When it crashes, the monitor displays something that looks like this, but even more jumbled. Often this is accompanied by a beeping sound. Then, it shuts down. Does anybody know what the problem is? The computer is a Dell Optiplex GX280 (P4 2.8Ghz, 512 ram, Integrated Graphics card) running Windows XP Home Edition. Thanks in advance.
Have you tried booting in safe mode? Hold F8 down while you boot. If it doesn’t crash that way, then you know te problem is something that is loading at startup. If it still crashes, then you probably have some faulty hardware.
Symptoms sound like a heat problem. Open the side, clean inside and then start it to see if all the fans start.
I don’t know if the GX280 is new enough to have them, but many recent Dell systems have BIOS-resident diagnostics. These are usually accessed by pressing F10 (other possibilities are F12 and F2) before Windows starts.
Update: According to this PDF, “The OptiPlex 280 series provides ready to use diagnostics to help minimize down time. The diagnostics reside on a small utility partition on the hard drive and can be launched from the F12 key upon boot. The diagnostics are designed to detect specific hardware components and then run various tests across the component to troubleshoot the problem. These diagnostics, in most cases, can identify the issue as a hardware or driver issue, further simplifying the process and helping to keep downtime at a minimum.”
You may also have capacitor failures, as indicated in this Dell forums thread. I’ve seen a lot of failures with the Optiplex GX270 and GX280 due to it. Anyway, symptoms include lockups and a “thermal event” message. You can check the electrolytic capacitors on the motherboard for swollen casings or brown, crusty residue on the tops or around the base. If a software issue doesn’t show up, then I’d bet the capacitors are failing on you.
I agree this is quite likely. In the past month I’ve had six 270/280 capacitor failures out of a couple of dozen machines.