live with. There is nothing attached to diskette 0, but obviously I can't disable the channel in the BIOS setup.

 

So I'm out of ideas. I'm toying with the idea of getting a new mobo, but it's not like the machine doesn't work.

 

In better news I managed to fix my Mother In Law's Toshiba C660-220 laptop last night! Cost the price of a new HD and downloading/burning of Windows disc, but it works.

(If anyone is reading this via a search result, the symptom was a black screen with mouse pointer / cursor after the windows splash screen. USB mouse was also not working. This was also happening when I tried a new windows install. Removing the HD meant I could start the install process and use a USB mouse, but obviously with no HD installed I couldn't continue, so I installed a new HD and hey presto, I was able to install Windows 7 Home Premium again. It took me a while to find the correct WLAN driver...if you need this, contact me here.)

 

Now I just need to RMA a faulty WD drive that was the whole reason I wanted to check the BIOS on the E521....

 

Thanks again for all your help :)


Edited by nextx, 26 March 2015 - 04:45 AM.

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#7
Plastic Nev

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 despite the CMOS battery being in place, it had a low voltage warning.

.

 

Thanks again for all your help :)

 

Hi that gives us a very big clue, the battery needs replacing!

If it is coin shaped, and similar thickness does it have the numbers CR2032 stamped on it?

If so you should be able to buy a replacement locally from most stores that sell a range of batteries, don't be tempted to spend large sums, they are reasonably priced.

If you have to buy on line, look here :-

 

http://www.amazon.co...m/dp/B002U00ZNK

 

At £1.04 UK prices for two, you can't complain and shouldn't be much more anywhere else.

 

Nev.

 

 


Edited by Plastic Nev, 26 March 2015 - 09:27 AM.

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#8
nextx

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Hi. The battery is a brand new Duracell battery. The low voltage warning went away after the first reboot. The old battery wasn't low anywa . It was only replaced as a matter of course.
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#9
Plastic Nev

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OK about the battery, and sorry, just seen in the earlier posts that you changed it. Apart from the odd chance you bought one that has been sat on the shelf for to long, though you can check that with a meter if you have one. I would normally say check it in the BIOS, however you can't get into the BIOS, so a no go there. However the voltage should be 3 volts, and brand new should actually be 3.3 volts.

 

However, it is looking like something is actually wrong with the BIOS chip or chips if you can't access it with everything already tried.


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#10
phillpower2

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Apologies for the delay folks, not been near a computer for a couple of days  :(

 

nextx, have you tried running the Dell Extended Test, details here


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#11
nextx

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Apologies for the delay folks, not been near a computer for a couple of days  :(

 

nextx, have you tried running the Dell Extended Test, details here

Hey! 

 

Unfortunately whilst the option appears on the boot menu, trying to get to the diagnostics results in an error....There are no utility/hidden partitions on C: as they were cleared not long after I bought the machine.


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#12
phillpower2

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I recall that you were not sure if the computer would boot from a USB device but have since been able to flash the BIOS, if this was done via a USB device you may like to check out the "How to Run the Dell Diagnostics Utility from a USB Flash Drive" guide here


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#13
nextx

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I recall that you were not sure if the computer would boot from a USB device but have since been able to flash the BIOS, if this was done via a USB device you may like to check out the "How to Run the Dell Diagnostics Utility from a USB Flash Drive" guide here

Hello again!

 

I actually did the BIOS flash via a CD-ROM as I thought I wasn't able to boot form USB (no option at boot menu)....seems all I had to do was actually plug-in a USB and the option appears.

 

I have just finished running the full extended tests where possible e.g. couldn't test diskette A as nothing is attached and all tests were PASS, including the SMBIOS test I ran several times.

 

Tomorrow I will remove all the RAM modules - too busy listening to Dave Brubeck right now - even though I don't see why the modules etc would affect access to setup. Beyond that I may try to get down to literally CPU, mobo, fan, VGA monitor.

 

After that it's time to live with the issue.


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#14
phillpower2

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Other than the BIOS chip being flaky I can only think of the original hardware configuration not being the same somehow upsetting the BIOS chip, had an annoying floppy diskette seek message on a Dell in my office couple of years back, it only started when I fitted a larger HDD and nothing I did would get rid of the message press F1 or F2 etc every time I booted up  :(


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#15
phillpower2

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Not heard from you for a while nextx, do you still require assistance or is the issue now resolved, an update would be appreciated.


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