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Dell XPS m1530 will not turn on - narrowed the issue down to faulty motherboard - need advice on course of action

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So recently, my m1530 has failed to turn on and I have an expired warranty. Upon pressing the power button, I get the normal LED light up and can hear the machine checking the disc drive - but there is no display. The Dell logo/BIOS options do not appear - completely black screen. I pull out the battery, put it back in and get the same result. I disconnect the hard drive, same result. I then try the Dell diagnostic test (holding the fn key down as I power button) - to which I receive 3 LED lights with the first LED light blinking and the other two remaining stagnant. I look up this code on the website and find this description:

Description:
The Microcontroller is handing control of the system to the processor. This code will persist if there is no processor detected.


Action That May Be Necessary:

1. Reseating the processor.

2. Replacing the system board.


3. Replacing the processor.

 

Then in my research I come across a post on this forum:


"All boards for the M1530 use either nVidia 8400GS or 8600GT chips - and though nVidia has said otherwise, there are many who believe that both lines of chips are all faulty -- that nVidia didn't (in fact couldn't) fix the basic problem with them short of redesigning the GPU, which it clearly did not do.

Since there's no way to know whether the GPU you buy is "fixed" or "faulty" - and since many believe they're all the latter, and further since no one warrants replacements for more than 90 days, it's a VERY big gamble with a couple of hundred dollars.


It seems
Dell is now offering replacement systems to many of those who've extended warranties on the M1530 - so they've either run out of parts, or have resigned themselves to the idea that there's just no way to fix this problem short of replacing the system with a newer model.

If you have to pay for a board for this model, don't bother - put the funds toward a new system."

 

I call the Dell support and talk to a support technician - explained the problem and they said it was likely to be a faulty motherboard. They quoted me at $520. I attempt to ask about the "Nvidia issue" - to which he tries to tell me that that could only be an issue with integrated GPU's, and because my GPU (Nvidia 8600 GT) was discrete and therefore could not affect the motherboard. Is there any validity to what he said? From my research it seems that even though the GPU is not integrated, it still generates too much heat and that is what damages the motherboard. Regardless - my next inclination was to look into buying a replacement motherboard myself and completing the repair. A replacement will run me close to $300. I guess my biggest question is to whether it would be too much of a gamble - as in, if the GPU has potential to cause the exact same problem, then why even bother?

Am I right in my initial impression that I am simply out of luck on this?

All Replies
  • There is no truth to what you've been told.  All of these chips count as "discrete" -- not integrated.  However, it is not heat that damages the system board when the chip fails - the chip fails because it wasn't properly engineered by nVidia.

    There IS a 12-month extension that covers the problem (see below).  If it's beyond that, and you have to pay for a replacement system board, seriously consider a new system - though nVidia claims it fixed the chips in the later production runs, there are many who believe otherwise - and that a replacement will simply fail as well.

    Given that nVidia has pledged $2M to settle these claims, I'll let you draw your own conclusions.  Mine is that they're about to wash their hands of a problem they known cannot be fixed.

    The warranty extension details are here:

    http://en.community.dell.com/blogs/direct2dell/archive/2008/08/18/nvidia-gpu-update-dell-to-offer-warranty-enhancement-to-all-affected-customers-worldwide.aspx

    Note:  ONLY the video chip is covered - - the problem you're having sounds like it's not part of that issue, and if it isn't, the extension won't apply.

     

  • Thanks for the reply!

     

    So what you are saying essentially is that a damaged GPU and a faulty motherboard are two separate things - as in, if I did have a damaged Nvidia GPU it wouldn't have caused the motherboard to be faulty. As of yet, there is no evidence of a damaged GPU, only evidence of a faulty motherboard.

    You are also saying to weigh the risk of purchasing a replacement motherboard for a laptop when the GPU is a ticking time bomb. I guess it really depends on how cheap I can find a replacement motherboard. Even if my m1530 is at risk of having the GPU die - it would still be worth buying and installing myself a $150-200 replacement motherboard.

  • It doesn't sound like the GPU is the cause of your problem, that's correct.

    Yes, my sense (and I haven't seen any evidence otherwise - these GPUs simply fail at increasing rates on all systems - Dell, Apple, HP, Toshiba ... every manufacturer) -- and I haven't seen any evidence the problem was ever truly fixed.  nVidia was never very forthcoming with information about the problem - most of what's out there is gathered from people who've analyzed the problem from field failures.

