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I'd be very careful about any soldering on the board. It's not as easy as it looks. The specs can be very tricky and not obvious. Most of it is ...
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  1. #11
    Linux User Steven_G's Avatar
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    I'd be very careful about any soldering on the board. It's not as easy as it looks. The specs can be very tricky and not obvious. Most of it is done by robots. For the parts done by humans you have to go through a 8 week cert class to get the job and a 2 week refresh class every year to keep the job.

    I would not "re-flow" or solder anything on a board unless it was obviously shorted, already trashed, I couldn't make it any worse and on an off chance that might fix it.

    I gave you the steps above for having the best chance of finding the hardware issue. BTW, I didn't specify above, but the voltage meter is for checking out the power supply and there are tutorials on line for how to do it.

    And in addititon to all the other issues listed above it could be a video issue as well, not with the screen, but with the chip; which would be a heat issue, a short or a lose wire.

    I've also noticed on some laptops that I've worked on that the factory never bothered to put thermal paste on the video chip. And I've had greasing those chips solve some problems.

    As far as the BIOS upgrade goes: They never would have released it with a BIOS that was so fouled up that it would prevent the machine from booting. A BIOS update will not fix this issue. But, if you can find and fix the hardware issue THEN the BIOS update would be a good idea.

    And yes, the upgrade will need to be run from inside a windows install. ALL BIOS updates programs are written to run in doze only. If it can be done under *nix it's above my skill level.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven_G View Post
    I'd be very careful about any soldering on the board. It's not as easy as it looks. The specs can be very tricky and not obvious. Most of it is done by robots. For the parts done by humans you have to go through a 8 week cert class to get the job and a 2 week refresh class every year to keep the job.

    I would not "re-flow" or solder anything on a board unless it was obviously shorted, already trashed, I couldn't make it any worse and on an off chance that might fix it.

    I gave you the steps above for having the best chance of finding the hardware issue. BTW, I didn't specify above, but the voltage meter is for checking out the power supply and there are tutorials on line for how to do it.

    And in addititon to all the other issues listed above it could be a video issue as well, not with the screen, but with the chip; which would be a heat issue, a short or a lose wire.

    I've also noticed on some laptops that I've worked on that the factory never bothered to put thermal paste on the video chip. And I've had greasing those chips solve some problems.

    As far as the BIOS upgrade goes: They never would have released it with a BIOS that was so fouled up that it would prevent the machine from booting. A BIOS update will not fix this issue. But, if you can find and fix the hardware issue THEN the BIOS update would be a good idea.

    And yes, the upgrade will need to be run from inside a windows install. ALL BIOS updates programs are written to run in doze only. If it can be done under *nix it's above my skill level.
    Im fairly confident it isnt a BIOS issue, after re-reading your posts. What ever is going on is an intermittent issue, i was able to boot off a live ubuntu flashdrive but it took many many tries and wouldnt re-boot after a restart. I can also rule out the HDD and ram cards, used another set of ram and the laptop recognized that the memory was changed. F1 to continue and the screen just stays dimly lit blank screen.

  3. #13
    Linux User Steven_G's Avatar
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    Intermittent issues are usually, but by no means always, heat related. If everything is clean, the fan works, the paste on both the CPU and GPU are in good shape, there's no loose wires or obvious shorts and you're sure it's not the HD or RAM then all you can do is check the power supply with a voltage meter to see if the problem is there and get your hands on a latptop POST diagnostic card and see if it will tell you anything.

  4. #14
    Linux Newbie arespi's Avatar
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    Hi, when you press F12 there is a Diagnostics option. It will run some MB , HD and ram test and it may tell you if there is something wrong.
    About the bios upgrade, yes, you should upgrade. Only that Dell has its upgrades as a windows executable file, so you will need to first boot in windows (that you dont have anymore) and the run the upgrade.

