I have a DELL Desktop at home that's not powering up at all. When I turn on the power button there is no sign of a life, not even any lights turning on.

Do you think it would be the power supply? Do you think spending some $$ on a power supply would bring life back to it?

10 Answers 10


Try swapping out the power supply with one of your other computers'. If it boots you know you just need a new power supply.

  • I think that's a good idea. Do I need to be aware of any numbers to make sure it matches up, anything like that? – DemoGeek Aug 18 '09 at 19:33
  • So long as they are of relatively the same wattage and support the same connectors you should be okay. Form factor usually isn't a problem for most desktops. – Richie Marquez Aug 18 '09 at 19:42

You don't specify how old or what model the Dell is. If it is an older system, Dell used to use proprietary power supplies. If this is so, you can only get a replacement from Dell, though one from one of the other Dells that is older as well may work.

Again, make sure the power supply will be compatible before swapping it out.

  • Yes this is a good point. I remember frying a motherboard 'cause I didn't know this tidbit of information one time 4 years ago... – Sakamoto Kazuma Aug 18 '09 at 19:40
  • It would be around 3 years old now. Thank you for the info...that's seems to be something I should make sure. Will that be indicated on the hardware unit itself? – DemoGeek Aug 18 '09 at 20:17
  • Honestly, I haven't seen a Dell's insides in about 6 or 7 years. I heard they moved to proprietary connectors even, but I'm not sure. If your test power supply comes from a Dell, if it's got the same connectors you should be OK. Your best bet may be to call Dell and ask. – Joshua Nurczyk Aug 18 '09 at 20:39

Also check and see if any cables are loose. If they are, some motherboards / Power Supply Units have a safety that just doesn't boot the system if anything is loose.

  • If that's the case will it at least power up some basic parts, so I can see some sign of life? – DemoGeek Aug 18 '09 at 19:34
  • Depends on the PS or Motherboard. In some cases, nothing will come on. Not even the Powersupply fan. – Sakamoto Kazuma Aug 18 '09 at 19:39

First test the electrical connection with another power strip, outlet, etc. that you know works correctly. Then, if it's still unable to turn over and you don't see any lights at all, I'd guess that it's the power supply that needs replaced.

  • I've tried the same before but didn't work. At least I'm happy if it's just the power supply. I just don't want to deal with changing motherboards, heat sinks etc. – DemoGeek Aug 18 '09 at 19:36

+1 for jumping the power.

Pull the 20/24 pin connector and look for the green wire and a black wire. Use an insulated pair of tweezers to jump the two wires. If the power supply does not come on that is typically the indication that it will need to be replaced.


check the fuse on the power supply

  • Do this first, it's a lot easier and cheaper to replace a fuse than a PSU. If you don't have any spare fuses have you got another power lead to try? – ChrisF Oct 22 '09 at 22:57

Most dell motherboards have a LED on the board usually green. If the light is on then the PSU is fine and its the board. If the light is not lit then it can be either the board or the PSU. If you are going to try another PSU make sure the connections match the current unit and the the watts are the same or in the same neighborhood. Dell uses their own PSU so an after market one will not work with the motherboard. Dell also has diagnostic lights called the LED pack which is either on the front or the rear of the unit. Those lights go through a test pattern when you power on the machine.

  • I didn't see ANY lights on inside the unit. To me it looks like easier to try the PSU option first and then the motherboard. But thanks for the details. – DemoGeek Aug 18 '09 at 20:19

Wait, Hold in the power button, unplug and replug the power cord, then release the button. Sytem should be off.... Now hit the button to start it. You may have to try this several times, the idea is to "juice" the power supply, breifly causing a small surge across the circuit. It works quite often, and cost nothing to try. The only damage possible is to the PS and it is apparently "dead" now.

  • That seems to cost nothing to try! – DemoGeek Aug 18 '09 at 21:01

You might also look for loose power connection to the board, or loose connection from the power button to the board.

If it is a 24 pin ATX board you might also try jumping pins 14 and 15 as per the instructions here: http://forums.techpowerup.com/showthread.php?t=25

Lastly you might try resetting the CMOS. This generally involves disconnecting the power, removing the CMOS battery (watch-style battery) and then moving the CMOS jumper to the "clear" position for 10-15 seconds before moving everything back the way it was previously.


Inspect the motherboard for any exploded capacitors. Some Dell models are notorious for this problem, and it's free to peek inside and take a look

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.