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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.

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  1. #1 by Oniisan on 2009-06-15 - 19:54

    Just saw this info. A friend found a Dell GX270 in a dumpster and brought it to me to see if I could get it working. It has the same diagnostic leds as you mention, no video output at all from either onboard video or the nvidia board. The heatsink on the onboard chip runs very hot soon after power on. Have reseated all memory chips, not tried the cpu yet. The hard drive is fine, tested that on another desktop, can’t test the ram though as I have no pc that uses the same slots. Any ideas or is it a spare parts only machine now? :-) As far as case and everything inside it’s in very good shape.

    • #2 by Ed on 2009-06-15 - 20:25

      Sounds like a parts donor box to me…

      Perhaps the caps died (it’s prone to that problem) and over-volted the system board.

      See if any of the caps resemble these deaders I found in another PC. If so, it’s faintly possible you could revive the corpse by re-capping the system board, but that takes a bit of specialized equipment, a handful of shiny new caps (in the right sizes!), and probably more time than it’s worth.

      I hate to throw ’em out, but sometimes that’s the only thing you can do …

  2. #3 by Oniisan on 2009-06-15 - 23:18

    Thanks for the info. I haven’t looked closely yet at the caps, but didn’t notice any bulges. I am very aware of exploding caps, used to build electronic projects and had one blow up in my face :-) Neither of us are willing to spend any money on a free dumpster pc :-) If nothing can be done then parts donor it is :-) I hate throwing out electronics too. Appreciate the quick response. If I find a solution or just happen to get lucky, I’ll post it here in case it helps anyone else.

  3. #4 by Tolt Tech on 2010-01-28 - 13:16

    Hey, good post but one question.

    I have this same PC (used at a line of supermarkets) On my repair Bench. You seem to have gotten it to work, but did not explain if you did anything for it.

    I am Stuck at no Video as well.

    Will turning off this “Auto-On” feature solve the problem? If so, How did you get into the BIOS?

    • #5 by Ed on 2010-01-28 - 20:36

      Actually, the GX270 pretty much worked out of the box; whatever was occasionally going wrong with the boot simply Stopped Happening. I don’t like that, but there it is.

      From what little I’ve heard, the no-video problem seems to be due to bad caps. The power becomes sufficiently unstable / out-of-tolerance that the video chip (or whatever) doesn’t fire up properly.

      Given the difficulty involved with re-capping the board, I think it’d best serve as either a donor machine or a doorstop…

  4. #6 by tolt tech on 2010-01-28 - 22:43

    Just wanted to let ya know you may be correct about the caps, I had replaced about 14 of them, but missed two small 25v22uF caps which I noticed a few hours after I commented. I had them ordered, and will update when they come in and I replace them. Either way a second opinion is ALWAYS appreciated, and I’m sure you know that judging your experiance with electronics.

    • #7 by Ed on 2010-01-29 - 07:25

      That box seems to be perfectly designed: remove any one part (even a cap) and it stops working!

      Let me know how the story ends; it’ll be a useful data point…

  5. #8 by Ivelin on 2010-03-10 - 10:58

    Well – same problem GYGG – gx-270 – found a little chip – ior9952 with a little hole in it :) – this chip is 2 mosfets in 1 body – probably connected with cpu power supply – chip is near the cpu power supply cable (4 cables -YYGG) – they are 3 near same chips in a row – check them out before to change any caps :)

    • #9 by Ed on 2010-03-10 - 12:42

      with a little hole in it

      Now, that’s what we call a Bad Sign…

      However, I still suspect bad caps. Switching power supplies depend on caps with good high-frequency characteristics and low equivalent series resistance: exactly what those knockoff capacitors don’t have much of. The electrical failures can be baffling, but re-capping the board while you’re replacing that chip should bring it back to life.

      Without the re-capping, it might work for a while, but it’s doomed…

      • #10 by Tolt Tech on 2010-03-10 - 12:55

        Agreed, and Cap Changing is so easy you make it sound like a chore, I change about 50-100 a day and think its a simple component to practice soldering on for beginners. Besides they are popped so they should be replaced anyways. Unfortunately Corporate is being so slow about getting me my parts, but I think there coming this week.

        • #11 by Ed on 2010-03-10 - 13:26

          I change about 50-100 a day

          Practice makes perfect!

          Much of the problem for folks confronted with a dead system board that need recapping is simply finding the caps. You need maybe half a dozen combinations of capacitance and pad layout, so finding one source for the whole lot of caps can present a challenge: I hate those “no stock” notices on the final capacitor on the list!

          And then the next system board uses a different assortment…

          After that, though, the soldering is straightforward. After a bit of practice, of course.

          Keep on soldering!

  6. #12 by zandravan on 2010-04-28 - 02:47

    Last time i faced a problem with my Dell optiplex GX270
    Problem description
    1.when the power button is turned on the system is not boots up,no beep code,no display.the power supply and CPU fans are working.and the power button is was steady yellow.
    i opened the case check the caps power cables cpU fins and every thing was firmly attached.i closed the case and tried again and now both fans start and stopped immediately and the power button started to blinking in yellow
    any suggestion please

    • #13 by Ed on 2010-04-28 - 06:45

      the power button is was steady yellow

      That’s the diagnostic signal indicating that one (or more) of the supply voltages are out of range. Given that GX270s had bogus capacitors, that most likely means it’s time to re-cap the system board.

      Which is easy for a tech with all the parts and requires quite a bit of effort & expense for anybody else, so I’d say a yellow power button LED means it’s time to get another, slightly less obsolete, PC…

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