Question about Dell Dimension 8100 PC Desktop

2 Answers

PC won't boot

PC is running WindowsXP Pro SP2

Initially it was thought the PC picked up a virus. The symptoms were to boot to a black screen that said press "F1 to try again and press F2 to go to setup".

The end result was a never ending loop. No apparent change in setup made any difference. PC would still not boot. I noted that the setup screen did not have the same look and feel of the CMOS area I am familiar with during normal operation.

The CD-Rom access was disable. There was no CD-Rom found in BIOS. Everything was set to auto and the only device seen was the floppy drive. The boot order was limited to only the floppy. nothing else listed. Could not use Windows CD to repair.

Decided to recover data by installing HDD as a slave on a known good working machine and then reformat the drive. Once installed as a secondary drive I was able to read the drive and recover the data. At first Windows could not format drive, said it was in use by a program. No program found. No windows open. Finally removed partition after forcing the issue. Created a new Active partition and reformatted drive with NTFS.
HDD appears to be ok.

Since I did not have access to CD-Rom I changed the HDD setting to Master and loaded WindowsXP Pro SP2 on drive using the 2nd machine.
Loading was uneventful and successful.
Once done, I installed the HDD into original system. Still no boot.

The last post code error number is: 30 with 2 beeps before machine goes into an idle.

Can not get into BIOS.
Pressed F2 and after a long wait the same error above is sounded.

Thought BIOS might have been corrupted somehow.
It's using an A06 version BIOS on an MX-05E692-12405-16R-0802 motherboard.

Would appreciate any assistance regarding this issue.
Thanks in Advance.

[email protected]

Posted by jaunos on

  • 3 more comments 
  • jaunos Oct 23, 2007

    After wrestling with this thing all day then finally managing to gain access to the drive so I could recover the data, I have to admit I didn't think about resetting the CMOS.

    Since I haven't been able to identify the source of the malfunction the thought of flashing the BIOS seemed like the only option left, but at the same time, that raises the question of where do I find the proper BIOS flash for such an old machine ?

    Thanks for the link and the reminder.
    (It's been a long day)

  • jaunos Oct 23, 2007

    No I haven't.



    Reformatting on the broken machine appears to be a bit
    difficult.



     



    #1) No access to cd-rom drive.



    #2) No access to HDD or OS.



    #3) No access to BIOS



     



    I could use an older 98 startup disk with Fdisk on it to try
    reformatting drive, but since reformatting was successful on 2nd machine and
    WindowsXP Pro did load without incident. Seems to me the HDD is fine and my
    thoughts are that the problem lies within the 
    CMOS/BIOS since it does not appear to finish the post.

  • jaunos Oct 26, 2007

    First of all I would like to thank you Benimur for your assistance so far but the saga continues.

    I have removed the CMOS battery for about a half hour in order to reset the BIOS.
    I then tried to boot and essentially got the same response as I did before. The machine starts up and I see the Dell Logo screen with the loading indicator along the bottom. When the indicator reaches the end, the screen turns black and I get two short beeps and then it goes into a never ending idle.

    From all indications during the POST the machine tests all devices as all appropriate lights flash as they are being accessed and tested, however the POST code when it now stops has changed to 20 instead of the original stopping point showing a POST code of 30.

    I have also created an MS-DOS bootable disk using another Windows XP machine but the Dell machine will not boot off of it either.

    I have downloaded the BIOS flash update for the 8100 (version A09) and loaded it onto a bootable floppy disk and tried to reboot but no change has occurred. Which is no surprise really, since it doesn't want to boot off of the floppy in the first place.

    Do you know where I can find the POST code error definitions for this BIOS / machine ?
    Perhaps I can determine just where it is failing to finish the POST that way.

    Any other ideas ?
    Besides getting a newer machine that is ?

  • jaunos Oct 27, 2007

    Thanks for the link to the
    POST code definitions.



    That and your suggestion
    regarding the video card really helped.



     


    There is no onboard video for
    this Dimension 8100 and it's not using an AGP video card however it does have
    two PCI video cards. I pulled the ATI Radeon 7500 PCI 64MB (with S-Video Out
    & DVI Output ports), out of the PCI slot and re-seated the other. I decided
    that I would first try using the newest video card so, I started using the 256
    MB PNY video card alone,



    and, . . .


     


    Well what do you know.


     


    I now can get into the BIOS
    and to top it off the detection of all devices, I.E. CD-ROM drive, Floppy and
    HDD are displayed as being detected and detected correctly. The BIOS is again
    as I know it should be as far as the look and feel. The BIOS display is now
    nothing like the original clone setup screen I saw and had suspected in the
    beginning. I have also gone through the other BIOS settings to ensure that they
    are as they should be and with the exception of the boot order, all looks good.



     


    I can now also boot from the
    floppy drive and therefore I will go ahead and upgrade the BIOS to version A09
    so that it will have the latest and greatest.



