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Dell 530S Will not power on

by chuckssite / May 28, 2010 9:56 AM PDT

My wife clicked on a McAfee pop-up notice that said a restart was required. The computer shut down and will not restart. This is a Dell 530S with 4 GB memory running Vista Home Premium and McAfee Virus Scan. There is no light on the start button, and nothing happens when the button is pressed. There is one led on the mother board that is flashing, the only sign of life. McAfee says to contact Dell. What do you say?


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Try pulling the AC cord.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 28, 2010 10:49 PM PDT

Unplug it, go do some errand and then plug it back in and try again.

Since you don't do your own repairs, arrange for service if you must.

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Thanks, but I do some repairs my self
by chuckssite / May 29, 2010 2:38 PM PDT

When I said that I have no power, I didn't relate the steps I have taken thus far which include trying different poser cords, different electrical outlets and checking plug in devices for solid connections. The problem I have is that when my wife clicked on McAfee's restart suggestion, the computer shut down properly but did not restart (I was not watching - only noticed sometime later that it was not running). All other connected items work, sound system and monitor. So, I removed computer and tried it at a different outlet anyway (mainly so I could have better access) and tried a different power cable. I removed the cover and noticed one LED flashing on the mother board. At this point, I had the questions submitted. Do I continue to try to find a hardware problem ignoring the fact that the computer shutdown following a McAfee procedure or do I have to look to McAfee for a solution to what may be their problem? Is this just a coincidence that the computer will not power on at the same time my wife followed a McAfee procedure? Should I just try to find a faulty component such as the power supply? Or does the fact that an LED is flashing indicate that the power supply is working, and something else is wrong? If so, do you have any ideas? Just to satisfy the writer, I have "pulled the plug" several times and again after I read the suggestion. No life - just one flashing LED on the mother board. What steps are next that I can do? Chuck

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Let's research this.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 29, 2010 11:30 PM PDT
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by chuckssite / May 31, 2010 7:42 AM PDT
In reply to: Let's research this.

I thought I sent a long message detailing what I had done and ending with a request for the details of how to test the PSU. But somehow, it didn't post. In the meantime, I found this "Unplug the cord from the power supply, hold the power button in for about 15/20 seconds, open the case, unplug the 24-pin power connector from the motherboard and jump the Green wire to one of the Black wires, reconnect the power cord and power the system, if power supply's fan and the hard drive run, then the PSU should be good." There was also a link to a power supply tester and where to buy a new PSU. Was that what you were going to suggest? If so, I'll try it. My continuing problem is the cause if indeed the PSU is bad. Was it because of the McAfee shutdown, a coincidence, the PSU was ready to fail anyway. Why would the PSU fail? Is there something else wrong that would cause this to happen? Is the only way to find out to replace the PSU and see what happens?

I know I can test and replace the PSU if necessary, but I'd really like to know more of the failure sequence so that I can prevent it from happening again. Thanks. Chuck

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The one thing I learned about PSU failures.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 31, 2010 8:55 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks.

Is that the causes are age, heat, AC power spikes and other.

Since you repair your own gear, a Volt meter and that green wire (good to read you are into this) then check the voltages.

2 decades later and I never bothered with those PSU testers.

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It's Working Again!
by chuckssite / June 7, 2010 3:57 PM PDT

