Alienware M17x R5 8 Beeps

Discussion in 'Alienware 17 and M17x' started by Bartlett, May 31, 2018.

  1. Bartlett

    Bartlett The Prophet

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    Hello all,

    This is my first post in over three years! Just the other day, my laptop randomly shutoff while playing a video game. Neither my CPU nor GPU temperatures were above 80C, so I knew it was not due to heat. The laptop actually did this same thing about a week ago, but this time it wouldn't POST. Unfortunately, when it happened in the previous week, Event Viewer did not provide any diagnostic information. So, I simply shrugged it off and hoped that it wouldn't happen again. The laptop is over 4 years old and has seen quite a bit of use, so I wouldn't be too mad if it went south.

    Prior to all of this, I've had my display driver randomly stop working, even when not playing video games. This occurred for months, about once or twice a week. I figured it could be due to my undervolting and underclocking, which I did to counteract the heat. But, I felt it odd for this to occur a couple of years later. Additionally, my LCD would make a louder noise when waking from sleep. Perhaps it was normal, or perhaps it was another sign of impending LCD failure.

    Before I began disassembling the laptop, I looked for information on beep codes. Unfortunately, that information was limited and hard-to-find. But, based on 1 forum post by a Dell employee in their support forums, it seemed like my 8 beeps were due to an LCD failure. But, I wanted to confirm this.

    I first wanted to reset the CMOS. Fortunately, the coin cell battery is literally in the worst possible spot. Thank you Dell! Once I finally was able to slightly dislodge the battery, I held the power button for 1 minute. After re-seating the battery, upon turning on the laptop, nothing happened...after 30 minutes of troubleshooting, I learned about another flaw of this laptop: if your card reader ribbon cable isn't connected (mine was loose), your laptop won't turn on. Awesome :)

    Once I got that sorted, it finally turned on and I got 5 beeps. This was concerning a CMOS issue. Apparently you can't just turn on the computer 10 seconds after re-seating the CMOS battery :p

    After another minute, it turned on and resumed beeping 8 times. I then tried removing the GPU, running the LCD in the other connector (no idea what that other one is there for), and disconnecting the LCD entirely. I also tried plugging in the HDMI cable, and holding FN (or D) while powering on the laptop. I did a combination of these things, all of which resulted in either the laptop not turning on or beeping 8 times. So, in my eyes, I confirmed that it is likely the LCD.

    I just bought one for $100 with next-day shipping on Amazon and it arrives tomorrow. It's an LP173WF1 (hopefully). And hopefully it's matte and not glossy. If it works, I'll be satisfied and will wait until the 1080M successor is released before considering buying another Alienware. If it doesn't work, I may want to just buy another one this weekend. If so, does anyone know of any great deals going on, or about to go on, for Alienware 17s? I got 20% off via Dell Preferred? many years ago.

    Regardless, hopefully this information may be helpful for fellow M17x owners!

    -Bartlett
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2018
  2. TheReciever

    TheReciever D! For Dragon!

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    Considering you have had issue with the driver crashing its leading me to think the GPU was failing. 8 beeps from what I understand points to 3 potential points of failure.

    GPU
    Motherboard
    LCD

    Though in almost every instance I never saw the LCD actually being the issue after diagnosis. It was more often the motherboard less often the GPU. This is only based on what I had seen when I had 8 beeps on mine a couple of months ago after switching the LCD panel from the 60hz LVDS to 120hz eDP.

    Draining the power is a pain, so I cut off the metal guard for the CMOS battery.

    Though I didnt have to in my trials, you may need to remove some RAM to prompt a hardware change and enable post.

    In my instance I had to remove the AC power, battery and hold the power button for 30 seconds. Then plug in AC power without battery and turn on.

    If you have the 60hz LVDS panel then you can just remove the GPU and try starting the machine to see if it will post. If not, then I would vote in that its a bad motherboard.
     
  3. Bartlett

    Bartlett The Prophet

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    Hopefully the GPU or motherboard is not the case. I'm fairly certain it's not the GPU, because with it removed and with the CMOS reset, (PC beeping 5 times does it, right?), it would then continue beeping 8 times. I didn't bridge the CMOS jumpers though. Do I still need to, in order to truly reset the CMOS?

    And even though the LCD backlight comes on, can it still be the LCD at fault?

    If it's my motherboard, then that's just a big PIA and I probably won't bother. I don't understand how the same beep code can point to those 3 potential things though lol.

    Also, is there a specific protocol to follow for hooking up an external monitor in this case?

    Btw, when pressing caps lock, the caps lock and network lights come on and off. I imagine that's a good sign.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2018
  4. Danishblunt

    Danishblunt Notebook Virtuoso

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    It's important to note, just because the GPU temps are fine doesn't mean that the other components are having a good time. Due to the fact that your notebook apparently shutdown on you, makes me believe this is likely a GPU or Motherboard issue, but then again,considering how fickle AW notebooks can be, you might just have to much dust on the mainboard for all we know. When it comes to Alienware, it behaves however it feels like in many cases.

    Make a full dissassembly, clearn out the components completely, assemble it, try again, many times this has fixed the issues on Alienware notebooks.
     
  5. TheReciever

    TheReciever D! For Dragon!

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    I dont really understand the "bridge the cmos" portion, you mean to reconnect?

    When I had 8 beeps the LCD backlight would also still initialize like it always does pre-POST but would be stuck with the 8 beeps.

    The reason why the 3 components could point to the 3 items I mentioned is because they are all responsible for driving the display. GPU drives info through the mobo to the LCD.

    You said you tried booting without the GPU installed? Then I would say it wasnt the catalyst for the issue. That leaves Motherboard and LCD to test.

