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Dell Dimension system won't boot


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#1 PDM

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 06:43 PM

My brother called the "help desk" (me) when his 8 year old Dell Dimension XPS Gen 2 system won't boot.
I work in the IT dept at a community college so I've seen my share of PC problems and usually I can figure them out, but this one has me stumped.

I can't get to the BIOS or the boot menu and the only message that's displayed at startup is, "Previous attempts at booting this system have failed at checkpoint [PNP2]". It goes on to say to contact Dell tech support but since this system is long out of warranty, I'm not about to be on the phone for hours that I can't understand..

One other thing that may be of help. The diagnostic LEDs on the back panel (A,B,C,D) are lit as follows. A&B are green and C&D are amber. Looking at the manual for this model it indicates that there is potentially a problem with an expansion card. This PC has an (OLD) video card and a Soundblaster Audigy audio card installed. I took the audio card out and it made no difference. Since there's no on-board video, I can take the video card out, but I won't be able to tell what's going on with the system.

Anybody have any ideas with this one?

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#2 cryptodan

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 06:56 PM

Can you get your hands on another Video Card?

#3 PDM

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 07:17 PM

Thanks for the reply.

As luck would have it, I just so happened to have an old AGP video card that I know still works and I plugged it into this system and it didn't change the message at all. Still saying it fails at checkpoint [PNP2].

I assume this to mean "plug 'n play 2". If the video card is position one then I assume the audio card is position 2. I've tried it without the audio card, with the audio card in a different slot and it makes no difference in the message.

It's one beep and then right to the error message I noted earlier.

Also, after that message, I failed to post that it also says "Diskette drive 0 seek failure", but I didn't feel that was pertinent.

#4 cryptodan

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 07:29 PM

Disable the FDD, you do know that PNP Starts with the devices connected to the North Bridge then to the South Bridge.

#5 PDM

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 07:44 PM

OK, I removed the power to the floppy drive ( I hope that's what you meant by disabling it) and the message changes. It now says that the failure is at [PnP5]

By the way, I still have the audio card out of the system

Edited by PDM, 12 July 2011 - 07:44 PM.


#6 cryptodan

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 07:51 PM

remove all devices but the Hard Drive and Video Card.

#7 PDM

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 08:02 PM

OK...this PC has a floppy drive, a CD-RW drive, a DVD drive (which are IDE drives) and 2 hard drives (which are SATA drives) - SATA 0 & SATA 1.

I had previously removed the power from the FDD, I removed the power from both the CD & DVD drives and I unplugged the SATA cable from the MB for SATA 1 HDD.

Following all this the error message goes back to failing at [PNP2] and in addition I get 'secondary drive 0 not found' and secondary drive 1 not found' which I guess I would expect. If I could get to the BIOS I would disable them, but I can't get into the BIOS.

#8 cryptodan

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 08:05 PM

What all happened to this computer prior to the errors?

#9 D_N_M

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 08:10 PM

Hello PDM
Can you tell us what operating system this PC is running?
Can you F8 into safe mode and disable "automatic restart on error"? or something to that affect? I forget the exact wording. then reboot and post the error code? it may take several attempts to get into the options of safe mode.
Try these steps and post back and We can go from there.

D_N_M

#10 PDM

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 08:10 PM

Here's the story I got from my brother (who by the way is retired and has waaaaaayyyyy to much time on his hands).

His PC had been performing absolutely normally. No issues at all (or I'm sure I would have heard about them :)). He was leaving to go out of town for a few days so shut the system down. After that he remembered he had one more thing he had to do, so when he started the system up is when all these error messages began. I have to admit, I've never seen anything like this.

#11 cryptodan

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 08:15 PM

I would try replacing the CMOS battery on the motherboard. It sounds like the BIOS keeps losing its information. It should be the size of a quarter. Model number should be CR2032.

#12 PDM

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 08:21 PM

The first thing I did was replace the CMOS battery....had no effect.

The OS is Win XP Pro.

I've tried to get to Safe Mode, but when I power it up, I get one beep and the error message(s) in the posts above are displayed.

Very frustrating.

I'm inclined to tell my 'bro' it's time to pull the trigger on a new machine, but for what he does (which is surf the net all day) this is more than adequate if it would only run.

#13 cryptodan

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 08:27 PM

At what point during the post process does the error messages about PNP happen?

#14 PDM

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 08:31 PM

It's the ONLY thing that happens during the post process. As I've said, I press the power button, I get one beep and the aforementioned message is displayed. I've tried hitting F8 to get into Safe mode and F2 to get into the BIOS and F12 to get to the Boot menu but I get no response to any of those actions. Just the single beep and the error message

#15 D_N_M

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 08:36 PM

Howdy PDM
How long did you leave the CMOS battery out? Try taking it out again and remove the power cord from the PC "and any other things connected to it" ie USB thumb drives sd cards? and then hold the power button for 15 seconds " while the CMOS battery is out and all usb,data cards etc then put the CMOS battery back in and see if you can get into BIOS. for that model of Del i think you need to press f2 f11 f12? to get into BIOS during start up. do you have a disk that came came with it?

D_N_M




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