Pc Flashing Cursor At Top Left Hand Corner Of Screen

I have a dell dimension 3000 (circa early 2006) running windows xp home. Yesterday when i booted it up i got the dell bios screen and then nothing but a flashing cursor at the top left hand corner of the screen. After cursing profusely, i started tinkering with connectors and such to no avail. After a couple of hours of that not working i pulled all of the peripherals off of the back with the exception of video and booted and didn't it boot up to the windows login screen! I tried to plug my mouse back in but it appears that all but one of the usb ports on the back don't work and that didn't seem to respond. Has anyone ever seen something like this before?

When this all started happening i thought the hard drive might have died but the fact that it will boot up under certain conditions leads me to believe the hdd is still living. At this point i'm thinking that i might be looking at a bad motherboard or power supply. Are those reasonable assumptions? I looked up at the specs online and the darn thing only has a 250w psu in it.

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Black Screen With A Flashing White Cursor In The Top Left

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When i first boot up my comp, from having it completely powered down (not rebooted), it goes through the mobo screen, then sits on a black screen with a flashing white cursor in the top left. This stays there for nearly a minute, then white text will appear stating "improper boot disc blah blah blah" as if i didn't have a harddrive plugged in. I proceed to hit the reset button, it goes through the mobo screen, and again it will sit on the blinking cursor for nearly a minute. But this time around, instead of giving me the improper boot disc message, it proceeds to windows start-up. Now, lets say i'm in windows, and i reboot my computer, the same thing happens. The only time i get the improper boot disc message, is when my computer is first booted up from a powered-down state. It almost seems as if the hard drive has to "warm up". Is this a sign my hard drive might be dieing? Now onto my second problem. When i run dvd's on my computer (or the dvd edition of bf2 ) it makes a repetitive clicking noise, one click per second. Sometimes i can't watch dvd movies, sometimes i can. My bf2 dvd works fine. Dvd-rom dieing? Its 1 1/2 year old, and generic.

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