XPS 8900, 2,1 boot failure code

XPS 8900, fairly standard build bought back in 2016.  Has run like a champ.  I powered down the other day, and it suddenly doesn't power up.  Gives 2,1 boot failure code.  I pull the memory, inspect the sockets and modules with no clear issues.  Clean both and reseat memory.  The system restarts and seems to run fine.  Warm boot is fine, but if I go cold boot, it fails to reboot with 2,1 each time.  I can get it to boot through some combination of reseating memory, unplugging everything connected to the system (usb, peripherals, video), unplugging power to reset, etc....

I have tested the power supply under load on a bench, it's fine.  I changed the bios battery about 6 months back after the PC sat idle for about 3 months while moving as a precaution.  I don't have extra memory modules to swap to check.  I have run a full set of diagnostics on the motherboard, cpu and memory, all coming up clean.

I'm contemplating just buying new memory to check since the 2,1 boot failures thinks it's a memory issue.

Suggestions?  Anyone with similar problems?

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2 Replies
3 Zinc

Re: XPS 8900, 2,1 boot failure code

Have you tried with just 1 RAM stick at a time?  If it's a RAM issue, unlikely they both went bad.  You can use memtest, boot from a flash drive, and test the RAM. It's more extensive than what Dell offers. 

If the problem persists with both sticks individually, perhaps there's a problem with the board, possibly the connection on one of the slots.  If so, you could try and isolate which slot by trying them one at a time using just one stick.  

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7- Thorium

Re: XPS 8900, 2,1 boot failure code

If you have an add-in video card, eg NVidia or AMD, the 2-1 blink code could be reporting a RAM failure on the video card.

Try removing the add-in video card, and clearing BIOS:

  1. Reboot and immediately press F2 to open BIOS setup
  2. Copy down all current BIOS settings, to be safe
  3. Power off, unplug
  4. Press/hold power button for ~15 sec
  5. Open case and remove motherboard battery
  6. Press/hold power button for ~30 sec
  7. Remove add-in video card
  8. Reinstall the battery, assuming it hasn't died
  9. Close up, connect mouse and keyboard to rear USB, and monitor to either the onboard DP or HDMI port
  10. Reboot

NOTE: You have to physically remove the add-in video card, otherwise the onboard video ports are disabled.


   Forum Member since 2004
   I am not a Dell employee

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