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Need help with Optiplex GX520 SFF (won't shut down properly)

by Steven Haninger / August 20, 2011 8:29 PM PDT

I am trying to help with this rig. The issue is that, when trying to shut it down, all appears to go normally but one of two things will happen. It will either restart or the power LED will go amber with the CPU fan running at high speed. If I press and hold the power button, it powers down but restarts. This happens in both safe mode and in normal operation. Here are some system details.

This is a refurbed unit by Joy Systems with both the original product ID sticker and the Joy Systems refurb holographic sticker. Joy Systems seems to be a legitimate operation. There is a Dell service tag attached.

The CPU is a 3.0Gz P4 with 4 megs of RAM. The drive is a 500 gb Seagate SATA. The OS is Win XP Pro 32 bit.

Here's the kicker. This was purchased as a student's PC. The user appears to have upgraded or reinstalled the OS using their student version of XP Pro. I have their copy of this software and it appears to be legit with a PID code. The embedded PID code on the system is that which is on the student version plastic sleeve and not that on either of the unit's stickers.

There is evidence that this is not a clean install by the user though I received it with missing drivers. PTEDIT32 shows a hidden partition and there is a Dell/drivers folder. I was able, using the service tag #, find and install the missing drivers for the chipset, video display and Ethernet controller. But, the shutdown issue is said to have occurred prior to the installation of the student version of XP. This copy was only SP2 and I have upgraded to SP3. I did also download and update to the latest BIOS and set it to defaults.

All works well except that I cannot shut the darned thing down. This is one of the problems the user complained of. I have not suggested they take this up with Joy Systems yet but I may need to. I could probably image the system and see if I could try the factory recovery option but have no media but what might be on the hard drive.

Any ideas about the shutdown problem would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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(NT) Correction...there is no recovery partition
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May be giving up on this one...going from bad to worse

I'm suspecting the PS or a MB issue. I can no longer power the unit up. If I plug the unit in, the power LED comes on immediately in amber color and fan CPU fans runs constantly at high RPM. I can press and hold the power button for 4 seconds and it shuts down but it will not power back up. I replaced the BIOS battery (doesn't check that bad w/DVM) and cleared the BIOS. It powered up once and allowed me to configure the BIOS and boot to Windows. But on the next shutdown, nada. I do read only 11.55v on the 12v rail and 5.25 on the 5v. I don't know what the tolerances are for this one. I see no physical evidence of bad caps on the MB but that's not conclusive. I didn't open the PS as this might be under some warranty for the owner that I don't want to void. I think this one's a goner. The MB date is 2005 so 6 years might be the end of it. Thanks anyway.

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It's usually the drivers.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 21, 2011 4:31 AM PDT

Or some app/security/driver crashes on shutdown.

There are now some 100,000 discussions on this so I'll keep it short. Look at the event viewer for clues and use the service TAG to locate the dell drivers.

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Thanks but nothing in the event viewer
by Steven Haninger / August 21, 2011 5:55 AM PDT

It came to me with missing drivers. No audio, Ethernet, and only default for video. I was able to get the chipset drivers and the remaining ones that were missing. I also updated the BIOS but the increment was a small one. There's a BIOS event log but nothing offered a clue. I was told by the owner of the sudden shutdowns or restarts if shut down normally. I went immediately for heat, new thermal compound, etc. There wasn't much dust inside. I was able to get it to operate long enough to fully update Windows but did encounter shutdown/restart issues during that process. That was last evening. Today it's gone from bad to worse and will now no longer POST. I should get a green power LED but it remains orange with the fan at high RPM. I do notice a considerable drop on the 12v side if the CPU power is connected. With it disconnected I get just about 12v but when connected it drops to 11.62v. Removing the CPU raises the voltage to 11.8v. I've no idea if this is a clue. It's a lousy 220 watt proprietary PS. I suspect it's at least part of the problem but don't have a PS with a 20+4 MB connector handy to check it. The pinout scheme on the connector does not appear to be proprietary so I suspect that's what it would take to rule the PS in or out. I can find updated versions of the PS (280 watt) for this PC for about 80 bucks or a "refurbed" PS (if there's such a thing) for about 30 bucks on the web. So, it's going to be up to the owner whether to sink money into it or not. I don't do this for pay so I don't guarantee good results. Thanks again.

