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How to fix computer that won't turn on after power surge? Answered

Recently we had some heavy rain and I had a few things blow out, including router, modem, desktop, and a few other things. But the question here is regarding the desktop that will not turn on after this storm and apparent power surge. 

When I hit the power button, nothing happens. I bought a new power supply and it turns on again with only one problem. All the colors on my monitor display are very washed out and faded. I plugged the monitor into another working computer and it works fine so I know the problem isn't the monitor. The power supply unit that I purchased isn't exactly the same as the original since the original is a little old and hard to come by.

So my question is what can I do to get my computer working like it used to be? The operating system is Windows Vista Home Premium and it is a Dell Studio XPS desktop. What do I need to replace to get my display working properly? If anyone can help me answer this it is much appreciated.



1 year ago

If it just looks washed out, I can't see how that would be caused by a transient voltage spike. I would assume there would be no output at all from the video-card if that's the case.

I assume that you are using legacy VGA analog connector, not HDMI or DVI or DisplayPort or any of the modern better modern digital connectors. Try to switch over to one of those and see if the problem persists if the motherboard or videocard has those as an output.

If that fixes it, great! You could just use a xxx connector to VGA adaptor if you have one available. Although if it was me I would still like to know how the VGA output would have failed in this regard. My guess is that the analog push-pull drivers for the output are shot, specifically low-side drivers on the output buffers for the video which force the voltage on the R G and B output to swing over the full voltage range, and that the monitor or other part of the circuit is causing current flow which is causing a really bad case of voltage offset (leading to a picture with far too much "brightness") But that's a complete guess.

If it is just the display and everything else works fine, it's the Video Card.

If it has an integrated video; get a video card and its driver, just in case Windows Vista doesn't have the driver.

PS it could also be a bum video cable or poor insertion of the connector(s) into their receptacles. I've seen them fail, and I've had sketchy connections too.

Sounds like the power outage *might have trounced your video card. I've lost graphics cards on a few occasions during the transient events a storm can produce.

For an older computer, you should be able to get a replacement for a relative "song" (inexpensive)

BTW, This is a wake up call for installing a UPS, something I resisted for a long long time but have been grateful for since finally investing in one.

Some of those Dell machines have integrated video cards. So it could get a little complicated.

A windows 95 computer still running today? Methinks it's *probably not a Dell. But I suppose that's a possibility.

I own a Win95 machine (purchased ~1996) that was bumped up to Windows 2000 on a second partition. Still boots today. But it's a tower with an at-the-time SOA supermicro motherboard.

I'd have to agree with the other answers, your issue may be related to the graphics card.

Does the washed out effect appear from the moment the PC is switched on? (i.e. does the BIOS post screen appear to be strange) or does the washed out effect only appear when Windows starts to boot? Note that the BIOS post screen is the black screen with the white writing on it, as you have a Dell you probably see the Dell logo on-screen before it starts to load Windows, is this washed out too?

If the BIOS post screen and/or Dell logo are washed out then it's also certainly graphics hardware related, but if the washed out effect doesn't appear until Windows boots it could be a graphics driver issue. If this is the case, when you turn on the PC press the F8 key to launch the "Advanced Boot Options" menu (as shown in the attached image) you'll want to tap F8 before the "Starting Windows" screen appears. Select "Enable low-resolution video". When Windows boots everything will appear to be bigger as the resolution is lower, but if the colours no longer appear washed out it confirms that it may be a graphics driver issue.

One final note, you mention that that PSUs were not the same, what are the notable differences? As you have a Dell Studio XPS, is that an external power supply? Does it match the Voltage of the previous PSU and have an equal or greater output rating (i.e. the Amps)?


1 year ago

As I mentioned to seandogue, you might have an integrated video card. If that is the case you should disable it in the BIOS when you put in a new one.

You can get lower performing video cards for pretty reasonable. Try NewEgg.com

But you will need to know what kind of slot you have available so you can get the right card. Use your Dell service tag and go to the Dell web site to get the specifications for your computer. If it says PCI express then that is the card to look into buying. It has to fit the slot on your board, physically and electronically.

By the way the 2 main companies that make cards are ATI and Nvidia and either one will work.