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  1. I was directed over here by notebookreview forums because apparently you guys are way better at this kind of stuff. Here's my original post and data. I have asked around in other threads, and I have partially fixed the colored screen of death with the 860M 4GB edition. Here is a summary of all relevant posts and what I have tried so far: A10 unlocked BIOS (only disabled high definition audio) i7 720QM 8GB RAM (stock clock) 2x500GB HDDs (no RAID) 1200p RGB LED monitor 5 minutes of battery life Long story short, I had faulty 4870x2s that kept needing reflows because they used that cruddy eco-friendly solder that doesn't go well with AMD components. After 8 reflows, even using flux, I decided I needed to get a new GPU. After seeing a few posts on various sites saying the 860M works in the M17xR2, I decided to give it a whirl. It boots to BIOS just fine, and it attempts to load Windows. I get random colors like attached after the windows logo draws, which is odd since the logo is drawn at the 1200p resolution before the screen goes like this. I have to unplug the battery and power cable to reboot it. I am 100% positive this card is a Dell manufactured Kepler 860M (it's the 4GB model). My install steps and logs, for reference: Fix broken 4870x2s (reflowed by removing heatsinks and powering on, surprisingly worked in 10 seconds) Reapply heatsinks using Arctic Silver 5. Boot into Windows safe mode, no display abnormalities during BIOS boot. Run DDU version 15, autoselected AMD drivers. Chose option "Clean and shutdown" Removed 4870x2s, installed 860M in left slot (primary), reapply heatsink using Arctic Silver 5. Boot into Windows safe mode, no display abnormalities during BIOS boot. Extracted [345.20 WHQL Desktop GeForce Driver] to C:\ drive Added [Mr. Fox's zip file contents] to the Display.Driver folder in there, overwriting 3 files. Ran setup.exe from folder Chose 'Express Install' option in NVIDIA installer Selected 'Install Unsigned Drivers anyways' on Windows popup. Install completed without errors, restarted computer. Tried booting into Windows with following options from F8 boot screen: Normal (white screen), no display abnormalities during BIOS boot. Safe mode (display runs from Intel HD, Device manager does recognize Nvidia GTX 860m Display adapter, but device is disabled as per safe mode) , no display abnormalities during BIOS boot or during Windows Safe mode usage. Disable driver signature reinforcement (cyan screen) , no display abnormalities during BIOS boot. No F8 pressed, (green screen), no display abnormalities during BIOS boot. Recorded test boot video through cruddy phone camera, viewable at I have tried Mr. Fox's 345.20 drivers, no difference. I have tried a fresh install of Ubuntu 11.04 and a pendrive version of it, same symptoms after the logo draws. I tried outputting to external 1080p monitor via HDMI, monitor swap hotkey did nothing (still went to colored screen of death on the primary monitor). Finally, I disabled IDT audio using this BIOS mod: https://www.bios-mods.com/forum/Thread-Alienware-M17x-R2-A10-BIOS-Unlocked-OC-Options and it worked! But I couldn't get sound. Then I tried the instructions in both of these threads. http://forum.techinferno.com/alienware-m17x-aw-17/4829-780m-gtx-m17xr3-integrated-soundcard-working-again-no-more-usb-soundcard-4.html http://forum.techinferno.com/alienware-m15x-aw-15/10883-gtx-870m-installation-guide-w10.html Both have gotten me no further, as re-enabling the integrated audio puts me at the colored screen of death again (yes, I did try the power management option in IDT too). I dumped the vBIOS ROM using the DOS version of nvflash, attached it here in case one of you geniuses knows how to read/tweak these things. I'm not sure why these cards just don't like the integrated video, so maybe there's a way to fix it through vBIOS (or futher BIOS tweaking). GPU Specs: GTX 860m Kepler (GK104) 4GB VRAM Dell model, revision A1 Stock vBIOS 860M_GK104_4GB.zip Also, I am only seeing 2GB vRAM through GPU-Z. Is there a reason for this, and a way to fix it? Because of this I am skeptical of using svl7's vBIOS, which is why I uploaded the dump.
