Sometimes I press the power button and I see it light up blue for a few seconds and then it switches off. Nothing is shown on the screen. Other times I press the power button, it lights up blue, the fan starts spinning, and then I see a light diagnostic code showing a possible processor failure according to the Dell service manual, and then the laptop switches itself off. If I let it sit plugged in and undisturbed for a few minutes then it might work if I try to switch it on. I can enter the BIOS and see in the log ASF2 Force Off. Also, I can start Windows and it runs OK as long as I don't shutdown or restart the laptop. If I shut it down or restart it then the laptop won't switch back on. What is causing this? How do I fix it?
I'm assuming windows 7 is on the system.....
The system is overheating? The computer is sitting on your lap, pillow or bed which could be blocking the Air vents? You open the computer and check for dust?
It doesn't appear to be overheating. It doesn't randomly shutdown, lock up, freeze, or randomly reboot while Windows is running. It might have trouble switching on even after sitting for hours or if I'm lucky then it will power on and finish the POST and start Windows. Just in case I removed the bottom cover of the laptop and saw a bit of dust but nothing too bad. I cleaned out the dust. I reseated the processor as suggested in the service manual and re-applied thermal paste.
When I started working on the laptop for this issue I noticed it had BIOS version A25. I updated it to A29. I didn't do update A26 and A27. I skipped those. Seems like there is no A28. I didn't know Dell recommends against skipping to the most current update. Anyway, the laptop still has the same problem. Should I try going back to A26, then update to A27 and then A29? I can't do that right now but maybe in a couple weeks. The laptop was brought to me during Thanksgiving and went back with the student because it still works sometimes.
It has Windows 10 and Dell has no chipset drivers listed for that operating system. I didn't try to install the Windows 7 chipset drivers. Device manager shows no driver issues except a driver is missing for a Broadcom USH device. I didn't find a Windows 10 driver for that device. I'm not sure it is important. Personally I don't like updating the older Windows 7 time-period laptops to Windows 10 because sometimes software needed for features won't work in 10. Anyway, I didn't think this is a driver issue because the laptop won't complete the POST. It won't get as far as powering on the screen when it has trouble switching on.
I'd keep BIOS version A29. As you already know, Dell doesn't list any drivers for windows 10. You could downgrade to windows 7, reinstalled Dell drivers in correct order, and install latest windows updates to see if that will make any difference.
I have a few other suggestions you could try:
1. Reseat RAM / Memory
2. Replace coin-cell (motherboard) battery with a brand new one. You could purchase a new one from your local dollar store, Walmart, Online for about $1.00 - $5.00.
3. Replace a verified working processor of the same specification
If none of the above work then I suspect there's a problem / issue with the motherboard.
On a side note: There are a lot of good deals on brand new computers as of now. The prices will drops as it get closer to Christmas. Dell, Microsoft, BestBuy usually offer huge discounts for students.
I checked for a Windows.old folder. I didn't find one. It must've been deleted already so no downgrade back to 7 without reinstalling the operating system.
I tried reseating the RAM. Also tried a different brand of RAM from a known working laptop. I had the same issues with the different RAM and same issues after reseating the original RAM.
Unfortunately the coin-cell battery isn't a standard CR2032 or similar that can be bought at any store.
I thought about trying a different CPU as you suggested. However, I'm not sure I'll do it because the cost of another CPU is about the same or more than what was paid for the laptop.
Anyone know exactly the possible causes of ASF2 Force Off? There might be multiple possible causes of that error but is there at least a list some place?
The driver missing for the Broadcom USH device was on my mind. I'm skeptical that finding a driver would help with this laptop's problems but it was something to research. After some Googling I found that the Broadcom USH device is also known as Dell ControlVault. By not using Dell's service code I stepped through Dell's menus to find a more extensive list of Downloads for this laptop. I found a Dell ControlVault Firmware Update, Dell ControlVault Windows Biometric Framework Driver, and Dell ControlVault Utility for Windows 7 64-bit. They might work in Windows 10, too. I'll try installing them when I get a chance.