Today I was working on my Dell XPS Gen 3 (new in January 2005) and suddenly there was a "pop" noise and the monitor displayed its "off mode in 5 seconds" message which normally appears when the system goes into power saving mode.
When I try to reboot here's what happens. First the Dell logo screen appears with the Dell logo and Pentium 4 box looking normal, but all text on the screen is garbage. Then the raid screen should appear but it is just all xxoovv garbage. Then the black Windows XP loading screen appears and it looks fine, but after a short time of watching the blue boxes moving across the banner the screen goes blank and the monitor goes into power saving mode ("off mode in 5 seconds").
When rebooting I have tried F2 for the bios, F8 for safe mode, and F12 for Dell diagnostics but in each case I just get a complete screen of garbage.
The four diagnostic lights on the back of the pc are all green so there's no indication there of what is wrong. The power light on the front of the pc shows green while the pc is attempting to boot but then goes out when the process stops.
I have not recently changed any hardware or software, the surge protector seems fine, and the pc was working perfectly until the "pop".
I would be very grateful for any suggestions of what might be wrong - cpu??? motherboard??? or ???