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[GUIDE] How to upgrade a Medion Erazer GPU!

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After a whole month and a half of searching, buying, returning and gambling, I have finally managed to upgrade my Medion Erazer X7817 from a GeForce GTX 670M which is now dead, to a fully-functional GTX 770M at a reasonable idle temperature of 35-40c and a clock of 706MHZ - but most importantly, 1.5GB of VRAM to 3GB of VRAM!

Since it was a tough time for me even though I eventually made it through with such success, I'm making a tutorial for anyone else who was in the same boat and how to upgrade their Medion Erazer (or other MSI barbone) laptops, whether they need a replacement or if they're just looking for an upgrade.

I. The Research

If you happen to own an Erazer and you're looking to upgrade your graphics card without just buying another laptop whole, you're in luck, as the Erazer series is one of the few select brands of laptops that have switchable MXM GPUs. Most of the time, the average "laptop" has their GPU soldered to the motherboard, but that mostly only applies to the more casual brands like HP or the standard Dell.

What's more, Medion is also an OEM partner of MSI - one of the largest gaming laptop manufacturers around. Erazers are actually barebones of MSI laptops, so in theory you're actually using a re-branded MSI laptop.

But even though Erazers are very similar to barebones, they are not identical - which is why I'm making this tutorial, as there are a few extra measures one must take to upgrade an Erazer as opposed to upgrading a regular MSI laptop.

First, you need to find out what type of motherboard your laptop is built on. Most are similar in physical shape, but many have crucially different names.

1. Find your BIOS version

A. Click the Start Menu on Windows

B. In the search box type "System Information" and hit enter

C. You should see next to BIOS your version number:

In this case, my laptop's BIOS version is E1762IMS.30P, which tells us that my laptop is an MS-1762 barbone. Older models may be different, such as 1761 or 16F3, but as far as I know they all determine what can be done for your laptop.

II. Find a new graphics card compatible with your board

This is one of the important parts, as you will need to decide carefully what you want. Take your motherboard type into account, and browse around. Unfortunately laptop graphics cards aren't sold officially - they are usually only sold on eBay or on other sites hosted in the third world. Luckily, there are plenty of sellers on eBay from various countries. Again, browse around.

Here's what you need to know:

* While every graphics card may be different in terms of amount of VRAM and power, they all follow the same MXM 3.0 Type B format. They are all similar in physical shape and size. The layout of the chips may be different (which can determine whether you may need to buy a new heatsink, but usually some will work just fine if the placement of thermal pads is good)

Radeon-Mobility-HD5870-HD-5870-1GB-DDR5-DX-11-font-b-MXM-b-font-font-b.jpg

IMPORTANT: MSI-branded cards are normally GREEN. Clevo cards and some Alienware cards are BLUE. Make sure you buy a GREEN graphics card, and read the description of the item and check whether the seller states it is compatible with MSI as well as other brands. It's best to buy a card which has been pulled from an MSI laptop, though in some cases some Clevo cards may work as well if you flash an MSI vBIOS over it. Make sure the seller is willing to accept returns as well if there are any problems!

You also need to compare your current graphics card to see whether the power output is the same - it's best to upgrade from a 75w GPU to another 75w GPU, if that is your case.

TechPowerUp has an extremely useful databse of almost every graphics card in existence, including ones made for notebooks.

Find your current graphics card on this website, and look at it's statistics - mainly the output. Then go find a suitable upgrade with the same power output - and of course the same size and shape.

Another important thing - make sure the GPU you have in mind has VBIOS for different brands. In Medion's case, it's best to get a graphics card which has an MSI BIOS, or else the chance of it being compatible falls immensely. I made this mistake when I bought a 765M, only to find that there was no MSI VBIOS for it, and it wouldn't work in a 1762.

If you're unsure, ask in this thread and I'll help you!

When you've found an upgrade that you're sure can work with your Erazer, go ahead and buy one.

