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M18x R2 Rebuild -Running with GTX 980 (non M)


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Three months ago, I got an amazing deal on ebay for an AW m18x R2 , that was supposedly defective - 3 beeps error. Had never heard of this model because I was still blindly living in my MSI world.

 Since my GT70 was on his way to electro-heaven - I went for it. The laptop arrived - it had no ram - not gpu and no cpu - the HDD flex cable was also missing- as well as the psu - and some more surprises that I found out along.

Upon powering on I was greeted by three  cheerful beeps - and powered off. It took me at most 1 minute to fix the mainboard by reprogramming the bios using an EEProm programmer. But the beeps revealed another problem - the speakers were cooked as well. I have then dissasembled the laptop... inspected and cleaned everything thoroughly till the last screw and made a list with what I needed,  most of the missing parts were scvanged out of my MSI -a 3920xm CPU 2x8 GB Hynix ddr3 ram the gpu- at the time I had a gtx 970m and the speakers were transplanted  into the housing of the old ones.  I´ve reasembled the laptop - to see if my flash was successfull and inded it had worked. At fisrt the gpu was not being detected but as I found out, I needed to upgrade to an ulocked bios - done that also and it worked like a charm.

The psu that I had, was only rated for 240 watts but i managed to find a 330 watt clevo psu on ebay that had a knicked cable -  I have replaced the cable and bought myself some id - PSU chips from china installed and boom - recognized in bios and working as it should. I had an mSata ssd lying arround so gave it a go. No BSOD no nothing - ran some benches - did some OCs to see if everything was fine - and it went well. I have decided to keep the laptop as my daily driver - so i've decided to buy the flex sata cable and to  replace the palm rest - that had a gooey feeling to it because of the altered rubber paint that dell uses on those thinngs - i got a brand new one for cheap from china also. The cherry on top is that I wanted to see how far could I take the laptop - gpu upgrade wise - without using the optimus technology - a thing that I find unnecessary on such a build. So i ``went`` yet againg shopping in china - and found myself a gty 980 non m non gsync -  out of an 18 inch MSI GT80 I think. The card arrived - but there were some  issues -  first of all the card would not fit in the mxm  socket - and seemed to also kinda bump in one of the white connectors on the mainboard - the one for the shift and caps lock leds - i tooke care of that with a small nail clipper and a file - just remooved half of it and it still work lai a charm and the card fits on that side also.   The toughest part was that I had to pull out the metallic pins  out of the  mxm slot, the ones  that `Lock` the card into it - left and right , and also file down a small piece of plastic off of the right side of the slot itself - where one of those pins were. The card now fits and is held in snug by the two screws on the motherboard. The heatsink that the laptop came with was only rated for 75 watts heat dissipation - so i sold that and got myself an all copper gpu heatsink. It keeps the card in the low 80s C  in gaming - with the standard fan curve  - while using mx4. I am looking forward to lapping the heatsink and also applying som LMe to see how far below I can take it - all this weekend. The  bios that the card came with only allowed me to run it in optimus - i know- the irony - but after trying different bios versions i found one that runs in PEG mode also - the power table is set alot lower compared to the bios that the card came with but  I consider that haveing a headroom for future ideeas.  The gpu works like a charm - and it beats up the 970m and 980m by far. I did some overclocking - got to 1320MHz on the core  and undervolted  with -,75mv on all of the voltage tables. I still seem to have allot of headroom, but the psu does not seem to be that good - because according to GPUZ - the voltage dropps to 17.8V so it starts to powert hrottle.  Abut does not go lower than 1240MHz - bios mod :).  The ram chips 

Curently i am trying to extract the hex table from a desktop gpu - out of  the bios - the one responsible fo the fan curve - and hopefuly insert it in to the laptop counterpart. - Wish me luck.


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Damn, that was a lot of information but good job! How much did you find the HDD cable for? They can be expensive. 


I still need to teach myself how to use the EEProm programmer. I got myself one but I have no idea how to use it. 


The M18x R2 is still one of the greatest laptops ever created. Yeah, they are falling behind with the power of modern laptops but they are still fantastic machines. The only letdown is the incredibly fragile HDD ribbon cable. 


Good luck with your upgrades!


EDIT: You need to get yourself an MXM to NVMe adapter..... ;)

Edited by MattyB
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Hello @Mattyb,  I know there was lots of info , but yeah... I jus felt inspired... well I got the HDD flex on ebay, got it for like 30 bucks from China. I am happy with the upgrade, but I seem to have a problem with the power supply for the mxm - I have two PSU bricks both good but keep getting only 18.7 volts in idle and about 17.6 in bechmarks... forcing the GPU into  power throttle. I think that the bios that I have might be bad. 

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Are you using SG mode in the BIOS or PEG? I have no experience with the non-M GTX 980 but the 10 series cards have to run in SG mode on the M18x which causes power throttling. 

If you're on SG then try this and see if you get different results.

Jump into the BIOS and switch back to iGFX, restart and switch back to SG. This sorts out the power issue on my 1070 but I pretty much have to do it on every restart. 

Just be carful though as I don't know what effect switching video modes will have with your 980. If it has to run in PEG then switching to SG may cause an 8-beep error and you'll have to reset the CMOS. 


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Hy , I am using PEG...( I am not a fan of hybrid graphics  that is why I did not go for the gtx1070). I think that it is either a bad voltage regulator , a small ceramic capacitor or a zener diode on the 19 v rail that has gone bad and is leekeing some voltage to ground. Will be testing on the weekend. Hote to find the culprit.

Still, Tlthank you for your interest and help buddy. Have a good one.

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