Toshiba Laptop will not boot - suggestions?


Old 12-25-13, 09:20 PM
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Location: Des Moines, Washington
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Toshiba Laptop will not boot - suggestions?

When I press the power button on my laptop, only the following happens:
1.) The light on the power button lights up.
2.) The internal fan runs.

The screen remains black and it will not post to the Toshiba screen let alone boot.
I removed the SSD and put it in my desktop dock and it is fully accessible.

Any ideas on the likely culprit and what to test?
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Old 12-25-13, 09:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
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It sounds to me like the memory may have come loose or the hard drive was not connecting right or a combination of the above. Could be the screen has gone bad too so I would check it with an external monitor. So try re-seating the memory and making sure the the hard drive is properly connected.
Old 12-26-13, 04:38 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Near Buffalo, NY
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Connect your desktop's VGA to the laptop and boot the laptop. Give it a couple of minutes. You might have to hold Function (Fn) and one of the F keys to switch the output to the VGA. If it works there is nothing wrong with the laptop. The problem is in the screen.

Shine a flashlight on the screen or hold it under a bright light to see if there is any activity on the screen. If there is, the fluorescent lamp is burned out. It's a pretty common failure. Another common failure is the inverter board that drives the lamp. Fortunately both sets of parts are widely available for very little cash, averaging about $10 from eBay. How-to instructions for replacing them are all over the 'net.
Old 12-26-13, 05:48 PM
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I tried reseating the RAM sticks, tried using each one separately, and tried different stick entirely. No change.
Tried hooking it up to an external monitor, no change.
I get nothing on the screen. No back lighting on the keyboard.
The only signs of life is the "on" light of the power button and the internal fan.
Nothing to be seen when shining a flashlight on the screen either.

Last edited by modelsforu; 12-26-13 at 06:21 PM.
Old 12-27-13, 09:53 AM
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From your description, modelsforu, I get two key points. #1 Your PSU is working, otherwise the power light and fan would not be on. #2 But apart from the cooling fan, there is no indication anything downstream from the power button is powering up, else you'd be seeing other lights as well, such as WiFi, Bluetooth and HDD activity. And no mention of hearing the whir of a HDD.

It might be normal with your laptop not to hear any Power-On Self-Test beeps, provided it starts normally, but it is ab-normal to have a serious system failure without hearing any. You should be hearing an error beep code. So my first guess is that you have a significant hardware failure that stops it even before it can initiate the POST. Which is not unheard of, and typically is a symptom of some sort of catastrophic failure. Based on those symptoms, my first guess is it's the motherboard.

Unfortunately, it's often the case with computer components that the only way to test for what might have failed is to replace the suspect part with one that is known to be good, then see where the problem goes. None of the components powered by the MoBo are working, which might be the only function check you have available until you start replacing parts.
Old 12-27-13, 10:20 AM
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Correct. The power light works and the charging light works when it is plugged into the wall. No other activity lights.
The laptop has an SSD but I put in the original hard drive to checking for the whirring of activity - there was none.

No error code beeps as the power button is pressed and tries to post.

We have two identical laptops so I tested the SSD in the functioning laptop and it operates normally.

The only beep I get is by pressing the volume up/down touch pad across the top of the keyboard. It does nothing functionally but does beep.
Old 12-27-13, 04:01 PM
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If the HDD isn't spinning up, more reason to suspect the MoBo.

That you've upgraded this laptop with a SSD tells me it's a pretty important PC to you. Which makes me think you might be entertaining thoughts of repairing it. Motherboards are replaceable, and because Toshibas are so popular, you probably can pick up a used replacement for a song on eBay. Laptop repair is not nukular rocket surgery but the packaging of laptops is very intricate, and removing/replacing any internal component invariably involves dozens of tiny fasteners and a seeming endless series of fiddly bits (hint: take a digital photo of everything you remove, before you've removed it, without exception, preferably in "macro" mode). Not that anyone with modest mechanical skills (and really small torx and screwdrivers) can't do it, it's just very taxing on your patience.

Every component in a laptop has a unique manufacturer's ID number printed on it, so there's no problem being certain you're shopping for the correct replacement part sight unseen. But that method requires that you tear it down first so you can access the suspect part. And "suspect" is the operative phrase, because you can't be certain which part has failed until you've isolated it by replacing it with one that you know works.

To make matters worse, repair gets especially complicated with older laptops because they all run much higher internal temperatures than a desktop, which over time wreaks havoc on plastic components, causing them to dry out and become brittle. This especially becomes a problem because many of the wires and ribbon cables use relatively delicate plastic cam lock connectors, and the lock devices sometimes will crumble under the minimum force needed to open them to 'unplug' the cable. Meaning, in some cases, you have to tear other stuff up to get out the stuff you already knew was bad. Probably not something you're likely to see in the first 3-5 years of a laptop's use, but it grows increasingly more common after that. I personally have seen this happen in Toshibas.

