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I have a Dell 1330M that as of about 15 minutes ago will no longer POST.

What happened was I was working, stepped away for a moment, and when I came back it was turned off. I thought that was odd, but turned it on and things seemed fine. About 1/2 hour later it crashed and restarted, but came up fine again. It did this once more. At this point I was starting to get worried, but I hadn't had any problems with the laptop before and every crash was after doing some work in a virtual machine that I don't often use, so I at put the blame there. It didn't feel like it was overheating anywhere and there's no ozone smell of overheated electronics. Then it crashed a final time and now when I turn it on all I see is a bright screen with a bunch of vertical lines (noise).

I've tried removing the memory sticks one at a time, but I get the same result with either memory stick in either slot. With no memory at all it stops earlier in the POST process and the screen is completely blank (black, no backlight). As I type this, I hear a double beep from the system about once every 10 minutes.

I'm pretty sure the hard drive is fine because it fails during post, before anything off the drive is needed. The power supply seems good because the screen is nice and bright. It's not the RAM because swapping that around made no difference. The leaves motherboard (which I doubt and can replace) and CPU (which just might be changable). Any ideas? Is there any hope for this laptop? I'm rather fond of it and I'd have a hard time replacing it with anything near as nice. So accepted answer goes to Jim for nailing it withing 5 minutes of my posting the original question.


I was just able to get it to start, but the fan does not spin and there are some small blue boxes all over the screen.

Update 2:

Given that it's probably the video chip, is there any hope of replacing it? I open the back panel and I can see three chips under the heat sink. One is obviously the cpu, but if the one of the others is video is there a chance I could just change out that chip?

Update 3:

It's looking more and more like the graphics chip. After letting it cool for an hour, now I can hear it booting up in the background, and I can see the led for the web cam blink when it loads and hear the Windows sound play. So definitely the graphics chip here. The only good news is that there were a few people claiming that you could send them to repair shops that would solder on a new (cooler-running) chip for about $200. I have to decide now if it's worth pursuing that.

An interesting note is that it's posting most of the time now, and the video during post is perfect; it's not until it starts to load windows that things get weird.

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Warranty. Have you still got some on it? :-/ – Shiki Jun 11 '10 at 16:46
I'll check, but I don't think so as it's second hand. – Joel Coehoorn Jun 11 '10 at 16:47
Warranty ended in 2008. – Joel Coehoorn Jun 11 '10 at 17:49
Hmm... more research indicates Dell added one year of coverage on this specific issue, but that still puts me about 9 months after the expiration. – Joel Coehoorn Jun 11 '10 at 17:54
@Joel: Interesting, can you put a link on the "research"? I'd like to know what they say about the issue. – Mehrdad Afshari Jun 11 '10 at 17:58
up vote 3 down vote accepted

It sounds like the video card, seeing as how all you see if white lines on the screen.

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good thought. That could be it, but I'd expect to hear it still booting in the background, and that doesn't happen. – Joel Coehoorn Jun 11 '10 at 16:52

The NVIDIA graphics chip on the machine is a BGA chip and it's not easily replaceable as it's soldered to the mainboard.

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Bummer. That means a repair involves a whole new motherboard, and at that point it's not much more money for a whole new machine. – Joel Coehoorn Jun 11 '10 at 17:56
@Joel: Yes, indeed. Considering manufacturing defects in the model, I wouldn't recommend paying for repair since the problem can come back. – Mehrdad Afshari Jun 11 '10 at 18:00
Actually, if you're brave, you can try re-flowing the solder on the BGA chip by using a heat gun. Google for "reflow solder gpu" – Pretzel Jun 11 '10 at 23:54
@Pretzel - hmm, I'll have access to a heat gun in a few weeks and have nothing to lose, so I might give that a try. – Joel Coehoorn Jun 12 '10 at 2:56

If you are lucky, it might be only the fan. Most systems refuse to start, if they detect that the fan is not running.

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There might be something to that: I was just able to get it to boot, but the fan does not spin. – Joel Coehoorn Jun 11 '10 at 17:05
Maybe you can fool the detection by attaching some other fan (only the cable connected without the fan built in the system), just for testing. But be quick to avoid your system die by overheat. – Simon D. Jun 11 '10 at 17:24
The fan does spin again. – Joel Coehoorn Jun 11 '10 at 20:56

try cleaning out any dust that may be impeding the fan and overheating the CPU/GPU.

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