Question Toshiba Laptop Won't Start - Black Screen Is The New Normal

Jan 13, 2021
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I'm sorry if some of you have seen this on another forum, but I'm at my wits' end.

This is about an old Tosh Satellite Pro L450D which was stuck at the back of a cupboard and I'm now trying to inject life into it again because my elderly dad needs a basic laptop for Zoom and browsing.

When I first dusted it down and booted it (Win 7 installed), all went well no problems, but the following day when I tried again, I had the black screen of death - not even a dim image on the screen.
Google pointed me to the usual remedies which I tried many times:
  • Remove power and battery, power button pressed down, then various reboot protocols using the shift and f8 and f5 buttons. Nothing worked.
  • Removed the RAM (2 x 2GB sticks) and tried again. Nope.
  • Plugged into a monitor - nothing
At this point I'd concluded it was likely the graphics chip, so I ordered and installed a cheap refurbed Mobo - still no result. (There followed a short bout of screaming, but since lockdown our neighbours have all grown used to it.)

On close inspection it seemed that there was a signal from the VGA port - the external monitor wasn't displaying the "no signal" warning - so the graphics chip was doing something, even if it was just sending a blank screen.

When I pressed power, the hard drive leaps into action, but within a second it stops, and the only sign of life is the CPU fan and the PSU and "on" green lights. With the battery installed the battery light is red. I tested starting with and without the battery and PSU (a Toshiba PSU)

All this led me to think that perhaps the battery/PSU is my problem especially after I cooled the battery in the refrigerator, reinstalled in the laptop and tried to start it, without the HDD installed (to conserve power) - and lo! the Toshiba BIOS splash screen appeared which was progress. But things didn't go much further.

Thus encouraged I bought a new battery, and tried again with the HDD installed. And this time I got all the way to the Windows splash screen, then the spinner and then a permanent black screen. Obviously tried again with the charger plugged in and so many combinations with nothing happening.

Fiddling around switching off, on, with/without the HDD I can sometimes get the BIOS to run, but then nothing. The fan is cycling 20 seconds on, then off for a while, then it comes on again. I'm getting to the stage that these procedures seem like rituals and I'm not sure they're really telling me anything.

In conclusion - I don't think it can be the motherboard - that's been replaced with not much in the way of a change. The battery is new. Removing the RAM and changing it for other sticks makes no difference. As fan of that old show House, I'm pretty sure it's not lupus - so are we now suspecting the CPU? Anyone seen anything like this before and discovered the cause? I am reluctant to throw more money at this without a bit more confidence in the diagnosis.
Thanks :)
 
Jan 13, 2021
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LATEST: I took the whole thing to bits again, removed the processor, inspected it - looks OK, no broken pins; blew out the socket holes, refitted with fresh heat sink paste, changed the HDD for an old one with Debian on it and reassembled. On switch on I got all the way through to the user interface - all normal. Great! Except my old dad won't know waht to do with Debian, so powered down, then changed the HDD for the original HDD with Windows. Nothing - black screen - same as before. Refitted the Debian HDD - nothing, same as before.
Now going outside for some fresh air. I may be some time.
 

Kflowers81

Reputable
Dec 18, 2016
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So did I understand that when u put the hdd with Debian it worked? Then when u had no luck with the windows hdd and you put the Debian hdd in the 2nd time did it run Debian? :unsure:
 
Jan 13, 2021
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After rebuilding (removing the CPU, regreasing, reassembling) - then yes, it booted with Debian. I powered down, and replaced the Debian HDD with the Windows HDD, and it would't boot. So I went back and reinstalled the Debian HDD and it still wouldn't boot. So no, not the second time with Debian. Through all this I was turning the laptop over and back again, as you do.
UPDATE: I left it sitting on the kitchen table for an hour switched off while I undertook self medication with tea and biscuits/cookies (I'm a Brit). Tried again and Debian came to life. So then I left it for five minutes switched on, then powered down, and immediately tried to power on, but back to the black screen and nothing. So this sounds like a thermal problem doesn't it?
 
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Jan 13, 2021
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I appreciate that this isn't very interesting, but if anyone is following, this is the status:

In attempts to isolate the problem, this laptop has had the Mobo, CPU, SODIMMs all changed plus a new battery.
Occasionally I can get to boot, but usually only when there's been some surgery: eg when I've changed the HDD for another one. Invariably the machine will not boot a second time consecutively after a first successful boot. Also, I've had slightly more success with the shift-f8-power and fn-f5-power keypress start protocols, but I have no idea what this is doing.

I can't think of an explanation for all this weirdness: perhaps it's a daughterboard problem somewhere. Whatever is happening, happens very quickly at power on - in the first second or so. So - normally, what is happening in the startup process that gets interrupted, and is there a way to test?
 

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