Brand New X51 won't boot correctly-- Offering Reward for Solution

THE FIRST PERSON to completely SOLVE my problem (i.e. my x51 is able to boot up in regular mode and I have no freezes) will be rewarded with either a monthly or weekly humble bundle sale of their choice within the next few months.
Ok, so let me walk you through this story.
I'm going to put in as much detail as possible, so it'll probably be pretty long, but if anyone can help me or even point me in the right direction it would be much appreciated.
I received my X51 R2 i7 model 3 days ago. When I booted it up for the very first time, it went through the initial loading screen, then got stuck on a black screen (the monitor was still illuminated and receiving signal, but it was only displaying black). I rebooted several times, and each was met with more - though still very limited - success. It seemed like I could get a little further into the customization process each time I was forced to reboot the computer. Sometimes I was met with the original black screen and sometimes it froze on a quite ugly looking puke-green screen. (Sorry, that's the only way I can describe it). Eventually, I made it all the way onto the desktop. Huzzah! Yeah, not quite. I opened up internet explorer, just searched for google chrome and it froze me on a pure white screen. This is where is starts to get fun. Yet again I had to force shutdown. After rebooting it again and again I was met with a rotation of black and green screens directly following the first alienware bootup screen. Finally, I was able to get through to a light blue "Windows 8 did not boot correctly" screen. Here I had several options. I've tried them all. Here is a quick list of what was on it if you're not familiar-
  • Refresh your PC
  • Restore your PC
  • Reset your PC
  • Continue (Exit and restart Windows 8)
I think I missed one or two, so I will update soon if that is the case. At this point I called Alienware. After close to 2 hours on the phone with a very polite if not very helpful individual, he concluded that the problem was most likely in the video card (I have the AMD Radeon R9 270X that came standard in the i7 model). Yay, I thought, at least now I have a probable cause that could be fixed by the onsite technician. Alas, there was one option that both the employee and I had overlooked countless times. Safe-mode. SAFE-MODE! How could we have forgotten to attempt a boot in safe mode!? Anyways, that's exactly what I did. I set my computer to boot in safe-mode and it works PERFECTLY. While operating in safe mode I have not had a single hiccup, and I've even enabled sound with no trouble. This, however, seems to contradict AlienWare's theory of what could be wrong. There are no graphical glitches or pauses in safe-mode. I even downloaded and played Killing Floor on my Steam account. (Don't judge me, I was desperate to try out the computer on ANY game.)
Since then, I've scoured the internet in hopes to find someone with the same problem as I have, but to no avail. I've spent hours trying to account for what could go wrong in a normal boot-up that wouldn't be trouble in safe-mode. I've attempted to find a solution for this inexplicable catastrophe but it seems to evade my sights.
So now that you know my problem, I repeat my offer- THE FIRST PERSON to completely SOLVE my problem (i.e. my x51 is able to boot up in regular mode and I have no freezes) will be rewarded with either a monthly or weekly humble bundle sale of their choice within the next few months. I know it's not much, but I really am desperate to make this thing to function.
Thanks all <3,
Logophile
PS. YES I removed all external wires, etc. and held the power button for 20-30 seconds!
 

MattyB

Moderator
Mar 19, 2012
3,110
126
Adelaide, Australia
Hi! Sounds like a really fucked up situation to start off with on your brand new machine.
While I was reading I was thinking that it would be the GPU as well. If it were me, I would completely reinstall Windows 8 and all the drivers. It's a bit of a pain but at least you can control how and what programs get installed. If it's not the GPU then my guess would be some sort of Windows/software glitch.
I would talk to Dell again before doing this though if you're not comfortable doing it.
That's just my 2 cents.
Good luck getting the problem sorted!


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

STDVirus

Member
Nov 30, 2013
101
0
Olympia,wa
Hi sorry to hear about your issue with your x51. If you can boot in safe mode then it is most likely a driver problem somewhere if i had to pick id say it was a driver problem with your video card. I would un-install your video card drivers while your in safe mode and re-download the latest driver you can find for you x51. I'm guessing that since its a new card and they just started using them that the drivers that came with your system are out dated and most likely your problem. I had problems with my gtx 680 until i downloaded the newest drivers as well, not as bad as yours but that whole situation you are having sounds like a driver problem to me since i had similar problems on and off while trying to play game ( steam games ) ;) so i would give that a try. Hope that helps you out i'll check back later to try and help further if needed.

Good luck!
 

pAtMax

New Member
Dec 27, 2013
1
0
Thuwal
Hi Logophile,

you are not alone. I also have received my new X51 R2 equipped with the R9 270X card just recently (week ago), and still struggling to make it work. It came with Ubuntu 12.04 and I planned to install Windows 7 as the second system.
I did install W7 on it, alright. Have started experiencing issues as soon as I installed the AMD driver (Catalyst). Sometimes operating system freezes at the bootscreen (complete system lockout, only the power button halts it then), sometimes when it is idle (yes, I managed to get to desktop several times). When it worked, I run Furmark with no issues at all - 3D graphic worked just fine. Closed Furmark and left the computer alone for a half an hour - it hanged.
From what have seen, the computer works smoothly only if I replace the AMD driver with the standard VGA driver in Windows 7, but then the whole potential of the Radeon R9 270X card is not used.

