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Help With Gateway 450SX4 - 1 Repair Done - New Problem

3939 Views 7 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Terrister
I hope someone can help me out here. Here's the evolution of my problem:

In July, my Gateway notebook began having a problem with it's DC power connector. I put off doing anything about it until 2 weeks ago. With the connection only intermittenly working, the battery discharged over two days without use and the computer refused to start-up when I went to use it. Even after making sure the connection was temporarily working and the battery LED indicated a full charge, it still wouldn't start. I tried the reset button on the bottom, but to no avail. So off to the shop it went.

The shop tech diagnosed a broken DC power connector (it turned out he was just guessing & didn't actually tear the computer apart.) Since the estimate was $200+ and he didn't guarantee the computer would actually start, I decided to take advantage of a good deal on a cheap replacement and took both computers home.

I managed to find/download a Gateway service manual and I tore it apart myself today. I'm happy to report finding and repairing the broken DC connector. When I put it back together, it actually started, too. The LED's illuminate and the cooling fan runs, but I can't say for sure the hard drive is running (there's a very slight whine coming from it) and there is NOTHING appearing on the screen. If you let it sit there for 5 minutes, it re-starts itself again over and over.

I have it back apart again and I need help figuring out what it's doing. The only other thing I can add to this is that the tech told me when I brought it in that my repeated attempts to start it with a malfunctioning DC power connector may have done some unseen damage. This is why he couldn't guarantee that after he fixed the DC connector it would actually work. This may be what I'm experiencing now.

What does everyone think?
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See if you can access the BIOS when the machine starts up and check the drive boot order. Set it to boot from Floppy (if it has one), then CD, then Harddrive. Save settings and see what happens.

Also try an external display. Could be a connection problem with the lcd.
450SX4 Problem

Thanks for the replies.

I haven't yet tried an external monitor using the VGA monitor output. I'll try that when I get home from work.

Last night I did try using the TV Out jack (RCA) and nothing showed up on the television. However I just checked the Gateway site and found that for this output to work you're supposed to connect it first, then power up the computer. I'll try that, as well.

One last thing - the hard drive is running. So I could hear it better, I disconnected the cooling fan and re-started the computer. The HD sounds like it starts spinning, makes a few clicks and then just emits a high pitched whine. (Is it possible notebook HD's are just a lot quieter than desktop units?) If there's a system board problem or some other severe issue, that may explain why the HD stops spinning.

If I can get video output, of course, I'll know more.
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No Luck...What Next?

I tried connecting an external monitor and it did not sense any signal from the laptop.

Nothing's really changed - still starts up, fan runs, HD clicks a couple times, and that's it. It definitely seems to be freezing or locking during boot.

So at this point, the questions are:
1) If the HD has failed could that result in these symptoms? In other words, would it be worth buying a new HD at this point? (What a coincidence if the HD failed in the middle of this attempt to fix it - it was working find until the day the computer wouldn't power up.)

2) Or is it more likely that the system board is to blame and in need of replacement? These are $300-$400 new, but can be had on eBay for $150-$175, which I'd spend if I knew there was a good chance it would fix it.

Any recommendations would be helpful.
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No - No Sounds

I push the on button, the LED's all briefly illuminate (as they always have), the fan immediately starts and the HD simultaneously whirs (very quietly) and makes a few clicks.

After that, it sits there with the fan running constantly, which is unusual, as I believe when it was working, the fan just ran briefly and then shut off.

The screen never so much as flickers. After about 5 minutes, the computer automatically re-starts on it's own, as if it's attempting to boot itself.

I'm not a computer expert at all, so I apologize for my descriptions & understanding of what this thing is doing appearing lacking, but what it looks like to me is that the computer is getting hung up during it's initial boot process. The fan, which I'm guessing is only supposed to run for a few seconds as part of a system test upon startup, appears to keep running because the system is stuck a few steps into the process. Just a (very uneducated) guess on my part, of course.

But I have no idea what controls these things, so, well, that's why I'm here, I guess.

Many thanks for the help so far!!!
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It is starting to sound like the motherboard. You can try reseating the CPU.
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