Bad Motherboard/Ground?

by Jess

Dell laptop

Dell laptop

I've very stumped here as I've been working on a laptop for a friend to fix. First off, she brought the Dell Inspiron 1525 to me to re-install Windows as a Virus hijacked her computer to the point that it corrupted the original OS. Plus the button battery on the motherboard needed to be replaced as it was dead. Sounded simple enough.

What I did is as follows:
- Took out the hard-drive and hooked it up as an external to hook up to my main PC.
- Scanned it with several anti-virus and Anti-malware programs to make sure everything, infection-wise, was dealt with before continuing.
- Placed it back into the laptop, installed windows & drivers, as well as did all the updates. Also installed Avast, MS Word, & Malewarebytes.

First issue: Then I noticed that the hard drive had started making a revving sound like it was going to die here and there. So, I had the Owner bring over her extra hard drive to replace it with. I then hooked up the new one to my pc, ran diagnostics to make sure sure there were no errors, and ran a virus/maleware test. Came up clean.

Solution: I clone the dying hard-drive over to the new one once prepped. Installed it into the laptop and it ran with no issues.

New issues: Went to replace the bios battery and after replacing it, the bios wouldn't recognize the hard-drive no matter what settings I changed in bios.

- Re-opened laptop to check my work and placed the dead bios battery back in, instead of the new one. Then double checked all connections and was very careful to pay attention to detail while putting the PC back together. (This time I installed the hard-drive by placing it into the pc to make sure it seated well without sliding it in and out before putting the top cover/keyboard back on. This was to see if it was an issue with the HD caddy sticking or not.)

- Hooked it back up to the power supply and booted it up. It then sees the hard-drive in bios with no issue. So, I set the hard-drive as the first boot order, save and exit.

- Then, I remember that the battery charger error message needed to be turned off in bios for now, as the Owner will need to replace that later on. The error states to connect a dell charger due to the possible voltage not being read properly. (Something to that extent.) So, I was going to do this after restart to go into bios.

- It freezes before I can do that. Doesn't even reach bios. I shut it off for 30 seconds and turned it back on. It freezes again before showing any error messages two more times. So, I repeat shutting it down before it finally boots to bios.

- I change the charger error notice to off in bios and reboot to windows.

At this point it seemed to be running fine. So, I changed the time and date before doing 3 updates. It restarts just fine before I leave to install one more update.

Then, as I'm sitting at my own pc, my roommate tells me that the computer's screen, of which I had been working on, is messing up. I went out to find the mouse on the screen frozen while blocks of screen were glitching so fast they were flickering on the left side up and down and partially on the right side back and forth. While this was going on the hard-drive was spinning so fast that it sounded like it was on speed and as if it was going to break. You could hear it hitting the top of the hard-drive's case with as fast as it was spinning.

- I hit the power button ASAP. Unplugged the power. Waited 30 seconds. Then reboot.

It boots to Windows and then freezes again, leaving the screen to glitch like it was before. This time the hard drive did not spin really fast and I turned it off via power button for the last time after this. I then sniff the bottom of the case and it smells slightly of ozone by the cd-dvd rom drive.

My question about this is as follows: With everything I've had, symptom-wise with this, do you think this is more then likely caused by the motherboard or cpu starting to go or possibly by me using a universal power adapter with it that I've never had issues with before on several other laptops? What makes me think it is the motherboard or cpu is the following below.

- Thought old hard-drive was dying as it was revving a bit, which I now think could've been due to a surge from the MB.

- Hard-drive not detected after a simple button battery for bios being replaced as that should've only caused a reset to the bios.

- On-board diagnostics from bios showed no errors to the ram or other stuff it scanned, even it if was run when bios was not able to view the hard-drive.

- New Hard-drive taken out and scanned by my pc, finding no errors.

- No bad revving sound from new hard-drive before or after the hard-drive on speed episode.

- Wires to screen triple checked for damage and or loose connections without seeing anything wrong.

At this point I'm talking to the Owner about possibly just getting another laptop as I'm not sure even paying for a dell power supply would fix this issue. Am just very curious as to whether you've come across anything similar before and if you think it make be the motherboard itself or the power supply. Thank you in advance.

