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Black screen on boot up - not video card related

By Alcsaar
Jan 30, 2011
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  1. Recently I dusted off (Quite literally, had to dust it off) my Alienware PC. This thing has been sitting unused for about 2 years. On top of that, its about 5 or 6 years old itself.

    Windows XP SP2

    I had removed the 6800GT Video card previously in order to RMA it in. I never replaced it when I got the new video card back. However, I recently replaced my 9800GT in my new pc, so I went ahead and put in the 9800GT. On the first boot up attempt, I got the black screen.

    I know this is a common issue with a bad video card, and even though I knew the video card was working perfectly fine just a couple of days ago, I took it out and put in the brand new 6800GT. This worked perfectly fine. I decided to give the 9800 another try (I originally thought it may have just been the monitor with a bad connection). Apparently I seated the 9800 incorrectly on the first try because it worked this time with out issue.

    At first I got a black screen with a flashing _ in the top left corner. I decided to let it sit and after a minute or so it booted up to windows fine. I was able to transfer off a few files with the intent to format the HD completely afterwards.

    While doing this I realized the computer wasn't detecting my CDRom Drive, so I turned it off, unplugged it and took a look at the cable for the CDRom drive. It appears to be correctly plugged in, so I plugged the PC Back in and booted up.

    It asked if I wanted to boot into safe mode or normal. This was strange since I had shut down the PC normally beforehand, but I decided to not worry about it and I selected start normally. It got to the Windows Loading screen and began loading, then it just BSOD and restarted itself. I tried it once more and the same thing happened so I selected safe mode the next time. It began displaying the loading of files and then restarted once again.

    At this point I once again shut down/unplugged the PC. I plugged it back in and attempted to boot up again and now I was getting absolutely no display. Black screen, no lines, no beeps. Fans were running on CPU, case and video card. HDD was running.

    I Attempted to reseat the video card again with no luck; so I removed the GPU and the memory sticks. Cleaned them up abit, replaced them and the video card and still no luck. I removed the 9800GT and tried the 6800GT. No display with that GPU either. Both video cards had worked moments before hand.

    During the minimal amount of time I was able to get the PC to boot up, the only thing I did was use a flash drive to transfer a few files off the PC. I also used it to transfer a program called KeyFinder so I could jot down the Windows XP CD Key.

    I find it unlikely that both video cards happened to die, so I'm going to go ahead and say something else is causing the issue. Does anyone had an idea on where to start? I'm getting no display and my CDRom Drive doesn't work, so I can't even attempt to boot from a Windows CD or anything like that.

    I think it seems likely that somehow the PCI-E slot died, or theres some sort of issue with the memory, but I'm no expert. What do you guys think?
  2. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,271

    Does this PC not have onboard graphics, if it does try to run from that. Remove everything that is connected to the PC before you try another boot, all you need to connect is the monitor. Disconnect the hard drive, all cards (leaving the graphics card in if you do not have graphics on the MOBO) mouse, keyboard, speakers, CD/DVD drive/s and just leave one memory stick in place.

    When you boot you should get the bios flash screen and then a message saying something like, no bootable device found. If it does nothing then swap the memory for the other stick and continue to do this until you have tested all of them. If the message appears then shut down and reinstall the hard drive and reboot.

    Lets see what happens before I go to the next step.


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