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Alienware laptop failure ?

By ajkamath ·
I have had an Alienware laptop for about 3.5 yrs and it seems to be dying. It shuts down periodically or it flashes a blank white screen upon startup and goes no further (it doesn't even show the BIOS boot screen). I have reinstalled Windows XP from CD in the past without problems, but now it will not reinstall at all. If the system boots properly, it has trouble copying some installation files or cannot install some files after they have been copied. I have been unable to complete an installation.

Does anyone have an idea of what's happening? I fear that the motherboard is failing. For your info, the system is an Alienware Area-51M 766 with a 3.0GHz P4 desktop processor, 2GB of Corsair RAM (PC3200), 120GB Western Digital 5400RPM Hard drive.

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It could be toast

by alphatech9 In reply to Alienware laptop failure ...

Generally, it's been my experience that when you can't get a machine to even boot with a CD, there is no saving it.....

I would rule out every option, but your mboard might be toasted....

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Ubuntu Linux Rules

by ajkamath In reply to It could be toast

After cleaning CPU cooler, replacing CPU, etc., problem still was not solved. Today I remembered that the whole problem had begun when I had tried an install of Windows Vista - system got bogged down and overheated - Windows XP would not reinstall.... As a last resort, I tried installing Linux with resounding success. Every component of the system is fully functional. I had been planning to set up a system with Linux anyway, so now I have it.

I am convinced that somehow the attempted Vista installation played games with something that should not have been touched. Linux has a way of getting around these otherwise impassable obstacles. Ubuntu is extremely quick and easy to install, even for people with essentially no knowledge of Linux.

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Have you tried removing the cover over the CPU and

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Alienware laptop failure ...

Cleaning out all the junk & rubbish that has been sucked in?

I did this on a NB that has been run into the ground last week only to discover what looked like felt covering the CPU Heat Sink.

After the clean out the unit was back to working in the As New condition but none the less I still supplied a NB Cooler to keep any stray air borne junk from being sucked into the NB. I prefer the ones that sit under the NB as they suck air from the top and push it out the bottom so there is no possibility of the NB having it's Air Intakes being blocked and little chance of more dirt and other rubbish being sucked in.

While it may not be a solution in your case it's worth while looking at particularly if the NB was getting hot to the touch. By fitting a NB Cooler you may extend it's life quite a bit over doing nothing at all.

Col

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Notebook heatsink airflow blockage

by ajkamath In reply to Have you tried removing t ...

Thanks for the suggestion. I opened the case to get at the air vents, but because of the design of the heatsink, the only way to get at the vents was to remove the heatsink in its entirety. This proved quite informative. The cooling fins on the outlet sides of the fan were completely blocked with 1/4 inch of dust felt - absolutely invisible and inaccessible from the outside and impossible to clean without removing the heatsink. As a result of overheating, the thermal contact paste had quite literally burned away, leaving no contact at all between CPU and metal block. I am disappointed, but not entirely surprised, that even a high end laptop supplier like Alienware would have such a poor design, except that it pretty much ensures CPU failure and possible repeat business from purchasers who don't have the impetus to investigate further. All that is necessary is to include removable filters that can be slid out of the case for periodic cleaning.

I am pretty sure that the CPU is fried, but I am in the process of reassembling the unit to test it out (yes, I do have CPU paste). If the CPU proves useless, I hope to scrounge up a cheap replacement - does anyone happen to have a spare functional Socket 478 P4 3GHz desktop CPU?

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You should be able to buy one of these New as Intel still lists

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Notebook heatsink airflow ...

Them as a current product. Though you can increase to a 3.2 GHZ CPU which was the fastest that they made in this series of CPU.

Col

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Replaced CPU - No Go

by ajkamath In reply to You should be able to buy ...

Thanks for comments up to this point. I haven't quite given up on the computer, but I'm close.

I got a replacement CPU cheap and installed it. However, now when I try booting from the original XP install CD, the system gets to the inspecting hardware screen and then goes blank and does nothing more. Before the new CPU was installed, the system would get to the stage of loading installation files before freezing. After reinstalling the old CPU the system still freezes during hardware inspection. I tried setting the BIOS to standard optimal settings without effect.

Any brilliant flashes of insight anyone?

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Only this about the Heat Sink Grease

by OH Smeg In reply to Replaced CPU - No Go

When you replaced the CPU did you clean off the Heat Sink and replace the Heat Sink Thermal Grease?

If not that may be the problem as it is highly necessary and easy to contaminate. Intel suggests using Alcohol Wipes to clean both the CPU and Heat Sink before applying any new Heat Sink Compound. You also should never touch this with fingers or anything other than a clean screwdriver blade to spread it on the Heat Sink.

Col

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CPU Thermal paste OK

by ajkamath In reply to Only this about the Heat ...

The thermal paste was applied properly and is not the problem - I have installed numerous CPUs. However, thanks for the suggestion - sometimes the simplest approaches work. I'm still open to other input. What bothers me is that the bootup from CD goes along until it reaches the hardware inventory. I'm now at the point of considering a replacement motherboard, but it's not worth throwing much money at the system.

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Have you tried a NB Cooler?

by OH Smeg In reply to CPU Thermal paste OK

That is about the only other thing that I can think of that doesn't involve any real work or expensive Hardware.

Col

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Alienware laptop failure

by kane In reply to Alienware laptop failure ...

Same deal here. found the problem to be my graphics card. basically there is little that can be done. Need to find a replacement module and update the bios and graphics card drivers.

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