Dell XPS m2010 won't boot

By bigbucko · 178 replies
Sep 28, 2008
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  1. liviterminator

    liviterminator TS Rookie

    Update - stupidly forgot to check warranty status doh! - still in warranty :), 3yrs premium support! - asked to go through hardware chk, hold FN key and press power button starts hardware diagnostic check, will try later, but dont think will generate response if system dead.... will keep you posted...
  2. rawbeef

    rawbeef TS Rookie

    i love this place

    OK boys and girls, back in December 2006 I needed 2 laptops to start my business so i bought 2 XPS m2010! For 2 reasons i bought 2, reason 1 is they look hot and dazzle my clients and reason 2 is that if i have a problem with 1 i can use the other to figure out whats wrong with the other. Just the other day my partner brings me the computer and says its dead, I try to turn it on and just get the 2 lights with no screen. So I look all over the internet before messing around and I find this place, people with the same problem! I must say its the video card that causes this problem. The guy who says to mess with the A,B,C,D screws is 100% correct. But before messing around I take the video card from the working computer and stick it in the old one and also the other way around. The working computer does not boot up with the old video card. The broken computer does not boot with the working video card. So i dont panic. I take the advice of the A,B,C,D guy and i get the card working. To get the card working i open the card so i can clean inside it wipe it down and put new thermal grease in it and put it back together. I put the broken video card in the new computer that still dont boot after cleaning. I didnt screw in the little screws just left it loose. I turn on the power and leave the power on while i start to unscrew each of the A,B,C,D screws little at a time each screw. Then the monitor popped up and all started to work. It is true if you leave it too loose it will turn off in a few seconds. So I make the A,B,C,D screws tight enough so the system stays on and looked like no problems. Now remember thats the working computer, so I take out the video card and stick it in the broken computer but this time i screw it down with the little screws, and it boots right up! So I say the hell with it and tighten the A,B,C,D screws all the way and it seems to work great. I put back in the working video card into the working computer and it works just fine. I cant really tell you why the working video card didnt work in the broken computer. But it seems to me that the video card has to make a certin connection before it works and loosening the A,B,C,D screws makes that happen. Its almost like a reflow of a cpu chip done on pc's and ps3's. Just to let you guys know I didnt prey because a guy from 2010 years ago isnt messing or fixing anyones computer. Just seems to me that people who ordered another video card and it didnt help is because that connection wasnt made, and if ordering a new video card fixed it then some how you made that connection. Thanks to the A,B,C,D guy. Do the screw trick before ordering new video card and dont be scared to do it.

    Here is a short run down of what i did

    I have 2 Dell XPS M2010

    Swapped both video cards with each other

    Working computer dont work with broke video card

    Broken computer dont work with working video card

    Do screw A,B,C,D trick and clean the inside of video card and add thermal paste (remember to keep power on the pc while doing the trick)

    Broken video card works

    Again I dont really know why broken computer didnt work with working video card but the A,B,C,D screw trick works like a charm!
  3. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    It must have something to do with religion or politics...

    But we have all had such weird stuff happen with various items of equipment...

    We should all have a disclaimer that you must try everything... For years we have found that reducing the computer to the most basic setup, and even change drives... as that helps with some impossible failures.

    As RoseAnn Roseannadanna said repeatedly, It is Always Something !
  4. gidtrina

    gidtrina TS Rookie

    Hi I would like to know how many of you are in canada.
    I am.
    I got my m2010 about 8 months ago. and it just started to freeze, and blue screen.
    I'm really glad you guys keep this active. And that I was able to be informed about the ticking time bomb that is my PC.

    So If I get a spare video card from dell, I can just switch them when my current one dies?
    or should I try to get a warranty with dell.

    and vandetta are you still working on the lawsuit?
  5. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Deal with all the Warranty Issues with Dell before you mess with it further, so as not to void the existing warranty. Dell is usally very good about fixing the problem if you talk to the US or Canada offices on the phone... does take a while to track them down though.
  6. gidtrina

    gidtrina TS Rookie

    ya problem with that.
    At the time I went to buy it Canada wasn't selling. So I turned to USA. However they said they can't ship out of the states. I pleaded and a manager conceded to sell, but with out a warrenty. I decided that I could deal without it. fix and upgrade it myself. But after reading this forum it sounds like I've been cheated.

    So long story short, I don't have a warrenty.

    Now what?
  7. pedellharder

    pedellharder TS Rookie

    Great - mines gont too...

