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I have a 2 year old Dell D520. In the last 2 months it is randomly restarting. After hours of calls with Dell support, they claim this is a software issue. Their hardware diagnostics tool marked all hardware components as "good". I also replaced the memory sticks on the box.
I installed a clean OS multiple times (Win 7, Win XP, Ubuntu) and the problem persists. I have one image that was created with a vanilla XP and the recommended Dell drivers. That seemed to work for a short while but had the same issue eventually. Going back to this initial image didn't help.
My main suspicion is heat related failure. But I'm not sure this is it.

Any suggestions for more diagnostics?
Any suggestions to address the heating issue?

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2 Answers

Tools for detecting heat problems:

GPU-Z will tell you the temperature of the video card
SpeedFan for the CPU and the hard disk
Active@ Hard Disk Monitor for the hard disk (in addition to SpeedFan)

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If it's not shutting down the OS, but is instead restarting as it would from a momentary power-cut, then I'd suspect your power-supply.

Dell and a few other manufacturers are often stingy about power supply ratings (you might get one rated for 300W rather than 350W just to save a few dollars), so if you've upgraded or added any hardware (or even if not), the system may be demanding just a little bit more power than the PSU can comfortably manage.

And I can't imagine Dell have a diagnostic for the PSU.

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If it's restarting from a heat related issue it will have the exact same effect as a momentary power cut. I haven't experienced this alleged stinginess and as someone who runs a repair shop my experience makes me skeptical to this claim. That said, if harlev recently installed a much more powerful graphics card then this could have realistically tipped it over the power edge. Here (extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp) is a power calculator to try to see where the power demands are holding. –  ssvarc Feb 17 '10 at 11:59
    
Nothing was added over the original hardware on this laptop. I even ran for periods with the DVD drive ejected (if that makes any difference in power consumption) –  Ron Harlev Feb 17 '10 at 17:15
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