Optiplex GX280 - loud fan at start up and amber power light - does not boot

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Optiplex GX280 - loud fan at start up and amber power light - does not boot

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I work for a small company and we have 2 gx280 systems that are having the same problem. Both units are out of warranty.

When the system boots it does not post and the fan either gets gradually louder or goes immediately into jet engine speed. The power light on the front gives a solid amber glow and the diagnostic lights above the usb ports do not light up at all.

I've reseated the ram, blown out all dust particles, reset cmos, reset nvram, tried booting without HD and floppy, swapped the video card but nothing seems to help. After several hours of searching I've found numerous postings regarding faulty capacitors on motherboards of this model. I've checked the motherboards on both units and neither have blown capacitors. I am also unable to find any documentation from Dell about the motherboard recall. Can anyone provide me with alternative things to try or give me some kind of documentation from Dell?

Optiplex GX280 - 3.4 GHz SD - 512 MB (1 - DIMM) - 160 GB SATA - DVD-RW

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  • The recall ended Jan 31, 2008.

    Amber power light indicates hardware failure.

    Solid yellow

    The Dell Diagnostics is running a test, or a device on the system board may be faulty or incorrectly installed.

    If the Dell Diagnostics is running, allow the testing to complete.

    Check the diagnostic lights to see if the specific problem is identified.

    If the computer does not boot, contact Dell for technical assistance.

    Blinking yellow

    A power supply or system board failure has occurred.

    Check the diagnostic lights to see if the specific problem is identified. Also, see "Power Problems."

     

    Dell OptiPlex™ SX270 / GX270 / GX280
    Out of Warranty Support Program


    Dell™ will provide out of warranty coverage in North, Central and South America for OptiPlex™SX270(UFF), GX270, GX280 systems with failed motherboards due to expanding or leaking capacitors for 5 years from date of purchase, or until 31-January-2008, whichever comes first.


    We request that customers with qualifying systems contact Dell Technical Support at 1-800-822-8965. Please note, affected parts will not be dispatched through the WPD program and therefore will not be eligible for labor reimbursement.


    For Systems Under Warranty


    If a desktop computer listed in the "Products Affected" section has a failed motherboard exhibiting expanding or leaking capacitors, contact Dell Technical Support to have the motherboard replaced as per the Warranty Service coverage contract.


    For Systems Out of Warranty


    If a desktop computer listed in the "Products Affected" section has a failed motherboard exhibiting expanding or leaking capacitors and is still within the time period described below, contact Dell Technical Support to have the motherboard replaced at no charge.

    The motherboard replacement program is valid for 5 years from the original date of purchase of the system or January 31, 2008, whichever occurs first. Systems that fall outside the motherboard replacement offer terms may be repaired under Dell's Out of Warranty service program.


    Products Affected:


    SX270 USFF (Ultra Small Form Factor)

    GX270 SFF, SDT, SMT (All Form Factors - Small Form Factor, Small Desktop, Small-Mini Tower)

    GX280 SFF, SDT, SMT (All Form Factors - Small Form Factor, Small Desktop, Small-Mini Tower)

    Report Unresolved Customer Service Issues here:

    Dell - Unresolved Customer Service Issues

    I do not work for Dell. I too am a user.

    The forum is primarily user to user, with Dell employees moderating.

  • The organization I work for has had similar problems with two GX280's (thankfully we only have two).  Over the last year, one of the two GX280's has received one motherboard replacement (under our extended warranty), however the second of the two is beginning to show the signs again of the problem resurfacing (Loud fan, solid amber power button...etc).  If this is the same problem (and I am suspecting it is), it will be its 4th motherboard replacement in a year!

    I too have read the issues that Dell has had with the GX280 (and some previous models) with capacitor issues.  In our case, I've supervised the motherboard replacements and had an opportunity to view the bad motherboard every time the replacement was performed.  However, only in 1 of the situations did the capacitors show signs of leakage.  The Dell tech told me that although the appearance might be ok, there still could be issues with the capacitor.  I also happened to ask if there was a recall in place for this defect.  His reply was that there wasn't an announced recall, but that there was a provision to customers with the GX280's that would allow for its replacement until 1/31/2008 (as the previous Dell reply states).  But since yours is outside of its warranty, this info does nothing to resolve your issue.