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What about that BIOS event log entry?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 21, 2011 6:10 AM PDT

There are models that don't run XP due to an error in the BIOS. Well they do "run" but with troubles.

For example this error ->

You can imagine that the only cure is to replace the BIOS and if that doesn't work you replace the main board with a XP compatible board.

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Can't even get there anymore
by Steven Haninger / August 21, 2011 7:14 AM PDT

I get no further attempt to POST. What was in the event log when it was (partially) working seemed to be normal with nothing flagged as being out of the ordinary. It's currently dead but the owner says it's done this before and might wake up tomorrow. I love a challenge but know when to say uncle. Thanks again.

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So it's a defective machine?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 21, 2011 7:22 AM PDT

A good machine does not need to wait till tomorrow. As it is now broken the next step is to find what is busted. It's not Windows as Windows does not stop a machine from turning on and trying to boot.

Did you measure the CMOS Battery Voltage?

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Installed CMOS battery
by Steven Haninger / August 21, 2011 8:07 AM PDT

is standard CR2032 and reads 3.04v. I replaced with a new one which was reading 3.3v. Nothing changed so I put the old one back. I did find and follow the Dell procedure to clear the BIOS settings which involves using jumpers and the power switch. No change. What is currently happening is that only when I connect AC power does the PS light up. The power LED should go green but stays orange/amber and the CPU fans runs at high speed. I can press and hold the power switch. The power LED flashes 2 or 3 time and the PS turns off. It will not restart any other way but by disconnecting/reconnecting power or applying a jumper to the appropriate pins on the main power connector. I did notice the chipset/northbridge heatsink to be getting a bit toasty yesterday so it got new thermal grease too. Yep...not Windows...something broken that I've no abracadabra that's going to achieve a fix...needs money.

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I Had the Same Problem, and I Fixed It
by cuppettcj / November 17, 2012 12:17 AM PST

I just want to tell anybody else who has this problem that there is at least one person who was able to fix it. My motherboard was not dying, I didn't have all of the other problems described in this thread. The only problem I had with my Dell OptiPlex GX520 small form factor was that it would not stay shutdown. When I shutdown the computer, either using the Windows commands or by the power button, the machine would shut off for only a few seconds and then power back on again. Everything else worked for this computer.

Here is what I did to fix it, in the following order. Note that I'm not sure exactly which step or combination of steps fixed the problem, so I'm listing them all.

1) I downloaded and ran the BIOS upgrade from Dell. I upgraded my BIOS from A01 to A11.
2) I went into the BIOS and I made sure that AC power recovery options were all turned off (they were).
3) I installed all of the device drivers from Dell. I don't think this made a difference, but who knows.
4) I shutdown the computer, and before the computer could turn back on again, I pulled the power plug. For me, there was always about a 2 second gap between the time that the computer shut down and before it would boot up again, so I had time to do this safely, in my opinion.
5) I pressed and held the power button with the power plug disconnected for several seconds to drain all of the capacitors.
6) I opened up the case and cleaned out all of the dust bunnies.
7) I disconnected the hard drive and removed the hard drive enclosure so I could easily get to the CMOS battery and jumpers.
Cool I pulled the CMOS battery out.
9) I pulled out the PSWD jumper and then put it back in.
10) I replaced the CMOS battery.
11) I reinstalled the hard drive enclosure and reconnected the hard drive.
12) I put the cover back on the case.
13) I reconnected the power cable. Please note that when I did this the computer booted up automatically after 2 seconds, like it did before, but that this was the last time it did so.
14) I got an error message during boot up that complained about the time and date being reset. I pressed F2 to go into the BIOS.
15) I reset the clock, reconfigured all of my BIOS settings, and saved and exited the BIOS.
16) After my computer booted into Windows, I hit the "Start" button, then the "Turn Off My Computer" button, then the "Turn Off" button.

This time after the computer turned off, it stayed off! I hope this helps somebody else who is having the same problem.

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