Dell XPS m2010 won't boot

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

    kol_indian TS Rookie Posts: 316

    Interesting, i worked for Dell EMEA XPS about a year ago, this particular model had a video card issue and its well known among the customer support. Not sure why any tech support from dell denied it.

    As for the lights they are called diagnostic lights, all dell laptops and desktops have them, In laptops they double up as num lock caps lock etc ... in desktops u will have them numbered on the rear of the desktop or in the front. The way the lights come up is a error code which tech support uses to diagnose(for both desktop& laptop).

    I am not sure about US tech support but normaly when i worked in EMEA region tech support a typical M2010 call lasts about 8 mins with ending up in replacement of the video card 12 mins in case of the motherboard. You can hardly remove anything without some serious tools on this machine so as tech support it is very tricky to diagnose the issue, there used to m2010 kits(includes motherboard/video card and few more) which would be sent out each time customer has a problem.

    With XPS tech experience this issue was ranked 2nd after the issues with the xps 1330(NVdia GPU problems) as the most frequent issue, infact at tech support almost 90% of all m2010 calls ended up in replacing the video card .

    As far as getting a new machine, yes Dell had policies for that if you had more then 5 techs coming in for the same reason and if u really insist they can give u replacement but that stopped a bit after the economic crisis last year when Dell became a lot more stricter in giving out replacement computers.
  2. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Not at all an uncommon problem. We see several failed video graphics cards in our shop of the same brand and model. We urge the owner to change models... but of course that drops the warranty.
    We estimate that certain models have a 15 percent failure rate, at least. Heavy use of complex work increases the failures and shortens the life.
  3. vandetta

    vandetta TS Rookie

    Well Dell made me do the memory test- and attempt to press F12 to run diagnostics. I don't think half the people that call Dell tech support know how to take the memory out of their laptop but meh. I gotta wait til Thursday before I get my new video card.

    I wish there was a class action suite for the M2010 but it wasn't a "popular" laptop like the 1330 was. I would opt for getting a new system but I got a few more years on my warranty. I'd like to trade up for the XPS One but it has a smaller screen. I wish dell would come out with an all in one that was 20-23 in. Something like this Asus:

    I don't think any manufacturer will ever make a 20 in laptop again besides Dell & HP- so I'll have to get a AIO instead- which is probably better since it will use some desktop parts.
  4. seanc

    seanc TS Rookie Posts: 88

    I've had one of these come back 3 times with GPU failure - it's not been in for a while, must still be working.
  5. vandetta

    vandetta TS Rookie

    Well that was fast. I called Monday night and I got the replacement card this morning.

    The tech was the same tech that replaced it the first time- six months later replacing it again. He wanted to replace the mobo, and I didn't want to because- correct me if I'm wrong if I have my 2 hd's in a stripe set and I replace the mobo- won't it not be able to recognize the stripe set?

    Anyway he replaced the vid card and it booted up again. This is my 3rd one in less than 2 years but I do use this computer for 6 hours or less a day.

    A picture of a picture :O

    Although this time when the vid card failed I thought it was the mobo because the computer still booted if I let it sit for 5 min, but then it would lock up after the computer warmed up. I was starting to think it was the fans because I noticed they weren't spinning initially- so I became paranoid. I ran the f12 diagnostic test at boot up and everything tested fine. Also after the computer was on for 10 min or so the fans began to spin. Fans spinning right away I guess mean the computer is on its way out so I guess its good that they aren't spinning all the time.
  6. tieflingmouse

    tieflingmouse TS Rookie

    I imagine this is all resolved by now, but just to clarify, this issue is clearly the Video Card. Diag no further and replace the video card.
  7. vandetta

    vandetta TS Rookie

    And guess whut... 7 months later that adapter failed : /

    The only difference I notice with the new new adapter and the old new adapter is that this one says REV A03 and the old new one says REV A02. For those keeping track that's 3 video cards, 3 power adapters, 1 top panel and a partridge in a pear tree...

    I was reading that Dell had a similar issue with other power adapters recently:

    As soon as I got that error message on Friday I tried 2 different outlets, and without the battery plugged in- same issue. Got my new new power adapter today and the M2010 is back in business XD.

    Never had a problem like this with Dell machines, although I guess every manufacturer has a bad series. I've fixed a few HP dv9000 series laptops which always have a mother board failure, but my laptop seems to have an issue every 6 months.
  8. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Power issue? Any problems with other electrical components where you live or work?

    We have very large numbers of laptop owners and printer owners, where power adapters are issued. We also have th Arizona heat, and the problems of rural electrification. Plenty of Dell, Gateway, Acer, Sony, HP, Compaq, Lenovo computers.

