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Precision M6700 GPU upgrade (GTX 880m / other gaming video card) - need your assistance

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I am a new to techinferno - what brought me here is an issue with a Precision M6700 I bought myself lately. The laptop came with no GPU in it, however I have a GTX 880m that fits it's MXM slot. When I plugged the card in I though it was all I needed to do - I'm used to desktop upgrades, so I thought - it fits - why not? Turns out the PC's BIOS can't figure out what card is in it - with Optimus "off" I can see "unknown video card" with 8GBs of RAM. Windows 10 x64 Anniversary Edition works and recognizes the GPU as "Microsoft Universal Video Adapter", but the HWid suggests it's a GTX880 - in fact I can even see it properly detected by GPU-Z.


So I browsed through lots of topics on upgrading, modding and customizing drivers but none of the methods worked for me, apart from one - Mr Fox's modded desktop drivers. I managed to install all the nVidia components, yet can't get the card working properly - launched Bioshock Infinite to see if it is on and it wasn't. Apparently my M6700 wants to perform only on Intel HD graphics from the CPU (3940XM). I tried flashing different vbios, updated the Dell bios to the latest one (A15), and tried modding NV drivers - no luck so far. Installing drivers (DSE turned off obviously) sometimes gives a post "no compatible hardware was found" and at other times with different mods and versions I get a message that it was all recognized, yet the driver "migh have been corrupted or smth"...


I still believe that it is possible to make it work if it's only a software issue. Question is - how deep do you have to get into modding to make it work? Is the GTX 880m even worth the effort? Maybe I should search for a way to mess with M6700 BIOS? You might wonder why I want it - the answer is simple - I don't want a Quadro card here as I see a potential for some gaming on the workstation which has excellent build quality and great computing power.


That's when I come to you asking for help - I've seen people upgrading their laptops with the impossible, so I believe there's still hope.


Other useful info: I have a spare Quadro K5100 to try out, but from what I've read, there might be issues with that one as well...




If anyone reads the thread - I was succesful with the upgrade - everything installed and working. I wish it was more stable, but still it runs great. If you need any tips, just PM me :)

Edited by szumial
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13 hours ago, pseudodeed said:

Has anyone test this with 970m? Im interesting too.


Hi there @pseudodeed!


If you have both the m6700 (or the m6800) and the GTX970m then I suggest trial and error method. Installing the card into the MXM slot is relatively easy. All you need to do is take care of the drivers. In my case it turned out that all the issues were driver-related. After doing some modding for different driver versions I have figured out how to do that properly and right now I've got a Dell m6700 with GTX880m working - both with Optimus on and off. What laptop does the 970m come from? Do you have all you need or are you just looking for clues? As stated above, if you alreado have the parts then go for it and I'll be glad to help.



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I've successfully upgraded M6600 GPU from Quadro 3000M to Radeon 7970M. I had to modify X-bracked as well. It was a bit too "tall". The installation went without any problems. The GPU works great. Especially with dx12 titles. The only drawback is the gpu memory. I went for 2 GB Radeon, because I wasn't sure if the 4GB version would work with it. I could not find anyone, who had 4GB GPU work in M6600. I think it was a mistake on my behalf and I am thinking to look for 4GB setup/upgrade.

That said, if you looking to upgrade your GPU to some older hi performance card (like 7970M), in my opinion, go for AMD cards, because of massive leap in performance in DX12 titles.




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Have you been able to get a stable system?

I put a 880m in my M6700 too but it's not very stable. I already modded the cooling system a bit but it still doesn't really work that well.

Maybe different vBios and undervolt/underclock a little bit? idk... pls help :D

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Hi! I will post a full answer tomorrow, but yes, my system is quite stable, apart from gpu problems with several titles (the new Mass Effect Andromeda works fine though). Will explain all I did tomorrow.

edit -->

Dear @DellThinkpad! I'll brieflely explain my experience here.


My specs on the system are: an m6700 with i7 3940XM, 16GBs of RAM memory and an 880m as GPU right now (it replaced the Quadro K5000m). I also have a double heatsink in the laptop (it came with it), though I've heard of single ones in some m6700 configurations. That said, I also experienced several problems. First there was modding the drivers, yet with the forums help I've learnt how to do that properly, so I am running the most recent ones now. Another thing were the temperatures - this laptop wasn't designed for heavy gaming loads and thus I experienced some problems with next-gen games such as The Witcher 3 - a combination od 3940XM and 880m was too much for it to remain stable and I was getting lags and freezes. Right now I solved these by: using the best thermal paste I've found and making sure to lay a thin and consistent layer AND in some cases I also go for the Intel XTU app (you can download it from the net) to reduce the thermal impact of the CPU on the system.