    Well well....i am not alone.

    An out of warranty dell that needs fixing.

    rawbeef - i'm with you on this. I cant believe so many video cards new or refurbished dont work. It must be the a poor connection that is very delicate, and hard to establish. The only other reason is that the card itself has shorted.

    Anyway, i've order my thermal paste (due in today) as the paste was rock hard on the video card/cooler.

    The motherbard is working fine as the fans power up when the video card is taken out. Thats a good sign by the way to anyone else having the problem.

    I tell you what, if this paste doesnt work (which i am confident will), I am staright on to my sales rep at dell to demand it gets sorted even with no warranty in place. I am not having this, and if i dont get anywhere with them they are going to have to answer to my wife!! They dont know what their letting themselves in for if it gets to that stage.

    They cant sell something at this price and expect customers to be happy that it has lasted 2 years, thats over a grand a year. What a joke. I could have bought a good laptop and a decent desktop for the same money - at least they would still be on the go.

    And as for the video cards costing £150-£400! This is poor show by dell. This machine is about 4 years old now so the card should be down in price to something more realistic like £50. Either that or make a new reliable one for us.

    I think we've all been used as guinea pigs on this one as theres still nothing quite like it on the market yet..

    Thanks to all in the forum for your tips.
  8. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    You have a failure of a portion of the motherboard, the socket on the board, or a connector - cable failure.

    This is not a Dell issue. The problems occur similarly on Sony, Compaq, HP, and especially Gatesway and eMachines... probably on all brands, depending on the motherboard.

    Fans powering up tell you little about the status of the motherboard... motherboards can fail in small sections... where chips or sockets or connectors are stamped into place. Video card socket failures are not uncommon... so a replacement card might have no effect.

    Test first with borrowed components.
  9. vandetta

    vandetta TS Rookie

    Nah although I could have joined the current lawsuit in NY. I got a cool person on the phone from Dell that reinstated my warranty. Since then I've needed a new top panel and power adapter so the money I paid to extend the warranty works out.

    Dell's old lawsuit was reinstated recently: <-- this was the one I joined up with. You had to live in NY to join and get part of the settlement. But I decided to cancel when they sent the correspondence after I had gotten my warranty reinstated. Didn't really feel the need to get a piece of the settlement if I'm going to get a new computer at the end of my warranty when it gets too expensive for Dell to keep replacing my parts.
  10. pedellharder

    pedellharder TS Rookie

    so i got my thermal paste today, kept ABCD loose and started tightening slowly. The fans have started up and there is heat comnig from the card so does this mean the card still has some life in it? I dont know.

    Its quite tricky to get the fans going, and when you tighten up it goes off and its hard to get back to that stage. Simply loosening the screw you just tightened before it went off doesnt get it back on. Its all a bit footery (sorry for the Scottish lingo - footery = fiddly/tricky).

    Maybe it needs to be done in a certain order or maybe one needs to be left loose, who knows....its probably different from one machine to the next

    I am at least a step closer to seeing the screen hopefully.
  11. benjaminnn

    benjaminnn TS Rookie


    Finally was able to fix my 2010 today using tips from this forum. I had the same symptoms as mentioned in previous post .... only 2 lights showing on power and bluetooth and a quick spin of the HDD light while booting then nothing. Well i followed the advice of checking out the video card and was able to get it working. All i did was remove the video card. Unscrew the ABCD screws to release the plastic piece from the bottom of the card. Clean off the old themeral compound, which was blueish, using an alchol wipe. Apply new silver thermal compound, just a small amount. Put plastic thing back and secure using ABCD screws. Put the video card back in and it started right up. Only thing is about 15 minutes later the computer turned off again :( I took everything apart and again and followed the suggestions of not tightening down the ABCD screws all the way and it started up. It has currently been running for 2 hours and seems ok....atleast that was long enough for me to grab the data i wanted off it. Thanks to all those that posted on this thread!
  12. cbloch

    cbloch TS Rookie

    Thanks to all who have posted here. I had the exact same problem with my M2010 and solved it following the advice on this board. Below is the history of my experience.

    I ordered this XPS M2010 new from Dell in Dec. 2006 (39 months ago). (BTW, the service tag and express service code were inside the battery compartment even though I bought this new from Dell). It's a great computer when it works. I love the 20" screen, full-sized detachable keyboard and bluetooth mouse, and no wires.

