Alienware Area-51 ALX not posting

Alienware Area-51 ALX not posting

  • 4

Dantoshou

So I currently have in my possession one of these units that belongs to a friend. We took the system apart to try the PSU in a different system of his (as he currently has two systems not posting) and found ourselves on the wrong side of midnight with components all over the floor.
There was a hasty gathering of components back into the case rather than careful replacement (which I admit was not the right thing to do but we were tired) and it was left for a few days.

I collected the PC and have reinstalled all components, doing my best to put everything back how it was, I have been trying for two days to figure out where I may have gone wrong, I don't think there is an issue with what I have wired however.

 

The PC posted to a blue windows style screen on Sunday when we first tried to get it working, with the taskbar area appearing as a black line, it looked as if there may be a ram issue. 

Unfortunately, at some point between then and getting it home, a capacitor has been knocked off from one of the boards (I can't even tell if it came from this computer or the other broken one!) and I am worried that a part of the system is now DOA.

The pc boots, the motherboard lights up like a Christmas tree, so does the daughterboard, no lights on the alien button or side panel, lights show on the hard drive bay but not on the battery powered light compartment (which was working on Sunday) 

All in all, I would like some advice on what the lights on each board mean, as I didn't notice them before, also where could such a small capacitor have come from, I imagine it has come off the daughterboard as it would be more visibly obvious on the motherboard.

TL:DR can you tell me what the circuit board lights mean and what negatives losing a capacitor may have on this system!

Also its VERY loud on boot, Video as follows.

 

 


Thanks for any help you can give, My friend thinks its a lost cause and I'm starting now to agree with him, I was hopeful before we messed with removing stuff, but 20/20 hindsight and all that.

Replies 10

fadingfool

Definitely need someone who knows these machines in and out (I've only just got my area 51 R4 so you won't mind if I don't try to recreate the issue).  If it was mine I'd assume the capacitor is not from the mother board (cross fingers) - and instead take the machine apart slowly and put back together in as basic a state as possible (1 ram chip, single drive (probably M2 if it has one)) and see if the machine will post. 

  If you find it is the motherboard that is missing the cap - then a replacement is the way to go.  Good luck.
 


Cass-Olé

Motherboard tell-tale LEDs: orange = stand by power is ok (power ok, but system off) >< Green = system is on running >< blue LED = GPU is in the bank, working

Master I/O board LED's: Orange = stand by power ok (& stays orange after system is on, ie board is ok or at least has power) >< blue LED on off or blinking is related to the state of charge of the AA batteries, I think, but since yours is on it is a good sign

A missing capacitor may or may not affect the board's ability to work, it depends on which one fell off - also - there are incredibly small diodes & 'chip' capacitors that can fall of too (if board was damaged in handling); it is possible a cap was bumped & fell off, be it on the mother or daughter board (motherboard tends to be grey barrels, daughter = black ones)

1) careful inspection of the board with a magnifying glass can help 

2) capacitor has a chance of being soldered back on

3) If you have multiple boards there for comparison, compare them to make sure all micro-electronics are there and accounted for - or - find the best online photo you can of J560M or XDJ4C, & compare (eBay / google etc)

4) Do the same for MI/O see ALX type below (a non-working MIO would not lead to a no-P.O.S.T situation, the worst that wold happen is a failed MIO lead to an overheating CPU if it did not relay power to the liquid cooler)

5) I don't know why yours won't work, I'd have to physically be there

6) Make sure the MIO USB_3 cable is installedon mthrbrd USB header (video appears to show it is), and that other end of that cable is inserted into MIO MB_1 socket

Desktop Command Center Issues with fans, lights, or vents Alienware Desktops MIO (Master Input/Output) Troubleshooting and Policy

Dantoshou

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Looks like one from the Motherboard, its smaller than most of them!


Cass-Olé

that'd be off of the motherboard > the smalls ones tend to be gathered at the lower left by the Audio Codec chip, but may be elsewhere ... they may be surface mount types, which means u may not see any pins, in order to see where it fell off at. Whether it is ok to run without it or not isn't something I know ... however, one of mine fell off (it was an audio-related cap) and the sound still worked / board was ok without it

solder that bastard back on after u find out where it went (there should be a circle drawing where it went, its plus or minus polarity must be discovered +/-, it can only be soldered back on one way, check the rest to see how they go on, what makes it plus or minus, the blue marking on top is a clue, relative to the grey)

on a side note, if you can't read my entire post (because I posted a large photo), you can highlight it,  copy/paste all text into wordpad to read it. I can't see the entire post at 100% 75% or 50% zoom, here myself, I can't even see the edit function on the lower right to remove the large photo, lol


Cass-Olé

My working XDJ4C on a bench test (new, after delivery, making sure it worked)

Radiator fan is plugged into top right CPU_Fan header

Liquid cooler 5pin connector is forced onto the mid-fan header

*There are two fan headers in that area: plug into the top one, not the one underneath it

*liquid cooler ground wire has the jumped wires in slot 1 & 5

Bench Test may be a good idea, out of the case, see if parts work or not

 


Cass-Olé

If desktop is left to sit over night (so CPU is 'cool'), I'd start tomorrow by disconnecting the MIO 10pin power cable

