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I work for a small non-profit as the IT person......

We have a Dell Optiplex GX240 desktop computer. It recently stopped being able to boot up. When it tries I can hit F1 to continue (which does nothing) or hit F3 to go to setup. In Setup it says that both the hard drive and cd drive are not installed (but they are hooked up to the MOBO via an IDE cable).

I had problems with this same pc in Feb 2008 when I determined that the first IDE port on the mother board didn't work anymore. Both the CD and hard drive I hooked up to the second IDE port on the mother board and till recently it has been working fine. Note - there are only 2 IDE ports on the MOBO.

I believe my problem MIGHT be the IDE port on the MOBO because I tried replacing the IDE cable with a known working IDE cable and that didn't help. Then I replaced the hard drive and attempted to load Windows XP Pro on it via the CD drive, but of course the CD isn't working (being detected by the MOBO) either.

So how can I test the IDE port at the MOBO to see if it's working or not? Is it possible that someone might have got into the BIOS and turned it off somehow? I've checked the BIOS and everything looks just fine (from what I can tell).

Suggestions on how to FIX this machine so that it will work again?

Thank you.

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If the BIOS is set to autodetect drives, and the CD and the hard drive are listed in boot order then it should see them
Assuming you have a good cable, the jumpers are set correctly, and the drives are good, then it is the motherboard - and it is not worth fixing
Only thing I can think of that you have not tried is to disconnect the CD. Possibly that failed and is causing the motherboard not to see anything on that cable. Other than that, it is the mobo

ellory said:   If the BIOS is set to autodetect drives, and the CD and the hard drive are listed in boot order then it should see them
Assuming you have a good cable, the jumpers are set correctly, and the drives are good, then it is the motherboard - and it is not worth fixing
Only thing I can think of that you have not tried is to disconnect the CD. Possibly that failed and is causing the motherboard not to see anything on that cable. Other than that, it is the mobo


Thanks Ellroy. I forgot to post, but also tried it without the cd drive plugged in.

Yes the BIOS is set to "auto" for both the drives, and both are checked to be allowed to boot.

Guess it's toast. I'll strip it for parts I suppose.

Wonder what makes the MOBO go bad? The 1st IDE went bad in Feb 2008. Now the 2nd one is bad I guess. Do they just get old and die????

Thanks.

jimmy the PC is almost 10 years old. Things don't last forever - although I know we all wish they did. Could be heat, could be the machine was banged around over the years

Oh, make sure autodetect is turned off for the drives for the first IDE port, to make sure that is not causing it to hang

Interesting. I trashed a GX 150 last year because I couldn't get it to boot up (and I'm not smart enough to know to try F1, etc) and I have another machine, maybe GX260 that was working fine the last time I used it and now won't boot up. Most recently tried to boot it up so I could use it for recycling credit on a Staples deal. I'd be happy to donate it and maybe between the two you could make a working machine? I'm thinking the power supply might be bad but not being an IT person my solution was going to be to trash the machine. Shipping (its a tower) probably kills the deal.

He wouldn't need the entire case, just the MB.

KuoH

my4mainecoons said:   Shipping (its a tower) probably kills the deal.

Try to diagnose problems like this with self-booting tests that can be run from a floppy disk, USB flash drive, or CD-ROM, like the UltimateBootCD, MemTest86+, or the hard drive diagnostic MHDD. Do NOT try to "fix" the hard disk with any diagnostic because with the computer in the condition it is in now, any such attempts will most likely just make matters worse by causing data loss.

Have you tried erasing the CMOS memory by moving a jumper and then taking out the lithium battery overnight?

What happened when you tested the original IDE cable in another computer? Also is the replacement cable the 80-wire type? That matters when drives are configured for Cable Select (CS), as they usually are. If you use a 40-wire cable, the drives will have to be configured for Master (MA) and Slave (SL), and there's a good chance they'll only work in CPU-hogging PIO mode, not DMA mode.

I'd try a PCI card hard disk controller. These cost anywhere from $5-30, delivered, and the expensive ones are basically the same as the cheap ones found on eBay. If you buy used, be sure it supports at least ATA100 speed (maximum speed for PATA IDE is ATA133), not because the speed itself matters but because slower controllers are older and may not have BIOSes that support drives bigger than 137GB. Promise/Maxtor cards and cards based on the Silicon Image 680A chip tend to be safe bets here, but a SATA-PATA card based on the VIA VT6421A (not VT6421) should also work and will likely be cheaper.

