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Guide - M15x with Nvidia GTX 470m

IMPORTANT: The Nvidia 470m is not officially supported by Dell. Upgrading to this card may void your warranty.

Some background to this mod: The first guy who tried to put a Nvidia 470m in an Alienware M15x was @iloveb00bs in December 2010, shortly after the card got released.

Unfortunately it didn't work as desired, the card worked, but only at 2d clocks. All attempts to bring it to 3d clocks failed, and the card wasn't supported by Nibitor support at this time.

Also @widezu69 didn't get it to work a couple of weeks ago, so I didn't think it would be possible. But in the process of trying to
upgrade the Asus G73JW
of a colleague I got my hands on a Nvidia GTX 470m and since we didn't get it to work in the G73, I thought let's try it again in the M15x...
:D

I had to mod the vbios to get it running at 3d clocks. I'm not that experienced with Nvidia cards, so that's probably why it took me a couple of attempts to get it working.

First I changed the 2d clocks and voltage (P3 in Nibitor) to 3d values. The result was that the card idled at 3d clocks, but as soon as I opened a 3d application it went downclocked itself to about 73MHz core and got to 2d voltage again... pretty annoying.

After some more tests I realized that I had to change the lower 3d clocks and voltage (P7 in Nibitor). This did the trick. Apparently the card only checks P7 and P3 in the VBIOS, the actual 3d clock entries (P15) seem to have no effect at all.

The fan control works perfectly. Haven't tested DP/HDMI audio yet, but I'll do this sometime soon.

Things to do before exchanging the card:

  • Download the drivers. I used the latest Nvidia beta driver (v275.27) and the modded .inf files from laptopvideo2go. As the card comes from Clevo I guess the Clevo (and resellers) driver will work as well. But I usually prefer the latest driver for performance and stability.
  • Also get GPU-Z for monitoring your video card and verifying it.
  • Make sure you have thermal paste, maybe some new thermal pads as well as something to
    clean the heatsink (e.g. isoproply alcohol) and some cloths around. I also highly recommend using a grounded ESD-mat and a wristband.
  • Know what you're doing. You need to partially disassemble your machine to get to the GPU. Prepare yourself thoroughly, check out my little GPU exchangement guide and if you need more information also the M15x service manual, as well as the
    . It can be helpful to write down all the steps in advance when you're doing this for the first time.
    In case there's still something unclear about the disassembling procedure after checking out all the stuff I just mentioned, just ask. Exchanging the GPU is really pretty easy.

  • Very important: Make all the necessary preparations to flash the modified vbios to the card in order to get it working at 3d clocks:
    You'll need a DOS bootable USB drive with NVflash on it. If you have already such an USB drive you can skip the next step and simply copy the mod470m.rom file from the attached archive to your stick.
    If you first need to create such an USB drive open an read the Spoiler:
    Creating a bootable DOS USB drive (by [MENTION=5]Brian K.[/MENTION] )


    Step 1: Download all the following files as they will be needed throughout this guide.
    1. Download the HP USB Key Utility: HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool - v2.1.8 Download - EXTREME Overclocking
    2. Download the Windows 98 system files: Windows 98 System Files Download - EXTREME Overclocking
    Step 2: Creating a Bootable USB Drive to Flash to GPU
    1. Install the HP USB Key Utility
    2. Launch the HP USB Key Utility and do the following:
    - Insert your USB thumb drive.
    - Select File system as "FAT32"
    - Select Format Option as "Create a DOS bootable Disk..."
    - Checkmark the box that says, "Quick Format"
    - Locate the directory you extracted the Win98 files.
    - Format the USB key using the the Win98 files.
    Step 3: Download and extract Nvflash, the tool for flashing a Nvidia vbios to the GPU from DOS. Copy the files to the root of your already correctly formatted USB stick.
    Step 4: Download the modded GTX 470m vbios and put it on your USB drive as well.


The upgrading procedure:

  1. Uninstall your GPU drivers.

  2. Make a power drain (Turn off your M15x, remove the power cord
    and
    the battery. Then press and hold down the power button (Alienhead) for about 10-20 sec.

  3. Remove your GPU -
    Here's a little guide with pics
    in case you need some help.

  4. Clean your heatsink, if necessary replace the thermal pads with new ones.

  5. Make sure the 470m has a retention bracket on the back of the GPU. If not take the one from your old GPU and put it there.

  6. Properly insert your GPU, make sure that it sits properly and that the die is clean. Apply the thermal paste, and attach the heatsink.

Then (after reassembling your system), boot, install the drivers and reboot. Make sure the fans are running (otherwise you probably forgot to plug in the fan). Open GPU-Z and verify your card and the clocks.

Default 3D clocks are 535/750/1070 MHz (core/memory/shader), you can see them in the "Graphics card" tab of GPU-Z.

Make sure PowerPlay is enabled in the Catalyst Control Center. Also make sure Stealth Mode is deactivated.

Check your temperatures. Idle temps should be 40-50°C, depending on your ambient temp of course. While gaming or doing something similar GPU-intense the system will run significantly hotter, 60-70°C, maybe a bit higher.

