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Q: Dell Inspiron 5100 COMPUTER FAILURE AFTER BIOS UPGRADE ( No Answer,   3 Comments )
Category: Computers
Asked by: pspang-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 15 Oct 2005 23:58 PDT
Expires: 14 Nov 2005 22:58 PST
Question ID: 580840
Any salvation? 

I was trying to fix my dad's Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop - I would randomly
get a bluescreen, suggesting that I update my BIOS [i tired everything
else, such as re-installing the OS, after reformatting the HD; the
computer worked fine, but would crash every so often, so I finally
decided to at least try flashing the BIOS]

The BIOS installed was a Phoenix A6 BIOS, as I recall; I tried a direct upgrade
to A32, the latest on the dell support site; I then discovered through
searches that Dell started its own BIOS with BIOS version A22, and
that in order to upgrade to BIOS A32 (by Dell), I would first have to
upgrade to BIOS A22.

As per the instructions on the Dell Site, I created a CD with the A22
bios. I flashed my laptop's bios -- it went without difficulty so far
as I could tell. "Upgrading from BIOS A6 to A22" completed, verified
--  It then said, "restarting" -- but now the computer no longer

I power on, no image on the screen. If I start it up with a bootable
CD in, or in fact insert any CD, the CD will spin up, but nothing will
happen. Occasionally, the CPU fan will start spinning, then quiet

I have the bad feeling this means, DEAD LAPTOP. No?

-- Is it possible to "save" this laptop?; At what cost? Can I do it
myself? Please provide detailed instructions, if its possible. I have
heard I'll have to replace the motherboard -- not exactly a pragmatic
option for me.

-- What mistake did I make? Why didn't it work?

Clarification of Question by pspang-ga on 01 Nov 2005 22:19 PST
YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME. Have been swamped at work, but will give it a
try. THANKS. Will let you all know how it turns out.
There is no answer at this time.

From: phil2k-ga on 23 Oct 2005 12:04 PDT
hi pspang-ga,

If your computer was having problems after reformatting/reinstalling
the OS then you definitely had a hardware problem. I suspect that if
you had intermitten problems with blue screens you either had
defective ram/overheating problems causing motherboard problems/or
defective cpu. Those are really the only thing that can cause
intermitten blue screen problems. But, I am thinking you had defective
RAM. And, when you flashed your BIOS, obviously the computer has to
read the new file from the CD/DVD drive and store it in RAM and then
erase the existing BIOS to replace it with the old BIOS. So, it seems
like what it had copied into RAM was not what was on the CD/DVD so
therefore it just replaced your old working BIOS with a corrupted
BIOS. Either that or you might have flashed it with the incorrect BIOS
version. That is also a very big possibility.   Well, as far as fixes,
this may be very difficult. The best thing would be to contact Dell as
they would probably charge you to replace the entire motherboard when
only you need a new CMOS chip(that's the actual chip that stores all
the BIOS information). Ask them if they can sell you just the CMOS
chip and if you can install it yourself. Sometimes the CMOS chip comes
integrated with the motherboard at which case you would need to bust
out the soldering iron and unsolder the old chip to replace it with
the new chip. But remember, that will just fix your BIOS/booting up
problem. You still have to find out what was causing those intermitten
problems like I said, most likely it was your RAM was that was
defective. To test your ram, search for  ultimate boot cd and then
download it. Burn it onto CD and then once you have your computer back
up and running after talking with Dell, you can run a software
diagnostic on your memory by using the program MemTest86+ and also
Windows Memory Tester that come bundled with Ultimate Boot CD. Well
good luck!
From: sukhasingh-ga on 23 Oct 2005 21:48 PDT
Also if you feel that you have a corrupt Bios. You can reset it by
pushing a button on the motherboard. I don't know if this is the case
with Laptops, but I'm aware that many Desktop Motherboards do have
these reset button.

Good luck -Enjoy
From: nunberry-ga on 28 Oct 2005 08:23 PDT
When you power on the machine, take a look at the lock leds just above
the keyboard. There are 3 error codes on that system (taking 'on' as 1
and 'off' as 0 and reading the lights from left to right):
001 - processor failure
010 - Motherboard Failure
011 - Memory failure.
If only the first one is on, thats the numlock light, the system might
be in the process of trying to start up. You could then try a
diagnostic boot up by holding down the 'i' button (or Access Direct
button) and then pressing the on button. The system should fire up and
try to run a quick system check.

If you are getting any combination of the LEDs apart from 1-0-0 (which
is what you;d get on a normal power up) then call Dell to
troubleshoot. Your best bet is to remove all the bits you can - cd,
hard drive, memory, modem, wireless card, bluetooth etc, see if
without the memory you get the 011 code which shows that some part of
the system is still working. Put the memory in and see what happens
next and rebuild the machine piece by piece until its either working
or you know whats wrong.

I don't think Dell will sell you the BIOS chip on it's own, I don't
think they have it available as a separate part. As a result you
probably can't get it from one of their third party suppliers either -
but you could try anyway : / depending on
your location. Another thing you could try if you know someone who is
both gullible and the owner of an Inspiron 5100, if you pull their
BIOS chip off their motherboard (accessable through the memory hatch I
think) and put it onto yours, then boot up from a BIOS update CD, and
just before you press the confirmation to wipe the old bios your swap
the chips over without powering off the system, it will overwrite the
details on your chip and fix the issue. If you;re very lucky. If not,
you will wreck both your and your friend's machine. So maybe not such
a good idea after all.

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