Dell GX270 Auto-On Power Setting

I bought an off-lease Dell Optiplex GX270 from Dell Financial Services (via the highly useful techbargains.com) to update my mother’s PC.

For the last month I’ve been twiddling it every now & again in preparation for my next visit, plus just letting it run to get some power-on hours under my supervision. You’ll find some of the info on that process earlier in the PC Tweakage category.

So it’s been booting up automagically at 6:15 am every morning, which is easier for Mom, but every now & again it wakes up dead. This is why I’m doing a month or two of burn-in here!

The diagnostic LEDs (the ABCD lights on the back panel) are GYGG, which isn’t listed in their hard-to-find LED reference[Update: maybe now at Optiplex Diagnostic Indicators]

Dell Optiplex GX270 Auto-On Boot Failure LEDs
Dell Optiplex GX270 Auto-On Boot Failure LEDs

I did the usual diagnostic stuff. All the Dell diagnostic tests work fine, replugging the memory doesn’t help, and so forth & so on. Running many passes of memtest86+ (from the invaluable System Rescue CD) shows no problems at all.

Called up 800-891-8595, the DFS warranty service number (which is different from the usual Dell route), told my story, and got a call back (!) from the tech. I related the situation, mentioned that I’d set it for auto-on, and he said “Oh, they never got that BIOS code working, it’s never been released, and I’m surprised it works at all.”

Riiiight

This is a biz machine, the sort acquired in semitrailer loads by big companies with actual IT departments, the ones that automagically wake up their flock of machines for overnight updates. Maybe they trigger auto-on through the LAN port (that’s another BIOS option) these days, but the BIOS wake-up alarm clock function has been available in pretty nearly every Dell I’ve ever owned… and works fine.

This is not rocket science.

Indeed, if anyone’s ever had the slightest problem with Dell’s auto-on, Google shows no sign of it. There’s nothing on the normally loquacious Dell forums. Nay, verily, the GX270 manual itself touts the “advanced feature” of having it turn on at a preset time and day.

Anyhow, he says the LED code shows the problem has something to do with the memory or video chip not starting up in time. That information is in his “internal” debugging info, which is not available to mere customers. He’s unwilling to swap memory (I tried another stick to no avail), let alone the system board.

Conclusion: his assignment is to make me Go Away without spending any money on warranty repairs.

Seeing as how the GX270 was a whopping 100 bucks delivered, I can sympathize with his marching orders, even if I disagree with their outcome.

So maybe Mom’s going to have to get used to turning the box on in the morning; it seems to work perfectly that way. A straightforward crontab entry turns it off in the evening… at least that part still works.

I’ve bought other off-lease & Dell Outlet boxes; they’ve worked fine. This one is a bit more battered than usual, but it’s otherwise in fine shape. It’s even been re-capped; the larger electrolytic caps aren’t the dreaded Nichicon popcorn caps.

Update: It seems to be booting OK with this burn-in regimen.