This hardware configuration seems to be more stable in Ubuntu. I noticed, it hangs 100% if I want to logout or to shutdown/reboot/hibernate the computer. Today's morning I was not able to start it at all (hangs at boot). I kept the system on for about an hour, then did a power cycle - surprise! it boots normally.

Up to the moment when I read your post, I thought I had a faulty R9 270X. Now it looks like a BIOS issue - the current BIOS just does not work well with R9 270X. I wonder if you could try to swap the R9 270X for any kind of Nvidia card. regrettably, I do not have any Nvidia PCIe card to try.

Regards,
Max
 

STDVirus

Member
Nov 30, 2013
101
0
Olympia,wa
My buddie just ordered the same x51 with the i7, 8gb RAM, 2TB HD and the 270x. He should get it soon if he has the problem i'll bring it to my place and find out what's wrong hopefully i can help you guys in the process. I have some extra cards at my house and i can see what the problem is. I can't believe Dell would ship these things out without a test boot this is ridicules. I helped him piece this pc together and if doesn't work i feel responsible since he spent after tax and shipping almost $1500. I will find a solution and share it with you guys. Or at the least we will see if it is all the R2 with the 270x having issues.

I do know of other people with Radeon GPU's in the x51 but they ar R1's i don't know if that has anything to do with it or not.
 

dtaibi

New Member
Feb 22, 2014
2
0
Elkridge, MD
Solved!

I had the exact same problem! Just got the X51 2 weeks ago and it was working fine and then slowly over the course of 4 days it would freeze and then eventually it would go completely black upon Windows Startup (after the swirly Windows 7 lights that coalesce into the windows symbol). When I did actually boot into Windows I had these annoying vertical stripes or weird fuzzliness on all graphics. This reminded me of the issues you'd have in the old VGA days with trying to drive your CRT at too high a refresh rate. Strangely this all seemed to coincide with me setting the power settings aggressively (I think turning on sleep and setting the link state power mode to maximum power savings were key culprits). I first read a thread that it was a static discharge problem and that you had to disconnect all of the devices and power and then hold the power button for 30 seconds. That worked once, but then not again.
The key proof that I had that it was a multifaceted hardware problem was that when you enter the bios and there were stripes and distortions there as well. I read another thread about other non-alienware 270x owners having similar issues. One said that he updated his system to the latest bios and that fixed the problem. So, I went into the bios and I switched to the integrated graphics, booted to windows and downloaded the latest A04 bios. Yes, I already had the A04 bios, but I thought it a possibility that the bios may have been corrupted by all of the power interruptions.
So, while in windows 7, I went to the device manager, opened the properties for the Radeon R9 200 series adapter, clicked on the driver tab and uninstalled the driver. I downloaded the latest driver from the Dell support page (the A00 driver I believe) and re-ran the installer. I chose not to reboot and I ran the BIOS updater. It warned me that I had the same BIOS version, A04, but I told it to go ahead and update. When I restarted, I went into BIOS, switched back to the 270x (discrete) graphics adapter saved and restarted. Reconnected the 270x, went into the BIOS again on startup, and checked and like magic, no stripes, no distortions! I exited and let the system boot to Windows ... viola! No distortions, no stripes and it's been rock solid since. One thing I did notice is that the scaling factor on my flat panel was all out of wack. I had to set it back to 0% overscanning (I had adjusted it when I was first getting issues with the card ... it seemed to change the scaling each time I booted up). I also turned off the sleep mode and put the link state power setting to moderate power savings. I haven't had any issues since. I use my system as a media center pc with a ceton Ethernet tuner so I've enabled "away mode". I haven't had any issues. It will go into a low power mode and then leap into action like frogs in a dynamite pond when I press any of the buttons on my media center IR remote (or wireless keyboard).
I hope this process works for you as well! I was getting sick trying to figure it out.
If anyone can reciprocate and help me figure out how to retrieve my lost Windows 8 (different system) media center product key from the initial free offer in December 2012- 1/31/2013, I would be greatful! I called MS last night and they gave me the run around for 6 straight hours with no results ... and I've tried all the product key grabbers. The code that you find with them doesn't work when you're trying to install the product.

