gkitf16
1 Copper

Dimension E521 rebooting at POST

I'm working on a friend's Dell Dimension E521 desktop. The system fails to boot, it simply stops at the screen:

NO BOOT DEVICE DETECTED - INSERT SYSTEM DISK

The power button led is solid green, the motherboard led is solid orange. CPU fan running normally, power supply fan running normally, I can hear the HD running, but no activity. After exiting Setup, it just goes thru the Dell logo to the NO BOOT DEVICE screen again.

I am using a USB keyboard and wireless mouse plugged in the front USB port. 

Now the system is going crazy. It starts as before, but the 1 2 3 4 diagnostic led's are flashing all over the place, repeating a pattern something like 3 4, 1,2 while the power button led is alternately flashing green and yellow. The system keeps power cycling in an endless loop, 3  or 4 cycles, then shuts down cold for a few minutes, then begins all over again. Total random behavior.

I do not have a Vista CD.

At first, I believed it might be a dying hard drive, seeing the Dell is unable to detect a boot device. The HD is a Seagate 120 GB SATA.

So, I pulled the drive and plugged it into a separate desktop PC (running Windows XP Pro SP3) to see what's going on with it. Ran Seagate's SeaTools diagnostics on it.....no problems or errors, nothing to fix. Ran MyDefrag on it, virus scanned it, all the basic test looking for problems. Nothing wrong! I could see an OS and a Recovery partition on the drive, and was able to view files inside the partition. Everything looks OK for the HD so far.

Replaced the HD back into the Dell PC. Same crazy rebooting cycle behavior as before. I am becoming very suspicious that the power supply has taken a puke and is experiencing intermittent failures. Without replacing it, I don't know how to read the front panel led light show and decide what's going on. 

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9 Replies
fireberd
6 Indium

Re: Dimension E521 rebooting at POST, is it FUBAR'd?

This would GENERALLY point to a motherboard problem.  Reset the BIOS and see if that helps.  With the PC Powered off, remove the CR2032 CMOS backup battery for about 10 minutes.  Then reinstall and try.



I am not a Dell Employee

Dell forum member since 2002

Dell Inspiron 15 - 5577 Laptop

Home Built Desktop PC with ASUS ROG Z170, i7 6700K CPU

Windows 10 64 bit Pro and Windows 10 Insider Program Beta Versions. SSD drives. Cakewalk by BandLab and Studio One 4.1 Recordng Studio Software.

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gkitf16
1 Copper

Re: Dimension E521 rebooting at POST, is it FUBAR'd?

OK, I pulled the CMOS battery, tested, it's good @ 3.05 V. Left it for 1 hour, put battery back in. On AC p-lugin, system auto-powers on, and POSTs to the Phoenix Award BIOS black screen. Front panel diagnostic LEDs 1 2 3 are on steady, power button solid green, motherboard LED solid orange, not power cycling or rebooting (not glitching for now.....)

Phoenix Award BIOS present - Diskette drive 0 seek failure - invalid configuration information - please run Setup program - Alert system battery voltage is low - Alert previous shutdown due to thermal event - Press F1 to continue F2 to enter Setup

F1 = NO BOOT DEVICE DETECTED screen again. F2 will take you to setup.

Powered system off, switch back on, goes thru Dell screen POST, back to Phoenix Award BIOS screen. All msgs cleared except for Diskette drive 0 seek failure, F1 continue F2 Setup. F2 gets you to Setup as it should

I guess at this point I need a Vista disk (haven't got one) to repair the bootloader file so the system can boot to Windows. Any other options besides the CD? I do have XP Home and XP Pro CD's but I do not think these are correct to repair missing boot file for Vista? Have done it many times for XP machines (easy when no other prob's).

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gkitf16
1 Copper

Re: Dimension E521 rebooting at POST, is it FUBAR'd?

From what I've been learning about this machine, there may not be any solution to the problems I am experiencing. Apparently the E521 series has numerous fatal flaws in its design and architecture, which are not realized until far down the road after problems have set in which, at first, seem to be innocent enough, but when fully discovered, there are no permanent fixes for issues, either from Dell, or outside sources, that will work.

For example, a well-known BIOS issue prevents use of USB keyboards. To fix the issue, the machine must be able to boot. Of course, this isn't possible at this point, so end game. There is no clear-cut diagnostic method to determine whether the constantly-rebooting issue as soon as the Dell logo screen appears is due to a faulty PSU, or a fatal motherboard hidden problem. Troubleshooting by all normal methods reveals nothing. Throwing parts at it is a rapid waste of money that could be better spent toward a new system of a more reliable brand.

In short, before spending ANY money or further time on this bomb, it's probably time to save what's on the hard drive, and move on. R.I.P. Dell

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vogeyone
1 Copper

Re: Dimension E521 rebooting at POST, is it FUBAR'd?

did you ever get the dell fixedl  having the same trouble

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RoHe
6 Indium

Re: Dimension E521 rebooting at POST, is it FUBAR'd?

@vogeyone

Be more specific! Which problem are you having? Floppy dirve seek failure? No boot device...?

Ron

Ron

   Forum Member since 2004
   I am not a Dell employee

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vogeyone
1 Copper

Re: Dimension E521 rebooting at POST, is it FUBAR'd?

stops at phoenix award bios screen. thats as far as it gets. put a new power supply in dose the same thing.this is my 4th and most costly dell time to chang brands

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vogeyone
1 Copper

Re: Dimension E521 rebooting at POST, is it FUBAR'd?

sorry it took so long to get back i'v been sick all summer

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RoHe
6 Indium

Re: Dimension E521 rebooting at POST, is it FUBAR'd?

Sorry you were sick...

"Stops at Phoenix BIOS screen..."

Please be more specific. Are you saying keyboard stops working at that screen or the boot process at that screen?  The more you tell us the easier to help.

Did you try disconnecting all USB devices except mouse and keyboard?

Try clearing BIOS by removing the motherboard battery using this procedure:

Power off, unplug

Press/hold power button for ~15 sec

Open case and remove motherboard battery

Press/hold power button again for ~30 sec

Reinstall* the battery (right-side-up!) and see if it boots now with only mouse, monitor and keyboard attached.

*If it's more than ~2-3 years old, it might be a good time for a new one.

Ron

Ron

   Forum Member since 2004
   I am not a Dell employee

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Amy Lerma
1 Copper

Re: Dimension E521 rebooting at POST, is it FUBAR'd?

I reset the Bios in a Dell Dimension E521. When it rebooted it no longer recognizes the keyboard or any other USB keyboard. A USB keyboard is all that can be used on this PC.

I have the computer in a shop at the moment as it is out of warranty and they have not yet figured out how to get it to recognize a keyboard either.

Does anyone have a solution to this problem?

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