    You will want to remove the CMOS battery as well for power drain. I apologize for not including that in my previous post. Your right in that your goal is to get 5 beep code and then reboot again

    Generally using an external monitor is used for testing a new card that doesnt work yet with the onboard LCD (to install drivers or alter vBIOS etc) so if you have one you can give it a shot but personally dont think it would lead to any clues, no harm in trying though...

    The Ranger is a good machine, last of the socket laptops before Alienware fully went down the drain in QC / QA problems.
     
  6. Bartlett

    Bartlett The Prophet

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    Thanks, I'll consider cleaning it!

    Okay, so apparently Dell's website is screwed up because upon entering my service tag the other day, it said I had an M17x R5. Today, I enter my service tag again and it says I have an Alienware 17 R2...According to my configuration, I have an Alienware 17 R1. It's been so long, I legitimately forgot the model and couldn't find any info in my email inbox. Next to my service tag, it just says M17x. Any ideas?

    Edit: after some research, it looks like I have an Alienware 17 R1, AKA M17x R5 Ranger (same one as you, I am now realizing :p )

    And I just got my LCD. I guess they sent me one for the M17x R3 because it has the entire faceplate/backing...ffs...either way, with just the LCD cable connected, the screen did not turn on. No backlight. Maybe compatibility issues?

    Hmm, so you had the backlight initialize as well. But, what about the caps lock, num lock, and hard drive icons lighting up upon pressing caps lock?

    When I power drained the laptop, I simply removed the CMOS battery and held the power button for 30 seconds. Then, I re-seated the CMOS battery, connected AC power, and booted it up. I was presented with 5 beeps. I then turned it off, waited 30 seconds, and rebooted. This time, I was presented with 8 beeps.

    And by bridging the CMOS, I meant that I wanted to know if I needed to move any jumper pins to "truly reset" the CMOS? But, I guess 5 beeps = it was truly reset?

    And I tried hooking up my TV to my laptop, via HDMI, without the graphics card in. I also tried it without the LCD plugged in. Was I supposed to see something on the TV screen? Because despite booting up several times, I didn't see anything. BUT, the TV did "see" a 1080p signal when I would turn it on. Perhaps this means it's the motherboard after all?

    Also, is there a way to flash BIOS like this?
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2018
  7. TheReciever

    TheReciever D! For Dragon!

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    Based on the hardware you listed you have the Alienware 17 Ranger R1, there is no doubt about that. The R2 was "similar" but they are all soldered, and had terrible crippling issues on a lot of them. It was also known as the M17x R5 but thats a false moniker, especially after the AW17 R5 has been released.

    Probably compatibility issue, I wouldnt think the R3 screen would work with out AW17 R1 platform. There are only 3 screens that work with the Ranger. The 60hz LVDS panel you have, the 120hz eDP panel I have, and the 8bit/120hz/1080p panel from recent MSI laptops. (Ours are 6-bit panels)

    Caps lock and other icons on the palmrest should work as norm, and are basic functions that I believe will work regardless. After all it could just be that the ability to drive the LCD failed and everything else on the mobo is fine.

    You also need to remove the battery as well, otherwise it will not be completely drained, its likely you did this and just forget to include it in your response but just mentioning just in case.

    5 beeps is a reset, im not aware of any jumper pins, there could be some but I am ignorant to that attribute.

    Im not sure if there is a way to flash the BIOS like that but I am aware of an emergency BIOS flash procedure. If you search the Alienware 17 forums, you will find it in the first few pages or so.

    I would try plugging in the LVDS screen and then plug into your TV without the GPU to see if there is any change in behavior. I dont imagine the laptop would boot without the screen plugged in but I never ran the scenario before so I could be wrong.

    If you have a dremel, I would cut off the cage that blocks the CMOS battery, its a serious PITA to tear down the laptop to get to it otherwise.

    This laptop is still worth holding onto, you can upgrade it with the MSI 1070 8GB with some modding to the chassis. Kind of pricey but well worth it if you like your laptop. That said I dont know how much R1 Mobo's go for...
     
  8. Bartlett

    Bartlett The Prophet

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    Hmm, if the quality on the immediate R1 successors have been bad, how's it looking for the later model R4 or R5?

    And yep, all my testing has been with the battery removed :p

    In terms of blind flashing, I did encounter an older post from 2009 that didn't seem valid anymore. So, I guess I'll have to do more searching because I do want to try blind flashing, just as another troubleshooting measure.

    And yeah, I probably should've cut out the CMOS cage. I somehow have been able to get the battery dislodged without doing that though. But, it's pretty loose now. So, I've had to secure it with a small piece of sponge that I just put in/pull out with a pair of tweezers.

    And I'd certainly like to keep this laptop because it has enough performance for me at the moment, and I want to wait until the 1180? comes out.

    So, at this point: I'll try blind flashing, and I'll order another LCD (this time hopefully the correct one).
     
  9. TheReciever

    TheReciever D! For Dragon!

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    They have issues all the way up to the R4, I havent looked at the R5 much.

    No there is a thread in the Alienware 17x / 17 sub forum for emergency flash procedures dated this year. Should only be a few pages back.

    It would be nice to be able to use something from Ampere generation in our laptops but if not ill be happy with the 1070. I had been using bare minimum hardware for a while now so ill be happy with that when I ever get there lol
     
  10. Bartlett

    Bartlett The Prophet

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    I believe this is the post?

    Also, are you thinking we could upgrade to the 1070 in our R1s?

    I just bought an LCD, this time from laptopscreen.com. Hopefully, this works!

    If not, after some thinking, it probably makes sense for me to try replacing the motherboard. I really wanted to keep this computer as-is for another 1-2 years, and I'd rather not buy a laptop right now with a 10xx series Nvidia GPU when they are basically 2 years old.
     
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