FirePro w7170m, testing install in Precision M6600

Discussion in 'Dell Latitude, Vostro, and Precision' started by toastofman, Jun 27, 2021.

  1. toastofman

    toastofman Notebook Guru

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    Hello all! I got the idea for this swap from Receiver, who was interested in the card long ago, but price was a big limiting factor so it never happened before Receiver switched out to a newer laptop. Credit where credit is due!

    But as the title states, the FirePro w7170m is the swap-target. It is a 4gb card with a good amount of shaders running at a bit lower of a speed, based on the GCN 1.2 architecture. The card came in the Dell Precision 7710, and is reported to output via LVDS, so as Receiver said, it MIGHT work. It certainly has a better chance of working than the Nvidia cards, seeing as how the bios of the M6600 is... picky. A lot of the newer Nvidia cards also use eDP instead of LVDS, so that presents more trouble for the M6600 as well. But due to the further reaching compatibility of AMD cards I decided to try it out!

    So far, I have the MXM in hand, and the heatsink from the m6100 that it used. I'll upload pictures soon of the card, and lay out the plan to shim the memory/VRM area! Hopefully the pictures make it clear that the difference in the die stack is pretty high. Stay tuned!

    EDIT: The card is in fact eDP, and not LVDS. The only laptops that this card was offered in were eDP-only Dell laptops, and while there are some different vbioses floating around, none of them reconfigure the card to output via LVDS. The card DOES work via external display through the M6600's HDMI, so I suppose it could be used as a low-budget gaming HTPC. The on-board display panel will not activate with it though.

    Maybe my understanding of this isn't what it should be to attempt this kind of thing, so if anyone has a good idea of how it could maybe work, don't hesitate to message me or reply to the thread. For now, I'll consider it a failed test, and just say that the w7170m is not compatible with the M6600 as a laptop.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2021
  2. nforce4max

    nforce4max Notebook Consultant

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    Got this card installed in two m6700s and have to say that it is a much better card than the m6100 by country miles plus it runs cooler due to the lower power density (large die). That said you are in for a surprise once you try to install the heatsink as sometimes it can be pretty tight.
     
  3. toastofman

    toastofman Notebook Guru

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    OK. Pre-disassembly picture of the m6100 and how it fits together.

    [​IMG]

    I didn't like the angle so I tried again. It was worse.

    [​IMG]

    The back of the card!

    [​IMG]

    Side by side of the 2 cards.

    [​IMG]

    Die package height of the m6100...

    [​IMG]

    ... and of the w7170m.

    [​IMG]

    m6100.

    [​IMG]

    w7170m.

    [​IMG]

    Cool!

    [​IMG]

    Mounting it is wonky. The die package height is way taller, and so I thought I'd try to whip up some sort of spacer before shimming anything.

    [​IMG]

    With the cost of doing this, I really want a spacer to even out mounting pressure a bit more. This was my idea. Start with these single-side-adhesive plastic washers.

    [​IMG]

    Attach them...

    [​IMG]

    ... and build up the heatsink side with nylon and teflon washers.

    [​IMG]

    With a *LOOSE* pressure mounting job after the washers, this is the gap between the VRAM and the heatsink plate for the VRAM.

    [​IMG]

    I'm definitely gonna want to shim this, because I think to get good contact the pads will have to be in the neighborhood of 3mm. I don't like that!

    [​IMG]

    With light uneven mounting pressure, I wanted to look at contact. This was contact with said mounting, and while not perfect, once I get the spacers on and dialed in a bit, it will probably fit a lot better!

    That said, the 3-washer (plastic/nylon/teflon) spacer did not work! I'd need about 3-4 more washers to actually get the stack as high as I want it. That is, to be able to tension the screws up and not have the board deform and break contact with the MXM slot or break the board itself. I'm off to the hardware store to look for a skinny plastic straw-type material that I can slice into donuts and put on as a semi-rigid and non-conductive spacer.
     
  4. toastofman

    toastofman Notebook Guru

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    Also, does anyone have the AMD equivalent heatsink? I researched and found out that this particular part number of heatsink is used for the Nvidia graphics cards. I then did as much research as I could and honestly wasn't able to discern a difference in the AMD and Nvidia heatsinks. It could be that the pictures that exist are so low resolution, they don't tell the whole story, but they honestly look identical.