    There are even those who claim to be able to fix the problem -- though most of the engineering analyses I've seen say that's impossible.  Interestingly, most of the "repairs" are warranted for 90 days-6 months, meaning the repairers aren't backing up words with funds.

     

  • Excessive heat from the GPU does not damage the system board. The faulty GPUs tend to fail from excessive temperature cycling. The design of these GPUs was OK, but some of the materials used in the fabrication were bad, and temperature cycling causes a mechanical failure of the chip; breaking a single IC trace can cause a failure.

    Have you tried hooking up an external monitor or TV? You need to do this to see if it's the GPU or the LCD display. Most of these chip failures initially show some type of distorted display before completely failing.

    XPS M1530, Windows 8.1.1 Pro 32-bit
    Inspiron E1705, Windows 8.1.1 Pro 32-bit
    Dimension 9100, Windows 8.1.1 Pro 32 bit
    Inspiron 660, Windows 8.1.1 Home - 64 bit
    Compaq DX 4370G, Windows 8.1.1 Home - 64 bit
    Asus T100 Tablet, Windows 8.1.1 Home - 32 bit

  • I would differ a bit - the design of the GPUs isn't OK - - it is faulty.  The engineering of the chip includes the materials specified - those came from nVidia.  Many of these chips were built by TSMC, which also builds ATI's chips - which have no such history of failure.

    There are many reasons why this problem might have happened - some technical, and some economic.  They lead to the same end - nVidia screwed up the engineering big-time.

     

  • Thank you for the responses everyone,

     

    I've decided to risk buying another board and installing it myself and risk the gpu problem. I feel that it would be worth the $150 dollar gamble - but would NOT be worth paying Dell $520 because the computer is already over 2 years old.

     

    I have taken my computer apart in order to take the old motherboard out - what do I look at on this board to tell what motherboard I need to buy? Should I be looking at any certain number? Thanks for any help!

  • It's on the board near the memory sockets -- starts with DP/N

     

  • Thank you for the quick reply!

    I'm browsing ebay right now, looking for my model number - and they don't seem to be identified by the DP/N number - they seem to be using a P/N number - is there any other way to match up exactly what motherboard I need?

  • There are two boards - one has the 8600GT and the other the 8400GS.  Within those types, all boards interchange.

     

  • Hey again,

     

    So I ordered a new mother board and replaced the old one - good news is that I no longer get the diagnostic light error code as I did before which was when I held the fn key, the first light blinked and the other two remained constant.

     

    Now that I've made the repair - the MIDDLE light blinks when I turn on the machine, so I no longer need to hold the fn key to see the diagnostic lights.

     

    According to this website:

    http://www.bay-wolf.com/portpostcodes.htm

     

    The code I am getting now indicates:

    The memory has encountered an error.

    1. Reseating the memory.
    2. Replacing the memory.
    3. Replacing the system board.

     

    I tried reseating the memory once more - but with the same result. Does anyone have any ideas? Thanks for any help.

  • UPDATE -

    The reason why I was getting the error in the above post was because I did not replace the black cover/tape that protects the motherboard from the keyboard connection. When I removed the keyboard, it booted up fine - so I took it apart again and made sure to put the black cover/tape where it was supposed to be by going by the old motherboard.

    Now, the computer boots up and I see the Dell logo screen..........then it shuts off. When I attempt to press F2 or F12 to go to the bios settings or boot menu - it still shuts off. Does anyone have any ideas? I still have a disk stuck in the slot drive for when it originally died and I still cannot get it out.

     

  • When I replaced the black cover/tape - I only did so around the area of the keyboard connection. I'm going to dissasemble it again and replace ALL of the black cover/tape and see if this gives me different results. If this doesn't work, I'll have no idea what else to try.

  • Weird. I have this exact laptop and am experiencing this exact problem. I'm good about staying clear of viruses, but this is ridiculous. The Dell boot screen won't even load. I really don't know what the problem is, but if you find a more inexpensive solution, please let me know. Also, if I were to just get a new laptop, would all of my files on my hard drive be salvageable via external HDD case?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Short answer to your hard drive files is yes, they can all be read via any kind of external hookup.  Perhaps you already have this answer.  Good luck.

  • I have also had this exact same problem; as have countless others it seems, from looking extensively for a solution online.

    I'm assuming that it is the GPU that has failed. Is there any way to pinpoint the problem? If it is the GPU, which is most likely, what would be the best option? Is it possible to replace the GPU, or would I have to get a new motherboard? (The graphics card was not integrated)

    Depending on costs, I may cut my losses and get a new laptop, as this one is now nearly three years old, but want to know of the options open to me.