Laptop won't boot - no activity other than flashing power button & led

Discussion in 'Hardware Components and Aftermarket Upgrades' started by miloaisdua, Jul 12, 2020.

  1. miloaisdua

    miloaisdua Notebook Enthusiast

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    Hi, looking for some tips/pointers for further troubleshooting.

    My laptop won't boot. When powering on, the power button and power activity led would light up and immediately turn off. This flashing pattern repeats every ~5s and continues indefinitely until power is removed.

    I've tried disconnecting AC, battery and CMOS along with pressing and holding power button for >30s.

    I've also tried removing wlan card, ram, ssd, hdd, swapping ram dimms.

    The very last thing I did before the laptop wouldn't boot was to try changing active cores from 6->4 within bios then hitting f10 to apply and exit. Prior to that it was fine.

    It's a clevo p960rf with i7-9750h and rtx 2070 max-q.

    battery voltage and cmos voltages are fine. No prompt of 'no boot media detected' or similar when hdd is removed.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
  2. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox BGA Filth-Hating Elitist

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    It sounds like clearing the CMOS didn't really clear it. This can be difficult to accomplish on newer laptops. Certain settings get saved "permanently" and clearing NVRAM doesn't actually clear everything in terms of restoring factory defaults. Certain values are persistent once changed. This is one of the many things that suck about newer laptops. I wish we could go back to the old days when firmware was simple and nothing was ever permanent. It was much better the old way, before UEFI filth.

    The fastest and easiest (and perhaps ONLY) solution would be to use an SPI programmer to force flash firmware with defaults to the BIOS chip. You would need someone with the same system to dump their chip using an SPI programmer for a "dirty" flash or have someone prepare you a clean bin file that can be flashed using an SPI programmer.
     
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  3. miloaisdua

    miloaisdua Notebook Enthusiast

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    Thanks mr fox. I have been able to clear cmos before using the remove battery method and also the fn+d keys method. Not sure what’s different this time but will try hardware flashing.

    i’ve got a clean bios backup from before any changes were made. That should work with spi yeah? Do you have any links or guides you’d recommend for first time spi flasher? I ordered one previously and it’s coming in the mail soon. Have seen a few guides but they’re quite varied in tools and approaches.
     
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  4. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox BGA Filth-Hating Elitist

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    If you took a chip dump before that should be fine. It depends on how you made the backup.

    The important thing is to identify the chip correctly, and the SPI flasher may do it automatically. If not, get a magnifying glass that will allow you to read the tiny print on the chip to see which one it is. Read from firmware from the chip and save it just in case (even though the save settings are wrong).

    Is your Clevo the AMI or Insyde BIOS?
     
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  5. miloaisdua

    miloaisdua Notebook Enthusiast

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    Original backup was via fpt in windows. Have a bios-only dump and a full dump.

    Mine has the insyde bios.
     
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  6. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox BGA Filth-Hating Elitist

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    Let me see if I can find out if there is anything that would prevent you from using an SPI flasher with Insyde BIOS since I have not done that. I have only flashed AMI and GPU BIOS.
     
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  7. miloaisdua

    miloaisdua Notebook Enthusiast

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    Thanks in advance! Really appreciate the assistance. :)
     
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  8. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox BGA Filth-Hating Elitist

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    Sure, glad to help. I will reply back as soon as I find out, maybe later today but possibly tomorrow.
     
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  9. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox BGA Filth-Hating Elitist

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    That is not an option in the stock BIOS. It would not be an exposed menu option on a proper BIOS unlock.
    OK, you can use the SPI programmer. I was concerned that maybe Clevo has used Intel BIOS Guard cancer like Dell has, but they have not.

    Be very careful using unlocked BIOS hacks modded by amateurs as you can end up bricked again by applying settings that are not applicable to your system. That is what seems to have happened here. At the least, be ready with the SPI programmer and a clean firmware file ready for flashing, as you could end up needing it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
  10. miloaisdua

    miloaisdua Notebook Enthusiast

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    oh.. so you reckon that's why it won't boot. still curious about why it doesn't reset itself when all power is removed though. personally was quite baffled that after all the things i was doin to the laptop, its was this bios 1 setting change that got it stuck. In terms of the other changes, i wouldn't necessarily rule it out but i did have the laptop running a full day with multiple reboots prior to the last change to active cores. timeline of other changes:
    • cpu undervolt using throttlestop, gpu undervolt using afterburner. settings only apply after booting into OS and starting respective applications.
    • LM -> laptop has had LM for a couple of months now. i initally did it without barrier because i tried foam but didn't have the right type/thickness and had bad contact. i re-applied recently and did the kapton tape straw barrier when i saw your post on it.
    • mild mem OC -> my mixed ram sticks wouldn't tolerate much OC, got it from 2666->2800, have used it on this setting for 2 weeks
    • shunt mod -> 18-24 hours, survived multiple reboots. laptop gpu able to draw more than rated power but laptop ultimately power limited to ac adapter & platform power limit of 180w. reverted this as part of troubleshooting my 'can't boot' problem.
    • active cores: 6->4, part of my experimentation with shunt mod. was contemplating buying beefier ac adapter but in the meantime wanted to try limiting cpu power consumption so i can test out gfx limits with undervolt in afterburner. i did not physical move laptop before/during/after this setting change so not likely to be LM shorting anything. i also confirmed there was no LM leak as part of troubleshooting. laptop wouldn't boot immediately after saving this last setting.

    How i got the option to show up is i used h2oueve to set "Setup Menu Insyde Full Show" from hide to show. bios itself was unlocked (able to flash using fpt) but this setting wasn't visible prior to edit.

    good to know. and yeah i do see a bios setting for bios guard and it was disabled.

    i'm the amateur in this case *sheepish grin*. i'll definitely be more careful about what settings i meddle with after i recover it this time

    still waiting on my spi programmer. estimated delivery is next monday.

    was looking at this link on how to do it. is it really just clip it on and run a command providing my backup img file? https://www.win-raid.com/t4287f16-G...H-A-SPI-Programmer-Flasher-With-Pictures.html

    i do still need to find where the chip is on the mobo.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
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