Laptop Dell 9100 problems

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Hello, I have a Dell Inspiron 9100 laptop with a P4 3.2 ghz processor,
1 GB or ram and a Radeon 9700 mobility graphics card.  This laptop is
experiencing problems.

I was working on it once, and went to take a 10 minute brake.  When I
came back, the laptop did not respond.  It just displayed a static
image on the screen of whatever it was doing before I left. None of
the buttons worked, but the image still displayed on the screen.  I
let it sit there for 5 minutes hoping that it might clear up and then
I turned it off by holding down the power button.

I let it rest for 5 minutes and tried to turn it back on again.  It
starded with the POST test, but halfway through it it just hung
again.  Again there was no response from any of the buttons, and the
laptop produced no beeps.  The fans were still blowing and the image
just displayed there with the POST bar stuck about half way through.

I tried restarting it several times, and every time the same thing
happened, just with the POST getting stuck at various points.

The next day, post completed successfully, and I was able to get to
the BIOS.  Then it hung again when I tried to go to the next page in
the bios, and it produced some random characters along with the normal
text that was supposed to be there.  (very strange)

Today I was able to get the laptop running and I was able to boot into
windows xp.  The computer hung after about 15 minutes of normal work.

These are strange symptoms, and it is a fairly expensive computer that
I want to get fixed.

Here are some of the questions:  Has anybody ever experienced similar
problems here, and does anybody know of any solutions? This has
completely stomped me, and I have no idea of what might be
malfunctioning or what might be going on.
Can anybody also please give any suggestion in how I might be going
about trying to trouble shoot this, before I will send this machine in
to make repairs.

I am fairly computer technical and have no problem with taking the
laptop apart, so any suggestions would be welcome.

I have also posted this in the laptop discussion group.

Thank you!

Re: Laptop Dell 9100 problems

I just tried turning it on one more time, it again booted to windows,
but when it crashed the screen turned blank, the processor fan was
blowing and the indicator lights were still glowing.

Re: Laptop Dell 9100 problems wrote:
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Sounds like it is overheating. Does the machine have a BIOS ?
Does the BIOS have a hardware monitor page ? What temps are
listed in there ? Are any of the temps climbing, while the
thing is just sitting in the BIOS ? Does the fan sound abnormal,
in terms of its behavior from the time you turn it on ? If the
vents or air path were blocked with dust or hair, it might not
be getting cooled properly.


Re: Laptop Dell 9100 problems

The BIOS is very limied and does not have a temp monitoring page.  The
fans are blowing mildly warm air out, and they are lowd, but sound
normal.  If it ever boots into windows again I will try to install a
temp monitoring program like speed fan, and see what happends.

I do suspect it is overheating though, because like I said it hung at
POST even if it was turned off for several hours; and then later it
made it into windows. This is certainly unpredictable behavior.

Re: Laptop Dell 9100 problems

I just tried to turn the darn thing on again and had my digital camera
with me. Here is what I captured.  (Sorry for the poor quality):

You can see the BIOS and the "Red heart" and "Question Mark" symbols.
They should not be there.

The computer is unresponsive.

Then I snapped this at the next restart:

Maybe it is a RAM problem?
I have no idea what can screw up the BIOS this way.

Re: Laptop Dell 9100 problems wrote:
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The problem could be with the RAM, or with the Northbridge
(because it interfaces to the RAM). A freezing machine could
be an overheated Northbridge. The graphics artifacts (the hearts in
the BIOS screen), could be an overheated GPU (the 9700) or whatever
it uses for RAM (may or may not have video RAM soldered to it.

There are a couple pictures of Mobility 9700 here.

This gives an example of what to expect if you open it up. The
bezel has to be pried off. There are delicate flat cables that you
have to put back, the way you found them. Cooling is via heatpipes.
The heatpipes have a copper colored finish, and move the heat to a
heatsink/fan combo nearer to the edge of the unit. Heatpipes can fail,
if for example, the tiny quantity of working fluid escapes from the
inside. But I expect in that case, that your fans would go up to high
speed pretty quickly.

If you decide to take yours apart, take pictures with your camera as
you go. Sort the screws and store them in a way so that they go back
in the right places later. You have to be methodical, if you expect
to get it back together in one piece.

Before opening it up, I'd pick up a tube of Arctic Ceramique, which
is a thermal paste. Ceramique has stuff like boron nitride in it, and
there isn't any silver in it, like Arctic Silver. It may be marginally
safer than Arctic Silver. Don't go overboard with the stuff, if
reapplying paste on any heatsinks you happen to remove and inspect.
You especially don't want to get it into any socket pins, as that
could cause intermittent contact. Even fingerprints in the wrong
places can mess things up in the long term (salt on fingerprints
can attack metal plating). Pros probably wear gloves of some sort,
when working on these.

Good luck,

Re: Laptop Dell 9100 problems

I think I found the problem: it was a defective ram stick.  The laptop
had 2 dimms @ 512mb each.  I pulled one out and ran memtest 86 on the
other.  One of the sticks produces multiple errors within one minute
of the start, the other ran for 2 hours with no problem.

I guess I will need to buy new ram.

I still wonder what caused the weired artifacts in the BIOS thought
and how that is related to the memory problem.

Re: Laptop Dell 9100 problems

On Mon, 18 Jun 2007 12:13:08 -0700, wrote:

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??  I don't remember the past thread details but when you
turn the system on, the bios is decompreseed into main
system memory.  If that main system memory is not stable it
is definitely possible that things you see (and even worse,
things you don't see (code for settings saving and such) are
corrupt even if intact enough to run for a bit of time).

It is rare for memory that once worked to just spontaneously
fail.  I'd wonder if it wasn't seated good in the slot or
the board has a crack or cold solder joint/etc.

When you tested it, did you try both sticks in the same
slot?  If not I'd retest using both modules in same slot.

Re: Laptop Dell 9100 problems

Paul wrote:
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Don't do anything of the sort.  Return it to the vendor for credit
and/or replacement.  Try to get ECC memory in a replacement.

                        cbfalconer at maineline dot net

Posted via a free Usenet account from

Re: Laptop Dell 9100 problems

I retested the working module in both of the slots.  I do not really
want to stick in the defective ram into the laptop anymore.

The ram is out of warranty, so I need to buy a new dimm.

The ram is ddr1, 200 pin running at 400 (pc3200).  I am left with only
one 512 mb stick and I have the other slot free.

My question is : Will I get any benefit if I buy an identical stick,
or is it OK if I go for a 1 GB dimm instead?

Re: Laptop Dell 9100 problems wrote:
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The chipset in your machine is 865 (you can check that with Everest
or maybe CPUZ). The chipset is dual channel capable. (But the motherboard
designer for the machine, makes the decision to use both channels or not.)

If it was my machine, I would add a matching stick. That means a stick
with the same number of chips on it, and 512MB in size.


Re: Laptop Dell 9100 problems

Paul wrote:
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If the raw machine can handle, it make sure you get ECC memory.
You don't need this sort of question to come up again in the
future.  All your disk storage is highly suspect.

                        cbfalconer at maineline dot net

Posted via a free Usenet account from

Re: Laptop Dell 9100 problems

yeo,dell is a very popular laptop through the world,it is so cheap via
other brands such as macbook,ibm,etc.why is it so cheap?it is very
simple cause none of its components is made by the dell company,they
have a very broad way to search the resources.and they didn't offer to
sell laptops to the second buyers for sale,they stick to buyer to
cutomer sale,so i wish u can change ur computer,i suggest u to use
ibm,the NO.1 laptop in the world

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