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Thread: Optiplex GX280 Help

  1. #1

    Default Optiplex GX280 Help

    Ok so this may be a little new for this forum given it's a P4 and all, but I'm at my wits end with this system and I really want to try and save it.

    I got an Optiplex GX280 and I've been having issues with it from the get go. It's the full tower model and has 1GB of RAM in it (two 512MB sticks) and a 40GB hard drive. There are no cards or anything else in it. The first thing I did was put a new battery in it to get rid of the error message on the boot. After that I tried installing Windows XP on it and all was going well until the the system had to reboot to continue the install, after that I got a weird error (can't recall the exact message). I suspected that maybe there was some sort of motherboard error so I downloaded the Dell diagnostics and it confirmed that there was a "memory data bus stress test failure". I believe that means that I have some bad memory. So I ran Memtest86 but all the tests passed.

    However during all of this I would run into random problems like the system not wanting to boot on occasion (it would turn on, but nothing came up on the monitor). Once I saw an error message that said the system shutdown due to a thermal event, so I then suspected that the thermal paste on the processor had gone bad and replaced that (it was indeed pretty much dried and caked on). Now however I can't get the system to boot at all. It turns on but gives me two short garbled sounding beeps then does nothing (these sound different than the regular diagnostic beeps). I would have thought that maybe I screwed up the re-thermal pasting (can't see how), but all the letter lights on the back are green so everything must be good. I have no idea what's wrong now, any ideas? Lots of people say that these models have bad caps, but I examined all of them and they look fine.

  2. #2

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    Are there bulging capacitors on the system-board?

    edit: Also this is a Pentium 4, pretty off topic for a Pentium 1 forum.

  3. #3
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    The Optiplex GX2x0/SX2x0 series was one of the worst affected by the capacitor plague. The "Nichicon" / "Rubycon" capacitors on the board are counterfeit and have a 100% failure rate. I replaced 4000+ GX270/280 motherboards back in 2007 as part of a recall by Dell, where they lost a lawsuit over defective motherboards due to faulty capacitors.

    But it goes further than that, the power supplies and monitors had these same garbage capacitors and failed just as often.

    When capacitors fail in these machines (or in general), they don't always show physical symptoms of failure (ie. the domed top, leaking from the vent or blown out rubber plug in the bottom) They can and do fail without any obvious physical signs of failure.

    In order to fix your machine, you'll have to completely recap the motherboard AND power supply. A generic ATX power supply can be made to work, but some hacking is required for the long power wire runs and weird connectors. You'll need to replace ALL capacitors, especially the tiny ones hidden between stuff because those can go very bad and cause all sorts of havoc.

    I would say that your power supply may be the main culprit for the machine acting erratically, but it could also be the CPU. I'd remove it and check if you bent/smashed any of the pins in the socket, which would cause the machine to not boot.

  4. #4

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    I'm not going to put that much money into a free trash system. Not really worth it.

  5. #5
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    Yeah unfortunately all those Dells from 2000-2005 (maybe longer) all probably have bad caps and need trashed. It was dark days. They failed only after just a few years.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by rittwage View Post
    Yeah unfortunately all those Dells from 2000-2005 (maybe longer) all probably have bad caps and need trashed. It was dark days. They failed only after just a few years.
    I had brought a different GX280 home and that one seemed ok until the power supply failed after a few weeks. Out of the eight GX280's I had access to, all but two were dead on the spot and now both of the ones that were working at the time are dead. Not good odds...

  7. #7
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    My personal take which really doesn't mean much:

    I generally do not care much for Dell products, however, IMO they did a pretty good job on some older LCD monitors and some of their PC cases were okay albeit outsourced. I'm not a a big fan of the Pentium 4 which is more or less doggy in the gaming arena. I have an Intel mobo with the P4, virtually NIB, and it been setting on the shelf for a very long time. Another thing; the P4 runs very hot. Depending on how you plan to use it, I would opt for at least something with a dual core set up. As far as installing XP, what exactly were the issues? As Gigabyte mentioned, you may want to check over your P/S very close or maybe just swap it out.
    Surely not everyone was Kung-fu fighting

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by tempest View Post
    I had brought a different GX280 home and that one seemed ok until the power supply failed after a few weeks. Out of the eight GX280's I had access to, all but two were dead on the spot and now both of the ones that were working at the time are dead. Not good odds...
    Again, pretty much 100% failure rates. The recalled and replaced units also had 100% failure rates because Dell used the same counterfeit capacitors. They sourced the capacitors from the 3rd party supplier market instead of directly from the manufacturer and got burned again, but by that time, the warranty had run out on the affected systems and they washed their hands of the matter.

    I've recapped dozens of these systems with quality known-not-fake caps, and never had an issue with them. The power supplies are the most irritating, especially the SFF models with the long brick PSUs. The control logic is on a daughterboard soldered to the main PCB and it has at least a dozen capacitors that have to be replaced.

    If you need a Pentium 4 system, I have a Dimension 4600C and an Optiplex 210L that I've recapped, you wouldn't have to faff with them replacing caps for awhile.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by GiGaBiTe View Post
    If you need a Pentium 4 system, I have a Dimension 4600C and an Optiplex 210L that I've recapped, you wouldn't have to faff with them replacing caps for awhile.
    I might take you up on that. I'm going to see if I can find something in the junk pile at work first though. I'm pretty sure there's an IBM Intellistation Model M which is a P3 1GHz which wouldn't be bad for the era of gaming I'm into.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tempest View Post
    I might take you up on that. I'm going to see if I can find something in the junk pile at work first though. I'm pretty sure there's an IBM Intellistation Model M which is a P3 1GHz which wouldn't be bad for the era of gaming I'm into.
    Careful with those late 90s/early 2000s IBM systems, they were horrible as well. IBM was embroiled in lawsuits over their PCs at the time because of the capacitor plague, but it was eclipsed by their "Deathstar" drives.

    It's why IBM eventually sold their PC division to Lenovo, because the liability was too great. In one of those years, they lost like a billion dollars to lawsuits and being crushed with RMAs.

    I had a pile of IBM Aptiva mid towers given to me I think in 2005, and they all had blown caps on the board and PSU. They were PIII 1000s, but they weren't really worth fixing at the time and I just scrapped them. I saved the CPUs though and have like 5-8 of them left.

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