Acer Predator G5 modding

Discussion in 'Acer' started by DRevan, Jan 6, 2019.

  1. DRevan

    DRevan Notebook Virtuoso

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    Hey guys!
    I have purchased an Acer Predator G5-793 laptop because my local Acer Shop was selling it rather cheap ($1150 including 27% sales tax, in the US it would have cost around $850) considering that this is a G-Sync laptop with non-MaxQ GTX 1060.

    After deeply inspecting the conclusion was that this laptop is almost the same as the much more expensive Acer Predator G9:
    - same motherboard (with different VGA soldered to it)
    - the case of the laptop is the same
    - several features have been removed to reduce cost

    Acer actually used a pretty eyerolling method at some parts to make the laptop "look cheaper", so I decided it is time to mod it :)

    Changing the factory installed RAM
    My model arrived with 1x 8 Gb 2400 Mhz CL17 memory, which is not the best option even for a laptop at the end of 2018.
    There are 4 RAM slots total on this motherboard, however the user can only access SLOTS 2 and 4 which are on the back of the motherboard:

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately the factory installed RAM is in slot 1, which is on the other side of the motherboard, so complete disassembly is required to remove it.
    I must warn everyone, removing the motherboard from this laptop is rather tricky and can be damaged easily.
    However removing it is mandatory for those who want to install faster RAM, because even with the factory BIOS, it supports up to 2666 Mhz @ CL15 ram modules.

    Unlocked BIOS
    The factory BIOS has most features locked (like as we can see with all laptops), however with the help of pythonic, I was able to get my hands on the unlocked variant of the currently available latest, version 1.14 Insyde BIOS.

    Unfortunately the BIOS is write protected so flashing from Windows is not possible and the only way to do it is directly flashing with an SPI programmer. Luckily unlike with the Acer Aspire A717-72G, Acer used a more common, "Winbond" chip here to store the rather large, 16 mb BIOS, so flashing it should be possible with cheaper SPI programmers too.

    Some "new menus" which the unlocked BIOS brings:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I mainly wanted the unlocked BIOS to undervolt from here, however unlike with other modded Insyde bioses, the undervolting feature does not work for me here (I apply a setting, but Windows does not detect it). Luckily the other features are working, so I was able to:
    1) setting the maximum turbo for each core to be max 3400 Mhz
    2) disabling power saving features of the CPU
    3) increasing CPU TDP
    4) overclocking the previously installed 2666 Mhz CL15 RAM to 2800 Mhz CL15

    RAMs working perfectly without error using the above settings:
    [​IMG]

    After running a few Fire Strike tests I can say that with disabling power saving features and setting the turbo for all cores to be the same resulted in the CPU frequency to be much more stable, it is not jumping around now and with the higher TDP it is now not power throttling.
    Before this the CPU score differed with each run and the difference was several hundred points in some cases, now however the difference is minimal, but even if there is any, it gains points instead of losing like before and now after several FS runs the CPU score did not drop below 10650.

    [​IMG]
    (These temps are after repasting)

    We also tried flashing a modded vBIOS. The default vBIOS is set at 78W TDP, so we tried to flash one with 120W TDP, however this failed. More on this later.

    Subwoofer
    The speakers built in these laptops are pretty good, they are much better quality than the ones used for example in the Alienware 17 R4. However the G9 has an extra: a subwoofer.
    Now, there is room for a subwoofer in the G5 and there is also a connector for it on it's motherboard.
    After checking it was confirmed that all 4 pins in the connector are connected to the sound chip, so technically is should work.
    So I ordered a subwoofer from Ebay and it got here pretty fast from Germany:

    [​IMG]

    After installing the subwoofer however we run into a problem: it was not working even though it was connected to the sound chip.
    Acer seems to have disabled the subwoofer somehow via software (probably somewhere in the BIOS).
    Installing the Audio driver released for the G9 did not help.

    However since this so called "subwoofer" is just a speaker with better bass, the problem was solved with bypassing the software limiation with connecting the subwoofer to the connector used for the speakers.
    All had to done is to extend the connector of the speakers to the subwoofer:

    [​IMG]

    Voálá! Now the subwoofer works ! And it makes quite a difference compared to the default speakers.
    However the problem is that Acer covered the subwoofer with tape and rubber on bottom panel, but nothing a little modding can't fix:)
    [​IMG]

    I even like this better than the G9's cheap looking red plastic:
    [​IMG]

    Backpanel lighting
    The G9 features backpanel lighting, however the G5 does not. Acer used a pretty simple trick here. They did not remove anything, no, instead they added an extra: they installed tape over the plastic where light should come out.
    This is how the G5 looks after removing the LCD panel:

    [​IMG]

    After removing some of the tape:
    [​IMG]

    The laptop also has a connector to disable the lights on the sides, however it is disconnected by default:
    [​IMG]

    After removing all unnecessary tape, the backpanel lighting now works:
    [​IMG]

    However I did not like the color, on the sides it was light red and the Predator logo in the middle was more like pink than red.
    However after adding some kapton tape, the colors are now more orange/yellow:

    [​IMG]

    Troubleshooting
    Seems there is a problem with an Audio driver (Which I am still trying to solve) and after each reboot, the "Dolby Audio" software turns off for 2-3 seconds and resets the settings to "Dynamic".

