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Dell Optiplex 390 SFF Failures; Mother Board or BIOS??


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Dell Optiplex 390 SFF Failures; Mother Board or BIOS??

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I ordered 8 Optiplex 390's, fast track, in December.  Out of  these 8 and 3 replacements, I have had 4 failures.

The units failed to boot after about 3 to 7 days of burn in.  After escalation,  Dell Engineering said  "Until a permanent solution is provided, changing the BIOS setting for Power Management->Deep Sleep Control to “disable” may prevent this issue from occurring. "   When the tech came out to replace the motherboard, he said that he has never seen a system with this setting enabled.  And, it is true that the default is disabled.  (Dell replaced 3 units and the last one, they sent a tech to replace the board).  He had more to say, but I don't know if it was the straight story.  It doesn't make sense.  He said that with the setting enabled in the BIOS, the user must press the power button multiple times within a short time to effect a power on.  While this would explain the systems failure to boot, it does not explain why they would first work, then stop.  Or, that some of the units never quit.  Go figure.

Anyone else in the same fix?

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  • I was also given the same data. I imagine they will fix this in a newer bios.

    No POST after power applied -
    Some systems may exhibit a no POST symptom, especially after being normally shutdown and allowed to idle in the hibernate or off power states. The symptom is a brief power up with a momentary blue power LED and a solid amber diag LED 3 followed by an immediate shut down. Engineering is aware of this issue and investigating a long term fix. A workaround is to restart the system and enter the Bios. Disable the Bios setting for Power Management -Deep Sleep Control. Save the change and exit the Bios.

    No POST after being powered on for some time -
    The symptom is that the system will immediately shut down when the power button is pressed. The diagnostic LED 3 may stay illuminated momentarily during the failure. There is a solid workaround which is to change the BIOS setting for Deep Sleep to disable. Obviously to do this you must get the system to boot. So, in order to boot the system, remove the AC power and press the test button on the power supply for several seconds. Re-attach the AC power and attempt to power on.  If this doesn’t work, you can remove the system lid, then remove the USBF1 connector from the motherboard (green connector near the PSU side of the motherboard). The system should POST with USBF1 removed. When the system does POST, hit F2 to enter the system setup menu, then find the deep sleep setting and set it to disable. Re-plug the USBF1 connector, and the issue should be cleared.

  • Chris, your reply does accurately reflect the problems I experienced.  Thank you for the added information on how to get the system to boot.  The information had not been provide by support earlier.  It would have made things easier.  As I have now changed the BIOS settings, I don't expect a re-occurrence.

    As a point of information, what is the function of the Deep Sleep settings?

  • I don't want to steer away from the main post but I think I have the same problem with a different unit. have an Inspiron 620 that is a month old and when restarting it does not turn on. Seems like it wants to start for 1 to 2 seconds and then just the white light on the power button and a small white _ on the screen. No Dell screen or even bios test info.

    Is this going into hibernate mode as well?


  • what is the function of the Deep Sleep settings?
    * I do not know yet.

    I don't want to steer away from the main post but I think I have the same problem with a different unit. have an Inspiron 620 that is a month old and when restarting it does not turn on. Seems like it wants to start for 1 to 2 seconds and then just the white light on the power button and a small white _ on the screen. No Dell screen or even bios test info. Is this going into hibernate mode as well?
    * A white power LED says the PC is on. A yellow power LED would mean sleep/standby. Did your 620 come with a discreet video card? If yes, power the PC off, open the case cover and reseat the video card in the motherboard slot. Then reconnect all and power on.

  • we purchased 5 optiplex 390. One of them has started the simmilar problem. It wont reach POST. After connecting the power cable it tries to power on for a sec and then turns off and keeps on doing the same without even touching it. LED 1 on motherboard is on continuously. The above mentioned both work around to get it to POST are not working for me. Please help.

  • Hi Guys

    There is definitely a problem with the Motherboard  on these Optiplex 390s purchased in Nov/Dec 2012.

    I supplied 8 to a customer,  They were deployed in Jan 2012. I have had 2 fail this week with the problem that they will not reach post, on consecutive days . I have had the engineer out twice, once to fit a mother board, on the second occasion the motherboard and processor.

    I have requested a recall to Dell as 25% of these 64 Bit machines with consecutive tag numbers have failed in a week, but at present they are playing hard ball.