III. Removing and Installing

Note that you will need to open up the bottom casing of your laptop. While it may seem daunting at first, it is actually very easy to do. Once you've done it the first time, you can do it confidently and easily. You don't need an IT service to do it for you - it's so easy even a caveman can do it!

For removing the graphics card, a regular screwdriver is enough. Though I would also advise the use of an anti-static wrist strap - they're dirt cheap and can be bought at your local computer store. Note that some chassis can be different - mine for example is a bulky chassis with seven screws on the bottom while others may have a more slimline design.

This is the bottom of a 1762 MSI chassis:

DSC_0523.jpg

To the left of the fan is the heatsink, and under that heatsink rests your graphics card.

1. Remove the old graphics card

A. Shut down your laptop.

B. Unplug your laptop's AC adapter.

C. Remove the battery from the bottom - slide the two locks out and lift.

D.Open the laptop lid and hold the power button down for 10 seconds - this will drain the capacitors and eliminate any chance of electrical discharge.

E. Turn the laptop upside down and rest it gently on the top of the lid.

F.Using a screwdriver, begin to remove the seven screws holding the cover in place. (Note: you may need to flip the laptop back up once you've loosened the screws to get them out, make sure you don't lose them though)

G. Gently pry off the bottom cover, being careful not to snap any plastic bits.

H. You should now be seeing the inside of your laptop. On the corner of the fan is a tiny screw holding it in place. Undo the screw and pull out the wire plug leading to the motherboard.

I. Lift the fan out of the laptop. Set it aside.

J. Turn your attention to the heatsink. On the heatsink are four screws with numbers next to them. Undo them in sequential order, 1, 2, 3, 4.

K. Carefully lift the heatsink away, and place it upside down so that the copper layer facing the GPU is facing up.

L. You should now be seeing your graphics card. There is a tiny screw on the side holding it in place. Undo it.

M. As you undo the screw the card will tilt itself upwards. When the screw is out of it's place, set it aside.

N. Gently pull out the old graphics card, handling it by the edges. Once removed, place it gently somewhere safe. Always handle it by the edges!

Now it's time to insert the new graphics card, assuming you have it of course! (Though it's good practice to study the inside of your laptop and familiarize yourself with it so that when the time to insert the new card comes it won't be as daunting.)

IMPORTANT: You will need a syringe of thermal paste (IC Diamond 7-carat is a good one), thermal silicon pads and two bottles of ArtiClean or rubbing alchohol - one to emulsify and remove any dry paste on the card, and the other to purify and ready the metal core of the card for new paste. A lint-free cloth or similar is also a good idea. This is to help transfer heat from the heatsink to the graphics card - without this your card is very likely to burn out and die!

2. Insert the new graphics card

A. Carefully unpack your new card. Most sellers will place it inside a blue translucent packet wrapped in layers of bubblewrap. Gently take the card out of the packet, holding it by the edges.

B. If the card has any dried-up thermal paste on it, take a bottle of ArtiClean surface remover and drop one or two droplets onto the surface and leave it for a few seconds. Then take a cloth and rub the paste off gently.

C. Once the paste has been removed, repeat the process with the purifier and spread it around with the cloth again.

D. Now, using the tube of thermal paste carefully push a small, pea-sized amount onto the surface.

E. Stick your thermal pads onto the various modules and chips on the graphics card. The layout is different for each card, look it up on Google to see where they should go. Here is an example:

aTSaZZJl.jpg

You can cut the thermal pads with scissors if necessary. But use them sparingly!

F. When the thermal paste and pads have been applied, insert the card diagonally into the MXM slot where your old card was. When it fits in, gently push the card down into place, using the screw from the old GPU to hold it in place.

G. Carefully position the heatsink on the new card, and place it down on top of the new card, making sure the spring-screws on the heatsink fit into the holes on the GPU.

H.Following the sequential order again, screw the heatsink in place. You may need to gently push down on the screw, but don't force it!

