Hello, and happy new year to all. I have a question about my 2009 XPS 435MT system. I posted about this several months back.
For about the past two to two and a half years, the computer has periodically rebooted with no warning. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to when this happens, and the PC has gone for months at a time without an episode. When they do happen, though, the fan screams and the system often doesn't pass the Dell splash screen before it reboots again. I usually have to wait about an hour, if not longer, before the computer can boot normally again, which makes me think something is overheating.
Some time ago I contacted Dell tech support by phone about the rebooting. After going through the normal system tests, which included testing the system's fan (which worked normally), the tech concluded that the reboots were a consequence of my having upgraded the PC from Windows Vista to Windows 7. I objected, since the problem is clearly hardware-centric, but I did not have the time to continue on to the next tier of support at the moment.
I have since upgraded the PC to Windows 8 and went a couple of months without a rebooting episode, but a few weeks ago it happened again. I’ve solicited the advice of a couple of more hardware-oriented friends of mine, and one theorized that the culprit could be a failing power supply. The system is well-ventilated and I’ve blown compressed air all around the inside of the case.
Having said all this, does anyone think these intermittent, unpredictable reboots could be caused by the power supply? If so, how would you suggest I go about convincing tech support to pay for a replacement? Assuming the culprit is the power supply, is there a way to replicate the problem reliably? The system is still under warranty and will be for another 15 months.
Hard to tell what causes random reboots, including ailing power supply. Some other things to consider:
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The RAM is, and has consistently been, fine. Some months ago I re-sat the memory modules too. I think you may be onto something as far as the heatsink goes. Is there any way I can convince Dell to send out a tech to check it and reapply if needed?
This may or may not be related to this issue, when I came back to the PC after an hour or so just now (it had gone into sleep mode), no image appeared on the monitor and the status light was amber instead of white (indicating no signal). Unable to elicit a response from the computer, I turned it off and back on, and immediately there were several long beeps from the internal speaker, no doubt indicating a video card issue. I rebooted the computer again and the monitor is now working normally. I've been thinking of upgrading the card anyway, as AMD is deprecating its drivers. My initial inkling is that this is probably an unrelated issue, but then again, I'm more knowledgeable about software than hardware. Advice appreciated.
By what criteria is the RAM "fine". Have you run Dell's Diagnostics or memtest86+ (free) on the memory?
Next time count the beeps because they may be giving you an error code.
Have you reseated the video card in its slot? Have you updated the driver to the latest version for whatever video card you have? Or at least, uninstall the current driver and reinstall it.
Did you have these same problems before upgrading from Vista to Win 7? Have you run a Repair on Win 7?
Have you scanned thoroughly for malware?
If the system is under warranty, you should contact Dell tech support for further assistance with the hardware. They will charge you to troubleshoot software issues.
The RAM has tested error-free, using both the included Dell diagnostics and the memory test program you suggested. I will count the beeps if the video card gives me trouble again. I fresh installed Win7 a few days ago and the card's drivers are the most recent version. I am leaning toward believing that it's either a heatsink or power supply issue, but I have never been able to reproduce the reboots; they just happen randomly. I'll contact Dell soon, because as I said, the computer is indeed still under warranty and has over a year left.
Do you have the latest version of BIOS, v1.1.4?
You might also look on the video card manufacturer's site (eg, nVidia or ATI) for a more recent driver for your video card since Dell always tends to be behind on video drivers.
Look in the Windows Event viewer for error messages around the time of a crash. That might point you in the right direction, especially if you see something like "thermal event" which would imply overheating. If you don't see any error messages around the time of a crash, that obviously that doesn't help...
Between heat sink and PSU, I'd probably have to say PSU. If you're using a power strip, surge protector or UPS, try removing those and connecting the PC directly to the wall for a while.
BTW: You still might want to reseat the RAM and video card in the slots. Errors might not show up with memtest86+, etc, because that doesn't stress the system too much.
Under full load with lots of things open/running and the hardware getting really warm...the fan might kick in and vibrate a loose RAM module..
And the next time it fails and the fans blast, check the status of the power button:
Blinking amber — there may be a problem with the system board
Solid amber — there may be a problem with either the system board or power supply
It's given me a beep error code a few more times. It's two short beeps followed by a pause: "BEEP-BEEP. (pause) BEEP-BEEP. (pause)" and so on. When the computer refuses to come out of sleep mode, rebooting the PC will cause the beeping,; I have to reboot again to resume normal operation. What does this error code mean? Can't find anything in the manuals/
Two beeps, pause, two beeps is a RAM error. See page 26, here.
Remove and reseat the RAM modules in their slots, putting each one back in its original slot. Use canned air to blow out all the dust bunnies while you're inside the case. Always power off, unplug and press/hold power button for ~15 sec before working inside the case.
If that doesn't solve the problem, you can try this:
Repeat #2 - #9, but swap each of the other RAM modules into slot 1 to see if you can identify a bum module. If they all work in slot 1, add a matching module to slot 2 and repeat the testing until all modules are reinstalled or you identify a bum motherboard slot.