dslreports logo
    All Forums Hot Topics Gallery


how-to block ads

Search Topic:
share rss forum feed

Calabash, NC

Inspiron 1520 hardware issue

Got a puzzler here. I've run out of things to try, so I figured I'd ask here. Sorry for the long read, I just want to be as thorough as possible.

Dell Inspiron 1520 laptop. Has 4GB RAM and shipped with Vista Business on it. System had boot issues (on Vista? Surely you jest!) but they wanted to load 7 on it anyway, and nothing I tried could I get ANY version of 7 installed on it. It would always go through to the first time boot but just hang there and never get to that point. If you booted it in safe mode, it would launch the "Windows preparing to start for the first time" where it would then tell you it can't be done in safe mode. It just stops responding when booting normally, before that screen ever appears.

Tried new hard drive, no difference, tried different RAM, different sizes, no difference. Finally said screw it and reloaded Vista Business back on it. It worked for him for a day, and now it's right back to where it was initially. Turn laptop on, the bar for vista goes across the bottom, then that goes away, where it should then load the windows logo and the sign on screen - except it never gets there. It just stops responding, and does NOTHING, like it's waiting for something. Boot in safe mode, fine, no problem. Event logs show random things like services not starting, but each start it's a different service, nothing consistent. Nothing points to hardware failures or errors.

I loaded XP MCE onto it, so that I could upgrade the BIOS to the latest version, which had no effect. Now, the laptop runs great in XP, UNTIL I load the video driver package, and then, just like in Vista, the windows XP screen goes away, and the laptop just stops responding. Boot into safe mode, fine. Uninstall the video driver package, and reboot it's fine again. I even downloaded the latest 8400m GS drivers from nvidia directly, same thing.

So my thought is there is something wrong with the onboard video card on this laptop. Opinions? Ideas where to look?

Grants Pass, OR

1 edit

It could very well be the onboard video card, in which case there isn't much that can be done. You could open up the laptop if you're comfortable doing that. It could be dusty/dirty inside, also any fan(s) need to be checked for functionality and cleanliness. Otherwise may be time for a new one.

Edit to add: Looks like you can replace the video card if you wanted to and part is available. »support.dell.com/support/edocs/s···p1179839


Cookeville, TN
reply to captokita

There have been quite a few BIOS upgrades issued on that model over the years. Might be worth checking to see if yours is running the latest which I believe is A04 from back in 2007.

Mountain View, CA

1 recommendation

reply to captokita

Some years back (maybe 2008? That should give folks some idea how "old" these laptops are) I purchased two Inspiron 1520 laptops for some friends' kids as they were entering high school. Here's some proof I'm not making the below up; I have familiarity with this model.

Both laptops began experiencing hardware-related failures; one definitely had something wrong with its onboard video, the other just acted oddly (random lock-ups during booting or normal use). Trying to get these replaced/fixed by Dell was pointless; they were only a few months outside of their 1 year warranty period. Dell couldn't replace them, insisting the model wasn't made any more, and kept insisting I pay some money to "upgrade" to a new model. I said f-it.

The more research I did online the more I found that the 1520 -- and some revisions of the later Inspiron 1545 -- had actual design flaws pertaining to their nVidia on-board graphics chip actually "breaking" its solder points due to heat or something along those lines. The behaviour was always the same: graphical anomalies or just complete/total system instability. I would need to spend the time digging up all the details (you'd be asking me to go back in time 5 years).

My opinion is that you probably have a bad GPU -- the reason it ""runs fine"" in XP without the nVidia drivers is because no hardware acceleration is being used. The instant hardware acceleration features start to get used, the GPU gets more stressed (even if not under 100% load, doesn't matter), and the problem you experience rears its head.

Given how old this model of laptop is, Dell isn't going to repair it for you (AFAIK). They're going to tell you you're SOL and to purchase a new model. Welcome to laptops -- companies who make them treat them like throw-away products, expecting them not to last more than a year.

My advice to you is step back for a moment and ask yourself just how much time/effort (thus money) you're going to put into trying to "work around" or "repair" something that the manufacturer doesn't care about any longer. My opinion is that it's not worth it. Recycle the system at an e-waste facility and get a new laptop. I know this isn't what you want to hear, but this is the way the industry treats laptops. It's sad/depressing but that's how it goes.
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.

Calabash, NC
reply to captokita

Thanks for the replies all.

aguen - I don't think this version has dedicated graphics, it doesn't look that way.

BlueMist - I upgraded the BIOS to the latest version (from Dell) when I was trying to load 7 on it, thinking it might be something that was resolved in a later BIOS, but to no avail.

koitsu - Thank you most of all for that info! I've seen many 1520s come in here with varying degrees of failure, but usually, they're more "in your face" with it, unlike this one. I'll make a note of this post then, if it's a design flaw, similar to the HP DV series problems, it's something to note for future use.