    So if someone reading this has the AMD heatsink for the M6600 (only that model, the M6700 has 3 different heatsinks and the entire thing is designed a bit different), would it be possible for me to get a close-up of the cleaned-off die contact area?
     
  5. nforce4max

    nforce4max Notebook Consultant

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  6. toastofman

    toastofman Notebook Guru

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    Went to the hardware store. Found this nylon tube, its pretty thick, so I decided to use it for the spacers.

    [​IMG]

    Shaping them up.

    [​IMG]

    4 made up, ended being no contact so I had to shave them down.

    [​IMG]

    That above pic was AFTER installing it. I mean, ZERO contact. Too tall! So, I shaved them down more.

    [​IMG]

    After install, actual contact! Good deal. But if you look, it is still uneven contact.

    [​IMG]

    Heatsink contact. Not great.

    [​IMG]

    This is one of the 2 on the side I shaved down.

    [​IMG]

    After shaving the 2 down more, installing, and seeing contact, this was the result.

    [​IMG]

    Much better! I can live with this.

    [​IMG]

    Upon reassembly, I don't know if I screwed something up or what, but it will only output via rear HDMI. But, it does work! The BIOS says it is an unknown card, and the fan wont spin over 30% speed, but it runs at rated clock speed and cruised through a non-logged benchmark of Unigine Valley. Shows up as a R9 M390X, and topped out at about 75C after idle-running Valley for about 4-5 minutes.

    Still, my next step is to figure out how I messed up the main display. It won't output to it so I'm hosed on the actual laptop part of the thing! But, I have to DDU the system to set up the new drivers. After that, I guess I'll start trying other things.
     
  7. toastofman

    toastofman Notebook Guru

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    DDU did not work to restore the panel. It games pretty well though, so if I can get the panel to work, this would be great! Open to suggestions. So far, it is 100% recognized and is running like it should. As I said, I can't adjust the fanspeed with AMD software, but still. I think I messed something up with the panel though, not certain what to do next!
     
  8. toastofman

    toastofman Notebook Guru

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    After updates, more tinkering, there is still no reaction with the panel of the laptop. I guess I'll buy a set of cables from eBay and try to swap them in. Maybe the original ones gave way when I disconnected them.

    Still works perfectly with the hdmi and an external monitor though! Just think I need to downgrade to an older AMD software version so maybe I can set a fan curve.
     
  9. toastofman

    toastofman Notebook Guru

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    More research done today. I also examined the connector for the panel very closely and it appears to have no damage. After that, my research from looking found Aaron from this site saying that every Precision 7710 was shipped with an eDP panel, meaning the w7170m is most likely an eDP outputting card, contrary to what I had seen.

    I have some questions to anyone who might read this.
    1) Is it possible that the card outputs both eDP and LVDS? If so, how do I switch it? Can I get a different vBIOS that will make it output to LVDS?
    2) If not, can I put an eDP panel from a M6700 or M6800 in my machine and get it to work?
    3) Can I just convert the connector on my panel to hook onto the eDP port on the motherboard (the M6600 looks like it has both eDP and LVDS connectors on the motherboard).
    4) What else can I try short of buying a new laptop to get it to work?

    I'm happy it works as well as it does, and it was RELATIVELY problem-free to install. It's just, if I'm barking up the eDP vs LVDS tree and there is no solution, well... That's a bummer!
     
  10. Aaron44126

    Aaron44126 Notebook Prophet

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    1. If the card supports LVDS, but it is not working in your system, swapping out the vBIOS is probably the best place to start.
    2. M6600 has an eDP port for the 10-bit IPS display panel. The IPS panel works with NVIDIA GPUs only. I'm not sure if AMD cards of the day didn't support the necessary output format, or if there is some sort of BIOS or hardware limitation. Installing the IPS display requires lots of parts other than just the panel. http://forum.notebookreview.com/thr...display-diy-upgrade-conversion-thread.686517/ M6700 also had an eDP 3D/120Hz display which would probably fit in the M6600 (also NVIDIA-only, same caveats). It requires less in the way of extra parts to install, I think you still need to replace the display enclosure though (it is thicker). Modern eDP panels will not fit.
    3. If you have an LVDS panel, there is no way it's going to work off of an eDP port, the signal types are completely different.
     

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