    Since our 2 units are still under warranty (through 4/2009), my employer instructed me to begin a proactive process to see what can be done after the extended warranty concludes for our units.  To date, with the current economic conditions....and limited funds for new equipment purchases in our organization, the two viable options that my organization is currently considering are:

    1) Replace the capacitors (service offered though a website http://www.badcaps.net ).

    2) Replace the entire "box" (CPU, Motherboard, DVD / CD, Memory, HD, Case...etc) through an off-lease program through Dell.  http://www.dfsdirectsales.com

    3) Construct a hybrid computer utilizing most of the parts from the GX280.  A new compatible motherboard, CPU fan, Power Supply and Case would need to be purchased.  Additionally, Microsoft licenses would need to be re-activated because of this equipment modification.


    Other options that were considered, but deemed as "non-viable" were:

    1) Purchase an additional extended warranty through Dell. (too costly)

    2) Purchase a replacement GX280 motherboard from Dell.

    However, the only replacement GX280 motherboards I can obtain information from Dell are also "refurbished" products (as was our "under warranty" replacement motherboards).  With the current track record of those motherboards, I don't believe this is a good long-term solution.  It is worth noting that I've located several online vendors that sell "refurbished" Dell GX280 motherboards...some with 90 day warranties, but the concern about the capacitors on these products would most likely strike them as a long-term solution.


    I thought I would pass along to you what our organization is planning to do when these GX280's start failing outside of their warranty.  Hope this assists you with a repair or long-term decision for your organization.

    Best of luck with your situation...and a prosperous 2009.

    GB

  •  Everything stated above is all correct. I had a Gx 280 just fail after many years so I am not going to complain. My caps showed no leakage either. What I did was go on Craigs list and found a person in my home town of St. Louis that had a mobo.I used all the same parts and cleaned off the old paste from the cpu and put new on and it started right up. Price of the board $55.00. This guy had a whole slew of Dell parts. One bit of advice find out what board you have. It is a small form factor or a small desktop like mine. Watch the measurements.  If you go to ebay they have a lot of the SFF but beware and make sure get get one with a 30 day warranty. Hope this helps

     Acer Aspire6930: Intel Core 2 Du0Processor
     800 fsb 4gig ram 2mb L2 cache) 250 gb hdd
     16.9 Widescreen hd Acer CneCystal LCD
     DVD Super Multi DL, 802.11 Draft N
     True 5.1 surroundsound subwoofer HDMI out
      Dell Optiplex GX280: Pentium 4 ( 2,8 ghz, 4 gig ram 800 fsb)

      DVD -RW, 21 widescreen monitor 

     

     
     

     

  • Sorry to bump this thread but maybe you still need some help.  I work at a hotel and have had three of these computers(gx280 SFF) stop booting and show an amber light.

    I was told all three times that it was the motherboard by dell support.  But guess what, all three times it was the power supply.  3 new power supplies later, all is well.  It's been at least 7 months since then.  So check that first.  Much cheaper than a new mobo.

  • Consider yourself lucky. It sounds like you had a power spike at your hotel. For all 3 computers to go out at same time it had to be something different. On my gx280 I tried a different power supply and the same thing. Also thru troubleshooting you could tell by the beeps if your power supply was flaky.I had a Dell 2400 that was hit by a poer surge and it took out the psu and the mobo. Thanks for the input.

     Acer Aspire6930: Intel Core 2 Du0Processor
     800 fsb 4gig ram 2mb L2 cache) 250 gb hdd
     16.9 Widescreen hd Acer CneCystal LCD
     DVD Super Multi DL, 802.11 Draft N
     True 5.1 surroundsound subwoofer HDMI out
      Dell Optiplex GX280: Pentium 4 ( 2,8 ghz, 4 gig ram 800 fsb)

      DVD -RW, 21 widescreen monitor 

     

     
     

     

  • I have a similar problem.  GX280 SMT fan was running very fast and loud.  Chatted with Dell support and was recommended that I replace the Mother Board, Heat sync, and Fan  I did this and am now getting Processor not supported messages at boot and it will not boot up.  The new mother board has bios 04 on it but I can not flash this  because it will not boot.  I am at a loss as to what to try now.  The computer is out of warantee but I'd like to get it working.  Any ideas?

