mowienay
1 Copper

Inspiron N5010, Illogical random shutdown behavior

I am facing an illogical problem on my wife's dell inspiron. The computer started to shutdown randomly while she was working. The problem started to evolve until the day when the computer always turned off before loading the windows.

I tried to check the bios, but the computer turned off 10-20 seconds after getting into the bios. Because the fan blew almost cold air, I thought it might not be an overheating issue, but motherboard, ram, power board or any other hardware issue.

In a desperate move, I tried to install ubuntu via a live CD and it surprisingly installed, loaded and works non stop since then. Hence, I ruled out the possibility of hardware failure.

However, the problem persisted in bios or if I stayed in the grub loader for more than 15 seconds. I thought that the only logical explanation would be "overheating" in bios because unlike the OS, bios tends to utilize 100% of the CPU.

I took the computer a part, cleaned the fan, heat sink and applied high quality thermal paste on the CPU die and GPU ATI chip. I know that the thermal compound worked out because the system shows idle temperature drops from 50 to 35 and 75 to 60 degrees Celsius for the CPU and GPU respectively.

Finally, I tried to load again into the bios, but the problem still persists.

What on earth am I missing? I just need a logical explanation for the peace of my mind

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6 Replies

RE: Inspiron N5010, Illogical random shutdown behavior

So the system seems to be running fine in Ubuntu, but every time that you go into the BIOS the system will shut down?  The symptoms do seem to be contradicting themselves.  Have you tried restoring the bios to defaults? Choose the exit menu in the BIOS, and choose restore defaults, and then save changes. Did it make a difference?  

I also thought about flashing the BIOS but I would be worried about the system shutting down while the flash was underway. So at the moment I am not sure that I would suggest that.

Overheating does seem to be the most plausible cause, it sounds like you have done good work there but you can try running the system over night in Ubuntu and see if there are any problems.

This sounds to me that some device may not be shorting out the system, you would think if this is the case you would have the same issues in Ubuntu, one device that comes to my mind is the wireless card, try disabling the wireless card and then see if the problems continue. You may even want to disconnect down to one memory module, and remove the drives and see if the problem returns, test each memory module by itself and in each memory slot and see if it isn’t a memory problem.  If the system becomes stable you can try the drives one at a time.

This is a weird issue but since it is only taking place in the BIOS or startup screens it does seem like a possible hardware issue, hopefully reseating the parts will correct the issue, or if it does look like something is defective it will be an easy replaceable device and not the system board.  

TB

Specialize in Laptops, Mobile Devices
#IWork4Dell

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mowienay
1 Copper

RE: Inspiron N5010, Illogical random shutdown behavior

Hi Terry !! .. That is why it is driving me crazy. It ran ubuntu for two consecutive nights with no problems. I tried all other things of swapping hardisks, memories and siconnectimg cards.

However after monitoring the temperature readings closely, I noticed spikes n the GPU's. So I decided to overload the GPU by simulatenous benchmarks to push it to the edge. I believe the computer precautionary shutsdown as soon as temp hits 107 degrees C.

Now I think it is either a faulty temp sensor or bad GPU thermal pads (since I just applied thermal compound on the gpu processor). However, this makes me wonder, why would the bios or os loaders utilize the GPU to that extent, they have very simple interfaces compared to Ubuntu (which manages to keep the gpu load under control). For me a faulty temp sensor is more likely.

My options are :-

- use integrated gpu instead of the ATI one (no option in bios)

- ignore the temp sensor readings

What do you think? Also if you have any idea on how to address my options, that would be great

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RE: Inspiron N5010, Illogical random shutdown behavior

I can certainly be wrong here but the only thing that comes to my mind (and it isn't a cheerful one) is a possible hairline crack in one or more of the boards. Too small to be noticed but large enough to be felt.  Just as long as temps are normal all contacts are fine, but if temps causes the board to swell and the crack becomes larger it could possibly break contacts in the board, and it does seem very weird that you can reproduce the problem in the bios but not Ubuntu.  I am hoping that the problem doesn't grow and you end up having the issue in Ubuntu.  Just the same I would probably consider looking for a replacement system board.

TB

Specialize in Laptops, Mobile Devices
#IWork4Dell

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mowienay
1 Copper

RE: Inspiron N5010, Illogical random shutdown behavior

Wow, that makes some sense.  I am carrying my last move, ordered some thermal pads to replace the GPU memories stock ones. If this does not work out, I will look into the motherboard replacement options.

Thanks a lot Terry

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RE: Inspiron N5010, Illogical random shutdown behavior

Another thought, try removing the hard drive from the system and power up the system without the drive,  The system wont boot obviously but will it post, will you be able to get in the BIOS every time?  Same idea as the wireless card, and i suggest testing this with any of the system devices before purchasing the replacement system board.  Narrow down the cause to either the system board or one of the devices and go from there. 

Specialize in Laptops, Mobile Devices
#IWork4Dell

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mowienay
1 Copper

RE: Inspiron N5010, Illogical random shutdown behavior

Thank you Terry for your thoughtful reply.. I am sorry to say that I have tried everything, disconnecting wifi, sdcard, speakers, touchpad, hdd, cd-rom. I also replaced the thermal pads on the GPU, GPU memories, and reapplied the thermal paste on the CPU. I also tried swapping RAMs with my other computer's

Now, I am confident that there is an issue with the GPU chip (Likely overheating) that I can't solve (by changing pads or applying thermal paste) or that I can precisely diagnose.

I think I will leave it there and allow the machine to peacefully retire.

Thanks again for your kind help !!

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