In the above mentioned The Witcher 3 I am able to play with much more than 30FPS on "high" settings in FHD resoultion and the temperatures do not rise above stable 77-78 centigrade. I was able to launch ME: Andromeda on medium settings with no problems. There was however, a driver issue with the latest Tomb Rider game - it crashes with a message that the GPU was disconnected - I suppose it is because I am now using Optimus. You can disable it in your BIOS settings for more stability, but it will result in worse battery life (that's why I am using it on a daily basis now).


If you want some more info please do not hesitate to send my a private message. Cheers!

Edited by szumial

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Alright... So it seems to be a problem related to TDP.
I tried Rocket League with capped 60fps and it was running for about 20min without problems.
Witcher 3 was giving me the same problems like you described.

Furmark kills pc after a few minutes even when the card is underclocked and has not even reached 80°


I have the double gpu-heatsink too (2 pipes to gpu cooler + 1 pipe to cpu cooler). Is this the same one like yours? My stock gpu was FirePro M6000 and I think the AMD heatsink has to be the better one since the AMDs just get hotter. Single heatpipe heatsink only come with cheap Nvidia cards. Someone can confirm that?

I am still trying to modify the cpu cooling system. I have a 3940XM too and the throttling in the M6700 is a well known issue. I will try to underclock the CPU and watch what happens. Additionally I'm going to flash a custom vBios and see what I can do there without impacting performance too much.


Do you think it is possible that the 240W PSU is just not enough for 3940XM + 880m @ full power?
880m - 115W+
3940XM - 55W
Display - ~20W
We are already scratchin the 200 without RAM and other crap and I'm pretty sure the PSU does not have a 100% efficiency.

I'll check power usage with a wattage monitor cable today although I don't think it's very accurate but maybe we'll get an idea.

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It was my first clue when things started going wrong, but then I related that to the temperature since I got crashes every time it rose above82 dergrees on the GPU. You might be right though - if you have such gear I'd love to see the results of a power-usage test. If all it took to make it more stable was a new PSU I'd go for it.


I just had a look at GPU power ratings on notebookcheck and found out that my original Quadro K5000m uses ~100W while the GTX 880m is rated at ~103W - doesn't seem like much of a difference, yet the cards are clocked different, with Quadro being less powerful from the bunch. Since the laptop was designed to work with these Quadro cards then I assume it should run 880m fine. However, the gaming workload might be the problem when all of the components go full-power it needs more juice and generates more heat. As I said before, for now a new thermal compound works in my system, which is still far from perfect.


Other things to consider are:

- do we need i7 3940XM? I was thinking of replacing it with something rated at 45W - shouldn't be that much of a drop in power

- I am using SSD drives - might be that they need less power than HDDs

- what type of display do you have?

- BIOS versions? Can anyone unlock it?

- use undervolting/underclocking to see if it solves the problem


As for your heatsink question - I have found that these double ones come from AMD cards and for Nvidia they provided smaller solutions :)


edit -->

Just been playing Andromeda for about 1,5 h and it crashed with en error stating  "directx error, GPU disconnected from PC, need more memory" (not the full message ofc). I am switching Optimus off again.

Edited by szumial

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I came off the thought that it has something to do with power consumption.
Even if we do have the high-end i7 installed, we know that most games are not very cpu demanding. So the cpu would rarely consume 45W I guess. Maybe I'm wrong cause of some spikes the hardware does when loading or getting a lot to render at one time but I still I can't think of a scenario within regular all-day gaming when that would happen. The heatpipe of the CPU actually stays pretty cool most of the time. It never gets really hot like the GPU ones.
(No, we don't 'need' i7 - We WANT i7 :P)

HDD was out from the beginning. Only 1 mSATA installed. I removed all DIMMs except 1x8GB. Added improvised heatspreaders and heatpipe for testing - underclocked GPU 150MHz and locked 45fps max.

Guess what? This shit doesn't work lol. I can reproduce crashes in demanding games and the GPU doesn't even hit 72°+. I had crashes at 68° and 69°.
If I turn graphics down (tried Doom@900p mid/high) or just start stuff like Rocket League, the system stays stable (tried ~30min) but launching something like Witcher3 at higher settings is even too much with the capped 45fps. Crashes after a few minutes.

I don't get errors. Screen just turns blue or black and the system powers off after a few seconds or I have to turn it off manually. If Furmark crashes I get an OpenGL-error VERY RARELY.


This sucks. I could switch back to my 770m and have the same experience but without screwin around.
Found a 870m and maybe could get it for a nice price. Could be worth a try too.

I didn't tweak voltages and custom vBIOS yet. Maybe my last chance...

