These first few steps may seem trivial; however, it is easy to forget the troubleshooting basics during times of frustration. Before you start any significant repairs to your device, please check the following:
- Check Power Source: Ensure that your laptop's power source is functioning correctly. Connect another device, or swap to another outlet to verify.
- Verify the Battery is Connected: If your Dell Laptop has a removable battery, ensure it is seated correctly and secured. If it has a locking switch, be sure it is in the locked position.
- Remove all peripherals. This applies to anything attached to your laptop—flash drives, USB hubs, display cables, dongles, literally anything other than the charger.
- Listen for any Beep Codes: Beep codes and lights are used to diagnose issues computers have when booting. Document these beeps and light flashes and search Dell's beep code support page for your exact Dell laptop model to find the beep codes associated.
- With the laptop powered off, press the power button and listen for any beeping sounds or flashing lights on the side of the laptop.
- Typically the Caps Lock LED or the charge light indicator will blink if a code is given.
Bad Power Supply
A faulty power supply or adapter can prevent your laptop from receiving the electricity necessary to turn on.
- Inspect the power cable and connector for any visible damage, fraying, or loose connections. If you have a charger with a barrel connector, be sure the pin inside the barrel isn’t bent or damaged.
- Try a new, or known good charger. Alternatively, use your charger with another compatible Dell laptop. Different charger works? Time for a new one. If. yours works with another laptop, tough luck, but it won't be that easy.
- Many Dell laptops will charge via USB-C as well as their dedicated DC jack. Even a low wattage charger could provoke different behavior. If this works, a new charger is in order.
- Not all USB-C ports will support charging. Some Dell laptops restrict one USB-C or Thunderbolt port to function as the designated charging port, often marked by an icon (e.g., ⚡ or a power plug logo).
- If a USB-C charger works, but the original charger does not, this could point to a faulty port rather than the charger.
Batteries are nefarious. They fail often, due to their “consumable” nature, but not always in predictable ways. Although they typically die slowly and with diminishing power on time, a bunk battery could absolutely cause a no-power problem. In the event of a failed battery replace it with a new one.
- Disconnect the battery and try to power it on. Most Dell laptops will boot without it. If it powers up, the battery is likely your issue.
- Check for visual signs of battery age, swelling, or leak. Swollen batteries may manifest as difficulty in using the trackpad or the keyboard. As the battery expands, it exerts upward pressure on the underside of these components.
Charging Port Fault
Dell uses two main types of power input connectors—the old-fashioned barrel connector and USB-C. In both cases, it’s a common failure point and the conduit for power to enter the system. No power going in means once your battery is dead, you get no power at all.
- Perform a thorough visual inspection of the charge port. Use a flashlight for USB C-port interiors. It’s an easy entry point for liquid. Corrosion can live here easily, undetected.
- Wiggle the cable around gently to see if you can get a better connection. If the port is loose, the internal pin may not be making enough contact to charge the battery.
- Check for signs of corrosion or burn. If anything looks questionable, open up the machine and pull out the affiliated part for a better look.
- USB-C ports are commonly damaged by spills. Even if liquid doesn't penetrate the machine's interior, corrosion in the port can spell trouble.
- Barrel connectors are more likely to suffer from bent pints or broken plastic parts. If your port feels loose, it's likely this is to blame.
- If you determine this is your fault, replace the DC jack. In many cases it is a modular component. In the case that it's soldered onto the motherboard—like a USB-C port—you'll need some soldering chops to proceed (or replace the whole board).
Corrupted BIOS or other device firmware can prevent the laptop from completing power on tests, and may only show minimal power signs.
- Unlike software, which is written to internal storage, BIOS and other firmwares are written directly to the chips themselves. If these directions are missing or damaged, the device might be unable to power up.
- Attempt to access BIOS by pressing F2 as soon as you see the Dell splash logo on screen during startup. You may need to spam it a few times, the window for key press is narrow.
- If possible, update the BIOS to the latest version using Dell's official support website or software. There may even be a utility to update right in BIOS. There may also be a USB recovery option.
If the laptop still doesn't turn on after resetting or updating the BIOS, or if you cannot access the bios, the issue is likely more severe damage to the display or one of the major components.
Faulty Screen/Issues with Display Drivers
Suppose your laptop seems to be functioning normally, but the screen isn't displaying anything (keyboard backlights turn on, you can hear fans running, any power lights or battery status lights turn on and function as they should). Problems with the display or graphics hardware can give the impression that the laptop is not turning on. Use the following steps below to troubleshoot any display issues.
- Connect the laptop to an external display to check if the issue is with the laptop's built-in screen.
- Inspect the laptop's display for any physical damage or signs of malfunction.
- If the external display works but the laptop's screen remains blank, consider checking the laptop's graphics drivers. Use this keyboard shortcut to restart the video drivers: Windows Key + Ctrl (Control) + Shift + B.
Navigate to the page for your model of Dell Laptop to find a screen guide that works for your device.
Faulty Hardware Components
Malfunctioning hardware components, such as motherboard or RAM, can prevent your laptop from powering properly.
- Perform a visual inspection of the laptop's internal components to check for any visible damage or loose connections.
- Reseat the RAM modules and other removable components to ensure they are correctly connected to the motherboard.
- If you suspect a specific hardware component is causing the issue, consult Dell's official support documentation, and if needed, replace any damaged components.