Using the Dell Diagnostics

  When to Use the Dell Diagnostics

  Features of the Dell Diagnostics

  Starting the Dell Diagnostics

When to Use the Dell Diagnostics

Whenever a major component or device in your computer does not function properly, you may have a component failure. If you are experiencing a problem with your Dell™ computer, perform the checks in "Solving Problems" and run the Dell Diagnostics before you call Dell for technical assistance. Running the Dell Diagnostics may help you to resolve the problem yourself quickly without having to contact Dell for assistance.

If you are experienced with computers and know what component(s) you need to test, select the appropriate diagnostic test group(s) or subtest(s). If you are unsure about how to begin diagnosing a problem, see "Starting the Dell Diagnostics."

Features of the Dell Diagnostics

The Dell Diagnostics helps you to check your computer hardware without any additional equipment and without destroying any data. By using the diagnostics, you can have confidence in the operation of your computer. If you find a problem that you cannot solve by yourself, the diagnostic tests can provide you with important information you need when talking to Dell's service and support personnel.

NOTICE: Use the Dell Diagnostics to test only your Dell computer. Using this program with other computers may cause incorrect computer responses or result in error messages.

The diagnostic test groups or subtests also have the following features:

Starting the Dell Diagnostics

The Dell Diagnostics is located on a hidden Diagnostic utility partition on your hard drive.

NOTE: If your computer cannot display a screen image, contact Dell.
  1. Shut down the computer.

  2. If the computer is connected to a docking device (docked), undock it. See the documentation that came with your docking device for instructions.

  3. Connect the computer to an electrical outlet.

NOTE: If you cannot see anything on your display, you can hold down the mute button and press the power button (instead of F12) to begin the Dell Diagnostics. You do not need to highlight Diagnostics and press <Enter>. The computer automatically runs the Pre-boot System Assessment.
  1. Turn on the computer. When the DELL™ logo appears, press <F12> immediately. If you wait too long and the Microsoft® Windows® logo appears, continue to wait until you see the Windows desktop. Then shut down your computer and try again.

  2. When the boot device list appears, highlight Diagnostics and press <Enter>.

The computer begins to run the Pre-boot System Assessment, a series of embedded diagnostics that perform initial testing on your system board, keyboard, hard drive, and display.

If the Pre-boot System Assessment completes successfully, you receive the message Booting Dell Diagnostic Utility Partition. Press any key to continue.

  1. Press any key to start the Dell Diagnostics from the Diagnostics utility partition on your hard drive.

  2. After the Dell Diagnostics loads and the Main Menu screen appears, click the button for the option you want.

NOTE: The Service Tag for your computer is located in the title bar of each screen.



Express Test

Performs a quick test of devices. The test typically takes 10 to 20 minutes and requires no interaction on your part. Run Express Test first to increase the possibility of tracing the problem quickly.

Extended Test

Performs a thorough check of devices. The test typically takes 1 hour or more and requires you to answer questions periodically.

Custom Test

Tests a specific device. You can customize the tests to be run.

Symptom Tree

Allows you to select tests based on a symptom of the problem you are experiencing. The option lists the most common symptoms.

  1. If a problem is encountered during a test, a message appears, displaying the error code and a description of the problem. Write down the error code and problem description and follow the instructions on the screen. If you cannot resolve the error condition, contact Dell.

  2. If you run a test from the Custom Test or Symptom Tree option, click the applicable tab described in the following table for more information.




Displays the results of the test and any error conditions encountered.


Displays error conditions encountered, error codes, and problem description.


Describes the test and may indicate requirements for running the test.


Displays your hardware configuration for the selected device.

The Dell Diagnostics obtains your configuration information for all devices from the system setup program, memory, and various internal tests and displays the information in the device list in the left pane of the screen. The device list may not display the names of all the components installed on your computer or all devices attached to your computer.


Allows you to customize the test by changing the test settings.

  1. When you have finished running a test, close the screen to return to the Main Menu screen. To exit the Dell Diagnostics and reboot the computer, close the Main Menu screen.

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