Dell XPS M170 display issue

By tlr55 ·
Hi All -

I'm new here - please be gentle.

I have an XPS M170 that I got in 2005. I use it for my business development and as such really want to stretch it as far as I can. For about the past 2 years, the thing quite randomly does the following:

1. The screen displays thin, dashed diagonal lines in either light grey or a yellowish color;
2. When #1 occurs, the computer responds to absolutely nothing except a hard reset;
3. The hard drive is VERY active;
4. (Very rarely) if left alone, the condition reverses itself after about 90 minutes.

My hunch is a heat issue, but it could be something that is outside the scope of my limited knowledge of hardware. As I said before, I use this machine for business development, and can't risk keeping it if this is a symptom that suggests that the asset is dying. It can't be good - I'm not that naive, but if there is either something further I could do to further diagnose the issue, or if there is a fix to try, I'm in. HELP! Thanks is advance for your assistance.

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All Answers

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Heat Issue

by BFilmFan In reply to Dell XPS M170 display iss ...

Laptops are really vulnerable to heat. Since the issue is resolved by a reboot, it sounds as if you have a case of thermal resistance increasing in a component. I would get one of those laptop cooling units and see if the issue is resolved.

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See if you can do this

by Jacky Howe In reply to Dell XPS M170 display iss ...

Laptops run fast microprocessors that can generate a lot of heat. The heat is mainly vented out of the bottom of the laptop but ventilation effectiveness is reduced when the laptop is placed on a solid surface. A hot laptop can suffer from reliability problems and a system that overheats can fail.
One way to help in this situation is to use a Notebook Cooling Chill Mat, something like this.


And if you are feeling adventurous you could try this and reseat the CPU.

If the CPU heatsink is not clogged with dust and lint completely, you can use canned air and just **** it inside the laptop through the openings on the bottom and on the sides. It might not work if your heatsink is completely clogged.

Open the laptop case, so you can access the CPU fan and the heatsink.

Carefully disconnect the fan cables on the system board and remove the fan. If the fan shows resistence when it spins replace the fan.

Clean the fan and the heatsink with compressed air.

I would also recommend removing old thermal grease from the CPU and applying new grease for better heat conductivity.

If you are uncomfortable performing these steps you could contact your local PC Technician.

<i>Keep us informed as to your progress if you require further assistance.</i>

<i>If you think that any of the posts that have been made by all TR Members, have solved or contributed to solving the problem, please Mark them as <b>Helpful</b> so that others may benefit from the outcome. </i> :-bd

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First things first Welcome to TR

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Dell XPS M170 display iss ...

Now I agree this is most likely a Heat Issue that is causing this problem to occur and I also agree that using a Cool Pad under the NB will drastically cut down the heat, extend the life of the NB and help to prevent dust and other airborne junk getting sucked in and blocking the internal cooling elements in your NB.

I personally only use Antec NB Coolers like this one


But anything similar will do though you need one with Fans in it as they suck air through faster than the NB sucks air in so any dust gets sucked tot he higher speed air flow and not into the NB. The Roll Up pads that fit under NB just don't work anywhere near as well in my experience.

You should also have a look at the Service Manual for this model for any further Diagnostic issues that you may have and it is here


But quite often if it is just a small or partial blockage of the air ducts inside the NB sticking a Cool Pad under the NB will cure any overheating issues and prevent them from reoccurring.

I personally refuse to sell a NB without one of these included as they make then last so much longer and keep them cleaner.


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Thank You!

by tlr55 In reply to Dell XPS M170 display iss ...

Thank you very much for the responses! I ordered my cooling unit, and will attempt to clean up the fan and heat inks in the coming days. Thank you so much for the suggestions!

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No Problems

by Jacky Howe In reply to Thank You!

keep in touch if you need more help.

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Your Welcome

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Thank You!

Don't be a stranger here.


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by tlr55 In reply to Dell XPS M170 display iss ...

All - once again, thank you for your replies. Having been a software guy ONLY for my entire career, I am more apt to beat the snot out of equipment and then curse it when it fails than to take care of it properly.

I digress....

I cleaned my XPS (it was filthy) and purchased the Antec cooling unit that was suggested in this thread. Not only have I not seen the display issue that has been plaguing me for years, the fans have only ONCE gone to full speed, and it was when I had SQL Server, Visual Studio, and Flash CS4 all running concurrently.

I believe the crisis has been averted entirely - just by taking proper care of my primary asset, which I should have been doing all along.

I've learned quite a valuable lesson in terms of the hardware that I depend on - and I once again thank the 4 of you for taking the time to help.

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