Good luck!
-Dan

THE FIRST PERSON to completely SOLVE my problem (i.e. my x51 is able to boot up in regular mode and I have no freezes) will be rewarded with either a monthly or weekly humble bundle sale of their choice within the next few months.
Ok, so let me walk you through this story.
I'm going to put in as much detail as possible, so it'll probably be pretty long, but if anyone can help me or even point me in the right direction it would be much appreciated.
I received my X51 R2 i7 model 3 days ago. When I booted it up for the very first time, it went through the initial loading screen, then got stuck on a black screen (the monitor was still illuminated and receiving signal, but it was only displaying black). I rebooted several times, and each was met with more - though still very limited - success. It seemed like I could get a little further into the customization process each time I was forced to reboot the computer. Sometimes I was met with the original black screen and sometimes it froze on a quite ugly looking puke-green screen. (Sorry, that's the only way I can describe it). Eventually, I made it all the way onto the desktop. Huzzah! Yeah, not quite. I opened up internet explorer, just searched for google chrome and it froze me on a pure white screen. This is where is starts to get fun. Yet again I had to force shutdown. After rebooting it again and again I was met with a rotation of black and green screens directly following the first alienware bootup screen. Finally, I was able to get through to a light blue "Windows 8 did not boot correctly" screen. Here I had several options. I've tried them all. Here is a quick list of what was on it if you're not familiar-
  • Refresh your PC
  • Restore your PC
  • Reset your PC
  • Continue (Exit and restart Windows 8)
I think I missed one or two, so I will update soon if that is the case. At this point I called Alienware. After close to 2 hours on the phone with a very polite if not very helpful individual, he concluded that the problem was most likely in the video card (I have the AMD Radeon R9 270X that came standard in the i7 model). Yay, I thought, at least now I have a probable cause that could be fixed by the onsite technician. Alas, there was one option that both the employee and I had overlooked countless times. Safe-mode. SAFE-MODE! How could we have forgotten to attempt a boot in safe mode!? Anyways, that's exactly what I did. I set my computer to boot in safe-mode and it works PERFECTLY. While operating in safe mode I have not had a single hiccup, and I've even enabled sound with no trouble. This, however, seems to contradict AlienWare's theory of what could be wrong. There are no graphical glitches or pauses in safe-mode. I even downloaded and played Killing Floor on my Steam account. (Don't judge me, I was desperate to try out the computer on ANY game.)
Since then, I've scoured the internet in hopes to find someone with the same problem as I have, but to no avail. I've spent hours trying to account for what could go wrong in a normal boot-up that wouldn't be trouble in safe-mode. I've attempted to find a solution for this inexplicable catastrophe but it seems to evade my sights.
So now that you know my problem, I repeat my offer- THE FIRST PERSON to completely SOLVE my problem (i.e. my x51 is able to boot up in regular mode and I have no freezes) will be rewarded with either a monthly or weekly humble bundle sale of their choice within the next few months. I know it's not much, but I really am desperate to make this thing to function.
Thanks all <3,
Logophile
PS. YES I removed all external wires, etc. and held the power button for 20-30 seconds!
 
I had the same problem and it forced me to run from the on board graphics (which can actually run most games!) Turns the screen would be fine in the bios, but not windows it was a faulty graphics card.

I contacted Dell and an engineer is coming to replace the amd radeon R9 270 tomorrow. I have had this system a week. On-board graphics and the rest of the system works perfect.

Just to note I did try reinstalling and different bios settings and nothing worked. I will post an update tomorrow if it works or not.
 

dtaibi

New Member
Feb 22, 2014
2
0
Elkridge, MD
Wow! You know how when you say something some how that jinxes you? Much to my chagrin, about 8 hours after I saw the post from SgtBaker below my system had a complete melt down. The video kept freezing, occasionally it would bluescreen, but invariably I had to power cycle the system. I reinstalled windows today and thought if I set the PCIE Gen3 setting to 'disable' and kept all bios and power settings conservative that I might be able to keep the system stable. No dice! The system was stable for 1 hour after reinstall and then the problem started all over again. Again I can't get it to boot into windows. I did notice that the time before video failures is decreasing, and the video even in safe mode has tiny horizontal streaks across it.

I called dell support and got through very quickly with the express service code (I was surprised). I ran through the all of my trials and tribulations and troubleshooting (the three "T"s) with the technician and they decided to cross-ship me a brand new system. The technician said that the current motherboard and intel chipset (H87?) doesn't support PCIe GEN3. He said that in fact if you enable GEN3 it creates a "bottleneck" to the radeon 270x and causes instability. I assured him that I had tried to no avail with GEN3 disabled. I also found out that the Dell/Alienware design engineers are working on a 3rd generation (the r3?) system based on the current intel chipset which should fully support GEN3 GPUs and I would assume the latest 6-core i7s. I for one feel cheated by this ... I'd love to have had the option for more RAM and cores. Oh well. You get what you pay for and Dell as long as I have known them have always been lagging the cutting edge by 12-15 months.

So, long story short, if you are having this kind of catastrophic failure with your x51 and radeon 270x then hopefully you still are under warranty and you can get them to send you a stable system. I wish I could have been more help ... but the experience was humbling.
-Dan