Gateway laptop won't boot
February 14, 2011 2:53 PM   Subscribe

My Gateway MT3422 laptop suddenly won't boot. Please help me figure out what to do.

I had Windows Vista and Ubuntu dual installed. I was using Ubuntu when the system crashed and the screen went dark. I forced a shutdown and thereafter the computer has refused to boot. When I press the power button the lights on the front of the case come on and the fans and drives spin up, but there's no beeping and the screen stays dark.

Is there any hope for reviving this system? If not, what's the best/cheapest way to recover my data?
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you shine a light at the screen, can you see any pixels lit up? Sounds like something in the video subsystem went out. Could be the video card, cabling between the connector on the motherboard and the actual screen, the screen backlight being out.

Aside from that, if you can't get anything back up and going, get one of these, get the hard drive out of the laptop, and hook it to this. Hook the USB end to a working computer.
posted by deezil at 3:24 PM on February 14, 2011

You could also try an external monitor on the off chance that just the LCD is dead but the video card is still working. The lack of beeping probably indicates that this is not the case. If you boot it up and leave it running for 5 minutes do the caps lock or num lock indicators light when the keys are pressed?
posted by ChrisHartley at 3:28 PM on February 14, 2011

I would scope the Gateway site for hints on this particular set of symptoms, or, call them if you are still under warranty. But based on my working in Dell notebook support for 4 years...

1. absolutely nothing on the screen at all? zero? no POST or BIOS screen? Could be your lcd died, in which case, time for a warranty repair (if you have a warranty) or a brand new notebook (because replacing just the lcd is often not worth the cost, since the lcd is what makes most notebooks cost what they cost).

2. Attach an external monitor if you can, and see if you can see anything occur during boot when you toggle from the internal display to the external display.

3. you could try to re-seat the ram or the hard disk itself, if either one is considered 'user servicable". Personally I have almost never seen "reseating" a device or ram fix anything on a notebook system, but the notebook powers-that-be swear it can sometimes be the problem.

4. Download an o.s. on another known good computer, that is self-contained and can run off the c.d. or usb key only. Try booting off of that (although if you can't see anything, that might be tough.) I believe your Ubuntu install disk might be capable of such a feat. Then, see if it can see the contents of your hard disk.

5. get another known good notebook-size hard drive and put it in your system. Install an o.s. if necessary. If it boots up ok then, either something's wrong with the "old" hard drive, or the software somehow got nuked on it.

6. if your current hard disk sounds like it is indeed spinning, you could get an external notebook drive enclosure/dock of some kind, take out your notebook's hard drive. and attach it to another known good computer using the enclosure/dock, hopefully to extract data off of it that way before it wrecks for good. Naturally that may get you your data, but won't fix your notebook.

Good luck! That will be $500, please.
posted by bitterkitten at 3:28 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas. There's nothing on the screen, no beeping, no BIOS. I did try booting from a CD, nothing. No warranty. Reseating the RAM, it does nothing. I don't have another monitor handy to try it with, but I'm thinking it's not just the video card. In which case, the motherboard or processor probably died, right? And that means it's time for a hard drive enclosure and a new laptop?
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 3:37 PM on February 14, 2011

Realistically, yes, time for a new laptop. If you had a fair amount of experience repairing laptops you could buy a replacement motherboard on eBay (part number 4001189R, going for about $100) and swap them out but even that is not guaranteed to work and you could just waste money. It would not be worth it to pay someone else to do it for you.

You may be able to sell your broken laptop on eBay for parts (don't sell the HD until you wipe it of course), that would offset the cost of a new laptop slightly.
posted by ChrisHartley at 3:52 PM on February 14, 2011

I've had stuff like this happen before. Try this:

1. Disconnect the power supply
2. Remove the battery
3. Hold down the power button for 15 seconds
4. Reconnect the power supply and power on the computer
posted by talkingmuffin at 4:10 PM on February 14, 2011

I agree with talkingmuffin's advice as a troubleshooting step. I had a HP that I had to that. Though I had to hold in the power button for a minute or two every once and a while before it would begin to boot.
posted by Nerro at 4:51 PM on February 14, 2011

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