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Thread: Video card/Alienware/Opinion

  1. #1

    Video card/Alienware/Opinion

    Need some educated experience here.

    I'm currently working on a customers laptop which is an Alienware m5500i-R3 model. After some research it is actually considered to be an Alienware m5550 series by the manufacturer, don't ask.

    As I found through research, there are multiple type overheating issues with this particular brand of laptops through out various models.

    This particular laptop is experiencing what I believe is at least a GPU overheating issue. Upon start up the typical Alienware Alien head logo appears with some fragmented colored lines around the outside border.
    When going into "safe mode" the screen is fine for what I assume is probably low resolution graphics?

    OS is Windows Vista.

    I managed to get into the Operating System through a regular start up once so far out of about 3 times (with normal looking graphics).

    After reading about the GPU and CPU overheating issues I decided to at least lap the heatsink area and then apply a fresh coat of Artic Silver 5 to the processor surface. What I found when I opened the case is some type of thermal paste (factory) that at least resembled in color, Artic Silver on the processor. The substance was not fluid in anyway shape or form and more resembled a 3/4 baked cookie dough. In other words it either saw a lot of heat over an extended period of time or was a cheap knock off thermal paste that simply didn't hold up.

    The video card is an nVidia GO7600. My question is would it be ok to also apply a thin layer of Artic Silver 5 to the top surface of the GPU processor? Currently it had/has nothing on it except a baby blue colored pliable silicone (gooey) sheet covering it.
    If I can apply thermal paste, would it be better to leave the baby blue gooey silicone covering or remove it altogether?
    There is no heatsink touching the graphics GPU so if I do remove the blue gooey silicone covering, there is a possibility that if the thermal paste heats up too much it could make contact by fluidity (flow) to the surface contacts.

    Looking for opinons in general and especially those with laptop experience.

  2. #2

    Video card/Alienware/Opinion

    Answered my own question of sorts.

    I removed the thermal pad (the blue gooey silicone cover) and underneath found an embedded piece of copper heatsink. Thermal pasted the GPU processor applied the cover assembly (minus the thermal pad) and am now ready to hopefully start work on recovery if necessary.

    I am still curious though to see peoples experiences and opinions on this please. Thermal paste for the GPU that is.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator tech-daddy's Avatar
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    Video card/Alienware/Opinion

    I dont think yo uare going to be able to really control the thermals on that machine...

    Unfortunately.... you need to start here:
    http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1029630/nvidia-meltdown-blame-game

    continues here:
    http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1137385/nvidia-bad-bumps-worse

    then to here, since Alienware is owned by Dell now, this has direct implications on your issue:
    http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1137463/nvidia-dell

    I am going to withhold judgement, but I seriously doubt a fresh coat of AS thermal paste is going to rectify this problem.

    Best of luck to you though.

    -=TD

  4. #4

    Video card/Alienware/Opinion

    It appears your assumption was spot on T-D. In fact by removing the thermalpad from the GPU and adding thermalpaste, it's gotten worse.
    The laptop intermittently runs for up to 30 seconds to 3 minutes and then shuts itself down. The surface temps of the heatsinks (both for the CPU and the GPU) quickly ramps up to over 100 F after only a few start ups.
    By placing the laptop sideways and the bottom cover removed with both processors at their highest point, I can eek out an extra few minutes (5-10) but still the temps continue to rise to a shut off point.

    As fruitless as it may be I'll try contacting both Alienware and then nVidia to see if this can be resolved, wish me lots of luck lol.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator tech-daddy's Avatar
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    Video card/Alienware/Opinion

    Take the heatsink off and make sure you are getting good contact. I have seen may laptops with highly suspect engineering tolerances on their hetsink contact points. Many, I have found... *needed* the thermal pad to make up that gap in order to even make contact. If you have warranty on the laptop, you can try and contact Dell/Alienware.... but your steps of disassembly may have voided the warranty (if one existed).

    If warranty did not exist, you may be able to get a sympathy support resolution out of them by referencing the known problems with the NVidia laptop parts. That may trigger some sort of "alternate" (oh crap he knows that&#34 response.

    If all of that fails, and you remove the GPU heat sink unit and find it lacking in contact surface area, you *may* be able to tweak the heat pipes to get some more downward pressure on the mating surface to gain surface area down on the chip. BE WARNED though.... you could irreparably damage the heat sink pipe, and I Have never done that last step. But it is something to think about.

    Best of luck!
    -=TD

  6. #6
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    Video card/Alienware/Opinion

    i had an issue like this but with a hp laptop......i never did sort it but good luck man, interested to hear how it gos

  7. #7

    Video card/Alienware/Opinion

    Not sure if this is totally resolved yet but the laptops been running for 31 minutes AND I'm now getting the MS updates for Vista .

    From what I've been able to figure out the heating issue is most likely going to continue (possibly). I cleaned up the CPU and applied Artic Silver 5. As I said earlier, the prior (factory) thermal paste was almost baked onto the CPU.

    I then added thermal paste to the GPU which had nothing but the thermal pad on it. By applying the thermal paste and going sans thermal pad, the thermal sink was not making contact with the surface of the GPU so heat was continuing to build up steadily. Cutting out and applying a new thermal pad WITH the thermal paste seems to at least given me a semi-longer runtime. At least enough to get the OS installed and so far get some updates. Stubbornness pays off lol.

    Ok 35 minutes in (total runtime from cold boot) and 90% updated and she stills seems to be running smoothly. I'll do some intermittent CPU and GPU temp readings and may wind up using Speedfan if necessary. To the best of my knowledge there are no upgrades for the factory fan assembly so that avenue is out.

    I also reverted back to the original 2.06 bios. Alienware reported they had a heat fix in the 2.07 bios which was what the customer had upgraded to and apparently wasn't working.

    So far, so good.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator tech-daddy's Avatar
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    Video card/Alienware/Opinion

    Good work...

    the BIOS "update" was simply a setting to run the fan on high all the time. TADAA!!!

  9. #9

    Video card/Alienware/Opinion

    That was what I figured since there wasn't much else they could do but the upgrade (from what I've seen) doesn't always work. Reverting it back ot the original and adding thermal paste as well as leaving out any Alienware bloatware seems to have done it.
    ran it for 3 hours and it's doing great.

  10. #10

    Video card/Alienware/Opinion

    Update:

    The laptop is still running two days later .

    I wasn't able to do the temp monitoring as I wanted to because the customer needed the laptop ASAP and Speedfan wasn't installed because it seems to be running ok, so far. The temps of the CPU and GPU still seem to be hotter than a standard laptop but I think with the way it's designed and the components used, it's inherent.

    I did offer the customer a re-do on the thermal paste if necessary later but in the meantime I told him my best guess was to use it until July (if it holds out) and then start looking for another laptop which will have the Windows 7 upgrade (either software or redemption certificate) available to replace the Vista OS.

    The gap to the heatsink for the GPU seems to be what's causing the problem in addition to only using a thermal pad to extract the heat from the processor. By adding the thermal paste and replacing the thermal pad (with a new one) it seems to have resolved the overheating issue for the time being.

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