     


    The road to recovery is now
    looking a bit brighter.



     


    Before I flash the BIOS I
    thought I would try to boot from the HDD, just to see what happens. No go. I
    also tried the same thing when I tried to boot from a Windows XP Pro disk in
    the CD-Rom drive. Same thing, No go.



     


    In both cases she bombs with
    a POST error this time of 0D which apparently is a "First-64KB parity
    error", which means, I apparently now have a RAM issue to deal with.



     


    (This may also explain my
    clients’ report of occasional unexplained crashing.)



     


    Well, at least we are making
    progress.



     


    As I do not have access to a
    RAM memory checker and there are four sticks of memory for a total of 1.5 GB, (
    2 - 512 MB & 2 – 128 MB)



     


    Any suggestions or
    recommendations ?

    Thanks for the link to the POST code definitions.

    That and your suggestion regarding the video card really helped.

     

    There is no onboard video for this Dimension 8100 and it's not using an AGP video card however it does have two PCI video cards. I pulled the ATI Radeon 7500 PCI 64MB (with S-Video Out & DVI Output ports), out of the PCI slot and re-seated the other. I decided that I would first try using the newest video card so, I started using the 256 MB PNY video card alone,

    and, . . .

     

    Well what do you know.

     

    I now can get into the BIOS and to top it off the detection of all devices, I.E. CD-ROM drive, Floppy and HDD are displayed as being detected and detected correctly. The BIOS is again as I know it should be as far as the look and feel. The BIOS display is now nothing like the original clone setup screen I saw and had suspected in the beginning. I have also gone through the other BIOS settings to ensure that they are as they should be and with the exception of the boot order, all looks good.

     

    I can now also boot from the floppy drive and therefore I will go ahead and upgrade the BIOS to version A09 so that it will have the latest and greatest.

     

    The road to recovery is now looking a bit brighter.

     

    Before I flash the BIOS I thought I would try to boot from the HDD, just to see what happens. No go. I also tried the same thing when I tried to boot from a Windows XP Pro disk in the CD-Rom drive. Same thing, No go.

     

    In both cases she bombs with a POST error this time of 0D which apparently is a "First-64KB parity error", which means, I apparently now have a RAM issue to deal with.

     

    (This may also explain my clients’ report of occasional unexplained crashing.)

     

    Well, at least we are making progress.

     

    As I do not have access to a RAM memory checker and there are four sticks of memory for a total of 1.5 GB, ( 2 - 512 MB & 2 – 128 MB)

     

    Any suggestions or recommendations ?

  • jaunos Oct 27, 2007

    Correction:
    That's 2 - 512 MB & 2 – 256 MB

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2 Answers

Louie Role

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Hi,

Looks like your have tried and done everything.

But I have to asked, have you tried a hard reset of the CMOS/BIOS using the jumper on the motherboard and/or removed the Lithium battery?

Since the PC detects the the FDD and presumably you can boot from it, perhaps flashing the BIOS would also be an option to consider. You have noticed that the CMOS/BIOS "...setup screen...not...same...CMOS...normal operation..."

Hope this be of some help/idea. Pls post back how things.  Good luck and kind regards.

Posted on Oct 23, 2007

  • 2 more comments 
  • Louie  Role
    Louie Role Oct 23, 2007

    Hi again,

    This Link 
    shows where the jumper for the hard reset is, just in case you need it.

    Moreover, if you would opt for the BIOS flash, you have to set everything to default at your initial boot (again, just a reminder)       

  • Louie  Role
    Louie Role Oct 23, 2007

    Here's a  link  for the only BIOS dated 2/13/2003 for a Dell Dimension 8100.  Additionally, there are Diagnostic utilities that might be of further assistance to you.







  • Louie  Role
    Louie Role Oct 26, 2007

    If your
    8100 is using an on-board video, try using an add-on video card; or if already
    using an add-on AGP video card, try using an old PCI.



    Here is the list of Dell
    BIOS Codes
    .

    If your 8100 is using an on-board video, try using an add-on video card; or if already using an add-on AGP video card, try using an old PCI.

    Here is the list of Dell BIOS Codes.

  • Louie  Role
    Louie Role Oct 27, 2007

    There you go.

    thoughts, suggestions & recommendations"

    1. Back-up/save the A06 BIOS version when asked during the flash (you'll never know);
    2. To play safe check all 4, better you lean towards replacement rather than the client coming back with "report of occasional unexplained crashing". Perhaps you can try  Memtest86 but test the sticks individually and over extended period/continous.
    3. Additionally you can try the pencil eraser cleaning and brush the memory slots clean.

    Good luck with the XP install which should not pose a problem after the memcheck.

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  • 110 Answers

Have you tried reformatting on the broken machine?

Posted on Oct 23, 2007

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