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Dell Inspiron 14R 5420 intermittently fails to boot?

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I have a Dell laptop which sometimes boots and sometimes doesn't. When it boots, it works perfectly normal. However, when it doesn't boot, it doesn't show anything on screen, the light check goes on, the fan runs, and then it stops and nothing happens.

What I've tried so far:

  • Replaced CMOS Battery
  • Checked LCD Cable

System information

  • Dell Inspiron 14R 5420
  • Intel Core i5 processor
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M graphics processor

The system dual-boots Windows 8 and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

What else should I try to fix this problem? Also when its not booting it heats a lot.

PS: My laptop is out of warranty.

asked Dec 22, 2014 by codeomnitrix  
When it does boot, can you check your logs?
I suggest using a bootable USB flash drive. That way, you can rule out hard drive failure
When laptops have sudden shutdown errors, it is good to check if they are overheating. Have you tried air dusting the exhaust port? Have you tried not using it in bed with a blanket/comforter? Have you tried putting a paperback novel in the back of it to get it to tilt, increasing airflow?
Also, run a hardware diagnostics CD, if you have one available. Unfortunately the ones that test all of your hardware components and not just something specific like the RAM are usually proprietary. If they developed a good one that was freeware/shareware, computer diagnostics and repair would become much more accessible to the layman.
Hi, I have checked the warranty status, its out of warranty. Can you pls suggest something. Last option I think now is replacing motherboard. Thanks

2 Answers

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See the problem-diagnosing chart in this answer.

Based on that chart, the problem is either a Power Supply failure or a motherboard failure. I would favor a motherboard failure, since you say that the laptop works perfectly well when it boots up successfully, but you could further test this by using stress tests of CPU and GPU, to see if any power problem occurs. If none happen, then the problem is probably with the motherboard. See these test tools.

However, since you still have warranty, it wouldn't make any sense to fix this yourself, since simply too costly. In addition, by opening up the laptop you take the risk of voiding your warranty.

My best advice is to use the warranty and have the laptop repaired or replaced.

answered Dec 22, 2014 by harrymc  
edited Dec 22, 2014
If you go with the warranty option (which is not a bad idea) make sure you BACKUP EVERYTHING! The manufacture does not keep anything for you and will most likely wipe/reload or replace the HDD just for simplicity on their part. They do not keep anything for you in this instance. Backup, backup, backup!
If you're especially unlucky, the data on your HD may end up getting the "once-over" by anyone at the warranty repair place, encrypting or backing up & wiping any sensitive data (free space wipe too) could be wise
@Xen2050: I'm not that paranoid—the last several times I sent in my HP laptop for repair, I took a system image, removed a few programs, created a new administrator account, and deleted the normal account and associated data.
@DragonLord I am now. People have gone to jail over things found on their HD's by technicians, they were committing crimes but that still doesn't mean I want anyone looking through my photos & banking info, identity theft is a possibility. Almost no one used to be that paranoid (unless they were wearing a tinfoil hat ;-) But then Snowden revealed that there are some good reason to be. (As if I needed an excuse to play with my computer & encryption anyway)
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This is probably a motherboard issue

Your symptoms strongly suggest an electronic problem in the motherboard, since you've noted that it always happens before Windows starts booting up. It's quite unlikely that a laptop AC adapter would do this as the battery should be able to keep the system running even if the adapter failed. If you can confirm that the battery charges, your AC adapter is most likely good. Note that the CPU and GPU are soldered onto the motherboard on this laptop.

A hard drive failure wouldn't cause these kinds of boot-up issues as the system should be able to get through POST, just not load the OS. Bad or improperly-seated memory wouldn't explain this problem, either, as this would manifest as frequent random system and application crashes or the system giving a beep code when powered on, respectively. It's incredibly unlikely that these parts would cause the system to not clear POST with nary a beep code.

The motherboard is almost never a user-serviceable part in any laptop, so you should send it back to Dell for repair. Be sure to back up your data—the best way to do this is to remove the hard drive from the computer, put it in an enclosure, and plug it into another computer for data transfer or imaging.

answered Dec 22, 2014 by DragonLord  
I've seen similar problems with bad USB devices causing long delays at POST, I wouldn't automatically rule out a HD (or really anything that "plugs in")
@Xen2050: The OP isn't experiencing a delay at POST. The computer just powers up and turns off. When it fails to boot, it won't even get to POST, for that matter.
He doesn't say it turns off... or does he? He says "it doesn't show anything on screen, the light check goes on, the fan runs, and then it stops and nothing happens" so I'd say POST is getting through the lights & fan at least. But he doesn't say how long nothing happens, or what exactly "it stops and nothing happens" means, maybe it's still on, maybe it is off...
Xen2050: it stops means power button remains on, light appears as usual but nothing appears on the screen