    My patience with tech support is growing thin as each failure is taking about  21/2  hrs of my time. Ie visit my client site, perform the diagnostics test  , lift the machine as the  client site is not perminently manned, return the machine. This is not the service level I expect from Dell. We all know that the replacement boards will be refurbished, and that Dell will claim the faulty kit from the supplier, so why don't they be proactive,

  • What is your BIOS?  The upgraded BIOS that fixed my problem is A05.  Read the second post if you can't get it past post.  Another way to get it to boot I have observed, is to push the power button repeatedly, quickly, about 3 to 4 times.

  • Thanks  Mr SpecialK

    I don't have a machine here at present. Thankfully the last one was repaired today and I have  already returned it to site.

    I am due back to site  next week and so will look at the original machines then.  As I have been creating merry hell I am suprised that none of the techs have got me to check the BIOS. They have had me on knees replacing parts and doing every thing else!!!! :)

    I will also keep in mind the power button trick, Thanks for the heads up.

    I'm pretty disappointed with Dell Tech support though.  I  found the article below, seems they knew about this issue on 21st Feb 2012, Yet one month later they did not  have the sense to instruct me to upgrade the BIOS on the rest of the machines. They obviously enjoy wasted  unnecessary service calls

  • Bios A05 removes the Deep Sleep option.  If you have Bios A01 must update to A02 before updating to A05???

    Report Unresolved Customer Service Issues here
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  • I have a computer  Dell-OptiPlex 390 desktop. But I want to auto start up by predetermined time.

    Pls help.


  • (Sorry for the necro-post.  I know it is annoying to forum regulars, but it is useful to those of searching for solutions to find everything in one place.)

    On 10/22/12 I am having the same problem using the A09 BIOS.  Support had me reflash the BIOS, but I can't tell if that worked since it was intermittent.  I believe I am still seeing problems posting which are resolved by cycling AC power to the computers.

    I'm also having problems with a fingerprint scanner plugged in to the front USB ports not working.  It does work on the rear ports (Which makes no sense to me.  Aren't they all on the same controller?)

    This thread also reports problems that are probably BIOS/motherboard related.

    I'm feeling really stupid for standardizing on the 390 SFF. 

  • Hi ComputerX

    After months of backwards and forwards it appears that the necrotic chip ( ie chip that fails prematurely) is on the motherboard. The power button is also a bit flaky on these machines, in that you have to use just the right amount of force for the right amount of time.

    Ive been called to site more than once with these babies, and just switched them on where the user said that they were failing. They are more stable in situations where they are on 24/7.   My personal machine is which is from a bad batch in November 2011 is left on 24/7 and touch wood no problems.

    Out of a batch of 7 32 bit machines purchased in Nov 2011,  I have had 4 fail with board and/or cpu ( if you are unlucky the motherboard takes the cpu with it)  together with a couple of power supplies. In the end we  agreed a reduced price 3 year warranty deal for both  my customer and myself.   As I could not backcharge the client with the additional cost  it wiped out my profit margin.  Unlike Dell I have to keep my customers happy and re-assured where there is hardware issues.

    I know that Dell had issues with the boards and were still sending out bad boards in  up until late March/April 2012. They say that they cannot identify which machines are affected by the problem.

    I have had a dell replacement boards that was DOA, and another that failed within a couple of weeks of repair.

    Thankfully no machines have failed in the last few weeks and those purchased after April 2012 dont seem to be affected.

    Ive not had any USB issues with the machines. Is it only the fingerprint scanner that will not work on the front port or any USB device?

  • I really shouldnt have posted this. One hour later and I have an OPTIPLEX 390 fro Nov 2011 down!!!! Motherboard failure, and Dell Engineer scheduled.

  • In Novenber 2011 I ordered 43 OPtiplex 390s. In May of 2012 they started dying. Today, October 30th, the 8th on has died. That is an 18.6% failure rate. All have had their Mortherboards replaced and some have had their Power supplies also replaced. The one that died today had A08 BIOS.  How can Dell deny that they have issues with a certain production run of Motherboards? I have personally purchased hundreds of Desktops. Laptops and Servers from Dell over the years and I am not used to having any issues with their product. It is very disconcerting that this issue has not been met with Dell's usually exemplary service and dedication to it's customer base. I will definitely have to rethink Dell as a supplier on my next project.

  • i have a dell optiplex that won't come on all the way. Lights flash, system shuts down. i have remove the usbf1 connector andf restart the machine but it still wont come on. what can i do?