  • Hi Nwhitmire...

    I've not had the opportunity to work through your specific issue on my 2 GX280 PC's, but generally speaking, if you are receiving a visual message on the screen, does your GX280 allow you to get into the BIOS (F2) and possibly set the boot order?   If so, see if you could set (or verify) the boot order to start from a floppy disk (if your GX280 has one) or burned bootable CD with the firmware update on it to apply the A08 BIOS update.

    The alternative isn't quite as easy.  You would need a second (older) supported processor.  Temporarily install that processor and then complete the flash for your BIOS up to A08.  Then change back to your original processor.

    BTW, in my issue, Dell also replaced the power supply.  You might also keep an eye out for the CAPS on your motherboard as they are susceptible to bulging and leakage (as in my case).

    Best of luck with your PC issue.

    Let us know if your successful or if you need further assistance.

  • gbullard

    Hi Nwhitmire...

    I've not had the opportunity to work through your specific issue on my 2 GX280 PC's, but generally speaking, if you are receiving a visual message on the screen, does your GX280 allow you to get into the BIOS (F2) and possibly set the boot order?   If so, see if you could set (or verify) the boot order to start from a floppy disk (if your GX280 has one) or burned bootable CD with the firmware update on it to apply the A08 BIOS update.

    The alternative isn't quite as easy.  You would need a second (older) supported processor.  Temporarily install that processor and then complete the flash for your BIOS up to A08.  Then change back to your original processor.

    BTW, in my issue, Dell also replaced the power supply.  You might also keep an eye out for the CAPS on your motherboard as they are susceptible to bulging and leakage (as in my case).

    Best of luck with your PC issue.

    Let us know if your successful or if you need further assistance.

     

    Thank you for your help, I'll go and check some of this but the problem is that it immediatly comes up saying that the processor is not supported.  I'll see if I can boot from a CD and do an update to the bios but so far I am not able to get into bios or anything.  I'm not sure how to move forward to try and flash the bios.  I was wondering if I could do some sort of hard reset on the bios to get past it but I am not finding any key combos that you are to push to force such a reset.  The old motherboard and new one look exactly the same.   And the caps on both look fine. 

    Thanks for the help I'll keep trying and keep looking for the right answer.  I just don't understand how the original processor from dell would not work in this motherboard.  it is very frustrating to say the least.

  • Sounds good.   Keep us advised as to what you've found and / or your success & failures.

     

    As for the "forced" update...

    I'm not aware of any commands that would perform that task....and I'm not sure that it would even be possible if the motherboard won't post.  Even a hard reset won't work since the BIOS will still be on A04 and not be able to recognize your CPU.

    During POST, the system checks itself and thus if it finds an issue (RAM, video, processor, etc) then it stops or doesn't proceed.  Now if it were an older motherboard (circa late 1990's / early 2000's) then the CMOS chip could be replaced or exchanged with one that had the newer BIOS installed.  But that won't resolve this issue since all of the CMOS chips are now soldered to the motherboard.

    As for why this issue occurs, well as with everything technological, there are updates to everything....and as Dell updated their processors, I'm sure the BIOS updates allowed them to put in the latest ones for that era.  The problem is, the previous owner didn't flash (update) the BIOS before you purchased it.

    If you want a cheap fix, you could investigate what processors were compatible with the A04 BIOS, then see if you could purchase one from EBay or at a surplus store.   Maybe an old socket 478 celeron might do the trick.  I'm sure they aren't more than $10~$20 by now because of their age.  Then exchange the processors....Flash your BIOS...exchange the processor back to your original...and your good to go.  This process WILL work as long as you find an older P4 socket 478 that is compatible with the GX280.

     

    One last thought.  You said that both of the motherboards are the same, but do they also have the same Dell part AND version number?

    Past these suggestions, I'm going to have to defer to any Dell Tech admins that are monitoring this forum.

    Come on Admins.....help out Nwhitmire.  :)

  • Ok well I found another GX280 that we had in our "grave yard" that had a P4 2.8 processor in it instead of the 3.4 at I ahve been working with.   I put that processor in this computer and I was able to flash the Bios to the latest A08.  I then replaced the processor with the 3.4 to see if it would now with since it has the latest bios.  Same error telling me that the processor is not supported.  It works fine with the 2.8.  I have about 2 or 3 more of these machines to try and repair.  I guess now my plan needs to be to purchase some more 2.8 processors and see if that will work for me.