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Feb 23, 2018
Re: Bad Motherboard/Ground?
by: Jess

Yup, you are correct. The power adapter was most likely the cause. I double-checked the voltages of the 1525 battery and HP charger the original owner was using for it.

- Battery called for around a 11.1 volt output charger.

- Owner's HP charger's voltage output was at 19.5 volts.

- My Cooler Master's universal charger's output was at 19 volts.

Feb 23, 2018
Re: Bad Motherboard/Ground?
by: Jess

Ah, that makes a lot of sense. I had forgotten about the differences in voltage needs of newer laptops verses the older ones. I'll make sure to pay more attention to that in the future and will look into a bench power supply to have on hand for when I'm working on laptop's in the future that either have no AC adapter or not the correct one. I'm also hoping that it was her original charger, which was not the correct one, that started all the hardware malfunction, as I paid a pretty penny for my universal adapter. I'll keep an eye on it though. Thank you very much. I appreciate your feedback

It also makes sense that this could happen as the adapter/charger that the owner of said Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop was an odd HP charger she had just randomly found and thought she'd use for it. (This was the charger she had for it before I tried my universal adapter.)

I suspect that the first charger was starting the issues I was having with it by possibly destroying the cmos battery and causing hard-ware issues with the first hard-drive that had been in it. (She said it froze in the past with the original hard-drive and the cmos battery had been dead for some time. But I originally suspected it to be due to the viruses she had for the hard-drive, which had originally locked her out of Windows.)

I just didn't catch onto the power issue until it surged and revved up the second hard-drive I used, making it spin like it was on speed to the point that the pc froze, causing the screen pixel-boxe-lines-flickering-episode. Part of the delay of that was from the charger error not showing up till trying to replace the cmos battery, which reset the bios, and the other part was me just overlooking it, thinking it'd be fine till I got the owner to replace the adapter.

Thankfully I shut down this laptop in time to save the hard-drive. I've re-hooked it up as an external to scan for bad files and bad sectors. So far it has shown no errors and is not making any sounds that would suggest hardware damage. So, we'll go from here, see how well it works as salvage while backing up everything on it, and hope for the best. If anything goes wrong with it, we'll just replace it & recycle it.

Anyways, I've passed this info on to her/the owner, about the charger and made her well aware that we need to make sure to get the correct charger for the next laptop she gets. (She thought the old HP would work fine in another of the same model.)

Also, last but not least, I agree with you there with hooking up the infected hard-drive to my pc due to the risk. I usually hate doing that and would rather just run the hard-drive's windows in safe mode to use several anti-virus and anti-maleware programs to deal with that. Unfortunately, the Windows was corrupted in this case and the slow laptop I use for testing out hardware just seemed to slow to take care of this hard-drive.

So, I just used my main desktop for it, which I'm not too worried about. It did transfer a browser hi-jack over to it. But I'll dealt with that and thoroughly cleaned my pc of all aspects of such things, as well as the hard-drive, before continuing. Thankfully, my desktop has a fresh install of Windows and all my programs/software is backed up. So, worse case scenario; I can always gain everything back after re-installing Windows.

Again, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Feb 22, 2018
Bad Motherboard/Ground?
by: Remus

Yes, you can ruin a laptop or a hard drive with an universal adapter.

Better to have an original one from ebay even if it is used one.

Or you can use a bench power supply that works not in switching mode and then use those plugs from the universal power supply.

All modern laptops need 19V some older ones need 15V.

The problem with those cheap universal adapters is that they try to save money everywhere and most likely using capacitors in the power rail that have not enough capacity or simply fail after a while. If those capacitors fail you get voltage spikes, noise etc. that go to the laptop. Usually fails the fragile laptop parts i.e. hard drive, sometimes it damages batteries.

Also the moment when you connected the old hard drive to your computer it most likely transferred itself to your computer. Well, this is what I would make a virus to do if I ever write any viruses at all.

You can use Ubuntu to deal with infected hard drives. It will copy all the files etc. but the virus will be doomed.

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