Just thought I'd close this thread, and thank you (and all the others) who voluntarily give of your time and expertise to help us folks who just like to believe (with much evidence to the contrary) that computers are here to help us save time and aid what we do. In the 30 years that I have been trying to use computers, I have spent a untold hours, days, weeks, and months trying to get problems solved. Often volunteers, probably most often, volunteers rather than company employees helped the most. And, I appreciate your time, dedication, and expertise. Not all solve the problem, but they try. With multiple forums available, it is not too hard to get an answer. In this case, I determined that the most probable cause of my wife's computer failing to start was a dead power supply unit (PSU). Since I have 5 computers under my wing (3 at home, and 2 in my church library), I decided to purchase a power supply digital tester to give me better piece of mind (I can use a multimeter, but do not do so on a regular basis) and I tried it first on a PSU from an older eMachine to get an idea of how the connections were made and how to interpret the results. Then I checked my dead PSU, and indeed, it WAS dead. Finally, I checked the replacement PSU and each of its connectors to be sure all were operating correctly. The PSU passed the test, and I put it in the computer, replaced all of the parts, and plugged it in. Then I pushed the button and listen to the welcome whirr as components started up. So, I plugged in all the peripherals and put the computer in its place, and started it up. Everything works as it did before. I didn't really find the cause of the failure of the PSU. There was some dust on the various fans, and I suppose that could slow them or reduce the cooling by a small amount. With only 250 watts of power, perhaps there wasn't much room for error. This computer runs off a UPS with surge protection, so I doubt that it was a surge (nothing else has had a problem, and no circuits have tripped). So, I've decided to be sure to vacuum my computers on my birthday when I remember to also change the batteries in my smoke alarms. Anyway, the computer works now, and this thread comes to an end. I thank you for your help. Chuck

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Thank you!
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 7, 2010 10:51 PM PDT
In reply to: It's Working Again!

", I've decided to be sure to vacuum my computers on my birthday when I remember to also change the batteries in my smoke alarms. "

That's a wonderful thought and Helpful Hint.

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Avoid repeated failure
by w_tom / June 8, 2010 12:59 AM PDT
In reply to: It's Working Again!

Your 'solution' demonstrates why facts are best collected before making any changes. Notice how many immediately wanted to start swapping parts only on wild speculation.

With a multimeter and little time (it takes longer to remove screws from the supply), you could have had numbers that reported about a long list of things you never even knew about. That others never even mentioned.

Well, it is normal for a defective supply to boot and run a computer. Only the meter will identify the defect - and in less than a minute. You may still have that defect. Just another reason why better informed techs quickly take those voltage measurements before disconnecting even one cable.

Now, computers also have a safety lockout feature in the supply controller. One suggested disconnecting from AC mains. Well, yes. But the disconnect need only be two seconds to reset the safety lockout. Power (as the motherboard LED reports) is always on inside that machine except when the power cord is disconnected long enough for that LED to extinguish.

Could have been a loose connector. Or something in the power system (supply is only one system component) may be marginal - fail again later. With numbers from a multimeter before changing anything, then a very long list of suspects could have been quickly eliminated OR the problem (that might cause a failure later) would have been identified. Meter is a powerful tool understood by the fewer electrically informed techs. Its numbers mean those with better knowledge can reply. A suggestion should it happen again OR if you want to learn how to solve problems faster and the first time.

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Interesting Comment
by chuckssite / June 8, 2010 4:08 AM PDT
In reply to: Avoid repeated failure

A few thoughts: I, and most computer users are not techs, and don't have testing benches, and don't want to have to service computers. I've been using them for 30 years, Apple 2+, Apple 3, many IBM types including HP, Gateway, eMachines, Compac, and Dell. Service went from long hours waiting on the telephone for technical service to not so long waits when someone half the world away takes control of your computer and usually can't solve the problem without reformatting the HD and never gets it back to factory setups to trying to fix things oneself. Of course, along the way new peripherals were added requiring opening the case and learning about the components. So, I have had a lot of hands-on experience and learning, but little technical background. So, I look to those who do and are willing to share it. The companies aren't interested but most provide space on their websites for forums where volunteers can help their customers. What motivates these people, I don't know, but they do us users a great service. CNET provides such a service, and is the reason I posted here. My experience is that the replies one gets on this site are tech oriented (well, not the one that suggested pulling the plug and replacing it) and often too brief for me to use. I can usually follow directions, but I like to get a cookbook set of steps to follow. I got that solution on the Dell Community Desktop forum. No where did anyone tell me what the flashing yellow light on the motherboard meant nor how to determine what might have caused the failure to power on (whether it might recur - my chief fear) or if it might have been malware. Because I don't know what the various voltages of the PSU mean for failure analysis, I chose to purchase a Digital Tester that shows voltage values of each output connector of the PSU as well as LED lights showing whether it passes some criteria. I know enough to recognize a voltage that is significantly different than its rating, but I do not know what an acceptable range is. So, I let the tester tell me - maybe it does or doesn't do the job. For my limited experience, it did the job, and within the short time it took to plug in about 6 connectors, it gave me a reasonably good assurance that my computer would work. But the fear remains - this is the only PSU failure that I have had in 30 years and maybe 15 computers - that something caused this failure, and I don't yet know what that was. If the multimeter can tell me that, I'd like to know how to perform the test, step by step. I haven't found that information yet, and I don't expect to waste more time (maybe not entirely a waste) researching. I keep hoping that someone will offer advice and point to a solution. But until that happens, I have a computer that works, an undetermined cause, and a yellow LED on the motherboard near the PSU 24 pin connector that flashes when nothing else works. Why?