    We have seen only five adapter failures in the past five years... and three of those were due to sharply bent power cords between the adapter and the computer... not between the wall and the adapter.

    In general, we see a surprising number of laptop issues... with the problem usually between the computer and the chair.

    What a mystery.
  9. vandetta

    vandetta TS Rookie

    Its not a heat issue because the adapter is always used in a room with air conditioning. I use to think that's why the video card would fail but I live in NY and aside from the current heat wave the weather is normal.

    I'm familiar with cable memory- so whenever I get new cables I keep the original bends in the cord. I usually have them wrapped with rubberbands- you can see the old new adapter in the pics still has the same bends and has no kinks like what would happen if just wrapped the cable around the power brick like most people do.


    I have everything plugged into a surge protector and none of my other computers have this issue. I don't have a printer at home and the laptop is never plugged into an oveloaded outlet. The laptop usually stays on this laptop desk or at my desk at work. I read about cable memory on so for the past year I've wrapped all my component cables with the thicker grade rubberbands.
  10. Augustus1000

    Augustus1000 TS Rookie

    I've been looking through this thread from the start to the end (taken quite a long while!) and its been interesting as my XPS died last March with the zero booting problem.

    I bought my M2010 back in Jan 07 all worked well with no issues, I upgraded the RAM to 4gig (I know Windows XP doesn't support all of this but it was a good deal plus I might go to Win7 or that was the plan) about 18 months ago with no issue. Anyway I had written my beast XPS off assuming it overheated or something when I'd left it on a windows automatic update when it was shutting down. I left the house for a few hours & noticed it was frozen in the same place upon returning. Switched the power off, waited then turned it on..... blank screen! Symptoms seem to be the same as mentioned by others.

    I'm going to attempt to bring her back to life as I do miss it and having spent such a colossal amount of dough buying it in the first place I guess I'd better try! Fingers crossed for video card screw solution :S
  11. philojeep

    philojeep TS Rookie

    dadarxz - you rock

    dadarxz's fix did it for me. I just inherited a free m2010 - my client tried for many months and many visits from Dell techs - they could not fix the machine - they replaced everything.

    They told him he's out of luck - he wrote the better business bureau and Dell immediately called him up and GAVE him a brand new desktop system.

    He wanted me to get the data off his M2010 and said if you do that you can have the system.

    GOOD SHOW dadarxz - and yes I have given praise to God.
  12. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    But what is Dadarxz's fix?
    And What Was the Problem that needed fixing?
  13. philojeep

    philojeep TS Rookie

    Here is the fix and the symptoms.

    Newcomer, in training Member since: Jul 2009, 17 posts

    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 mem I loosen the video card...prayed nover 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
  14. Raycer

    Raycer TS Rookie

    I just was given a M2010 by a customer. I work for a company and we do Dell repairs among other systems. Im just a Dell guy. I knew right off the bat that the issue was with the video card. i took the card apart, your trick wont work for this one. I can clearly see a burnt chip on the board. I ordered a replacement from Dell. 160 shipped to my door.
  15. vandetta

    vandetta TS Rookie

    Its not worth it. I'm a computer tech too. I replaced the card myself the first time with another card I bought through ebay. Granted not new- none of the cards from Dell are new- they're recertified.

    I basically had to buy an extended warranty through Dell to cover the replacements. Glad I did I'm on my 5th video card.

    I had Dell replace a card in September 2010 and then again in mid December. I'd post up all the service receipts but it seems like a mute point now. If you look through my posts I was during the beginning but I guess I go through a video card every 3-4 months now.

    Like many other people I'm gonna have Dell replace the computer with another model- probably the 23in Dell Inspiron One. I'm waiting until maybe the last year of my warranty in 2012.
  16. Lchief1001

    Lchief1001 TS Rookie

    Hi I just got a XPS M2010 that had the same problem, If u what and let it boot for a few minutes it will come on sooner or later, and if u have time to get in the bios. I suggest going to

    performance: multi core and turn it off and then go down and turn off
    speed step support (off)

    That should do It. If it doesn't do it I suggest u replace the CPU. I thought this might help as I had the same exact problem and I got frustrated and sat at my computer (laptop) and keep pressing the F2 and finally it came on and I did the steps that I posted and it works fine. Secondly replace the keyboard battery or just use a usb keyboard and mouse to do the first steps. Hope this helps Plz let me know
  17. bigtex

    bigtex TS Rookie

    Dadarexz's Fix M2010

    I've referenced this thread several times over the last year relating to this issue. The problem is definitely the defective video card. I had an on-site extended warranty and Dell came out and replaced the video card twice. The last one died after three months, about a month after my warranty expired. I didn't want to order a refurbished one, given the limited lifespan and expense.

