Alienware M18xR2 - Weird "green lines" on screen

Discussion in 'Alienware 18 and M18x' started by Vahal, Sep 20, 2021.

  1. Vahal

    Vahal Notebook Enthusiast

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    Hi everyone,

    I own a m18xR2 since 2013, and after multiple problems (crossfire, keyboard, hdd caddy), i managed to get it working by :
    - using only one gpu (7970m) to solve the crossfire problem
    - buying a msata and a hdd caddy for the "optical drive place" to solve the hdd caddy problem
    - using wireless keyboard to solve the keyboard problem

    I run unlocked bios and Kubuntu 20.04 and everything worked until a few weeks, when it crashes in game, and i couldn't boot it again on the PEG.

    If i boot on internal GPU, everything work fine, but on PEG (7970m), i can't boot, and i see green lines on screen during Alienware Splash screen, or even in recovery mode. I try Windows 10 usb installer, and i see also these green lines.

    I thought my GPU was dead, but when I tried to switch it by using the one I kept in a box (the other 7970m), the same problem appears.

    So I guess my problem is linked to the motherboard... :(

    Is that the end for my old m18xR2 ?
     
  2. Maxware79

    Maxware79 Notebook Deity

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    It's quite possible that both GPU's are bad and have the same issue. The first one sounds like it was already bad since it wouldn't let crossfire work. The cheapest way to test would be to grab a cheap GTX 660M and see if the issue is still there.
    What was the issue with the HDD caddy? They are pretty fragile and tend to crack if you bend them too much
     
  3. Vahal

    Vahal Notebook Enthusiast

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    Ty for your answer.

    I bought this M18xR2 in 2013, and I had issue with sound and Dell send a technician at my house in 2015. The technician broke everything, and after a few interventions, Dell replaced my M18xR2 with a realy poor 17 R2 (2015) that I sold quickly.

    After a few years (early 2018), Dell never take back this M18xR2, so i decided to try to fix it.

    When I first disassemble it, I saw that a lot of cable were missplugged, so I fix it easily by plugging the cable correctly, except for the 3 parts i mentionnend above :
    - the hdd caddy was "cracked", so no more hdd => fix with a msata, then with another hdd in a caddy installed instead of the optical drive
    - some keyboard keys did'nt work anymore => fix with a wireless keyboard
    - crossfire gives artifact when enabled in windows => fix by using only one gpu, i tried both in primary slot and they were both working in games

    With these fix, everything works like a charm on Windows 10 until the beginning of 2021, when i was bored of Windows updates on this "secondary" computer, and i decided to give Ubuntu a chance.

    I used Lutris + Steam on linux and every game I played on Ubuntu worked better on Linux than on Windows, because open source amd drivers are better on Linux than AMD proprietary one on Windows (not maintained anymore for the 7970m since 2015).

    So I enjoyed Ubuntu, until 2 weeks ago when it crashed.

    Maybe both GPU are bad, but I used them both in 2018, and both were working, except the crossfire part, but i thought this was a motherboard problem.

    If I decide to try with a nvidia card, i think I have to change the heatsink, or at least, the x-bracket ?

    I was thinking of buying a quadro p4000 for a real upgrade, but I'm not sure the investment is worth it...

    Is there any other way to test my cards ?
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2021
  4. Maxware79

    Maxware79 Notebook Deity

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    Sounds like another horror case of a Dell 'technician'. They usually are just local repair store idiots who have no idea what they're doing.

    The other way to test your GPU's is to find another MXM laptop.
    You can use the AMD heatsink without any issues but you may just have to remove the black plastic sticker that sits on the heatsink plate. If you buy a second hand 660M then the X-bracket should come with it. They are usually quite cheap and you can always sell it again later once you've used it for testing.

    It's definitely still possible that it's the motherboard but these old MXM GPU's are far more fragile than the boards they used in the M18x.

    A GPU upgrade is an investment that you'll have to decide for yourself but you'd definitely want to confirm that the board is ok first. If you really love the M18x (like many of us still do) then I'd go for it, if you can afford it. I had a GTX 1070 in mine but I recently sold the card.

    You can replace the HDD ribbon cable but they can be expensive, keyboards are getting harder to find too, depending on the language you want.

    Motherboards are still quite expensive so if yours is bad then it may not be worth fixing. If you do want some parts then I could possibly help you out.
     
  5. Vahal

    Vahal Notebook Enthusiast

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  6. ssj92

    ssj92 Neutron Star

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    The 8970M will work, even in crossfire I think in M18xR2 (using same heatsink and cable as 7970m). Not sure if they are much more reliable than 7970m (probably are).

    W7170M don't bother with. Will not work.

    M4000M is a good option, I have one ordered for my M15x. Although to be honest I'd spend a little more for 1060, 1070 or P4000 for a machine like this (they all work in SG mode only).

    You can check eBay as well sometimes there's good prices there too.

    Do you see green lines at all during iGPU only mode? If not it is most likely the GPUs. MB on M18xR2 is pretty good.
     
  7. Vahal

    Vahal Notebook Enthusiast

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    I don't have green lines on IGPU, so all indicates that both 7970M are bad, except that they were both working when I put the second in a box in 2018... So I don't understand...

    If I buy a new GPU, I'm going to contradict what I wrote above, but considering the performance/price ratio, I think I'll go for a m4000m at 100-115€. 1060, 1070 and p4000 are too expensive for me, they are at least three times expensive.

    Can I buy any M4000M ? Or is there anything I need to focus on before buying ?

    Edit : M4000M seems to be well supported on Ubuntu, ans has a good compatibility with Vulkan. So it's a real upgrade for me, and at a very low cost.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2021
  8. Azther

    Azther Notebook Consultant

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    The M4000M if its anything like newer Quadros, should be plug and play. Only thing you might have to do is reuse the X-Bracket off your old GPU so the heatsink fits right. As far as your keyboard issue is concerned, if your ok with a US layout, the Greek M17x R4 Keyboard or any M17x R4 keyboard for that matter works with the M18x R2.
     
  9. ssj92

    ssj92 Neutron Star

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    In windows M4000M might require INF mod but that's it. Should be plug n play heatsink / x-bracket wise.

    In Linux I am not sure but should be plug n play
     
  10. Vahal

    Vahal Notebook Enthusiast

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    I ordered a M4000M yesterday from a seller where a feedback said it worked with a M15x.

    I'll comme back to you when I receive it and install it, hoping that it would be plug & play on Ubuntu.

    Thanks for the help :)
     
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