When I power up my XPS 400, the diag lights blink: 1 and 4, then 3 and 4, then 2 and 4, and then they settle on 1,2, and 3. The HD indicator light runs for a little longer and then the only other thing that happens is there is a black screen with the cursor in the upper left corner of the screen.
According to the manual, this pattern means "another failure has occurred." I checked the cd/dvd cables and they were ok. There isn't any error codes for me to check out.
Based on other posts I've seen I've seen about blinking cursors I tried booting up with no USB devices plugged in. No luck. I also tried booting up with my Dell XP install cd as well as my Acronis bootable cd, and it doesn't work, however the light on each of my optical drives comes on so the problem is probably something else.
I'm not able to use F2 because I don't get to the Dell screen.
The only new think I did recently was slipstream an XP install cd for another computer with Nlite. So all of the XP files from the other OS install disc are on the C: root directory, so I thought there might be a conflict, but that seems pretty unlikely.
Please let me know what else I might try.
This should have nothing to do with your Windows install since the machine is not even trying to boot Windows.
I would strip the machine down to the bare minimum. Pull everything that you don't need (drives, cards, peripherals) to try to eliminate them as possibilities. The prime suspect is the motherboard.
It turned out to be a problem with one of the memory modules. After disconnecting all of the drives and the expansion cards and turning it on to the same 1,2,3 indicator lights I gave up for a few days, thinking it was the motherboard. Then today I read a few stories about bad Dell memory around the time my computer was shipped, popped out one of the matched pairs and it booted up!
Needless to say I'm pretty excited. A $40 fix.
Thanks for your help
Memory is 'supposed' to light a different pattern. But the startup memory test is very cursory. If BIOS shadows to faulty RAM, any subsequent operation can produce any subsequent error display. Had the fault been in another address range, it would have produced bluescreens in Windows.
Diagnosis is a system of eliminating best guesses. And as we've seen, even the diagnostic lights are making a best guess as to what's wrong. Thanks for coming back with what turned out to be the answer.
great advice, I had the same problem and was going to start disconnecting everything and opted to do the memory first, and sure enough one of the modules seems to be going bad. for know I switch them with one another but one of them is going bad for sure. will replace soon. at least i know is an easy an unexpensive repair.