Dell SX280 drive controller problem

By OwlServ ยท 4 replies
Apr 12, 2011
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  1. Hello,

    I have a very frustrating Dell SX280 computer. It turns on and is fully functional, it appears, except the SATA controller is giving me a big headache! Just about every time a drive is inserted, the BIOS detects it (one time it displayed garbled text in the drive info section) just fine. However, when I try to start up from the hard drive, it gives me some drive error, or a disk read error. I've tried 3 drives, 2 known working, one of them from the PC I am using right now. Same problem. The IDE controller for the DVD drive works fine.

    Windows XP Setup doesn't detect the drive even in Combined (option in BIOS for more compatibility) mode, nor does Ubuntu 10.

    On top of that, the disk activity light is on solid about 90% of the time, and sometimes the drive doesn't appear to be a boot option in the boot menu, although it is detected in the BIOS.

    The capacitors seem to be perfectly flat, but there may be a problem with them that is not immediately visible. The capacitor near the 3V battery could possibly be bulging although no electrolyte is visible.

    Is there a particular capacitor I should watch out for with regards to this problem, or do I have a serious motherboard issue that isn't repairable by replacing capacitors?

  2. seanc

    seanc TS Rookie Posts: 88

    You should be watching out for all of the capacitors in those boxes.
    Can you take a picture of the one you *think* is bulging? An overall top down shot would be helpful.

    In some of the machines I repair, a constant disk activity light is a sure fire sign that a capacitor which is critical to the disk controller circuit has failed.
  3. OwlServ

    OwlServ TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I've attached two photos that are of the capacitor I think is bulging. From a quick visual inspection, it seems that all other capacitors are fine although they may have a problem I can't see.

    Would you be able to tell me where I should look for capacitors relating to the drive controller? That way I don't have to spend extra money on capacitors I don't need unless highly recommended, as it seems the rest of the computer is working as it should. I'm trying to keep cost as low as possible with this repair.

    By the way, updating the BIOS and running without the battery did not have any effect on the problem.


    Attached Files:

  4. seanc

    seanc TS Rookie Posts: 88

    I can't see any attachments...

    I'm not familiar with tracking down the problem in SX280s.
    I would pretty much advise you to replace all of the caps above the 220uf 10v, if things still don't work, replace the rest.

    You need to buy high quality capacitors, Nichion HM, HN or HZ will fit just fine in the values you require.
  5. OwlServ

    OwlServ TS Rookie Topic Starter

    The attachment system wasn't working for a moment so I had to edit my post. They should be in there now.

    Thanks for your assistance!

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