I. Place the fan back in next to the heatsink. Plug the wire into the motherboard again and screw the fan in place.

J. Now place the plastic back cover onto the laptop again, making sure all the plastic parts fit into their slots.

K. Place the seven screws back in their places and tighten.

At this point, there could be a number of outcomes:

1. Your laptop may accept the new graphics card and it will function without the need for a BIOS/VBIOS flash. If your card shows up as a Standard VGA Graphics Adapter in Device Manager, download and install the latest drivers. This is unlikely, but if it works, then great!

2. Your laptop may not recognize the new graphics card and it will not appear in Device Manager, not even as a Standard VGA Graphics Adapter. If the fans are NOT spinning to 100% after the new card is inside, then a BIOS flash will be required. This is the most likely outcome.

3. Ditto, except the fans ARE spinning up to 100% after startup, which unfortunately means the card is dead. This is a way of telling you whether there is no card or if there is a dead card in your laptop. If this is the case, return to the seller, get a refund, and try again. This is again unlikely (fortunately)

4. You cannot install any drivers for your new card. Use GPU-Z to identify the subvendor of your card. If it isn't MSI (1462), a VBIOS flash will be required.

2 and 4 are the only outcomes where further action is needed, so we can continue from there. If something else is up, ask here and I will try my best to help you.

When you first turn on the laptop, your laptop might immediately shut off afterwards. Don't worry - this normally happens when something has been changed inside the laptop (Which of course it has). It should just turn on again.

In the case of Outcome 2, flash a new BIOS and firmware.

If your new graphics card is not appearing in Device Manager and only the onboard graphics are present, then your current BIOS is incompatible with the new card. This is usually the case when one makes a jump from, for example, a 560M to a 770M. Don't panic - this is often the case and can be fixed easily.

You will need to find a new BIOS for your laptop. Unfortunately, Medion don't normally provide BIOS updates unlike MSI. Why they don't is beyond me personally, but we're gonna stick it to them and flash an MSI BIOS over the Medion one!

Now you will need to do plenty of research. For starters, you should only seek a BIOS compatible with your current motherboard. Take your current BIOS and compare the version. For example, if your BIOS version begins with E16F3, it would be ideal to download a 16F3 BIOS.

Note that you may need to force the flash - which is a gamble as it could brick your notebook. Again, ask around and research - be absolutely sure of what you're doing.

Do NOT, and I repeat, do NOT, flash any BIOS meant for Alienware or Clevo laptops - you WILL brick your system. ONLY use MSI BIOSes for Medion laptops.

Also, flashing using a Windows utility is not recommended. Always use DOS to be on the safe side.

Since I've only done this to one laptop of my own, I can only say that for anyone wanting to upgrade to a newer graphics card like the 7**M series on a 1762 board, I would recommend the E1762IMS.30P BIOS and the 1762EMS2.503 firmware. Again, ask around and research - there are plenty of knowledgeable people around, especially here, the MSI forum and the TechInferno forum, who can tell what can work for your laptop.

1. Create a DOS-bootable flash drive

There are plenty of guides on how to do this, but I recommend HowToGeek's article as it even uses a laptop's BIOS as an example.

2. Boot from your DOS flash drive and flash the BIOS.

NOTE: I recommend doing this before installing a new graphics card, just to be on the safe side. You may run the laptop without a heatsink or GPU - leave the fan.

A. Copy and paste the contents of the BIOS and firmware .zip files into the root of your flash drive.

Note: You might have two flash.bat's, one is for the BIOS and one is for the firmware. Rename the one for the firmware to something else if this is the case. Capitalization of letters doesn't count.

B. Restart your laptop, and press F10 when the first startup screen appears (Some maybe different, basically - open your boot menu)

C. You should be presented with a few options. Select the Flash Disk and hit enter.

D. You'll be given two options on the keyboard layout. Just press Enter as it does not entirely matter.

E. You should now be ready to enter commands. Type

dir

to display the contents of your flash drive.

