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I own an older 32-bit Dell XPS 410 that I intended to use for gaming. Currently, I have a ATI Radeon 4000 series card installed, along with a Core 2 Duo and Ubuntu 12.10.

I'm fairly certain that my problem is a GPU failure - but before I spend money on a new one, I want to make sure other components aren't the problem/if it would be cheaper just to buy a new PC.

Here are my symptoms:

  1. Computer power button remains orange (usually green when successfully started.) A fan gets increasingly faster until powered off.

  2. Monitor remains black when started, receiving no signal.

  3. When powered on, the computer will power itself off near instantly, and then turn on again.

  4. If startup is successful, sometimes the screen will become jittered and unusable unless restarted.

Is this just a GPU failure, or something more extensive like the motherboard?

UPDATE

Did some looking around. When I start the computer ALL fans start to increase speed, and the screen remains black even after I tried a new card, replaced the power supply, reseated the RAM and all cables. I'm getting the sickly feeling that this is a motherboard failure. I can get into BIOS now sometimes, but I feel as though that's just luck. It usually gives me the error that "floppy disc cannot be found" to boot from, though I have already made sure it boots from the hard drive (still not found).

Also, I ran memtest86. I didn't finish the test, but I was at around 100+ failures and 0 passes. This was the same for my other RAM stick. I want to say it's not a problem with the actual RAM since I don't see the chances of both of them failing.

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Try wiping the CMOS. –  David Schwartz Nov 14 '13 at 19:46
    
Already tried, didn't fix it. –  Alexander Lozada Nov 14 '13 at 20:47

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Hard to tell definitively if it's the GPU from the symptoms...

I went looking for the full specs but couldn't find if it has an onboard graphics option. If it does, it should be fairly easy to pull the GPU out and try without it. When you say "monitor remains black", does that mean you don't even see the BIOS/motherboard splash screen?

Other possible causes:

  • Motherboard (as mentioned). Hardest one to diagnose and most difficult to replace. Hopefully not this.
  • Power supply. Your symptoms could be caused by a dying power supply. Some Dell's are notorious for using non-standard PSUs, but if you had a spare (borrow one?) and could try it, it would be a useful test.
  • PCI/PCIe/USB/SATA device is faulty and is affecting the system in some way. Unplug all such devices that you can and see if it helps. For example, if the HDD is dying it might be having an affect. Obviously if you unplug it, the machine won't boot, but you would still see the BIOS screen at post.
  • RAM. Unlikely to be causing the issues, but running memtest86+ is a relatively easy way to the clear the RAM as a suspect.

A fan gets increasingly faster until powered off.

It would be useful to know which fan, if you can work it out...the CPU, PSU, GPU?

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Hopefully I'll get back soon enough on what the problem was as troubleshooting will take a bit (lest I have onboard graphics), but thanks for the very helpful chunk of information and issues you've provided. I'll open it up and see if it's the GPU fan malfunctioning, too. Also - when the screen is black, I mean I can't access the BIOS. It stays and remains black. –  Alexander Lozada Oct 29 '13 at 19:38
    
I added some updates, I think it might be the motherboard :( –  Alexander Lozada Nov 14 '13 at 19:46
    
Yeah, doesn't sound good Alexander. It is pretty unlikely that both RAM sticks would fail at once -- if you want to confirm though before buying a new mobo, try one of them in a different computer. –  Ash Nov 15 '13 at 6:55

I'd like some closure to this question. I finally got some new components: new processor, new mobo, ram, GPU, etc. I think the old problem was my motherboard - there's two burst capacitors which would lead to my symptoms

enter image description here

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