Still can't get over the that fact you are running the card without any cooling mods playin ME-Andromeda for more than an hour :D


Edited by DellThinkpad

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I am using the platform for different tasks and some are CPU heavy - that's where it comes in handy, but honestly, if I was missing that 10 Watts of power I'd go for a lower i7 model. I am also using multiple thermal pads to cool down the northern bridge and some other components both in the vicinity of the CPU and the GPU. However, mine heatsinks look slightly different from what you've posted. They are these ones: 27.jpg


As for the crashes in games and FurMark - I was having a nightmare with these too, but since I finally modded the drivers properly (I don't want to go into full detail, but I pretty much cheated the driver to think my m6700 is an Alienware m17) and disabled Optimus, plus the "thermal care" all is running good except for some minor issues (compared to what it used to be!). I did however update the PC with latest BIOS and also flashed the 880m with some vBIOS, though I believe it was not necessary and I probably just reflashed the same thing that was already there.


If I were you I wouldn't buy another GPU (unless you do have the spare money and just want to play with different gear for curiosity) and try ALL possibilities with the one you have in the first place. I'd suggest starting with another driver installation following a specific procedure:

1. Go to BIOS settings and disable Optimus

2. Launch Windows (BTW - which edition do you run?) and perform driver deinstallation using DDU

3. Grab a driver from nVidia and use your own modded inf (I can give you mine that works fine if you'd like to test it)

4. Go to advanced reboot options in Windows and disable DSE on next startup

5. Install the new driver and test stability of the system


I believe you are aware of the procedure since you have launched the GPU somehow, but a reminder is always a good thing :)


As for the games I play - my laptop's main use is music production and some simple video editing, but mostly music and live performance. Gaming is just an addition here and I am using the platform to learn how to make an even more powerful machine. Sad to hear that the newer generations come with everything soldered on to the motherboard - the m6800 might be the last one to play with as we do now...

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Your heatsink is the same like mine, I just did some modification. Take a closer look ;)

Yes, I have installed modded drivers a few times before but I never tried a different driver with the 880m yet.

And it's not like I 'want' to buy the 870m but if I don't get this piece of crap to work then I have to look for something different. Don't really wanna go back to the 770m. A maxwell-chip would be jackpot but they are hard to find or just overpriced.


10 hours ago, szumial said:

the m6800 might be the last one to play with as we do now...

I feel you man. There are still good models out there but the trend to solder everything for 0,000134mm thinner laptop is undeniable.

I'm afraid I have to get one of those ugly 'gaming' laptops in the future xD


Edit: What's the white flex cable at the bottom that goes below the EC-slot? I don't have that one^^ SC-card option?

Edited by DellThinkpad

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Right! So you've added something more to the heatsink. Where does this new line go? I'm impressed it fits the laptop :)


The picture is not actually mine (I was too lazy to open the palmrest) so I am not sure what the purpose of that white cable is, but I have it in mine m6700 and it is also not connected, but seems protected with a seal from the bottom side. I'll check it out when I get home from work (yes, I am planning to open the laptop again today - there's something wrong with my mSATA slot at the moment) and let you know what I've found out.


Not that I don't fancy having a thiner laptop, but being able to modify parts and customize it's performance is something that appeals to me more. These gaming laptops are good enough, though I wish they didn't make them look as supercars...


As for the drivers, BIOS and vBIOS:

- Have you checked whether your GPU comes from an Alienware or Clevo laptop? I believe there might be some compatibility issues between vendors, so flashing a different vBIOS might be a way to go... And it's easy too.

- You can download the latest nVidia drivers for GTX880m from their website and try what I did: add 880m to the INF file and replace all Alienware 880m codes with m6700 ones (for example 05AA --> 153F, 05AB --> 153F). I don't really know why, but in my case I had to replace all Alienware codes and only then the drivers installed properly...


Let me know if you managed to sort this out :)

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It doesn't really fit yet I just added it for testing.


My GPU already has a Dell BIOS.

I managed to install my drivers but I'll give it another shot with a different version.


I still can't download files from download section :(

Edited by DellThinkpad

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Try messaging the administrator of the forums to give you permission to download files. Worked for me :) and I decided to stay here for longer.

@DellThinkpad if you had an option to swap the 880m for 970m, would you do it?

edit -->


I was thinking of the whole GPU upgrade thing and came across a forum where the guys discussed modding the m6700 with some more efficient Quadro cards. They stated that having the XM version of an i7 CPU is not going well with a more powerful GPU as it produces too much heat combined and may exceed power supply capabilties. My research gave me some new thoughts about this:


- I'd try a regular i7 CPU (such as an i7 3840QM) with 45W TDP (instead of 55W)

- if possible, I'd switch to a Maxwell based GPU, such as the above mentioneg GTX970m, which has better performance with lower power consumption (81W vs 103W)

- try to unlock the m6700's BIOS to whitelist GTX cards for more stability


Any hints on where to start with all this? :)


edit2 -->


For anyone considering this - the GTX970m is working with Dell m6700 and the results are far better than those of an 880m :)

Edited by szumial
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