View Full Version : Hardware techs - non-booting Dell (really)

04-01-2009, 10:46 PM
among everything else going on - I've got a Dimension E310 I'm working on for a friend that I'm thinking the motherboard is gone at this point. He only told me it wouldn't boot up at all. If I can't fix it on the cheap, they'll just be without a computer.

My first boot it went into XP and blue screened almost immediately with a irql_not_less_or_equal. Tried a re-boot and it just hangs at the initial Dell screen at about 90% with no keyboard response.

Opened up the case, everything was clogged with 3 years worth of dust. CPU fan was making a loud racket also. Cleaned it out, including removing the CPU heatsink and some new arctic silver. (This did take care of the fan noise.)

Still no boot, moved the single stick of RAM to 2nd slot, no go - tried a new stick, still no go. Left the new RAM in the machine.

Cleared CMOS, and this gets me to a screen saying I needed to run setup with option to continue or go into setup.

At this point, continued to a safe mode, manually cleared out a couple of viruses and all the junk they had loading at startup.

Reboot, stuck on first screen at 90% again.

At this point this is where it sits. I can clear CMOS and it will give me those two options only about 40% of the time. 60% I'm still stuck on that first screen.

If I choose to continue, I'm in XP, can browse the web, play around for awhile, doesn't appear to be any problem at all.

On reboot, does not make it past that first screen again.

If I go into setup, upon exiting, I'm right back at the same place, stuck on the first screen. The CMOS is not keeping the time and the error log shows CMOS, checksum and battery failure errors. I have now tried changing the battery out with 2 known working batteries, no help.

Any ideas, or do I teach 'em how to clear the CMOS every time they want to boot the machine and then set the clock.

04-01-2009, 11:11 PM
I agree with your first assessment, it may be a bad motherboard. I've had stuff like that and worse happen when a motherboard was acting up.

Dell components are somewhat proprietary but I'm sure you can get a replacement board locally here in the DFW area. I believe that particular machine was first sold around 2005 so there should be plenty left over in the food chain. :)


04-01-2009, 11:19 PM
That sounds like the dell Insperion Laptop I just finally got out of here. Bad motherboard. XP would never install. Any copy of it, Dell CD, Dell Master CD. 1000's with that model are having the same issue. I got Vista to install! Funny. It's slow as can be but like I told the dood, better than the price Dell is asking for a new MB for that P4 Dell 17" laptop. At least it works.

Many models of the Dimension line from Dell have power supply issues and some due to the Power Supply dying blown motherboards.

In the case of that Dimension it sounds like a CMOS issue on the board. I will search around and see what I can find but I have a feeling it's a bad board. Seen so many of the lower cost Dimensions fail like that, either power supply or board.

Edit: found a bunch of people having issues but none like yours. Is there a way you can try a totally fresh XP Install? The errors in the Bios though don't sound good. That Laptop above had many errors like that.

04-02-2009, 06:16 AM
I don't think it will let me do a fresh install either. The one thing it will not let me change in the BIOS is the boot order and it's got the CD-Rom last and of course has no floppy drive.

Forgot to mention, it gives me no boot code beeps at all and where it is hanging, the troubleshooting lights indicate it is not detecting the hard drive. I tried disabling that port and moving it to the SATA 2 port. Still not happening.

This is a pos computer. Built in 8 MB video, no AGP slot. Looked around for mobo replacement online this morning. Found an ebayer asking $120 and everyone else wants $150-$275 for this piece of junk. Been so long since I worked on hardware for someone I had forgotten how much I despised these off the shelf pieces of ..... and why I started building my own.

Think I'd rather go pull the cash out of my pocket for a cheap Fry's special and throw Ubuntu on it than to suggest they fix this thing.

04-02-2009, 08:18 AM
You might want to check (yes, I know its the 510, and you have a 310 in front of you, but it still may provide some valuable info as there are some interesting conclusions and a lot of data there):

Things Worth Knowing Blog Archive Dell Dimension E510, iastor.sys, Windows XP blue screen error, stop code 0×000000D1 (http://www.ydeologi.com/2006/04/26/dell-dimension-e510-iastorsys-windows-xp-blue-screen-error-stop-code-0x000000d1/)

I'd also consider maybe trying to flash the bios? I agree with dtravis that the checksum errors your seeing are of serious concern - once you've reset the info in the cmos after replacing a bad battery, from everything I've read on the dell bios, that error should go away. If it's not then you may very well have a motherboard issue.

Honestly tho, I can't see how that system would be worth throwing even the $120 at it for a motherboard (and definitely not $275, since there are several full e310 systems on ebay for <$250).

Good luck, I know how aweful it is to work on dells and some of the problems they generate (where I work they use all dells, and they had about 17 or 24 of the model line that had a bad set of caps by the cpu that once those caps blew, the cpu would report thermal errors and nothing could be done without replacing the motherboard (although I'm sure someone creative could just replace the caps, we fell into a timeframe of dell replacing those motherboards free of charge as it was a known issue) )

04-02-2009, 09:26 AM
This is a pos computer. Built in 8 MB video, no AGP slot. Looked around for mobo replacement online this morning. Found an ebayer asking $120 and everyone else wants $150-$275 for this piece of junk. Been so long since I worked on hardware for someone I had forgotten how much I despised these off the shelf pieces of ..... and why I started building my own.You could find a board to fit it, and it doesn't necessarily have to be a Dell part.

I have never worked on that specific model, but I have done the same thing for a few Dells, Gateways, Compaqs and HP's in the past.
If the board was acting up, I just replaced it with a 'generic' one from Asus or MSI. I just measured the inside of the case and made sure the new mobo would fit
It was cheaper than paying for the manufacturer's part and I never had an issue with using off the shelf components in a brand-name computer.

In fact, my parent's computer (Gateway) had a similar issue and I just replaced the mobo with an MSI that I had laying around.

I know that Dells are a little more picky about what you can fit in there, but it might be worth a shot.

05-17-2009, 07:38 AM
Thanks everyone.

Didn't get that one working, the grandparents are raising this young girl and they've decided to get her a Mac once they've saved enough maybe by late summer. She'll be a senior this year and they're thinking she's going to need a notebook for going off to college anyway. This choice not from me either.

So, I did take an old HP I had sitting around and managedf to throw enough parts in there and get Mepis installed on it for her to use until then. Have to say - WOW - Warren has done a great job with Mepis since the last time I had put it on a box a couple of years ago. It is a really nice looking distro with a great beginners user manual. Tried Ubuntu first, and I think Warren has it trumped. Everything worked from the nvidia card to the wireless card. And did I mention it looks great.

Giving away my next to last working Win machine today also. This one was my baby and the last O/C rig I built. What a pitb that was. ATI drivers still such a pain to get working properly. And still have one part of it not functioning and says the driver doesn't match the bios on the card. Doesn't matter whether I use the drivers from the disk that came with it or the latest from the web site or the last one I had installed and had working which I had backup of. Once moving around the OS, can't figure out what is not working, so ...

Anyway, yesterday was a long day getting both of these things ready to go and making sure all the basic stuff is there. Neither one of these users could tell you the diff between a CPU and a hard drive.