The computer may have a marginal power supply, but the fact it boots to a viewable screen indicates the PSU is least good enough, and more likely the motherboard is suffering from electrolytic capacitor rot caused by years of heat and high current from the power-hungry Pentium 4 CPU (this is probably not the same problem that plagued other, slightly newer, Dells that were manufacturerd with bad capacitors), and when capacitors get bad enough, the voltages become so erratic that chips can have trouble working. I've seen replacement GX240 motherboards advertised for as little as $20, delivered, but I don't know what condition they're in (many advertised as "refurbished", a virtually meaningless term). If you can solder and desolder, for about $20 you can make the motherboard as good as new by replacing the larger capacitors with Japanese ones. Do you see any capacitors that are bulging or ruptured on top? Look especially around the CPU, north bridge chip (has a heatsink), the AGP slot, and memory slots, where the switching-mode voltage regulators are located. Keep in mind that some capacitors go bad but still look normal on the outside. BTW, you can't repair this with ordinary capacitors sold by Radio Shack or most local parts houses because you need the type made especially for switching mode regulators -- Nichicon HN series, Sanyo/Sun WG series, Panasonic FM or FJ series, Rubycon MBZ or MCZ, etc., but not TK (Toshin Kogyo) or Chemicon KZG or KZJ (but KZE OK). Tons of information about capacitors and motherboard repair at BadCaps.net, which also sells high quality caps.

Some BIOS have the option to enable / disable the IDE channels. If yours does, make sure the first IDE channel is disabled and the second IDE channel is enabled. Probably not your issue as you say the drives were working fine on the second channel previously, but you never know...

Other than that, I agree with ellory, the problem is almost certainly the motherboard since you've verified drives and cables. Buy a new compatible motherboard (assuming you can find one which may be hard given the age of the current motherboard) or salvage spare parts from the machine.

Thanks everyone!

After I read Ellroy's reply last night I stripped the machine for parts. It's not a big deal. I spent about 1 hour trying to fix it, that'e enough time wasted.

Thank you everyone for the suggestions though.

hey guys, ive got a optiplex gx240with the same issue.Wont boot, nor on 40 wire type, nor on 80 wire tipe.Just upgraded the bios, so that's not an issue.Reset the CMOS.I have a PCI 4 IDE adapter, but the strangest thing is that it will not show up my drives on the adapter as well.If i switch the adapter onto another PC, they work just fine as they are, just power plugged in.Any ideeas, suggestions ?

hey guys, ive got a optiplex gx240with the same issue.Wont boot, nor on 40 wire type, nor on 80 wire tipe.Just upgraded the bios, so that's not an issue.Reset the CMOS.I have a PCI 4 IDE adapter, but the strangest thing is that it will not show up my drives on the adapter as well.If i switch the adapter onto another PC, they work just fine as they are, just power plugged in.Any ideeas, suggestions ?

Sorry about the double post,Error due to registration login & activation login

ovidiuchicea said:   hey guys, ive got a optiplex gx240with the same issue. Won't boot, nor on 40 wire type, nor on 80 wire tipe. Just upgraded the bios, so that's not an issue. Reset the CMOS. I have a PCI 4 IDE adapter, but the strangest thing is that it will not show up my drives on the adapter as well. If i switch the adapter onto another PC, they work just fine as they are, just power plugged in. Any ideas, suggestions ?Actually the BIOS update could be the problem becasue some PCI IDE cards aren't compatible with cetain mobos or BIOSes. So I'd try turning off the RAID and AHCI modes in the BIOS, but if that doesn't help, maybe you need to update the BIOS of the PCI IDE card. For cards based on a Silicon Image chip, their website, but realize they have both RAID and non-RAID BIOSes for the same card, plus you'll need the matching Windows RAID or non-RAID driver. Also their Windows-based flash program doesn't work, so you'll need to boot into DOS mode. For Promise or Maxtor controllers, try Promise.com or Seagate.com

Weren't the GX240's part of the Dell lawsuit about bad caps? You may want to see if they can help you.

Just something I found out today...the Optiplex GX240 will not CD boot with a USB keyboard. Used F12 to select boot device, the screen comes up with "hit any key to boot from CD". I knew I'd installed XP from CD before, that the CD-ROM was good, and I tried on two different GX240s (small school district, we have several), and I could hear the CD spinning up. The only thing I could think of that we'd done differently in the past was use PS2 keyboard, so I tried that. Hit the "any" key , and off we went, no more problems.

Just something I found out today...the Optiplex GX240 will not CD boot with a USB keyboard. Used F12 to select boot device, the screen comes up with "hit any key to boot from CD". I knew I'd installed XP from CD before, that the CD-ROM was good, and I tried on two different GX240s (small school district, we have several), and I could hear the CD spinning up. The only thing I could think of that we'd done differently in the past was use PS2 keyboard, so I tried that. Hit the "any" key , and off we went, no more problems.

A lot of Dell's have issues with USB keyboards. Even the newer USB only models. It's very frustrating to have to try 2 or 3 different keyboards before getting a machine to work correctly. I haven't had this issue with any other brand.



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