Alienware M17x R4 - 1 beep error code: SOLVED

MamaSue

Member
Aug 10, 2021
16
2
Maryland
I'm trying to repair a 2013 Alienware M17X R4 for my son-in-law who loved it before it broke. It was beeping once when it would start up, which indicated mother board. So I bought a new motherboard on Ebay and replaced it. Now, it beeps 4 times indicating a RAM issue. When I take out the RAM, it beeps twice. I read somewhere that the original bios requires Dell RAM, so I tried ordering Dell RAM thinking I could install it, boot it up, upgrade the Bios and then the old RAM would work. But, the new RAM isn't really "Dell" brand either. I tried contacting Dell via chat and was told "The unit is 8 Years 165 Days old and End of life now. Dell does not have any support for this model now. You may check with eBay support for assistance." I can return the motherboard and get my money back for some period of time, but I'm not ready to give up. Anyone have any suggestions?
 

MattyB

Moderator
Mar 19, 2012
3,096
125
Adelaide, Australia

MattyB

Moderator
Mar 19, 2012
3,096
125
Adelaide, Australia
I usually attempt to flash the A05 BIOS. You can then flash each BIOS version one by one in order once the flash works.
Install WinRar first. Download the .exe file from Dell Support and right click on the downloaded file and open/extract it using WinRar. Then find the file that looks similar to the one in the guide above and rename it exactly like they say (do not put an x behind M17).
Use RUFUS to create a bootable USB flash drive and put this renamed file into the root directory of the bootable drive. Then just follow the instructions, making sure you put the drive into the eSata port and not a standard USB port.
The flash can take a while to complete so don't get worried if it sits there beeping for 30 minutes or more. Hopefully it will stop beeping sooner or later and when you turn it back on it should restart, fingers crossed.
It may give a 5-beep CMOS error but restarting it again should clear this.

Just note that this won't always fix a 1-beep error. It really only helps for a BIOS corruption but if the board has a critical issue then you probably won't have any luck.
 

MattyB

Moderator
Mar 19, 2012
3,096
125
Adelaide, Australia
Also, just to double check, you definitely have the M17x R4 right? The R4 was released in 2012 while the 17 R1 (M17x R5) is considered to be the 2013 model. Just don't want you flashing the wrong BIOS.
They look completely different with the R4 having the black or red soft-touch material on the lid and palmrest and more angular lines while the 17 R1 was grey/silver with a hard lid.
 

MattyB

Moderator
Mar 19, 2012
3,096
125
Adelaide, Australia
Yep, that sounds good. It's up to you whether you give that flash a go but it has worked for me a few times.

With the new board, just try using one stick of ram at a time, just in case one of them is faulty and causing the 4 beep error. I'd try reviving the original board first though so you can get your money back on the replacement board
 

MamaSue

Member
Aug 10, 2021
16
2
Maryland
Thank you so much for responding. I'm inspired! It also is all black with the soft touch, so it is the R4. I did try one stick of ram at a time and that didn't work. I'll try flashing the bios on the original board. I'm a Linux SA so I'm a little slow with the Windows stuff. Downloading WinRAR and I guess RUFUS. I'll let you know.
 

MattyB

Moderator
Mar 19, 2012
3,096
125
Adelaide, Australia
Rufus is pretty simple but maybe read a guide on it first if you've never used it. I'm pretty sure you can use Linux with RUFUS but I've only ever used Windows. I'm not sure about WinRAR though.

With RUFUS you just need to select the USB device you want to make bootable and then select the ISO image in the Boot Selection dropdown, from memory. That should be all you have to do before hitting Start
 

MamaSue

Member
Aug 10, 2021
16
2
Maryland
I posted a comment but it appears to have gone to the bit bucket. From the Dell page associated with this laptop, it only had one verison of the BIOS: M17xR4_A15. I assume this is version A15. When I extracted the files, there wasn't one named anything like QBR00EC.fd. Nothing with an .fd extension. I did a search and found downloads for M17R4A05WIN and M17R4A12WIN. I extracted the A05 one, and it does have the QBR00EC.fd file, but I wasn't sure if this the right one for M17xR4. Should I try it? Or do you know what file I need from the M17xR4_A15 extract?
 

MattyB

Moderator
Mar 19, 2012
3,096
125
Adelaide, Australia
It will show the latest BIOS but there is a little Show Older Versions button that you can click on.

The other files you found do sound right but I wouldn't want to say for sure.
If you can post a screenshot of what you see when you extract the exe files then I can take a look or you can have a go at one of the other downloads you found.
 

MamaSue

Member
Aug 10, 2021
16
2
Maryland
So, I put the old motherboard back in and flashed the bios as instructed, inserted thumb drive in eSate, held down the end button and plugged in the adapter. I waited a couple minutes and it seemed to come up, so I released the end button. Instructions said it would beep a few times and reboot, but it's just beeping. Should I not have released the end button? Not sure what to do now.