    The first time I got the black screen of death was during the 3 year warranty period, about 18 months in. After going through the diagnosis over the phone, Dell dispatched a tech with a new motherboard. He installed that, and there was no change in response. Computer was still dead. Tech said Dell has a lot of DOA motherboards, so that was probably why the fix didn't work. He came back two days later with another motherboard, a video card and a new monitor. I suggested trying just the video card, but he said it could damage a new video card if he connected it to a bad motherboard. So he replaced the motherboard first. Still dead. Then he replaced the video card, and the computer was working again. He offered to swap out the monitor too, since Dell had sent one, but I couldn't see the point.

    The computer worked fine until Dec. when the DVD drive died. It refused to open with a DVD stuck inside. Dell sent out another tech, he replaced the drive, and everything seemed good again. I didn't renew the warranty, because with a new motherboard, video card and DVD drive I figured nothing else could go wrong. (I hadn't read this board).

    This month (March 2010) I got the black screen of death. Same symptoms everyone else has already reported. No boot sequence. Only power and bluetooth lights are on. Diagnostic lights don't work unless you do something like removing the memory (and then they report "no memory"). Since I was now out of warranty, I paid Dell $49 for phone support. Tech walked me through all of their tests, and then said I needed a new motherboard. Refurbished ones are running about $500; same as a decent desktop computer. I didn't really want to pay that much. Based on my previous experience, I wasn't sure I needed a new motherboard, or that a new one would fix the problem. That's when I started searching the internet and found this board. I thought about buying a used/refurbished video card, but then decided they were probably no more reliable than the one I had. So I went to Radio Shack and bought a tube of Arctic Silver 5 ($10). I took out my video card, and undid the screws A, B, C and D. The card was still stuck to the heat sink like they were glued together. I used a blow drier to warm them up a bit, and then I could pry them apart (significant force). The previous thermal joint compound was grayish, and quite hard/brittle. Radio Shack Precision Electronics Cleaner dissolves that stuff immediately. Wiped it off so it was nice and clean. Let it dry. Put on a thin layer of Arctic Silver 5, and reassembled, tightening A, B, C and D all the way. Put the video card back in and tried to reboot. Nothing. Left the computer "on" for an hour or so to see if warming it up would help. Next reboot the screen came to life, but the boot sequence got stuck at part way through the Dell bios screen. Waited about 10 minutes, and then tried to reboot again. Windows XP came up running just fine! Hallelujah!

    Next morning computer was locked up. I rebooted and it came back up just fine. After 30 minutes or so it locked up again. Rebooted again, and had black screen of death symptoms again. I hadn't screwed the cover plates back on yet, so I opened the hood and loosened the A, B, C and D screws just a bit (maybe 1/8 of a turn). Rebooted, and everything came back up. 3 hours now and no more problems. (I'm typing this from it).

    Dell solution: replace motherboard $500
    Dell second guess: replace motherboard $500 and video card $250 = $750
    Better solution: replace video card only $250
    Advice from this board: replace thermal joint compound and adjust screws $10

    Thanks to everyone who saved me $740 and more importantly got my computer working again in 1 day.

    Now I need to contact Dell and point out that this is a known problem (as evidenced by this board), and that they gave me the wrong solution (for which they charged me $49). At least I didn't listen to them!

    BTW, every time Dell has opened my computer (3 times so far) they lose 1 or 2 screws (and they never have spares). I completed the repairs without losing any screws. Now I just need to get some spare screws to make up for Dell's help.

    Thanks everyone!

  13. mookish

    mookish TS Rookie

    I have an xps m2010 and so do my father and brother and guess what?
    All three went dead!!
    I'm gonna try the repair methods mentioned here and see if they work but either way i wish dell would just replace this faulty piece of junk.
    Anyway I just wanna say thanx th all those who posted and kept this thread alive i hope your ideas work for me.
  14. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    That XPS series is a lot more complex, in some ways, than others in the Dell series. Suggest you take as much time as necessary to figger out its complex nature, setups,and so on.

    We have see mass memory failures, and mass motherboard failures as well... relegated to buying Refurbished boards from Dell on on eBay to get things back to normal.

    We hope you find the time to reply back to us about what you discover, and what you learn about repairing them.
  15. wackomacco

    wackomacco TS Rookie

    Hi guys,

    Wanted to let you all know that this is an issue in Holland too. Got the XPS from a friend, who says it turned dead one night. Same symptoms as everyone else here, no boot screen, flashing light. No fans with graphic card in it. I've been playing with the screws ABCD for some hours, after renewing the thermal paste. Got the fans blowing with the card in it now, but still no screen. I'll keep you all posted on this.

