Inspiron 518 trouble: bad hard drive? bad processor? bad mother board? all of the above or a combination thereof????

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Inspiron 518 trouble: bad hard drive? bad processor? bad mother board? all of the above or a combination thereof????

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I have a Dell Inspiron 518 that won't boot.  The power button lights up solid blue, power supply light on back of the power supply is solid green.  The drive activity indicator light flickers for a few seconds then goes out.  The display monitor shows no input.  I hooked up 2 different monitors using both VGA and HDMI hook-ups, same result, so not a monitor problem.  My normal configuration is a monitor hooked up via HDMI cable.  I have tried powering off by holding the button, waiting and powering on again and again, and by unplugging, waiting then re-powering.  The same thing happens nearly every time with the following exceptions:
 
1.  The first attempt to boot Sunday morning it made a single beep just before booting, then it went to black screen and then began a disk scan which ran about 20 minutes and during that time it indicated numerous bad file sectors and deleted many of those.  It then began some other checking with a lot of errors and deletions and corrections which I cannot remember exactly.  After about 20 minutes it ended with "unknown error" and then windows booted up.  A windows error message popped up which I don't remember what it said except some file was missing.  Everything was working, but very slow.  I tried to re-start but it went back to the original problem, power light on drive activity light blinking a few seconds then nothing, and the monitor no longer detected a signal. 
 
2. After many more failed attempts to hard-boot, it booted and went to a screen with options for starting windows in safe mode, safe mode with networking and a few others.  I chose safe mode with networking, but windows never started, just a blank screen and after leaving and coming back a few minutes later I tried to hard-boot again and back to failure after failure with the monitor showing no input.  I took a wild guess and went to Fry's and bought a new hard-drive, installed it and still nothing.  No boot, nothing but a brief blinking of the activity light then dead. 
 
3. Because a new hard drive did not fix it I guessed that it may be the processor.  I returned the hard-drive and bought a new processor and installed.  Nothing new it still didnt work.  Many attempts and nothing but a blink and out, while the power button remains light steady blue, both fans work, and there is a yellowish indicator light that lights steady on the board.  I don't know if that means anything other than it is getting power.  Then after many failures it booted with the Windows Vista installation disk.  I tried every option available but the end result each time was that it could not find a hard disk, period.  So I could not fix or re-install windows.  I restarted successfully again using the operating system cd and hit F2 to go to CMOS setup.  I tried to detect the hard disk many times but it still said no hard disk detected.  After that many additional attempts to re-boot failed with power light on and drive activity only a few seconds then nothing, monitor showing no input. 
 
So the question is do I have a bad hard drive, bad processor, bad mother board, video card, all of the above or a combination thereof? 
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  •  davidwelch1294

    One 'Beep' could indicate a possible motherboard failure.

     You can find Dell's Troubleshooter for the Inspiron 518 on the Quick Reference Guide, HERE in PDF form.

     Note: The only 100% method of testing a PSU, is to install a known working power supply.

    Unplug the cord from the power supply, hold the power button in for about 15/20 seconds, open the case, unplug the 24-pin power connector from the motherboard and jump the Green wire to one of the Black wires, reconnect the power cord and power the system, if power supply's fan and the hard drive run, then the PSU should be good.

    Note: Do not remove any wires from the plug, use a small piece of wire or a paper clip as a jumper.

    Power supply checks out, again remove the power cord, hold the power button in for several seconds to discharge the residue power, reconnect the 24-pin connector to the motherboard.

    Remove all PCI cards from the system, take out the video card [if applicable], disconnect all peripherals and the power & data cables from all drives. 

    Reconnect the power cord and  power system on, see if you get a different LED indication on the power button, or 'Beeps'.

    No difference, remove the memory from the system and try again.

    Still shows no signs of life then you are looking at a motherboard replacement & maybe a processor.

    Bevard and jump the Green wire to one of the Black wires, reconnect the power cord and power the system, if power supply's fan and the hard drive run, then the PSU should be good.

    Note: Do not remove any wires from the plug, use a small piece of wire or a paper clip as a jumper.

    Power supply checks out, again remove the power cord, hold the power button in for several seconds to discharge the residue power, reconnect the 24-pin connector to the motherboard.

    Remove all PCI cards from the system, take out the video card [if applicable], disconnect all peripherals and the power & data cables from all drives. 

    Reconnect the power cord and  power system on, see if you get a different LED indication on the power button, or 'Beeps'.

    No difference, remove the memory from the system and try again.

    Still shows no signs of life then you are looking at a motherboard replacement & maybe a processor.

    Bev.

     

    If my answer was helpful, please use the 'Did this answer the question' and click: Yes
    Forum Member since 2001
    I am not employed by Dell

  • Thanks for the quick answer and suggestions.  I only had a few minutes to work on it last night so I first removed all non essential equipment, video card, disconnected the keyboard/mouse, printer data cable, passport drive.  Powered up and got past the DELL screen to a black screen that said "no bootable device found" "SATA 0 no device"  SATA 01 no device"  and "no keyboard" so I plugged in the keyboard/mouse and they worked.  I hit enter to retry a few times but nothing.  Powered down and reconnected the CD drive, powered on and back to black screen "boot CD", still did not detect the hard drive, so I powered off put the windows vista in and powered back up and it booted up with the installation cd.  I tried repair but it did not find a drive or version of windows to repair.  I tried installation of windows but still no drive to install on.  It detected my passport drive, but can't install windows there, and that's where my back-up files are.  I also tried hooking the hard disk to the unused hard-disk wire but it cant detect it there either.  Does this sound more like a  PSU problem?  I plan to try the power unit tests in your previous post tonight.

  • The power supply test passed, fans powered up when the green and black wires were jumped, plugged in power cord and fans powered up immediately and the power button light was amber instead of blue.  Does that indicate the board is the problem?

  •  davidwelch1294

    Were there any 'Beeps"/

    Is the power button LED, a blinking, or a steady amber?

    Bev.

     

    If my answer was helpful, please use the 'Did this answer the question' and click: Yes
    Forum Member since 2001
    I am not employed by Dell

  • David did you fix your Inspiron 518?, am having the same issue, replace the PSU nothing, the computer turn on by itself and after a short beep and led solid blue both power and HDD activity it goes off, after a short 4 to 5 seconds, it try to start again and so on and on and on. Did you fine and answer?...