    I tried Dadarexz's fix, and it worked – thank you! Yes, I followed your instructions and said a prayer, too. Actually, quite a few, since it crashed in the middle of putting together a major presentation. Please note: you need a size 7 torx bit to adjust those A, B, C, D screws. It lasted about 3-4 days, and overheated again. I tried again with the screws, and it booted right up. I'm noticing when you back the screws out, there's a point where the power disengages, the speakers make a loud "pop" and the blue indicator lights go off. It's as if the card is loosening to a point where it loses an internal connection and resets. Then, I just retighten the screws (gently), and it will boot right back up every time. I've done this drill a couple of times, and finally left my case open, and aimed a desk fan right at the video card.

    This video card generates a tremendous amount of heat, which is clearly the catalyst. As long as the fan is on it, I have no issues, as the boot problem would typically occur overnight. I am a heavy computer user, so I leave it on 24/7 to have time to run scans overnight.

    Rayban suggested replacing the video card with a different model, but I understood this was the only video card that would work in the M2010. I wouldn’t mind buying a video card, if I thought it would last more than two months. Can anyone tell me the model number of a replacement card?

    My second question is if there is a way to increase the cooling of the M2010 to allow me to turn off the fan and put my laptop back together? Portability is a big reason why most people buy a laptop. Both of my fans are working fine, but this video card puts off a ridiculous amount of heat.

    I do believe as some have suggested that it’s somehow related to the thermal barrier melting, but I don’t see that as the cause. The core issue here is the excessive heat.
  18. vandetta

    vandetta TS Rookie

    Just as an update my last video card died a week ago. I'm on my 6th one now which is pretty ridiculous. So my last video card lasted from January to just last week. I'm still holding out til I'm halfway through my warranty to ask for a new machine. Probably the all in one touch vostro I think.
  19. bigtex

    bigtex TS Rookie

    Thermal Paste Application

    I haven't had any problems in the last few days, but had to back out the screws a couple of times before. Every time it freezes, I am able to reboot by following this procedure.

    I believe the long term solution may be to take it apart, clean off the old thermal paste with alcohol and apply Arctic Silver 5 to the card before reassembling. I watched a few YouTube videos about this, but none specifically for this video card in the M2010.

    I have a feeling this is exactly what the resellers are doing to "refurbish" the cards, and then reselling them back to the same customers. I read one tutorial where the user said he cleaned and reapplied thermal paste to his video card once a month. This might be a cheaper solution than buying a $300 card every few months.

    Does anyone have experience or a video tutorial with this approach for cleaning and applying paste to the M2010 video card? Does anyone have any tips?
  20. bigtex

    bigtex TS Rookie


    Okay, I bought some thermal paste, Arctic Silver 5, at Radio Shack for $10, and took apart my video card. First I unplugged the power and removed the battery, but I removed the video card while it was still warm, so it was easy take apart. I removed it from the laptop, and then took apart the A,B,C,D screws. This was one of Dell's refurbished cards that was installed on site under their warranty a few months ago. It had a big glob of hard paste that had melted over onto the pins of the card itself on all sides. I used q-tips and rubbing alcohol to clean off all of the old paste and cleaned the copper plate that presses against the top of the card. I let both sides dry for a few minutes. Then, I applied a small blob to the center of the ATI card, about the size of a smaller green pea. I put it all back together, and it has been working without a desk fan pointed at the card for two days.

    This morning, I reassembled the second hard drive and cover plate, etc. and it hasn't crashed yet. Before, it was overheating and shutting down within 10 minutes without the cover open and a desk fan pointed at it. I have read that the thermal paste installed by most manufacturers, including Dell, is not nearly as effective at cooling as the higher-tech versions you can purchase. Since the M2010 clearly has an overheating problem with the video card, this may be a viable solution for others.

    My research online has also shown that people recommend applying a much smaller amount of thermal paste like AS5 than what I found inside my video card or what would seem logical. The large "glob" inside the card had clearly melted over onto the green circuit board, covering many of the pins adjacent to the ATI card.

    Thanks again to others on this forum that led me down this path. I admit, I was a bit apprehensive about taking apart a video card, but after watching a few kids do it on youtube videos, the process was simple. Just remember the torx bit you need to loosen the A,B,C,D screws is size 7. Good luck!
  21. Mandini

    Mandini TS Rookie

    Booting Issues

    This same issue has happened to my Dell XPS M2010 before, not very long ago... A tech came over, dissasembled my machine, replaced the hard drive, video card, everything but the motherboard. It still wouldn't work. I've tried pretty much all the suggestions that were given to the original posting of this thread back in 2007 and 2008. When I initially had this problem, Dell ended up having me send the computer back to them. They had it and worked on it for a while. When I finally got it back, it turns out that they just needed to replace the motherboard. Yep! Guess what?! About a year and a half later, it's happening again, and I'm looking to replace the damned motherboard on my own. It's not the video card or any of that. It's the motherboard. AGAIN!