    Dell support just send it back and said they couldn't do anything. By the way, I tried to recover the data by placing the HDD's in my desktop. However, my friend said they were in raid 0 (he thought, and he's a noob). I got the error "PBR 2 done, !PBR". Then i tried to use fixboot (not fixmbr because i want to keep the ctrl F11 recovery), but this messed up the partition table from one of the 2 disks. Hopefully i can fix the graphic card, put the disks back in and run fixboot again, so it restores the original one.
  16. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    I suspect it has to do with errors in the Dell XPS install disk, as it does on so many other models of XPS... have you talked in detail with the Dell folks... on the phone...
  17. wackomacco

    wackomacco TS Rookie

    nah, my friend send it back. However, it's 4 years old and he has no more warranty. Dell isn't really an option.
    You mean the PBR error?
    My guess is that the disks (in this state) will only work in the original XPS, not in my desktop (as consequence of a different raid controller etc.)
    So far no luck on the screws tough. Replaced the thermal paste a couple of times. Are the screws supposed to be very loose? or tightend and than twisted a little back?
    And are the black screws of influence?
  18. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Most of those Dell XPS M2010 were installed with Windows Media Center Edition 2010, and yes, the drivers are different, as the devices are different.
    Dell will give you a big argument, but if you call them at a time when you can be polite and patient, and ask to be switched to XPS support in the Philippines, they will send you the install disk for less than $15. They will do everything to avoid it (because Microsoft never liked the idea of Dell patching together its own Windows XP disk) but they will send it.

    Still, you are better off starting from scratch with a Windows 7 Professional disk.
  19. wackomacco

    wackomacco TS Rookie

    What is the advantage of it, if I may ask? That I can format the disk and reinstall?
    Problem is no video & the data needs to be saved. However, it's in raid 0:( (when I believe my noob friend;))
    By the way, as I said, I got the fans spinning with the video card in it. After a while it beeps twice, short beeps right after each other. Do you know what it means? Overheating? After the beep it seems to reboot itself..
  20. alowther

    alowther TS Rookie

    I suffered the same freeze and unable to boot problem. The A,B,C,D screw trick did work for me. It took me some time to get the screws just right, so I'm glad I didn't give up on it.
  21. dadarexz

    dadarexz TS Rookie

    dont hate

    Are you guys hating cos I found out the main problems where with the ABCD silver screws...Im from Ghana and I know being Black hurts but Dont hate men....If anyone has problems lemme know I will surely help if I know....I was doing chattered accounting in school but I was advised to do computer science cos It seems I was born with it...Thanks ya alll cos I get alot who msn with the same problems and we solve it together
  22. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Sorry, Dadarez, but I don't get your point? Please explain
  23. dadarexz

    dadarexz TS Rookie

    Well I have a solution for you guys all if ur dell xps wont boot....Just to make sure we are all talking about the same problem:
    - Powers on, but does not boot.
    - Blank screen.
    - Power LED stays on.
    - HDD LED blinks at the beginning and stops.
    - Bluetooth LED blinks every few seconds.
    - Keyboard LEDs flash once after powering on.
    - CD/DVD tray won't open, but spins for a second after powering on..

    Well the answer is....and will be if first you believe in Jesus Christ.

    The fault is form the video card... just loosen it and the main problem is from the silver screws named A,B,C and D...loosen that screw and refix then and keep loseen and tighting the screws till the screen appears....Well for me I loosen the video card...prayed over it and fixed it bk and Lo and Behold...IT God fixxed I know is a miracle cos there was no where for me to get that video card cos I live in Im chatting you now Im writting with my Dell xps
  24. dadarexz

    dadarexz TS Rookie

    I read some post of others trying to bullshit ma suggestion
  25. vandetta

    vandetta TS Rookie

    Lol I don't think anyone has not given you credit for your suggestion dadarexz. But it only seems to work for some people- or just temporarily, which is long enough for people to back up their data.

    Anyway my vid card died again. About six months after the replacement. So no one thinks this is bs- I'm going to take pictures of the videocards I have for the M2010.

    So I have the original, then I replaced it with the one from ebay, then that died. Dell replaced that one with a new one. And now that one is dead. My warrenty doesn't expire for another 2 1/2 years but it looks like I'll be going through a new videocard every 6 months.

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