Black Screen, Flashing Cursor, No POST Screen

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mojokola

Thread Starter
Joined
Dec 31, 2012
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4
Hi fellas,

I have a Dell Dimension 8400 which stopped working three years ago. It was running Windows XP with SP 2 or 3 - I can't remember for sure. It has 2GB RAM and a 256MB ATI Radeon graphics card.

Whenever I boot up it goes straight to a black screen with a flashing cursor on the top left. There is no Dell splash screen and no option to access the BIOS by tapping F8. This Dell has four indicator lights on the back to let a user know if there is a problem. The first three lights are green and the fourth one in orange. I looked this up on the manual and it says refer to technical support. :confused:

So far I have tried the following:

  1. Removed optical drives to see if the machine would boot up without them - it didn't. I am not confident enough to start taking parts off the motherboard just yet.
  2. Booted up without any additional peripherals attached including mouse and keyboard
  3. Tried booting up from an old Windows XP install disc - that had no effect either

So I am pretty much stumped as to what to do with this machine. Doing a Google search, others with the same problem have been unable to fix it. I just want to know if it is worth the time to revive this machine, or to let go. Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks
 

Byteman

Gone but Never Forgotten
Joined
Jan 24, 2002
Messages
17,742
Hi, I think you've seen this material already judging by what you wrote, just will post a link to the support document for that computer

http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/dim8400/SM/adtshoot.htm#wp1052387

http://www.dell.com/support/troubleshooting/us/en/19/Product/dimension-8400 <User manuals

I am assuming that you meant the light with the "D" as the 4th light, if not, then there is another pic for this arrangement.

I realize you have checked the drives, etc. Do you have another video card to try? Would have to be the same type of AGP card to fit the slot, if it is AGP, PCI, etc.

Unfortunately your system looks like there is no onboard VGA so you are reliant on an added-in card....did you try replacing it?

To enter the BIOS (system setup) try the F2 key............not F8

First. after making sure the video card is tight down in it's slot......... try removing the power cord and pressing and holding down the power switch button for 20 seconds, let go, replug the power and try
 

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mojokola

Thread Starter
Joined
Dec 31, 2012
Messages
4
Hi,

Thanks for the reply. Regarding the lights - all but light "d" are green which the manual indicates I should contact Dell.

I don't have a spare memory card, but will take out the one that is in there are re insert it. You are right, the monitor if reliant on the memory card as there is no other VGA port on the motherboard.

Will let you know how I get on.
 

jrbuergel

Jim
Joined
Jan 17, 2004
Messages
808
You can try a repair of your XP boot files useing either your Dell OEM recovery disk, ( if available and possible ), or from the XP recovery console which you can burn that to a boot capable CD, or borrow a real non OEM Microsoft XP CD just to press R to run that Recovery Console. I think the commands are; fixmbr, and fixboot. Also you could replace the motherboard CMOS battery which keeps system BIOS settings and the time, unless you did that. Just search with Google or at Microsoft KB support site for more help. http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;307654 , and you can install that so it is a option to select on your boot menu screen, and here; http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;314058 You can also get a live Linux CD such as Ubuntu to boot to in order to explore your XP boot files, ( boot.ini and ntldr ).
 

mojokola

Thread Starter
Joined
Dec 31, 2012
Messages
4
Thanks for your suggestions. I tried to use a Windows XP installation disc. I don't have the system recovery discs. I will get a new battery and replace it.
 

mojokola

Thread Starter
Joined
Dec 31, 2012
Messages
4
Hi,

I replaced the CMOS battery which had no effect. No POST screen or splash screen. No way to access the BIOS menu either. Any more suggestions?
 

jrbuergel

Jim
Joined
Jan 17, 2004
Messages
808
Do you hear any system sounds at all from this old Dell such as the fans or hard drive ? Is the power supply okay so that some items can function like hard drive activity lites and the optical CD/DVD drive ? Open up the case to carefully inspect for loose connections or components not fully pushed in such as the memory modules, ( which you can try to re-seat them fully ), I suggest to create or buy or borrow a computer diagnostic utility tool on a boot capable CD disk. One good one to make is called ultimate boot CD for windows found here; http://ubcd4win.com/index.htm , but you need to have a real Microsoft XP CD not a Dell recovery disk. You could create that on some other working computer, and search for a XP Home on Ebay, or craigs list, or even at the local area computer store may have it. Last idea is to bring in to Best Buy for the Geek Squad to fix it for $.
 
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