    Also if something is wrong with the hardware check your warranty at Dell Support

    Good luck

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven_G View Post
    Intermittent issues are usually, but by no means always, heat related. If everything is clean, the fan works, the paste on both the CPU and GPU are in good shape, there's no loose wires or obvious shorts and you're sure it's not the HD or RAM then all you can do is check the power supply with a voltage meter to see if the problem is there and get your hands on a latptop POST diagnostic card and see if it will tell you anything.
    Power supply is ok, that was the first thing i checked. When i get home from work ill check the paste on the CPU and GPU. The fan runs but i did notice that the GPU gets very hot very fast. This laptop was given to me, and i was in the market for a new one any way so im willing to put some money into it if i need a new board or other components.

    Quote Originally Posted by arespi View Post
    Hi, when you press F12 there is a Diagnostics option. It will run some MB , HD and ram test and it may tell you if there is something wrong.
    About the bios upgrade, yes, you should upgrade. Only that Dell has its upgrades as a windows executable file, so you will need to first boot in windows (that you dont have anymore) and the run the upgrade.

    Also if something is wrong with the hardware check your warranty at Dell Support

    Good luck
    Diagnostics wont boot either, ive tried to get it going a few times.

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    I made some progress but not much, I think I isolated the problem but want to know what others think. Heres a step by step...

    tried to start machine, usual results, blank screen after DELL logo
    opened case and removed heat sink
    removed CPU and inspected for damage
    put CPU back, applied thermal paste
    installed heat sink and attempt to start up machine, usual result
    try to start up again, finger holding heat sink over GPU
    Boots Ubuntu, everything working fine (not sure if finger helped)
    shut down and start up to make sure everything is ok, black screen again.
    start up, boots to a black screen with an "ubuntu purple" border about 1/8"thick

    To me this seems like a GPU issue now, im not sure where to go from here. Any suggestions?

  7. #17
    Linux User Steven_G's Avatar
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    Sounds like the GPU is overheating and needs to be pasted if the heat sink also covers it. If not look for after market heat sinks that will fit either the whole set up or just the GPU if it's not covered by the current heat sink. Also, they make special "spacers" for filling in the gap between the chips and the sink in laptops. Some times the heat sink in a laptop is designed so that it will not make full contact with a chip and you have to insert those spacers to pull the heat off the cip and in to the sink.

    With the spacers you'd paste the chip, put down the right size spacer, apply another layer of grease and then put the sink on that.

  8. #18
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    The heat sink does cover the GPU along with the CPU. It has that little spacer on it, no signs of and paste on the GPU though. The arm of the heat sink that covers the GPU feels like it had some play to it, not making full contact. The heat sink gets hot really fast, even when the machine is room temp. I also want to make it clear that when i hold it down to start up, it doesnt always work.

    What are those spacers called? The one over my GPU is beat up, hole in the middle and flat. And what are the chances that the heat sink isnt absorbing the heat efficiently? My finger is absorbing alot of heat as well which leads me to believe the heat sink cant handle it

    Now that i know what kind of problem im having i did a search for GPU heat issues and came across a thread in the dell support community. some one had recommended using a copper shim with past below and above for better heat transfer and upgrading to a dual pipe heat sink. The dual pipe was standard in the i7 and quad core models but not i5
    Last edited by njallday; 3 Weeks Ago at 11:19 PM.

  9. #19
    Linux User Steven_G's Avatar
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    I don't rememeber if the spacers have a special name. They usually come in the kit if you get a laptop thermal paste kit and you can cut them to size. And like I said several post back: I have worked on several laptops wherel they did not paste the GPU at the factory and it would over heat and pasting it fixed the problem. The question now is did you catch it before any permanent damage was done? There's only one way to find out: Order a laptop pasting kit with the spacers, clean everything up, repaste the the CPU and GPU with spacers and see if it works. If not you'll need to get a new MoBo and then paste it up right when you put it back together. You can also look to see if anybody makes an aftermaket heat sink that will fit and is better than the factory one.

  10. #20
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    I had paste so i re pasted it and it only works when i have my finger on it. i can get the double piped heat sink and see if that helps but like you said who knows how much damage has been done already

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