*turn PC on > u have one minute or less to attempt POST before CPU overheats / system shuts off

if no good (no POST), shutdown (hold top power button in for 5seconds or yank wall cord), plug MIO 10pin cable back in, start up > if desktop acts identical (same no POST), then chances are it is not an MIO or MIO wiring related failure

You then have the option to remove all components & bench test them as in my photo > Failure to P.O.S.T. in the above bench test scenario would or could mean a bad motherboard, or, CPU was inserted in such way that the pins got bent (remove CPU and inspect, do not bend pins when re-inserting it)(if you already know CPU pins are ok, you might try a different CPU if several are there, in the event CPU is true cause of no POST)

Bench test may require different power supply as I chose to do, unless u intend to remove full case harness, a pain

Supposed working XDJ4C = $125 (I'd send offer of $110 / $115, doubt I'd pay over $125 at this point)

Motherboard swapping to newer / better aftermarket board may be in your future, MSI x299 + 7800x is latest swap story

The ALX-Files: Area 51 R1 Motherboard Swap Asus >< ALX Case Mod

*the new Dell forum recently revamped itself, all old forum embedded links are broken, however, searching by the user's post 'title' may lead you back to the original post



Dantoshou

Cass-Olé said:

If desktop is left to sit over night (so CPU is 'cool'), I'd start tomorrow by disconnecting the MIO 10pin power cable

*turn PC on > u have one minute or less to attempt POST before CPU overheats / system shuts off

if no good (no POST), shutdown (hold top power button in for 5seconds or yank wall cord), plug MIO 10pin cable back in, start up > if desktop acts identical (same no POST), then chances are it is not an MIO or MIO wiring related failure

You then have the option to remove all components & bench test them as in my photo > Failure to P.O.S.T. in the above bench test scenario would or could mean a bad motherboard, or, CPU was inserted in such way that the pins got bent (remove CPU and inspect, do not bend pins when re-inserting it)(if you already know CPU pins are ok, you might try a different CPU if several are there, in the event CPU is true cause of no POST)

Bench test may require different power supply as I chose to do, unless u intend to remove full case harness, a pain

Supposed working XDJ4C = $125 (I'd send offer of $110 / $115, doubt I'd pay over $125 at this point)

Motherboard swapping to newer / better aftermarket board may be in your future, MSI x299 + 7800x is latest swap story

The ALX-Files: Area 51 R1 Motherboard Swap Asus >< ALX Case Mod

*the new Dell forum recently revamped itself, all old forum embedded links are broken, however, searching by the user's post 'title' may lead you back to the original post

Hi Cass, thank you so much for all the time you have put into trying to help me fix this, I have only just understood what you need me to do when bench testing it (I couldn't see the pictures before but now it makes more sense to me) I haven't tried the 10 pin removed from daughterboard post yet, will the system power on with it removed, isolating the daughterboard and running with just the motherboard?

I'll follow the instructions best I can, I can try a different PSU so I won't have to remove the original.


Cass-Olé

yes, system will power on without MIO (isolating MIO circuitry, in a one minute test, depending on what happens, can be instructive given it takes so little time to do it), but since MIO relays power to the top left powerboard & then to the liquid cooler, you have a minute or so before CPU overheats (unless u find a way to get power to the cooler that uses the unorthodox 5pin) ... if system behaves identical, whether MIO connected or disconnected, removing the motherboard out of the case becomes a toss-up > however, if system can be proven to work or proven not to work outside of the case, either way, you're looking for answers regarding why it fails to work > if it fails to work outside of the case, that's fine, it'd remove blame from case wiring & you have free access to all parts and can then home in on wtf is wrong there

Classic bench test is to devise a way to get keyboard mouse monitor, GPU, (one stick of) memory, hard drive (optional), liquid cooler & external power > 1st test, can u get to the Bios screen > btw: motherboard has its own red power on mini-button at the bottom right of board if u look for it > failed POST could be CPU-related, helps to use known-good CPU, properly installed = no bent pins


Cass-Olé

For testing inside the case when system fans are at 100%, u can disconnect the right mid-PCI fan (next to battery shroud) & disconnect the hard drives fan pair, disconnect all three fans from MIO to alleviate anxiety > open or remove hard drive bay door to ventilate when testing, same for the motherboard door panel > disconnect from MIO the right/left door switches & yank the batteries if u do not want theatre lights on during testing. Get system to POST then diagnose 100% fans later (inspect your MIO green jumper relative to thread photos, make sure it's on the correct set of poles > when system passes POST, make sure Command Center is installed, fans are set to manual, and that the MIO Fan Cable is placed on motherboard CPU_Fan header > MIO cable pair that connects it to top left powerboard must be seated at both ends etc)

EDIT > Various reasons bench-tested system may not POST:

Monitor, video cable, GPU, power supply, CPU, bent CPU pins, motherboard, motherboard coin-cell battery below 2.6volts, faulty memory or memory slot (remove all memory > will motherboard beep?, if not, motherboard may be bad / if it beeps, try one stick at a time in all three slots to rule out bad slot or improperly inserted stick)

May not POST inside desktop case: motherboard grounded out, case wiring issue, power supply wiring issue, + all reasons listed above

Alienware Desktop Hardware Troubleshooting