>>>

Now you need to
flash the modded vbios to your GTX 470m
in order to get your card working at 3d speeds
<<<

WARNING:

Flashing the vbios of your GPU always involves some risk and can brick your card in case something goes wrong. Make sure you know the exact procedure before doing this. I do not take any responsibility for damaged cards, systems or whatever.

-Plug in your properly prepared USB drive

-Make sure your system is plugged in (AC adapter and to be safe battery as well)

-Reboot

-When you see the Alienhead press [F12] to get to the boot menu, choose "Boot from USB"

A command prompt will appear.

First of all, make a backup of your original 470m vbios! Use the following command:

nvflash -b orig470m.rom

Before flashing, test whether the file isn't corrupted (errors while copying it to the stick or similar):

nvflash -v mod470m.rom

The image size must be 64000 bytes and the CRC32 3C8FA599

Now flash the modded vbios:

nvflash -5 -6 mod470m.rom

Press enter. A couple of warnings will appear, follow the instructions on the screen to confirm the flash procedure.

Remember, some Keyboard layouts have the [Z] key at the place where the US layout has the [Y] key. So in case you have such a keyboard you'll need to press [z] instead of [y], otherwise the flashing procedure will get cancelled.

Then press [Ctrl][Alt]+[Del] to reboot your system, unplug the USB stick. You can use GPU-Z to verify the flash of the vbios. It should look like this afterwards:

post-80-14494988068259_thumb.jpg

Here some first benchmarks, both at stock clocks, PhysX off and the rest in the Nvidia control panel on standard settings, CPU at 3.2GHz.

470mvantagestock24x.th.jpg

470m3dm11.th.jpg

I haven't seen other 470m benchmarks of other systems, but 9k stock vantage seems reasonable.

The card is probably pretty overclockable, but I haven't tested this yet. I have yet to find overclocking tool with which I can set the core clock manually, so far I only managed to change the memory and shader clock with Nvidia Inspector. Otherwise I'll have to modify the vbios in order to overclock it (which isn't the best solution as I can't really push the card with this method) However, it seems the card can be overvolted, haven't tested it yet but Nibitor allows me to change the voltage to 0.99V (instead of 0.94V).

The only issue so far is that the card runs either at 3d clocks or at 2d clocks. Nothing between this. (As I said, the card only seems to use P7 and P3, if anyone knows a solution to this, let me know).

M15x GPU exchangement guide .pdf

modded 470m vbios - only for AW M15x.zip

Edited by svl7
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wow super awesome man!!!! can't wait for the guide.

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Nice Inap you changed your Avatar... love it. Congrats SVL7 +1 pal for that one... what key change in your testing allowed the clocks to stay on 3d? I know we had been discussing this. That's awesome you finally did it.. nice benches too.

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Thanks guys!! Had to change P7 instead of P15. Now it works at 2d and at 3d clocks. It seems P15 (the actual 3d clocks afaik) are getting ignored by the system.

Updated the first post :D

I'll do some more testing, maybe benching and then I'll try to sell this card since it didn't work in the G73JW. Want my 6970m back in the system, hahahahaha :D

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great job man. i was afraid of frying the card, thats why i never flashed it. glad you had the guts to do it.

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Thank you! Well, when you had the card it wasn't even supported in nibitor if I remember correctly...

Took a while until I had figured out how to get it working, but at least it's running now. Would've been even better news half a year ago of course, but at least the nvidia guys have something to update now in case they want. :D

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thinking of getting a 485m for the r3 to test out myself. seen it worked already but still would like to see if i can get 3d working on it.

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Yeah, this would be great! But you don't have the 3d screen... :D

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just picked up a whole 3d package from dane, screen,460m and glasses. so i'll be rocking both. also have an external 3d monitor too.

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Hmm... I tried to overclock the 470m now for some hours, so far I managed to raise VRAM and shader clocks, but not the core clock. I'm not sure what's causing this.

The only program I was able to at least change the vram and shaders was Nvidia Inspector. That's probably because it allows me to choose the performance profile. Like I mentioned in the guide, I had to use the "lower 3d clocks" profile as the normal 3d clock profile, somehow the standard high performance profile stays unnoticed by the system.

I thought I'd at least be able to OC the card per vbios mod... but no, the core stays at 540 MHz. Memory and shaders change work, even the voltage increase from 0.94V to 0.99V worked, but the core just stays where it is.

If anyone has some idea or advice please let me know. Flashed my card about 10 times with different OC settings without success so far. I'm sure this can somehow be fixed, but I don't know the function of every number in the "Fermi Clocks" tool from nibitor and haven't found the info I'm looking for so far.

What bothers me most is that the core slider is greyed out in Nvidia Inspector... why?

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Even 470M works now? Wow, I guess there's a lot of incentive there for people to just grab a cheap outlet M15x + 6970M or 470M vs R3. Thanks for the guide svl7 and great job in figuring it out! +rep.

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dam really wish i can help with the oc problem, but out of my league on this one.