If my guess is right, I'd say you have three options:

1. Repair it yourself (but warn your golfing buddies not to expect you back on the links again until spring time), or

2. Hire the local Geek Squad to repair it (but be prepared to spend what a used or refurbed example of the same laptop would cost), or

3.a. Switch the old HDD to an external USB enclosure, converting it into an external USB HDD, which preserves your personal data for easy transfer to the new PC, and also serves as super low-cost external storage, and
3.b(1). Mothball the rest to keep on hand as a potential organ donor in case something (different) fails on its twin, or
3.b(2). Donate the old one to (minus the HDD(s)) to Goodwill, and
3.c. Buy a new one.

Last edited by Fred_C_Dobbs; 12-27-13 at 04:16 PM.
Old 12-27-13, 04:31 PM
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Fred - thank you for the reply.

I bought two of the these (for my wife and I) from Newegg in November of 2010 so (to me) they don't seem too old.

I did see a tear down of this laptop on Youtube and although it seems intimidating I figure I can do it as I built my desktop computer from scratch.

I am trying to figure out how much is reasonable to spend for a mobo for a three year old $700 laptop.

Regarding heat, this laptop (my wife's) is on a greater portion of the day than it is off. It sat on a cooler on the floor by her chair so I wondered if the heat was caused by it being on so much and perhaps sucking up lint, dust and pet hair.

Being the considerate husband , I swapped SSDs so that she could continue computing along without a hiccup. For me it's either an old dual core Centrino laptop with wireless-G or my much faster desktop downstairs.

She would be fine with me buying a new laptop but with buying new Intel SSDs for the kids laptops and a bunch of new drives for my RAID-6 project, I really didn't want to buy a new laptop.

Does the replacement mobo need to be the exact model number replacement in order to simply reinstall my SSD and have everything work as normal?
Old 12-30-13, 08:44 AM
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It's darned tedious work, but it isn't especially "technical" and doesn't take any special skill or training. The biggest challenges, IMHO, are figuring out the order of disassembly, and learning how the different connectors and headers come apart. As silly as that sounds, many of them aren't used in any device other than a laptop, and they seem to be creating new ones whenever the mood strikes. So you aren't likely ever to have seen many of them before, and it isn't exactly obvious how many of them "un-snap."

I take two precautions to optimize my odds of getting a laptop back together properly. As I mentioned, I take a digital (macro) photo of every part I'm removing, before I touch it. This obviously is most useful if you have a second PC to view the digital pics on. Second, I start out with a stack of notebook paper and use a different sheet for each "layer" of components as a schematic for the screws. I draw the big parts just for orientation, then add a small circle where every screw is located. Then when I remove a screw, I put it on my 'map' in the small circle I drew specifically for it. This necessarily means the disassembly ends up spread out over 40 acres (I use the dining room table), but it assures I get every last fastener goes back in the same hole it came from.

I wouldn't expect a 3-year old laptop to be suffering from the exploding connector problem. And having switched from a SATA HDD to SSD also would have made heat less of a problem.

I recently autopsied a Toshiba Satellite desktop replacement with failed video. The cause of the failure was a clogged grating/heat sink on the fan that was supposed to be cooling the GPU. To make matters worse, it was an NVidia GPU that was so prone to overheating it precipitated a class action lawsuit. Unfortunately for the owner of this laptop, Toshiba had elected not to be part of that suit.

The clogged fan let the GPU cook. It was buried in the interior of the PC in a location that was inaccessible except through disassembly, so unless the laptop lived out its life in a lint-free environment, the clogging was inevitable. The grating on the fan that cooled the CPU was relatively clear. No clue why they should have been so different, unless it was something to do with differing airflow patterns.

The point of that story is that, since you have another identical laptop, it might be worth your while just to disassemble it, even if you have no plans to repair it, just to look for the "cause of death" and to see if your second unit might be at risk. The owner of that particular Toshiba opted to 'part it out' on eBay, mostly because it was on the order of 10 years old, and no new video cards were available for it, and probably would have been prohibitively expensive if there were. That GPU was problematic to begin with, which made a used replacement a bad risk. Not to mention the plastic headers for the wires to the PC speakers crumbled on disassembly. He sold most of the pieces parts for something over to $200, which took some of the bite out of the cost of its replacement.

If it's a model laptop I've never worked on before, my first step always is to search the Interwebs to see if someone has posted an illustrated guide (you're already ahead of me on that count). Searching for repair guides on that model number also should tell you whether there are alternative part numbers that are known work. It isn't unheard of for identical parts to be manufactured with more than one part number.

As for the cost, you can search eBay just using the laptop's model number printed on the outside of the case to get you in the ballpark. It might be that that particular model only ever was built with a single part number of motherboard, but that's not a lock. If you find the average asking price fits your budget, that might be incentive enough to convince you to tear it apart and confirm the part number.

I have no fear of refurbs from reputable companies. From a practical standpoint, parting out the old unit and buying a used or refurbed replacement probably is your best option. But since it's already broken, you can't make it any worse by attempting to repair it, so it presents a golden opportunity to advance your IT skill set. Which could come in handy if the wife's unit goes on the fritz.
Old 01-10-14, 12:06 AM
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it may be your motherboard or the vga

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