  2. I've decided that it's time to open my beast after i've noticed that one of my 4870's memory climbed above 93 degrees while playing Mass Effect. The idea behind photographing the process is to allow a better perspective than what the service manual gives. What was done? Cleaning the fins on both video cards heatsinks with compressed air Replacing thermal paste on both GPUs and the CPU to Shin Etsu G751 Replacing memory thermal pads on both GPUs from crappy stock ones to those Modding the retention clip as described here. All Credit goes to Ashtefere please rep him for that, he deserves it! Tools used small Phillips screwdriver - it matches all the screws inside your Alienware can of compressed air a small plastic prying tool that Dell once sent me, i used it to pry open the center control cover. Materials used Shin Etsu G751 thermal paste - i bought mine on eBay, but there are a lot of places that sell it. The reason i used it is because according to a lot of reviews this is one of the best performing pastes, only problem is that it's a pain to apply (there are guides for that too ) Thermal pads Step by step (More or less) Ok, here we go. Try to remember the sizes of the screws you are pulling out, and store them somewhere so they don't get lost (i use a vodka shot glass ) Removing the Center control cover i started with placing a towel on my working area to make sure i do not scratch the laptop while i work on it and removed the charger and battery. Unscrew two screws as shown to remove the compartment door. Unscrew the two screws located on both sides of CPU Fan, they are marked as M2.5XL17. Now turn the laptop around and open the screen as far as possible. using the pry tool, or a flat screwdriver, gently pry the control cover up. I found that in my case it's best to start from the right side. Be careful as there's a cable you need to disconnect before you pull it out. EDIT: For those of you who struggle a lot with taking the cover out, make sure you read this mod by Aikimox. Keyboard Unscrew the 5 little screws holding the keyboard and then gently pull it up. lift the keyboard up,disconnect those two cables and remove the it. Video cards. Since both video cards are going to get the same treatment, i'll describe just the master. We are going to pull it out, remove the heatsink, clean it and perform Ashtefere's retention clip mod Keep in mind that it will void your warranty! Remove the bracket. unscrew both screws that hold the video card. Disconnect the CF cable from the card, i used my nails to do it. Note that the location of the CF connector on the second card is under the heatsink and you'll need to remove the heatsink before disconnecting the CF cable there. Now pull the card up from it's outer side to remove it and expose the fan. blow compressed air to clean the heatsink and the fan. Unscrew the 4 screws that hold the heatsink down, following the numeration next to those screws. Now, after unscrewing those screws, the heatsink will probably be still attached to the video card pretty hard. Pry it up gently using the pry tool but make sure to do so where there's no electronic stuff under the tool. This is what you'll see. Next, clean the old thermal paste using alcohol pads, and remove the old thermal pads from the memory. Reapply thermal paste on the video card. I replaced the old thermal pads with with new ones, Ashtefere suggests applying a thick thermal paste on the memory (Shin Etsu would work since it's very thick).. Next, Ash's retention clip mod. I will not repeat him, he explained it beautifully in his guide. This is just to demonstrate how the screw looks like with the washer on it. Follow his guide to reassemble the heatsink on top of the card and return the card to it's place. (Don't forget the crossfire cable). Repeat with the slave card. CPU To access the heatsink of the CPU we will be removing the palmrest and the magnesium cover. With both video cards back in place and screwed in, turn the laptop, and unscrew three screws inside the battery compartment that are marked M2.5XL5 to release the palmrest. With the pry tool pry the palmrest down and then lift it up to remove the little cable that connects the touchpad. Ok, here i forgot to take a number of pictures so I will explain everything on this one. Basically what we're going to do is remove the magnesium cover. before we do that we will need to: disconnect LCD/Wifi/BT cables. They are marked with yellow. Next we will need to open the 10 screws that hold the cover down, those screws are marked with red and with a P letter on the cover itself. Disconnect the Crossfire cable from the master video card so you can pull it out. Finally, after the cover is removed, we'll unscrew those four screws that hold the heatsink down. They are marked with blue Clean the CPU and the heatsink from the old thermal paste with alcohol pads. Next i reapplied Shin Etsu G751 thermal paste on the CPU and replaced the thermal pad on the heatsink with a new one. That's it. Next, reversing the steps i reassembled the whole thing. I had a hard time putting the LCD cable back in place, took me maybe 3 tries before i got it right. Results Those are readings before and after, both after about 30 minutes of playing mass effect 2 so to me this comparison looks valid. Thanks to Ashtefere's mod,replacement of thermal paste and pads to better ones and cleaning the dust I can see about 5-7 degrees temperature drop on the CPU, and i have reason to believe that it'll keep dropping as Shin Etsu has about 3 days settle in time 11-19 degrees GPU temperature drop (!!!) 11-18 degrees GPU DISP/IO temps drop 19-24 degrees GPU /IO temps drop 15-20 degrees Shader temps drop 5 Minutes Furmark run No game warms the GPUs as furmark does, so after running it for 5 minutes and seeing the temperatures stabilize where they did i am very happy overall. EDIT: Additional Resources M17x Service Manual
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