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Discussion Starter #1
Well after 3 good years of 24/7 running, my XPS 600 finally crapped out with a bad motherboard. I got a replacement motherboard and installed it last night with everything plugged in the exact same way as the old one. New thermal paste on the processor, etc. I can now get the BIOS info screen with it's little status bar moving, but when I hit F2 (setup) or F12 (boot menu) all I get is a blank screen with blinking cursor. Diagnostic lights 1 & 2 light up on the front indicating a bad accessory card. So I take out the 1 extra PCI card I have and leave the video card. Still no dice. I reset the CMOS via it's jumper. No Dice. I take out the CMOS battery for 15 min. Same problem. I reseat the video card, no dice. Install different video card. Same problem. Try various combinations of installing the memory sticks. Same issue. It sucks cause it has been a great performing machine up until now. I posted the issue on the dell forums, hopefully someone geekier than me can help me find an answer.

Incidentally if any of you other IT guys have any ideas, I'll try just about anything at this point. When I exhaust all my resources it's time to upgrade to a new PC.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the reply. My brother has a spare PSU that I'm going to try. The reason I went for the mobo replacement is because of the symptoms. Upon hitting the power button the machine's fans would go nuts for about 10 seconds and the power button backlight went amber and it would shut off with diagnostic light #4 lit amber. I perused several forums and in about 99% of the cases the motherboard was to blame. I guess it's pretty common on this machine.

I'll give the PSU a try and see if it's flakey voltage that's causing the problems.
 

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Some mobo's are very sensitive about voltages and current. There was some intel brand boards a few years ago that were real fussy. Also some mobo's require an extra power connector to the board in addition to the main header, just make sure if yours is like that you didnt miss the connection in your excitement.

good luck!

drew
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I received and installed a new power supply. It didn't solve the problem unfortunately. I'm sending it back and seeing if they will exchange the motherboard also. I'm placing my bet on this mobo being defective since it won't let me even enter the bios setup after it finishes POST. Frustrating, but that's how PC troubleshooting goes sometimes. This replacement mobo wasn't brand new, but a "certified" one.
 

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Too bad, sorry for the bad diagnosis.

i get such a crappy feeling when I recieve my new mobo for a job and the seal is broken and you can tell everything was used then packed up again.

Ive also seen a fair amount of bad hardware out of the box. Several mobos, a few cpu's but lots of video cards and hard drives that are duds.
 

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+1 on a different PSU. also check to make sure everything is grounded properly. Are you getting any POST beeps?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Imschur, no worries about the PSU diagnosis, that was my next logical conclusion as well.

No POST beeps. that is another reason I am considering this replacement mobo bad. It appears that it gets through the POST, but it ends with 2 diagnostic lights (XPS 600's have 4 led light codes on the front for diagnostics). Lights 1 & 2 are lit, and the manual says that means a bad PCI card. Even after I pull out all the PCI and PCIe cards including the video card I still get the lights and it refuses to enter BIOS setup or the BOOT menu. I'm going to see if they will send a replacement mobo, if they do and it still doesn't fix it I'm going with a new non-Dell socket 775 motherboard, case, PSU and move over my drives, etc. Dealing with proprietary PC components sucks. :)

The other thing that sucks is my drives are configured RAID-0 and moving to a new chipset will cause me to have to wipe my drives and reinstall. That is one reason I decided to give a replacement mobo a try so I could avoid that. Oh well, it's good to start clean and besides, it builds character.
 

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Yeah that raid is good for performance and a recipe for disaster when things go bad.

I use a NAS with the My Documents and anything else I care about mirrored to it. I keep my Outlook .pst in the My Docs too rather then the default location. It makes me not care if the pc croaks. I also recomend folks use a small UPS. You dont realize how crappy the AC line is until you hear your UPS's beeping on simultaneously as they kick in without so much as a visible flicker in the house lighting or TV.

Good luck with the PC

Drew
 

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I've seen Dells refuse to boot (flat cursor at top left of screen) when a bad stick or memory was present. Try eliminating the memory altogether (replace with a different set).

As for the RAID - the only reliable hardware based RAID we have used has been the enterprise-grade gear on our SAN which is really expensive. After being burned too many times on individual servers we went to plain mirroring done in Windows not on the controller. Everything goes to tape nightly so we aren't in danger of losing data but the hassle of restoring a system is still not worth the minor performance gain and savings in disk space.

On cheap controllers RAID0 is dangerous as all get out and RAID5 is not much better.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Yeah luckily I always backed up my important stuff (documents, email, browser setting files, etc. ) to a third storage drive daily and monthly to an external hard drive I keep in the fire safe. I knew using RAID-0 was a risk, but I figured if I always backed up daily/monthly I would be covered in the eventuality that it would go down. I've heard you can get lucky with the RAID working seamlessly on a new motherboard if the chipset is the same, but I figure it's a stretch if I upgrade.

Kanthek, thanks for the idea I'll give a memory swap a try as a last resort before sending the mobo back.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Swapped my memory with some other DDR2 that I know is good. Same diagnostic lights and no entry into the BIOS setup. That seals the coffin for me on this mobo, I shipped it back today. Fingers crossed the next one will do the trick. Thanks for all your ideas and tips. Amazing that a gun forum has been more helpful than the Dell forum. Just goes to show that gun people are well rounded and helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Got my replacement motherboard (They swapped out the defective first replacement) and got my settings in the BIOS squared away (including the RAID settings) and it detected the healthy array and booted right up like magic. I'm a happy camper. Time to ditch this slow laptop for the power of the big machine once more. :?
 

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Congrats on getting it fixed. I sitting here typing this on my old D600. Thois one needs a new battery badly.
 

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Texas Armadillo said:
Congrats on getting it fixed. I sitting here typing this on my old D600. Thois one needs a new battery badly.
I was just pricing batteries for 2 Dells...freaking expensive. For mine it's $150 and for my Boss's its nearly $400
 

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Last year I bought a travel kit for Dell laptops. It allows me to power whatever Dell laptop I have with me using car or airplane juice. I usually have one of those to keep me running.
 
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