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Apologies for the wall of text, next time I take this machine apart I will take some photos!

Teardown Instructions:

---- WARNING! THIS WILL MOST LIKELY INVALIDATE YOUR WARRANTY WITH DELL ----

---- This is a guide only, no warranties or guarantees are implied, damage is at your own risk ---

---- You will need: T9 TORX screwdriver (to remove CPU only), Decent Thermal Paste, Philips Screwdriver, Thin flatblade screwdriver, Isoproponal electronics cleaner (Meths will probably work too), paper towels, plastic pry tool (or very strong fingers!) ----

If trying to "recover" the BIOS from an overclock, you will also need a non overclockable processor such as the i7-4700MQ or i7-4702MQ. It may work with the i7-4800MQ but I have not tried it.

Steps:

Turn system upside down, with the back / cooling fans towards you.

Undo the 3 screws on the base.

Carefully lift the plate that covers the front of the system (furthest from you) it is clipped in at the sides

Carefully push the back plate with the fan grilles away from you about 5mm, this unclips it which means it is free to be lifted off.

Remove the 2.5" HDD bay (4 rubber grommeted screws) and SATA connector from the motherboard

Remove the DVD drive plate (4 screws) and SATA connector from the motherboard.

Remove the battery (2 screws) and battery connector.

Carefully remove 5 ribbon connectors. 2 are on the right near the 2.5" bay area, these are vertical. To remove, lift the plastic collar of the motherboard connector with a flat blade screwdriver. pull the ribbon cables up using the attached tab (not the wire) They should lift with no force, if they are still stuck, the collar needs to come up more.

Remove the 3 horizontal cables under the DVD drive. You one need to undo one side of each. Undo the connector closest to the back in this area, then undo the SD card reader at the side closest to the edge, lift the white locking collar to do this and slide the ribbon cable out using the tab. repeat this for the connector underneath, this is the long one and will need gentle prizing (if you use too much force at once, you will break the locking collar).

Remove the SD Card or SD card spacer / blanking plate (IMPORTANT!)

Remove all the screws with a P in a circle next to them. take note of the size information. It tells you the width and length of the screw. This is very important when putting the system back together, it you put a long screw in a short hole it may damage the system or ruin the aesthetics. likewise a short scew in a long hole may not grip enough causing other problems.

The next part will use the pry tools and is not for the feint hearted!

Getting the AW18 apart is a pain, even when all the screws are out there are clips holding the palm rest on these are so tight, most will break when you separate the palm rest from the base of the system. It seems to be easier starting the separation at the point above the power connector and working towards the front. At that point, open the lid / screen as far as it goes, then unclip the back clips around the hinge. Then pull the palmrest away from the other side and these clips will stay intact. Finally lift it from the back and pull towards the screen, this will save the clips to the front of the palmrest.

With the palmrest off you can change the second bank of DIMMS, Wireless card, CPU and graphics card.

To get the CPU out, you will need to undo the lid hinge screws from the top, there are 3 in total. (2 on the left and one on the right). You will also need to remove the plastic guide for the wireless antennae leads. This has one screw on the right side.

Remove the display cable from the motherboard and the logo led cable (use a small flatblade screwdriver to lever the white connector, don't pull the lead).

If you have 2 video cards, you will need to remove the SLI cable. Disconnect the right side first, the cable is only wedged between the heatpipe and hinge, then carefully remove the tape from the CPU heatpipe.

Then lift the lid away from the base slowly, you don't need to disconnect the antennae leads, you just need a small amount of clearance to get the CPU heatsink out.

Undo the CPU heatsink screws, follow the order they show. (before you do this, make sure you have some good thermal paste, something like Arctic Silver 5 or Coolaboratory Pro).

---- FOR BIOS RESET STEP ONLY ---

Install the i7-4700MQ and give it a reasonable thermal connection (you can probably re-use the existing thermal paste). Boot it up with a USB mouse and keyboard plugged in (this way you can keep the palm rest off). There is a power switch soldered onto the motherboard, just in front of the "bottom" DIMM, roughly centered between right and left.

Follow the steps about the BIOS resetting below:

I have to go into BIOS, reset to defaults (F9), save (F10) and then reboot again.

Go into BIOS a second time (F2) and then you can disable overclocking support in the performance option (under advanced)

Replace the CPU with the original that supports overclocking (i7-4930MX or i7-4900MQ for sure, not sure about i7-4800MQ).

This time clean it up with the isoproponal cleaner fluid, make sure all traces of the old thermal paste have been cleaned from the copper heatsink pad and the top of the CPU / capacitors.

Be careful not to break bits off the CPU die (the long grey rectangle) as this is actually the CPU and you will start to remove transistors from it! Its fairly tough, a bit like glass, but can be scratched, crushed or shattered if mis treated.

Make sure you don't get cleaner and paste on the pins or in the socket. pour a small amount onto a paper cloth and use this to wipe the paste away. Don't pour directly onto the CPU, motherboard, socket or heatsink.

Follow heatsink paste manufacturers instructions of how to apply the paste (I have used both Arctic Silver 5 and Coolaboratory Liquid Metal pad, the pad is much easier to apply and seems to have great results! Coollaboratory*Liquid MetalPad - the innovation of cooling for High-End sytems) Be careful not to get these metal based thermal interface pastes onto the capacitors on the CPU.

Fire up the system with the palm rest off to make sure it boots (it may reset a few times or beep continuously on the first boot, this is normal. if you get the beeps, just switch it off and on again, the next time it should eventually boot (may take a minute or so to get through the BIOS screen, or even to get the AW logo).

