I was curious as to what the issue was that caused the failure. I decided to log the F12 diagnostics test. As each test started I recorded the name. As luck would have it I turned my back for a couple of minutes and the laptop did its usual thing by just stopping. I started the tests again and this time I had the laptop next to me while I kept myself occupied with a game on my desktop. When it reach the last recorded test I watched more closely and the last test before it crashed was XMATS32 of course this made no sense to me so I did a Google search and much to my amazement I found the answer.
There are 2 possibilities the memory sticks are bad (at least one) or the memory controller failed. One of the solutions was to run each memory stick through the test by itself. This meant 4 passes of the F12 tests. BTW the error was in the video memory section!
I decided to call Dell and reported the issue to 'call taker'. When I identified the test that failed and my disappointment with Dell support he reviewed the case, checked with his manager and, informed me that he was shipping a mother board and heat sync. In addition they were sending a technician to install the parts. The parts were to be installed on 2/15 but due to a prior commitment I rescheduled to 2/18.
When the parts were installed I ran the F12 Diagnostics (BTW the XMZTS32 is the last Diagnostic, go figure). For the first time the F12 completed with no issues. I immediately reinstalled Windows 7 and currently installing support software. I am not that technically astute and I cannot why they will not support Win 7 but like I wrote 7 has run for the last 4+ years without incident..
I am totally frustrated with Dell support. I took a month to resolve an issue. Of course they refused to listen tom me and perform the necessary test to isolate the problem, just lazy I guess.
Sorry for the long rant but I had to document this 'lack of support' which I paid for.
A little background: I have had my Dell 1535 laptop almost 5 years. I purchased it refurbished. Aside from the optical drive issue from the beginning I have no issues with the machine. About 4 + years ago I updated to OS to WIN 7. Even though Dell does not support 7 on the 1535 I have had no issues. About 6 months ago the laptop started slowing down; boot would take an inordinate amount of time to come up, but not all the time. I am running the MS firewall, Ad-Aware virus software and disk keeper monitors the hard drive.
1. I installed Jewel Quest games and that's when the issues began. I would be into the game and all of a sudden the laptop would quit working. To be clear the laptop would stop. Just like a light goes off when you flip the switch no warning, no dumps, no log file entries. Just off.
2. I called Dell support and after explaining what was happening the tech told me I must reinstall Vista because Dell did not support 7on the 1535. I tried to explain that I have had no issues with the laptop since the install of WIN 7. He would not hear of it. I decided to just uninstalled the Jewel Quest games.
3. For a time all worked well, then up jumped the devil, the laptop just stopped same as before. However, this time I was viewing a video clip being downloaded from Fox News. I thought this was interesting...but not funny. This happened a few more times. I called Dell and got the same response "Dell does not support 7 on the 1535!" Since my support was scheduled to run out in November 2013 I bit the bullet and reinstalled Vista.
4. I only installed the OS and some support programs along with the Jewel Quest games. I started playing one of the games and again the laptop just quit like turning off a light...no rhyme or reason could be detected. I called Dell support (I now have the support number committed to memory as well as the service tag) I explained the issue and I that I had reinstalled Vista. The Twit responded with 'it is a software issue' and transferred me to Software, where I was on hold for about 45 minutes. It was late and I hung up.
5. The next day I again called support and was pleased to talk to someone with a brain! The first thing we did was run the F12 diagnostics as it ran through the tests I told him there was a disk error and gave him the code (I cannot remember the code).
He determined the disk was bad and asked if I could install the disk drive. I said yes I have done this before. I received the disk in 2/3 days and installed the new hard drive.
6. After installing the Vista OS only (I have been burned before) I revisited the tests. Remember new disk drive; I ran the F12 diagnostics and this time the system crashed (same way) after the second memory test (WCMCH)... the lights just went out.
7. Again I called Dell support and informed then the laptop failed the tests again. I shipped the laptop back to the support center on 2/1/2013. About a week after I shipped the laptop I called support to see what they had discovered. I was told they replaced the disk drive (see #5). I explained that had already been done a week ago.
8. Today 02/13/2013 I received the laptop. The cover sheet indicated that in addition to the hard drive being replaced they installed a heat sync and of course the vista OS. There was also a note that "The system was diagnosed and extensively tested by a certified technicians to ensure the problem you experience was corrected"
Having been burned before I decided to run the Pre-Boot diagnostics (F12) before any additional software installations. Well the laptop passed the infamous WCMCH test and a couple of more. At this point it stopped and asked if I wanted to perform the rest of the tests and of course they were "recommended" and the test would take approximately 30 minutes. I said yes continue. It completed the tests up thru PMOVI and a couple of more.The last test I remember was something that started with WC (kind of appropriate). I turned away and a few moments later the laptop stopped! Same thing. I will call support later and give them the good news. BTW I started writing this yesterday knowing it would probably fail. I am hopeful a responsible Dell representative will contact me and assist in resolving this issue.