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Finding a hidden failure
by w_tom / June 8, 2010 10:48 AM PDT
In reply to: Interesting Comment

Using a 3.5 digit multimeter (available most anywhere that hammers are sold (even Kmart) for about the price of a hammer).

From the power supply to motherboard are 20 or 24 wires. Each is probed by pushing a meter probe into that nylon connector; touch each wire. With a meter on 20 VDC and with the computer connected to AC and not powered on. Measure voltage on a purple wire. This should be about 5 volts (above 4.87). Power for the power controller system. Next measure voltage on the green and gray wires before and when the switch is pressed. Green must drop from well above 2.0 volts to well less than 0.6. Then a gray wire must rise (within two seconds) to well above 2.4 volts. Not exceeding those limits can cause infrequent and strange failures.

Only then will the power controller let the CPU execute. Fans can spin and lights glow - and those numbers could be wrong. These numbers (and behavior) describe how the various power system components are working. This part was relevant to your problem. Reading further on behavior of 'Power On' and 'Power Good' signals is advised.

Next, the system must be stressed. Many foolishly think an Intel CPU test is a stress test. Not. Power supply must be fully loaded. But you do not have $thousands in test equipment. So, multitask to all peripherals simultaneously. IOW execute complex graphics (ie a movie), while downloading from the internet, while playing a CD, while output sound loudly, while doing a hard disk search, while powering USB devices, while moving the mouse, while .... Execute everything. Now measure. Probe any one orange, red, purple and yellow wire. Those numbers must exceed 3.23, 4.87, and 11.7 when the system is demanding most power. If any number is under, then a system is working on a defective power supply. For example the supply could have excessive ripple voltage, be insufficient for the load, losing regulation, or ... Bottom line: the supply is OK or is defective - without doubt. But the system will still boot either way.

Those numbers can report other interesting facts - too many to list here. Only way to tap the few who actually know this stuff means numbers.

Let's say failure is due to an intermittent contact on one connector pin. You made changes. Temporarily fixed a failure. With numbers, the problem was limited to a small part of the system. Finding the intermittent is easy when the list of suspects was so short - due to those numbers and due to measuring before making any changes.

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I appreciate the detail
by chuckssite / June 8, 2010 2:54 PM PDT

Thanks for the detail. That's what helps me, one who doesn't know all the tricks - haven't had the need or opportunity - but have the capability to follow a guide. I'll save your explanation, and use it if I have a problem or maybe just to have fun learning to test. I'll compare the multimeter test with my digital PSU tester and see if I learn more from one or the other. It would be nice if the manufacturers manual had testing procedures, but they usually just tell you to pull out the components and reseat them. I can't believe that this is often a problem, particularly when it is so difficult to get the pieces out of their sockets. But I guess the bottom line is that they don't recomend that people try to fix a broken unit. Anyway, your answer is helpful, a good start. I'd probably have to ask a couple of questions along the way, but the instructions are basically clear and helpful. That's what I think an answer should look like. So, thanks for showing the way it can be done.

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