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Won't Boot, Black Screen, Can't get to BIOS


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#1 nuc_eng

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 11:25 PM

I'll try to give as much information as I can.

 

This morning I ran an Avast virus scan and it detected two files which it put in the "chest."  It suggested a reboot, and something about an additional scan.  I do not remember the files tagged nor the scan it suggested.  I rebooted since it all seemed reasonable.  Upon reboot, it never got to desktop.  It didn't get anywhere, splash screen, Windows logo, nothing.  After many minutes, I held the power button to manually shut down.  This has happened a few times in the last six months.  But it always worked again after turning back on (post manual power down).  But now it didn't.  I tried several times, same thing.  I even left it on for over an hour thinking maybe something is happening in the background, but nothing.  No clues or indications as to what is wrong.  Always a black screen.  No mouse cursor or anything.  Monitor says it isn't getting a signal.

 

I did research all day on the topic.  I tried getting to a "safe mode" or to BIOS by tapping function keys.  No avail.  I tried booting with the Windows 7 recovery DVD I got with the computer.  Nothing.  I tried unplugging the battery for 15 minutes to clear memory.  Nothing changed.  Tried replacing the battery.  No luck.  After unplugging and plugging back in the battery to clear memory, the problem seems worse, actually.  Now, shutting down the machine requires simply pressing the button rather than holding it.  There are no unusual sounds from the machine.  Power lights come on as expected, fans hum and I get a single beep.  Nothing after that.  I tried another monitor, different cables, nothing appears in any combination.  Always a black screen.

 

I'm about out of ideas.  Any advice?  I've been able to solve many PC issues with the internet's help, but this one has me stumped.

 

Windows 7, Alienware X51.  If more detail is needed, I can provide.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

 

 



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#2 JohnC_21

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 03:57 PM

It could be a bad video card that failed by coincidence. When you tap F12 at boot do you get a Diagnostic menu? You can try powercycling the computer. Unplug the power cord, take out the battery, and then hold the power button down for 30 seconds. But the battery back in, attach the power cord and boot the computer. You may have to reset BIOS to default if it works.

 

When you tried the Windows 7 install disk did the CD light show any activity of the drive reading the disk?



#3 nuc_eng

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 07:34 PM

Hi John,

 

Thanks for the reply,  I tried the F12 yesterday (and again today to make sure).  Nothing seems to happen.  Don't get to a menu or anything.  Screen still blank like it's getting no signal.

 

I tried the powercycle exactly as prescribed.  No effect.

 

The CD inserts no problem.  The drive is reading it, I can hear it.  But nothing comes up at all.

 

I've been wondering about the video card also.  But if it went, wouldn't the computer default to the archaic built in card that at least would get you to something?



#4 nuc_eng

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 07:39 PM

John, I think you were right.  I pulled the video card completely out and rebooted.  I can now get to a rudimentary setup screen.  Does this confirm the video card is shot?



#5 JohnC_21

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 07:44 PM

Yes, that would indicate a bad card.  Is this the BIOS setup screen? You may have to set it to use the integrated graphics card. You could also try reattaching the card and see if that works. The card may have not been seated properly.



#6 nuc_eng

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 08:20 PM

I've pulled out the card and reseated a number of times now as that's the only way to disconnect the battery.  I can try it again, but I'm almost sure this was the issue.



#7 JohnC_21

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 08:30 PM

If you did that then I would have to say the card is bad. Is the computer under warranty?



#8 nuc_eng

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 08:54 PM

No, well past it.  I can stomach a new video card.  It's much more palatable than losing a motherboard.

 

Thanks for your help, John!  If I run into any other difficulty, I'll let you know.



#9 JohnC_21

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 09:08 PM

No problem. Hopefully you can borrow a card as however slight, the problem may be the motherboard slot that the graphics card uses.



#10 nuc_eng

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 12:30 AM

As it turns out, there was absolutely nothing wrong.  After removing the video card and getting to BIOS, I managed to start up in safe mode.  I had the system repair itself.  It didn't say what it repaired, but upon reboot I reached desktop.  Thinking there may have been a software error all along, I plugged the suspect video card back in and everything is running smoothly.  Go figure.

 

I'm thinking Avast may have done some damage when it quarantined those couple of files.  I'll never know, though because I don't recall what they were.

 

Thanks again for your help.  If you didn't say video card, I wouldn't have pulled it, which eventually led to the fix.

 

Take care!



#11 JohnC_21

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 09:05 AM

Nice Troubleshooting! Yea, I can't understand what avast would remove that would cause a complete black screen on a graphics card. That is kind of scary. I dropped avast awhile ago because of issues. The latest version puts a virtual machine (NG) on the computer so I stayed away from that.

 

Edit: I can't imagine how this would of went for a person that only had an integrated graphics card and the same thing happening.

 

Did you use Sfc /scannow, System Restore or Startup Repair for the fix?


Edited by JohnC_21, 27 January 2015 - 09:13 AM.


#12 nuc_eng

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 11:38 AM

I used Repair once I could get far enough in.  But even that took hours and tons of research on what the proper BIOS settings were.  For instance, I got hung up for 90 minutes on not being able to read the HDD (and being prompted to reseat) because I hadn't changed a BIOS setting from Legacy to UEFI.  And then disabling the first boot from DVD-ROM.  Stuff like that.  I'm not all that computer savvy, but I've always been able to diagnose and solve issues with information found on the internet.  The pinnacle of my amateur career was unbricking a hard drive about five years ago using a stripped cord, pliers and a business card.  Apparently it was a common problem with that model of Seagate and someone posted step-by-step instructions I could follow.  I love the internet.

 

I would think a business like the Geek Squad lives off stuff like this.






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