Question about Dell Dimension 5100 (D51L1) PC Desktop

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Dell Dimension 5100, Doesn't Boot Up, Display Lights Up "!, 2 3"

OK, here's my sob story. Last week my Dell Dimension 5100 started running hot, so I popped the cover off and cleaned out the dust - looked like hair it was so thick.

Anyway, after putting the cooling fan & shroud and the heat sink assembly back on, I fired it up and....nothing. I got a little green '2' and '3' on the display. I went back in and looked close, and there were splotches of reddish brown, dried goo on the board, the video card, the ribbon cables - it seemed to be everywhere.

Well I know I didn't pour Ragu Sauce in my computer, so I did some research and discovered Dell had a big problem with capacitors popping. I looked close, but saw no blown out tops, although it did look as if one short, stubby black and gold cap had been leaking.

Instead of trying to piece meal a fix, I bought a new motherboard off the 'Net - I got it in today.

I put it in, as per Dell instructions from their 5100 manual, and all I got was a steady amber light where the power button was.

Frustrated, I took it out and tried to clean off all the rest of the red/brown gunk. It was even up as high as the ribbon cables going into the back of the DVD and CD drives.

I then decided to test it with as few peripherals as possible, so I hooked it up with JUST the power cable from the power supply to the mobo, the hard drive cables to the mobo (the fatter 4 wired one that ends in a white square plug and the flat blue thin one).

That was it. No modem card plugged in, no flash drive ports plugged in, no CD or DVD drives plugged in.

And lo and behold I am NOW getting three green lights on the display. A 1,2 and 3 and what looks like a symbol for a hard drive (little drum or can looking dude).

Now this is with the NEW motherboard. For giggles I put the old one back in with the same minimal setup and pretty close to the same thing happened.

Maybe I am wrong, but there is only two things I can think of that could be bad.

Either the processor is gone to ****, or the power supply is screwing iwth the board and chip.

Has ANYONE had this problem before? I'd like some input before I replace every component on the damn thing or shoot it - which ever comes first.


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  • Roy Lonsinger
    Roy Lonsinger May 11, 2010

    I had the same problem with my Dell 510, interchangeable parts. After 3 motherboards, 2 power supplies, 2 video cards, & new RAM dell still didn't know what was wrong. They refused an exchange as my system was 2 days past warranty so what I did was buy a barebones kit with the same chipset motherboard. Scavanged my RAM, optical & hdd's, cpu, video card, & power supply & installed them in the barebones. Cost for the kit was $179 which included case & mb. Also had to buy the full version of Windows Vista as the Dell windows disc is coded to their system only. Not saying you have to do this but it might be something to think about if your Dell is past warranty.



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2 green lights usually indicate a memory problem, however, when you get 3 lights, RAM is good, but the BIOS is unable to hand off to the operating system.

To test this, disconnect your hard drive (both ribbon and power) and connect the monitor. See if you get a display. If you get a display, try carefully reseating the cables to the hard drive and also to the motherboard.

If you lose the display again, disconnect the hard drive and connect your DVD/CD and put in a Windows or diagnostic CD to see if it will boot.

If it does, you have a bad hard drive.

Let me know if this helps or you have other questions.


Posted on Jan 27, 2009


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