M18x R1 with bricked m290x - What options do I have for reflash?

Discussion in 'Alienware 18 and M18x' started by i2kvv, Apr 2, 2016.

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  1. i2kvv

    i2kvv Newbie

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    I was running my m18x r1 with an ebay r290x. The setup worked but had the strange quirk of being unable to access the system bios. This also disabled the windows clock and automatic fan control would malfunction. I experimented by flashing the 290x to a 7970m bios and now get a black screen with 8 beeps.

    I want to reflash the card using SG mode, but when I enable SG in bios while on the igfx and then install the card, the screen just stays black with no beeps (attempting to type anything eventually causes beeps; it isn't just giving me a blind prompt on the dos usb stick I was flashing with).

    How do I force the computer to boot on the igfx with SG enabled and the card installed? Does anyone have any other ideas or suggestions for fixing this mess?

    Thanks for any help!
     
    Rengsey R. H. Jr. likes this.
  2. Rengsey R. H. Jr.

    Rengsey R. H. Jr. I Never Slept

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    Try this:

    Unplug power cord and remove battery. Now unplug cmos battery. Then press and hold power button down for 30 seconds. Now just lug the power cord and try to turn on laptop.
     
  3. i2kvv

    i2kvv Newbie

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    Thanks for the reply. I've done this with the same results. The laptop boots fine without the card in, ofc.
     
  4. skindoe

    skindoe Notebook Geek

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    Do you need a m290x bois? If so, pm me and I will send you a copy of the bios in mine.
     
  5. Raidriar

    Raidriar ლ(ಠ益ಠლ)

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    you need to do the following:
    1. Download the Dell 8970M vbios
    2. remove the R9 M290X
    3. Turn on the M18x without the M290X, flash unlocked BIOS, reboot, change graphics setting to SG (not iGFX or PEG), save and exit
    4. Install R9 M290X
    5. Turn on alienware, boot into a DOS USB flash drive, and use atiflash to flash back the Dell 8970M vbios
     
  6. i2kvv

    i2kvv Newbie

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    I saved a copy of my m290x bios with atiflash, so I should be good there. I appreciate the offer though.

    As I said in my initial post, I've gone through the steps that Raidriar suggests, but after switching to SG mode in the system bios and installing the m290x, the computer does not boot. It simply sits on a black screen with no beeps. Typing more than 15 or so characters causes error beeps on each keystroke, so there isn't even a blind usb dos prompt.

    SG mode will only boot if I'm on nothing but igfx. My question is: how do I force it to boot off of igfx in SG mode with the m290x installed?
     
  7. hans12321

    hans12321 Notebook Consultant

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    I had the same problem as you and i bought another gpu wich is fine, plugged it in the primary slot and the bad gpu in the slave slot. Boot in atiflash and select the second gpu and flash it. After you did this, plug the gpu from the slave slot in the primary slot and it boots fine. Then you can sell the other gpu.
     
  8. t456

    t456 1977-09-05, 12:56:00 UTC Moderator

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    Another possibility is to cut the chip enable / id pin of the vbios eeprom (this is marked on both chip and pcb), boot to DOS and then resolder the pin. This hides the card from the system and with any luck atiflash will still be able to locate the eeprom, regardless the data stored on it. If not, a generic flash tool like fpt or flashrom may work:

    fpt v8.1.10.1286 and flashrom v0.9.8-r1896.7z

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Cut it with a sharp box cutter in the 'knee' and avoid cutting close to the chip and the pcb itself. Might also desolder the pin from its pad and lift it upward a bit, but this requires a good, high-temp soldering iron, whereas cutting and rejoining a pin can be done with any old iron. To access the pin the heatsink needs to be removed, so place some other copper block to the die, that way there's a small heat buffer which should suffice for a non-running card.
     
  9. i2kvv

    i2kvv Newbie

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    I've successfully un-bricked the card, though the system still exhibits the same quirks as before.
    For anyone in a similar boat, the process that worked for me was:

    -Installed an old non-working 6970m in the slave port (gpu #1; right hand side)
    -While sitting in bios, pulled out the 6970m and installed the bricked m290x
    -Exited bios without saving changes which immediately booted the atiflash usb stick without restarting the system
    -The card was then successfully detected as gpu #0 by atiflash (even though it's in the #1 slot) and I was able to flash back to the original m290x bios
    -Lastly I turned the system off, swapped the card to the 0 slot, and rebooted. The 0 slot had been empty until this point.

    I tried easily a dozen combinations of cards, bios settings, and hot-swapping prior to finding success. Atiflash would often misleadingly identify the slave card as number 0 and would never see the m290x in the primary (#0, left hand side) regardless of what I tried. I have no idea why.

    I've since flashed the card to a dell 8970m bios but the same quirks remain:

    When the system starts, the boot screen is not displayed and the screen remains black with backlight on until the raid controller information and subsequent windows boot. Attempting to enter the bios with f2 hangs the system indefinitely on the backlit black screen. Turning off quick boot simply causes it to sit at the backlit black screen for several seconds longer before moving on with the boot sequence. So, essentially the system bios is being hidden for some reason.

    There is also no system clock in windows (there's an open space in the taskbar that cannot be clicked...), and no fan control for the m290x/8970m. The fan remains off regardless of temperature until I force it on using hwinfo64. Other than this the card works flawlessly and can game/bench at max clocks with expected results.

    I appreciate the help thus far. Does anyone have any experience with a problem like this or any suggestions for fixing these quirks?
     
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