I'm having problems with my Dell 8400, which has been brilliant for the last 5 years, so I'd like to try and save it rather than scrap it just yet. On the other hand I'm a complete novice and in a terminal state of anxiety over taking the side off my machine!!
First thing that happened a while back was, the system battery was running low - I was advised that this didn't matter too much (maybe it doesn't), just had to press F1 to start and the date would be wrong. I decided I could live with that, and opted not to replace the battery rather than open up the computer. Now the computer beeps 6 times on startup, sometimes the fan goes crazy, the screen is black and the diagnostic lights at the back are Yellow, Yellow, Green, Green. According to the manual, this means a memory problem. Other people seem to have had the battery issue prior to this happening, so I'm not sure whether this is part of the same problem, or just a coincidence.
What I am hoping to do, first, is to have a look inside and reseat the memory for a start. I also have a replacement battery but am not sure whether to do the memory first, or the battery. Second, I've read that when replacing the battery, I need to make a note of the settings on startup as they will be lost, but given that I don't have a startup screen since the other problem developed, I don't know how to get the settings again afterwards.
Any ideas on the order in which I should proceed - and how to get the settings back ?
I have a 8400 and the battery gave out on it a few days ago and it gave me all kinds of problems
it said i had bad ram and other things so i replaced the battery + side up on it if i remember right!
I restarted the 8400 it still said i had bad ram so i took the ram out and tested each one one at a time by
restarting my 8400 to see if would boot after 3 stick were checked the 4th one would not let it start ,
i checked it very close it looked like there some kind of buildup on it so i took 70 % alcohol and coffey filter and socked
part of it in the alcohol and rubed the little copper fingers a little bit let it dry of about an hour then put it back in now my 8400 is running just FINE again !
And you have to unplug the power from the wall plug and press the power button for sveral seconds maybe 20 or so
to make sure all of the extra voltege is gone , if you look inside of your 8400 you will see the metal sides you need to keep in contact with that so no stactic can buildup on your fingers while you work inside of your 8400 !
Edit after you check what i have posted here we can check your bios settings OK ? becaues they will chang when you replace the battery !
XPS 430 Ram 8 gigs Dell OEM Vista Ultimate 64 bit
Retail Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit Full version
Dimension 8400 Ram 4 gigs Retail Vista Ultimate 64 bit
Dimension E 512 Ram 4 gigs Dell OEM Vista Ultimate 64 bit
Inspiron 1501 Ram 4 gigs Dell OEM Vista Ultimate 64 bit
Retail Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit Full version on drive 2
Is it OK to swap the stick of RAM into any other socket?
Yes its OK to do that, what is the size of ram do you have now ?
When you are just testing them it does not matter if it is paired or not.
You can always reset the bios to the defaults and change any that are not set right such as floppy drive or no floppy drive, unused sata ports etc. It won't be a problem and the manual can help or just ask here.. The main thing is to test each ram chip one at a time in each slot to see if it is a bad slot or a bad chip.
Changing the battery does matter and you should do that. It's a $3 coin cell battery CR2032 available anyway-- at the jewelry counter in discount stores or with the hearing aid other batteries in drug stores. Simple procedure--shown in the manual here: support.dell.com/.../parts.htm
The System Setup (bios) defaults are here: support.dell.com/.../syssetup.htm If you can check what your bios (system setup) settings are now do it and write down any of your settings that are different from the default so you can change them back if necessary after changing the battery. I recentlyreplaced the battery in my old 8400 and most of the settings were correct.Try that first to see if the other problems go away.
Again one setting that will default to is the A:\ drive If you do not have one you have to turn it off and reset your bios time too !
Thanks - I had look inside and tried testing with each stick of RAM removed. I found one that, when removed, allows the PC to work - at least to the point where I get the F1/F2 system battery message (I thought best to concentrate on one thing at a time, so as not to confuse the issue). When this stick is replaced, the problem recurs, so that seems to be where the problem is.
At this point, it was suggested that I swap the RAM sticks around, to see whether the problem is actually the memory component itself or (maybe) something to do with the socket where it sits. Good thinking.
Is it OK to swap the stick of RAM into any other socket? Or is there some significance to the fact that there are 4 sticks of RAM, arranged in 2 pairs of one each, black and white clips. Are they all interchangable, or can I only swap white with white, or vice versa ?
Thanks so much for your suggestions, everyone - my confidence has increased about 100% just having a better idea what the problem is!
Thanks, Mary - no problem getting the battery, which I had anyway. My problem is that I can't check what the BIOS settings are now, because there is nothing on the screen at startup, presumably due to the other problem. I am concerned that I may not be able to access the BIOS settings now, and was wondering what to do if it turned out that they were lost - ?
Thanks Mary, Jerry!
There are 4 sticks of 512MB ... second one from the front, the computer works with that removed. Swapping them around, it won't work with anything in that slot - so I guess it's something to do with the socket, rather than the RAM stick itself.
While doing this, I went into F2 setup and took photos of all the settings. I changed the battery : ) .... nothing seems to have been lost, at least not obviously. Everything runs fine without that RAM slot empty. Slow, but no slower, and a lot quieter than it was before it went wrong! So fingers crossed, I think the battery issue is solved. THANK YOU.
Any suggestions on how to proceed with the RAM problem gratefully received ...
... Sorry! I meant, everything runs fine WITH that RAM slot empty!!!
I replaced the battery, but settings appear to all be intact.
Just logged in to let you know that I had exactly the same problem with my 8400 but the memory problem is fake. In my case it was all related to the CMOS being messed up on the battery change - not saying that you're all wrong but in my case everything worked fine after using the clear CMOS jumper.
I've changed many batteries before (all my pc's are 'legacy') and never had a problem until now...
As Mistletoe ... Switched on and saw the battery low indication so went into setup - Dell's won't let you change much - I suspect a lot is actually hidden. Changed to what is required - bizarrely hyperthreading isn't enabled as a default and started - all fine. Did some updates before switching off and opening her up. Clipped on the antistatic strap hooked the battery out and put a new one in.
Not expecting any drama I replaced in the desktop rack and powered up ==== Whoa ! the fans went mad lights flashed then went ominously silent - very low fan speed. Switched off, opened up checked all was in place and powered on again - no mad fans but lights and beeps as described before two yellow two green (this means - according to the handbook an adapter card fault) so took them out and tried again - same lights and beeps. Put them back and counted the beeps 1-3-2 I think which points to a memory problem.
Nothing had changed so thinking again I found the CMOS jumper and switched the pins to reset for 30 sec. Put it back to normal and fired up - perfect.
Hence I think the CMOS memory (which should also hold the memory configuration) gets screwed on a battery change and needs to be reset after changing.