F. Type

flash.bat

Close your eyes, cross your fingers, and hit Enter.

G. Stand back, don't touch ANYTHING. Your fans will spin to 100%, this is normal. Wait until you are given the option to type another command. Do NOT turn off your laptop OR remove the AC adapter. Make sure it stays on at all costs!

If you get the following during the flash:

Error: ROM file ROMID is not compatible with existing BIOS ROMID.

Then don't worry, nothing has changed. Your fans will gradually spin down to normal speed. However, you will need to force the flash if this happens, but ONLY if you are absolutely sure this is the correct BIOS for your notebook! I can't stress this enough - ASK FIRST!

To force the flash, type

afudos (nameofthebios) /p /b /n /k /x

and hit Enter. Wait until you are given the option to enter another command.

If you are given the option to enter a command and the flash appears to have worked successfully with no errors, it's time to flash the firmware. Type

(nameofthebat).bat

to flash the firmware.

If you get an error that basically says it's not compatible, type

ENEF_030 /FLASH -E -B34c (nameofthefirmware)

and hit Enter. Wait for it to finish.

When all is done, press Ctrl+Alt+Delete to restart your laptop.

Your laptop might shut off and start up on its own afterwards. It may repeat this. Don't interfere unless it has shut off permanently. In this case, just press the power button again and see what happens.

If all is successful, your laptop might boot into a new startup screen. The boot order may have changed - it might boot to the flash drive and open FreeDOS. In that case, just press Ctrl+Alt+Delete and open the Setup menu (it will tell you on the startup screen what key it is) and change the boot order so that it will boot from the drive which your OS is installed on first.

Either way, boot to Windows and login. Open Device Manager, you should now see your card being recognized as a Standard VGA Graphics Adapter. It will probably report an error - just install the latest driver and voila. Your card is now functional in your Medion Erazer.

NOTE: Some aesthetic LEDs on your laptop may stop working, and some touch controls may switch roles (e.g the Bluetooth button may turn into the TurboBoost button, the TurboBoost button may turn into the Eject button etc.) but these are purely aesthetic changes and won't affect the general function of your laptop.

In the case of Outcome 4, flash the vBIOS to your graphics card.

If your graphics card is showing up as a Standard VGA Graphics Adapter after booting for the first time with the card installed, and you cannot install any drivers or you get a BSOD on startup with the drivers installed, you will most likely need to flash the vBIOS on your card.

The vBIOS is different from the BIOS - it only affects your graphics card, not your motherboard.

1. Download the MSI vBIOS for your graphics card.

A. Go to TechPowerUp's GPU Databse and find your new graphics card.

B. On the page where it displays it's statistics, click "Find graphics card BIOS for this card" under VGA BIOS.

C. Download the MSI vBIOS, make sure the amount of VRAM is correct. (e.g to flash a Clevo 770M with 3GB you will need an MSI 770M vBIOS with 3GB as well)

D. Download a utility called NVFlash

E. Extract the contents of the downloaded .zip to the root of a DOS-bootable USB. Copy and paste the MSI vBIOS file for your graphics card in there as well. Rename the vBIOS file to something simple.

F. Restart your laptop and open the Boot Menu. Boot from your flash drive.

G. After starting FreeDOS, type

nvflash -a

This will display the current graphics card, provided it can be detected in Windows.

If NVflash detects it, type

nvflash -4 -5 -6 "nameofvbios"

Make sure you're using the right vBIOS before doing this, and that you're flashing it to the matching card.

If all is well, press Ctrl+Alt+Delete to restart your machine.


And that's about it. If anyone has any questions or suggestions I should add, feel free to post here.

DISCLAIMER: I am not responsible for any system brick, damage, scam etc. I am only writing this guide to help you as the consumer. It is up to you what BIOS you flash, what vBIOS you flash, what card you buy, and ultimately what you do in general. I am open to questions, and remember: don't take any unnecessary risks.

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