    Any ideas after getting it to flash the bios?  I reset the bios to defaults and still same issue.  I even pulled another 3.4 processor from another 280 with the same error message.

    Let me know any thoughts you may have. 

    Personally I think Dell should have done a recall on these machines.  I have about 80 of the GX270 and have never had this much trouble with them.  I have very few of these 280's to have had the trouble we are having.  We had a recall on some HD's in the 270's that Dell initiated and replaced.  That was amazing.  I just don't understand why the problem with these wasn't noticed and corrected in the same fashon.  It seems a lot of us have had this issue.  I have a few of the 280's in the new style minitower case that are working fine.  The ones that have had the issues are the old style minitower cases.  Not sure if that matters to anyone just throwing that out too.

    Thanks for any help you can give.

    Nathan

  • Sorry to re-open, but wanted to share my solution for future reference.

    Due to this type of failure with the amber light and high-revving fan, we are completely out of GX280 spares. We do however have a big pile of surplus GX270s. One particular 280 had a bunch of special software installed and I was not looking forward to reinstalling it all on another system. Out of desperation I tried moving the hard drive to a GX270 and to my great surprise it worked fine.

    A few caveats:  The GX270 I used had Hyperthreading enabled because the GX280 did too- suspected I'd run into HAL problems otherwise. Also, to avoid drive controller issues, I didn't directly swap the disk. Instead I used Clonezilla to image the GX280 SATA drive to the GX270 IDE drive. Then I just had to update the device drivers for the 270 hardware and everything was good to go.

    Cheers,

    Baumer

  • aasasas

  • Dear User i had same problem and i search many sites but i did not get any proper answer.

    Then i asked a friend who expert and deals in new and used computer he advised me things and i surprised .

    so i want to share with you all who have same problem in computer.

    Kindly read carefully.

    Step-1 : Open your computer cover

    Step-2 : Now See processor fan.

    Step-3 : Unplug processor fan

    Step-4 : Now you see a steel plate coverd processor

    Step-5 : With Screw Driver Remove this plate from mother board

            its so much easy we are  not going to remove processor

            we only remove plate

    Step-6 : When you Remove plate you will able to see processor properly

            we don't need to do anything ,

    Step7  : Now put again your processor fan with heatsink directly put

            on processor so the processor and heatsink will join directly.

    Now Turn on computer , its successfully run without any problem.

    i want to suggest this kind of problem because of thermal grease.

    so between processor and heatsink you need thermal grease.

    if you dont have thermal grease so i have an best idea

    i share with you ,

    Between Heatsink and processor just miner qty paste of toothpaste

    processor will cool and will nice work and fan loud speed will be noral

    Toothpaste will work minimum 9th to 10 months.

  • Dear User i had same problem and i search many sites but i did not get any proper answer.

    Then i asked a friend who expert and deals in new and used computer he advised me things and i surprised .

    so i want to share with you all who have same problem in computer.

    Kindly read carefully.

    Step-1 : Open your computer cover

    Step-2 : Now See processor fan.

    Step-3 : Unplug processor fan

    Step-4 : Now you see a steel plate coverd processor

    Step-5 : With Screw Driver Remove this plate from mother board

            its so much easy we are  not going to remove processor

            we only remove plate

    Step-6 : When you Remove plate you will able to see processor properly

            we don't need to do anything ,

    Step7  : Now put again your processor fan with heatsink directly put

            on processor so the processor and heatsink will join directly.

    Now Turn on computer , its successfully run without any problem.

    i want to suggest this kind of problem because of thermal grease.

    so between processor and heatsink you need thermal grease.

    if you dont have thermal grease so i have an best idea

    i share with you ,

    Between Heatsink and processor just miner qty paste of toothpaste

    processor will cool and will nice work and fan loud speed will be noral

    Toothpaste will work minimum 9th to 10 months.

  • Wow! Did this with a little bit of toothpaste between heat sink and processor where there was some grey stuff and it worked like a charm! No more loud fan.  Thank you!