When you get the opportunity to enter BIOS setup, once again go into the BIOS and make sure overclocking options are switched off. (The BIOS auto detects the CPU and normally the OC options come back on)

---- END OF BIOS OC RESET ----

---- GPU THERMAL PASTE CHANGE ----

If you are feeling super brave you can repeat the process on the GPU too. Personally, I found a 10 Celsius improvement in replacing the stock paste with the coolaboratory pad. The system fans stay off longer while in Windows too.

---- END OF GPU THERMAL PASTE CHANGE ----

---- RECONSTRUCTION ---

Make sure the SLI cable is reconnected.. I have done this in the past after putting it all back together to find it was not re connected, no cable, no SLI!!

Hopefully it worked and booted to Windows (Check SLI is enabled, if the options are non existent then the cable is not reconnected properly (or you have 1 card!)) If no NVDIA options are enabled, the system is probably in Intel GFX mode, press FN + F5 to reboot in NVIDIA GFX mode.

If everything is OK, repeat the teardown in reverse to reconstruct your machine.

When the system is rebuilt but the power button, touchpad, LEDs, backlight or SD card reader don't work, this is because the ribbon cables were not connected back or locked down properly.

Make sure the ribbon cables are square to their sockets (there is a guide line on the cable to indicate the final position) and the locks are clamping the cables.

The next time I need to take the system apart again I will include some photos!

Good luck!

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Is there any other way to reset the BIOS, apart from using a 4700MQ CPU? I have tried to take out the CMOS battery, and short out the CMOS jumper on the motherboard (two tiny copper contacts), and didn't work.

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The variables are stored in the flash memory, so removing the coin cell battery won't work. Either you load the defaults in the bios or use the recovery method.

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The variables are stored in the flash memory, so removing the coin cell battery won't work. Either you load the defaults in the bios or use the recovery method.

I received a mainboard replacement and the system worked briefly. But when I tried to enable OC by setting it to OC LVL 2, it bricked the system again, and now it's stuck with no POST.

What other methods could I try?

I tried holding down END while connecting the ac adapter, and I could hear all 3 fans spin up to their maximum RPM. I presume this is the recovery mode, but it doesn't recognize any USB device that I plugged in.

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It seems the recovery method does not work on Alienware systems. Not sure why that is, but it has not been successful for anyone that tried it that I am aware of.

But, it appears there are now multiple examples of Alienware owner that are able to fix their systems that fail to POST by swapping in a different CPU temporarily as described in the opening post.

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Hi all

Thanks Onyoto, the tip work, i copy my mess from NBR if it could help anyone ^^

Hello all icon7.gif

I have a 4900mq QS in my 18", which replace the original 4700mq. I OC only with XTU usual.

This morning i want to OC with the same settings Mr.Fox have posted in fist page, just 3.8GHz (for beginning) on all cores instead of 4.3GHz, not extreme series :/ And set the power / turbo time at max.

After reboot, i had a black screen, with keyboard back light and led ok icon9.gif Not possible to restart it...

I put the 4700mq and magic, boot ok icon7.gif After reset the bios in performance options, i reassemble the 4900mq and boot ok. I do that two times, the first i put the 4700mq the pc boot but i haven't reset the bios before reassemble the 4900mq and the screen stay black...

Two users on P4G french forum (4700 and 4900mq CPU) had motherboard switched for that problem. Switch CPU to another seems to operate. If it could help anyone icon12.gif

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It seems the recovery method does not work on Alienware systems. Not sure why that is, but it has not been successful for anyone that tried it that I am aware of.

But, it appears there are now multiple examples of Alienware owner that are able to fix their systems that fail to POST by swapping in a different CPU temporarily as described in the opening post.

Oddly, I was waiting for tech to come over and replace motherboard, and I kept playing with the computer over the weekend, hitting the power button and such over and over.. whatever, 2 days later, the system POSTed again, from being bricked.

I didn't in the end have anything replaced, DELL suggested keeping what I have as is, instead.

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Oddly, I was waiting for tech to come over and replace motherboard, and I kept playing with the computer over the weekend, hitting the power button and such over and over.. whatever, 2 days later, the system POSTed again, from being bricked.

I didn't in the end have anything replaced, DELL suggested keeping what I have as is, instead.

Do you remember what you have done specifically that could have revived the system? What did you do before it started to boot again?

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Oh sorry for the late reply. I had the machine o my lap with the battery (CMOS) at my finger tip, and kept draining it and unplugging it, and trying to start the machine in every combo I could think of. With battery without, with cmos, without, by holding the power button for 2 minutes, by not doing it.. it would atrt but be totally dead.. as in not posting, but obvious power started and then dies..

but a few days later some how, it just started.

Its been awhile, im sorry I didn't remember. I made sure to subscribe to feeds, so i get notified when someone quotes me not, by email.

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I think this is already posted somewhere else, but it never hurts to have another reference for those searching for crisis recovery options.

Here are the steps that have brought this Alienware 18 back from the dead more than once for me...

Anyhow, the 18 is alive again. I followed the steps kh90123 has mentioned before to resuscitate it.

  1. Turn the system off and disconnect the AC adapter
  2. Disconnect CMOS battery and system battery
  3. Do a power drain (press and hold power button 30 seconds)
  4. Remove all memory modules
  5. Reconnect AC adapter and power system on
  6. Let laptop beep until it turns itself off
  7. VERY QUICKLY, WHILE IT IS OFF, BUT BEFORE IT ATTEMPTS TO BOOT AND LIGHTS COME ON AGAIN, INSERT A MEMORY MODULE
  8. System will start to beep 5 times
  9. Power system off
  10. Reconnect CMOS battery and system battery
  11. Replace any panels removed for access to memory modules
  12. Done…

I left the memory modules out under the palm rest so I don't have to take it apart if this happens again.

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