Dell 5160 laptop won't POST

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Thread Starter
Apr 3, 2008
Hi all,

The 5160 is about 4 years old (says the owner, who is not me). Owner complained of slow boot times, system hanging at shutdown, and general unresponsiveness. The system is running XP Home and just had a memory upgrade (to 1 GB). The system was stable after the memory upgrade but still sluggish---there was nothing running in the background, either, and about three things showing in the system tray.

Owner handed the laptop over to me because it was starting to suddenly shut down in the middle of non-intensive tasks---email, word processing---and would refuse to boot again. I noticed that the fan spun constantly and loudly and offered to take the laptop apart to do some cleaning. There were gobs of nasty black dust bunnies choking up the heatsink. I stripped the whole thing apart down to the motherboard, cleaned up everything, and put it all back together.

The problem now is that the laptop refuses to POST. The power LED lights up when the power button is pressed (but not the harddrive LED right next to it), the fan spins up, the harddrive spins up, and then everything shuts down after about 2 seconds of a black screen. The first four or five times it happened, I watched the NUM/CAPS/SCROLL lights, and the caps light blinked steadily until the laptop shut down again---so I figured it was a motherboard problem (per Dell laptops' error blink codes). Took the whole thing apart again, checked to make sure everything was seated, checked to make sure nothing was jammed into a space it shouldn't be jammed into, and put it all back together again. Now the laptop does the same thing, only NONE of the NUM/CAPS/SCROLL lights come on. Not quite sure what that means.

Any thoughts? I thought to pop out the CMOS battery but can't find it and can't find anything that even looks like it could be a battery---is it soldered to the mobo in this model? Have I perhaps fatally shorted something in the mobo? Owner also mentioned that the laptop was at the point where it couldn't run on battery alone---the laptop had to be plugged in---and since the laptop had been in pieces on the floor for about four days, I'm wondering if I should let it sit and charge before trying to boot it again? The battery charge light is blinking, so I know that SOMETHING in there is working.

My suspicion is that it's a hardware problem, and that it's an electrical hardware problem (something is getting too much voltage, something has shorted, something isn't getting power) as opposed to a mechanical hardware problem (some component is broken, some component is unseated). I say this because it worked fine before I took it apart, and now it doesn't even boot. If so, I'm wondering how to confirm my diagnosis.

Bit anxious about the whole situation, really. Any input would be really appreciated. Thanks in advance!

~ Ruu
Mar 22, 2008
if it is not posting it and you made sure everything was seated and no foreign objects were present when you closed it up it may be some compnent on the mobo shorted. Were you using an ESD braclet when you were handling the components? If not it may have gotten a static charge and fried the mobo.Although you could try to discharge the laptop if there is any built up charge. unplug the ac adapter and pull the battery out and hold the power button down for about 30 seconds or so nas a last ditch effort.
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