    There was also a problem with keyboard lighting. Predator Sense immediately registered fn+f9 keypress, however the the EC only registered every 5-10th keypress so the kb lighting only turned off/on after pressing the above buttons 5-10 times.
    Also, when booting the kb lighting:
    1) either did not completely turn on
    2) 1 or more zones did not turn on
    3) everything turned on

    After rebooting/starting for 2-3 hours the laptops died completely. It did not turn on. Power button and power led lighted up, but nothing happened, not even the fans turned on. The battery was charging so the BIOS was working.
    After carefully testing the problem was found. The reason why the kb was acting up and the reason why the laptop died after a few hours was:
    1) when we flashed the modded vBIOS we made a mistake. The vBIOS is stored in the system bios for this model and not a separate Winbond chip (like with the ASUS G752VM) so we succesfully flashed a modded vBIOS into the EC chip :)
    This was corrected (This is why ALWAYS make a backup!! :D) , however the laptop still not booted. Still power button and led were lighting but nothing happened, not even fans worked.
    The reason behind this that the CMOS battery somehow got damaged and short circuited the motherboard.
    So after changing the CMOS battery to a brand new one, the laptop finally came back to life and now all is working :)

    Hope my writing was useful for the community :)

    Thank you KillHates for making the above possible !

    Update
    Found the vBIOS!
    It is NOT stored in the system bios, it is on a separate Macronix MX25U4033E chip!
    Default TDP is 78W and with OC maximum graphics score I was able to get was 12200 points in Fire Strike.
    I have modded the vBIOS from 78W to 110W, now the max points have increased to 13561 ! Not bad compared to the factory default 11400 :)

    3DMark result: https://www.3dmark.com/3dm/32790660?

    Was a bit tricky to flash the modded vBIOS.
    An RT809F SPI programmer gave validation error when reading the factory vBIOS.
    Then we tried an TL866CS which was able to read and save the vBIOS to an 512 kb ROM file.

    However when writing the modded vBIOS (256 kb file saved with nvflash) the TL866CS gave write error.
    However RT809F was able to write and verify it.

    tl;dr: for saving an TL866CS was needed, for writing a RT809F :D

    ps: The new TDP after vBIOS mod (after running 1 Fire Strike test):

    [​IMG]

    TDP is a bit higher than the default 78W :D
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2019
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  2. Splintah

    Splintah Notebook Deity

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    good detail and I like the pictures thank you for posting
     
  3. vorob

    vorob Notebook Deity

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    Wow, that's interesting! G9 (593) owner here. Really interested in unlocked bios :)
     
  4. vorob

    vorob Notebook Deity

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    So can you give some more info on bios? Upload files and photos how you flashed it? Also, bios flashing app have a force mode. Won't it help?
     
  5. DRevan

    DRevan Notebook Virtuoso

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    For an unlocked BIOS check here:
    https://www.bios-mods.com/

    Warning !
    Flashing the modded bios via software is NOT possible! Only possible way to flash it is with an SPI programmer.
     
  6. low9

    low9 Notebook Consultant

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    With Msi Bios, it's possible to unlock it with "ru". Don't you think it's possible too?
     
  7. DRevan

    DRevan Notebook Virtuoso

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    MSI is using AMI BIOS while Acer is using Insyde BIOS.
     
  8. low9

    low9 Notebook Consultant

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    Totaly right, sorry.

    My old Acer laptop was using an insyde Bios (~2009). I didn't think it was still the same :)
     
  9. vorob

    vorob Notebook Deity

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    Wish you post some more photos of internals. How you worked with SPI and to open screen...
     
  10. DRevan

    DRevan Notebook Virtuoso

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    Sorry, no more photos as of yet and will only open it again next week when I make another attempt on unlocking the vbios tdp.

    The bios chip is on the other side of the motherboard (under the keyboard), so it's not like most laptops .

    To open the screen just pop off the frame around the screen. There are no screws.
    However be careful, Acer used a small amount of glue on the left and right side so if you are not careful you might break the frame !
     
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