    I'm attaching a picture of the computer on and running with a dead motherboard... Dell Pic.

    Any more ideas? :suspiciou
  22. AlexG07

    AlexG07 TS Rookie

    Permanent Fix

    The problem lies with the GPU and nothing else.

    open up your M2010, take the GPU out, Take off the heatsink, clean your chip, and use a heatgun to reflow the solder in the chipset.

    Basically, heat up the chip for 20-25 seconds with the heatgun about half an inch away from the chip. (heat up the GPU at lower temp first to prevent warping)


    Repeat on the back of the GPU right were the GPU is soldered in.


    re-assemble, and please use new thermal compound.
  23. Rakshir

    Rakshir TS Rookie

    another beast brought back from the dead

    I've had an xps2010 for a few years. Had the video card problem, had tried the backing out of screws which didn't work for me. So I set the machine aside, and came back to it just a few months ago. I found a seller on ebay selling re-certified video cards for $130 so I figured I would give it a try. The card worked and my beast booted up again after a year of sitting on the floor as a paper weight. It quit working again about 2 hours after. I ended up "cooking" the video card after I read about solders getting micro fractures due to extreme heat. 350 degrees for 10 minutes after I had removed everything I could from the card and then let it cool. New thermal paste and boom machine has booted up and ran fine ever since. I also use an aluminum laptop stand with two fans underneath to help to keep me running cooler.

    Besides relaying the "cooking" method for people who haven't heard about it before, I have begun to wonder about upgrades I can do to increase performance. I've heard you can't upgrade the video card, since dell didn't offer a different one. But is that simply because the BIOS won't allow it ? The dell xps m1710 was made during the same time, believe it runs the same chipset, and has the same slot on the motherboard to plug into. I know a geforce 7900gtx was offered on that laptop and would be faster then our radeon, Anybody ever tried it ?
  24. donaldson200811

    donaldson200811 TS Rookie

    I am having problems with my Dell XPS M2010. It had a graphics problem so i replaced the graphics card and then I wound out that it would not boot in to my hard drive is just beeps and puts up
    So i orderd a new hard drive and it puts up
    No boot sector SI9500325AS
    No bootable devices-strike F1 to retry boot, F2 for stup utility
    Press F5 to run onboard diagnostics.
    When I run diagnostics it comes up
    Incompatible video controller.
    Vesa function 0x4f02 returned AX = 34f
    Can anyone help?
  25. cynmarcan

    cynmarcan TS Rookie

    Tried the Bake in Oven solution on M2010 Card


    I bought my M2010 baby in 2007 and have all the same problems as eveyone else. Recently, I was getting the ati...dll error with the BSD - but then one day - the black screen with the symptoms others have described.

    Well - out of warranty and have spent so much money on this thing - decided to google and found this thread. I tried the ABCD fix, reapplying the thermal compound. Neither worked for me.

    However, the baking the video card did work. I think someone else had this solution with a heat gun. I did mine in the oven. (google it - there are videos on how to do it on You Tube)

    I removed the heat sink assembly (which is the silver top part w/copper of the video card/thermal assembly) as well as the bottom bracket (which just comes off when loosening the ABCD screws) and cleaned off the thermal compound I had just applied - which was easy with rubbing alcohol. However, if you are trying to get off older thermal compound - heat it up a little with a hair dryer and then use rubbing alcohol - much easier.

    Anyway - I heated my oven to 385 degrees and prepared a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil and four small aluminum foil balls. After the oven had pre-heated, I placed the video card (GPU side down - which is the part that had the thermal compound) set the timer for 10 minutes. After 10 min - I took out the card - left it on the cookie sheet to cool - which is important so that you don't disturb the soder that was just melted in the oven). After it was cool, I added the thermal compound again (which is Artic Silver 5 BTW) about a small pea size.

    Reassembled - to the point where I had the HD plugged in - but not screwed down but had the top cover plugs back (for the optic drive and the other that I can't remember right now -) in so I could try it before all was totally assembled as I was going to remove the HD if it didn't work. Be very careful when doing this as everything is exposed.

    Pressed the button - and it worked - I was shocked. This was a last resort for me - I figured it couldn't hurt.

    I then put everything back together and am using my baby again. I haven't had any problems - even when gaming and no BSD, hangs. Thanks to the other posters like BigTex as I followed their instructions. Good Luck!

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