Join Date: Sep 2009
Heres a comprehensive method I have put together for this type of fault, and its the one I follow.
You may have already tried some of these, but read on;
At this stage you will be running blind with a black screen or a laptop that cycles through starting up and shutting down. There are many things that can cause Black Screen and Shutdown/Restarts, and trying to pin point what, is a minefield, the solutions are not consistent to one specific piece of hardware, so you will see how frustrating this will get. Remember this procedure is written for the ordinary everyday laptop user who has no access to Techy test equipment, test laptops or a storeroom full of new components.
Read the whole of this procedure and then make up your mind if you are going to give some of the steps a try, spend a little money trying to prove the fault or spend a lot of money putting it into a repair shop. Remember at the end of this it may be your motherboard thats faulty. You will at least have the piece of mind that you have proved all the major components work.
You get good laptop Techs and bad laptop Techs, the majority are good. If you decide at the end its going to a repair shop, then you will know what works and what doesn't. This will aid the good laptop Tech and will show the bad laptop Tech you aint putting up with his BULL!
If the mobo needs replacing then you have to make a choice, ask yourself how old your laptop is, the price of a new mobo can be the same as a new laptop. I do not recommend second hand boards, this is a false economy, you don't know its history.
Only read on if you are prepared to get under the hood a little and have a go yourself. If you get easily frustrated, or are prone to vent frustration by trying to prove by demonstration that the aerodynamic properties of a laptop are very similar to a jet fighter, then STOP here.
First step is process of elimination to identify faulty hardware, before we can say itís a motherboard fault, so a little time and patience will be required.
Check all your media slots have nothing in them, i.e. USB, CD/DVD drive and flash drives etc. Try a start with AC cord only, and no battery, then no AC with battery only. If you can, remove your CD/DVD drive and repeat the last test, if that didnít work then letís move on.
1. Remove the battery and AC cord. Remove the bottom cover/covers of your laptop and make sure the cooling path is free of fluff and dust. Check the heat sink on the CPU is not loose, if so tighten the screws back down that hold it on.
2. Remove and reseat your HDD/RAM modules.
3. Replace your covers.
4. Hold down your power button for 1 minute (Battery and AC still disconnected).
5. Replace your AC power (not battery) and turn on.
This is called a hard reset. If it works COOL, then replace your battery. Problem sorted, If that didnít work, then at this point before we move on you need to do two simple tests.
1. Remove and reseat your CPU.
2. If you have a removable graphics card, remove and reseat this. Most lappys have an integrated graphics chip set, this will be discussed later.
If nothing has cured the fault so far, one little thing to try before we move on. If your laptops bios cmos battery is accessable (little silver coin shaped cell), then remove this for about 15 mins then put it back in. This will reset your bios to default settings, sometimes this works, worth a try. If you cant find yours, dont know where it is or its soldered onto your motherboard, dont worry, lets move on.
Remove your HDD, and try starting your laptop. If it goes through the POST, and then a black screen appears with the message Operating System Not Found, and remains at this screen, then your HD is faulty or the OS is corrupt, then go to HDD test #1. If however having the HDD still removed and the fault is still present (Black screen or restarting loop) then move on to step Four.
HDD test #1
(a) Restart your laptop with the HDD still removed. Enter your bios set up using your laptops recommended keystrokes to enter the bios screen. In the bios set up screen, set the first boot device as your CD/DVD drive, save and exit your bios. Your laptop will reboot to the screen that says Operating System Not Found. Open your CD/DVD drive and insert your Windows disk or Recovery disk. Shutdown your lappy and replace the HDD.
(b) Restart your laptop, what will happen next is the laptop will boot from the Windows CD, and give you a series of options, repair Windows, clean instal Windows etc, etc. I would try to do a repair first. If its only Recovery disks you have, then the option will be recovery. If you carry out a successful repair, recovery or Fresh Windows install, then it was only a software problem. Problem sorted.
(c) If however you are getting an error messages like; cant perform repair or recovery or any other error, then its a good chance the HDD is faulty. Replace HDD and reinstal Windows, if all is ok, problem sorted.
Next fault is a chicken and egg senario. The RAM or the CPU which first? As both are needed to satisfy the bios pre post test, which one do we investigate first?
The simplest test here is first to remove and simply replace the CPU in its slot as you did in step Two and then see what happens. If that worked then, problem solved. If not then because of the nature of operation between the CPU and RAM, which can give the same fault condition, we need to eliminate the faulty component. Lets move on.
Next prove you dont have bad RAM. There are three reason why we are testing the RAM before the CPU, one; in the majority of cases RAM gives mor problems than CPU's, two; it is easily accessible and three; RAM is cheaper than a CPU. You could just as easily start with the CPU, its a personal decision here. If you want to check your RAM first then read on, if you want to check CPU first, then go to Six.
You need to identify what RAM stick is faulty. Shutdown the lappy, remove all the RAM. Take one stick at a time, and swap it between the RAM slots to see if the laptop will start. If it starts you have one good RAM stick and RAM slot. Problem solved. Try the same for the other stick. If that stick produces the fault, throw it away and replace it. If each stick produces the fault, then you may have two sticks of bad RAM or bad RAM slots.
Now here's the rub, it could still be a CPU fault, as I said above, both can give the same fault, so we need to eliminate the fault, no easy way here. Whats your lappy worth to you? You now need to borrow known working RAM (bonus cos it costs nothing). Use a friend/family member with the exact model of lappy that uses the exact type of RAM to borrow or for testing (slim chance), get a laptop Tech to test it ($$$) or buy known working RAM (you needed to upgrade anyway). Like I said, whats your lappy worth to you? If it turns out to be a RAM fault, then you will have a running lappy with upgraded memory. Problem sorted. If that didnít work, then letís move on.
You are here because (a) you are checking the CPU before the RAM (b) step Four did not cure the fault or (c) step Five did not cure the fault. This procedure is very similar to proving a RAM fault.
You now need to borrow a known working CPU (bonus cos it costs nothing). Use a friend/family member with the exact model of lappy that uses the exact type of CPU to borrow or for testing (slim chance), get a laptop tech to test it ($$$) or buy a known working CPU. Like I said, whats your lappy worth to you? If it turns out to be a CPU fault, and your lappy is now working, problem sorted.
If the fault is still there and you have not checked your RAM, go to step Five. If you have proven your CPU and RAM and the fault is still there, lets move on.
Next is the GPU, the graphics chipset. This is not so easy, as most are integrated onto the motherboard. If yours is a high end laptop then you may have a removable graphics card. Remove and reseat this, if that did not work, borrow or buy known working GPU.
For integrated graphics, as they are an integral part of the motherboard, there are diverse ways to try a repair. This requires the motherboard out the lappy. At this stage you are most likely to have a motherboard fault.
As you will have worked out by now, this is not a fault with one common solution, so that is why we have to follow a process of elimination to identify faulty hardware before we can say its a motherboard fault.
So now you have to balance out the cost of sending it to a laptop tech, the manufacturer, buying a new motherboard or trying to prove the hardware faults using the above methods. As I said, Whats your lappy worth to you?
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