Alienware M15x - Guide - How to fix AlienFX lighting after chip corruption

MattyB

Resource Administrator / Forum Moderator
Mar 19, 2012
3,309
161
Adelaide, Australia
Here is a guide on how to fix the AlienFX on the M15x after the chip has been corrupted from installing the Dell driver from the original Resource CD. Unfortunately some machines were shipped with the wrong Command Center Application driver and installing this would corrupt the AlienFX chip which would cause the laptop to permanently lose all AlienFX lighting and the user would get an error when trying to use the AlienFX. The only option given from Dell was to replace the motherboard but by following the steps below, you won't need to do this.

Special thanks to @ssj92 for guidance on this process


What you need;
- C8051F MCU Emulator USB Debugger
- Connector cable (for connection between Debugger and M15x)
- M15x HEX file
- Silicon Labs Flash Utility
- Second Laptop/Desktop

C8051F MCU Emulator USB Debugger

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/313304447036

Debugger.jpg

4 pin connector cable with open ended wires

Cable.jpg


This cable connects to the hidden service port on the M15x and the wires go into the USB debugger. Remove a small amount of the insulation from the end of each wire so they can be inserted into the debugger connector as shown below. I found this cable on a broken laptop that I had laying around. I just took the connector off one end of the cable so it could be inserted into the Debugger connector. You may have to try eBay for something similar.

Cable2.jpg

Make sure it is wired up correctly into the Debugger. Note the location of the red wire on the Debugger for reference.

Cable pinout.png

M15x HEX File


https://www.dropbox.com/s/mb0vfnp24uq0giy/code_m15x_r1.hex?dl=0

Silicon Labs Flash Utility


https://getwinpcsoft.com/Silicon-Laboratories-FLASH-Programming-Utilities-238798/download/


Location of the Service Port

I used a Dremel tool to remove the plastic above the port for easier access. Be careful not to damage the motherboard. You can remove the palmrest tray first if you'd prefer.

Service Port.jpg



Process

1. If you have Alienware Command Center installed on the laptop then uninstall it before proceeding. A fresh Windows installation is probably the best option.

2. Turn on the M15x and enter the BIOS

3. Using the secondary computer, download the HEX file (Link above) and save it somewhere for later. Download and install the Flash Utility (Link above).

4. Plug the USB Debugger into the secondary computer and open the Flash Utility

5. Plug the connector cable into the Service Port on the M15x

6. In the Connect/Disconnect Tab of the Flash Utility, press Connect. If it doesn't connect then select the USB Debugger option and try again.

7. Go to the Download Hex File/Go/Stop tab and Browse your system for the M15x HEX file that you saved earlier and enter the file into here.

8. Then enter 000000 where it says Hex File Start Address (HEX)

9. Check the Erase All Code Space before download button

10. Press the Download button (download should begin)

11. Press the Verify Download button

12. Press GO

You should now have fully functioning AlienFX again and you can reinstall the Alienware Command Center Application. Only use the version from the Dell Support website and not from the Resource CD
 
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