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Thanks, I'll investigate a bit more in this, hope I can solve it. I'll let you know in case I make some effort.

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Tech|Inferno author Marco R. has written a tutorial on how to install an nvidia 470M GTX in your Alienware M15x notebook.

More...

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Wow I wouldn't mind putting on of these in my R2. How much was the Nvidia 470m GPU and where did Marco buy it from?

Congrats on the project!

Cheers. :)

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I'd also like to test 470Ms after I get my 6970Ms in Crossfire (tomorrow hopefully).

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I'd also like to test 470Ms after I get my 6970Ms in Crossfire (tomorrow hopefully).

Can't wait to hear how you go with the 6970s in crossfire. I wonder if there are any new updates or changes since others tried last time however just weren't able to get it working properly.

Good Luck!

Cheers! :)

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I have a question that I am using Alienware m15x core i7 740qm and just 4 GB DDR3 of Ram. Can my laptop upgrade to gtx 470m? By the way, I did purchase a gtx 460m from eBay, when I put the card in and turn on my laptop(the card completely fit my laptop and be seated correctly), it just shut down in 2-3 seconds, any one knows why? When I put back my gt 240m, it works normally. Thanks a lot for any comment and advice. I am chicken

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I have a question that I am using Alienware m15x core i7 740qm and just 4 GB DDR3 of Ram. Can my laptop upgrade to gtx 470m? By the way, I did purchase a gtx 460m from eBay, when I put the card in and turn on my laptop(the card completely fit my laptop and be seated correctly), it just shut down in 2-3 seconds, any one knows why? When I put back my gt 240m, it works normally. Thanks a lot for any comment and advice. I am chicken

Hey, yeah, the 470m will work with the M15x, but you'll need to use the modded VBIOS which you can find in the first post of this thread.

Anyway, the AMD 6970m or 6990m will work even better in the M15x and is cheaper and more powerful, you might want to consider those cards as well.

About the 460m... make sure you're on the latest BIOS version (A09), the 460m requires at least BIOS revision A07 to function properly in the M15x. Also check the fan cables, the system won't POST when they're unplugged.

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Hey, yeah, the 470m will work with the M15x, but you'll need to use the modded VBIOS which you can find in the first post of this thread.

Anyway, the AMD 6970m or 6990m will work even better in the M15x and is cheaper and more powerful, you might want to consider those cards as well.

About the 460m... make sure you're on the latest BIOS version (A09), the 460m requires at least BIOS revision A07 to function properly in the M15x. Also check the fan cables, the system won't POST when they're unplugged.

Yes sir my BIOS version is A08 and fan cables is plugged in but I don't why it shut down. I know the 6970 is better but your guide seems hard for me. I can change the graphic card but I don't understand about the x-plate and I am not good at changing temps or bla bla bla. So I am afraid :tranquillity:. The GTX 470m seem much easier to do but look like there are no big difference between 470m and 460m. By the way, can you check this link please nvidia 470m gtx 3.0 TYPE B 1.5GB GDDR5 Video card | eBay . Is it ok to buy? I like the 6970 and 470m so bad but I am chicken at managing stuff of graphic card. I am willing to pay $100 or more for guy who helps me to do it at home :byebye:

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If I was local i'd help for free, well maybe gas lol. :woot: Either way you are planning to interchange cards... the xplate isn't as daunting as it looks as its just mounted and meant to unscrew in one way so makes it easier that there is less ways to do wrong... biggest worry is its delicate and if you can lightly hold the card and gently unscrew things you've got the important things down there. Static is issue but in my experience i have had well under the recommended electro static protection and haven't had one problematic component on any system or hardware i have worked on.. helps to touch the metal frame of things but that's about it. They make non static mats and grounding bracelets if your worried... 6990m much more worth it btw.

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Is there anyone local who can help me to install the 6970 at home please? Willing to pay, I am living in Worcester, MA. Please please please! :06:

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Can you check these links for me please nvidia 470m gtx 3.0 TYPE B 1.5GB GDDR5 Video card | eBay and Nvidia gtx 470m MXM 3.0 B | eBay . They are both GTX 470m but different color. Why? Which one is compatible with alienware m15x? Thanks !
Is there anyone local who can help me to install the 6970 at home please? Willing to pay, I am living in Worcester, MA. Please please please! :06:

Sorry, almost forgot to answer... the first link is a 470m, and for a quite decent price imo. The second link isn't a 470m, at least not the card which is shown in the picture...

The 470m works fine if you follow my guide and flash the modified VBIOS, but it might have some issues with overclocking. But it runs pretty cool, performance is decent.

6970m performs better, but also runs warmer. You might need to slightly modify the heatpipe to get the heatsink fit as tight as possible.

I'd love to exchange the card for you, but I'm afraid it won't be worth the way around half the world for $100 :D

Whether 470m or 6970m, it's really not that hard as long as you work carefully and follow all the steps in the guide I attached to the first post. You could also ask a local computer store to do the work for you, but I doubt they will do a better job than you can.

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