M17X R4 Common Motherboard issues and symptoms?

VRTX

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Apr 30, 2021
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Hi Guys,

I'm interested in finding out what the most common Motherboard issues are for the M17xR4 as well as the symptoms and troubleshooting tips. I have become the new owner of one of these recently, a pre owned unit that was literally given away to me by its previous owner as they could not part with the money to get it going again. although there is a fair bit of work to be done on it (missing harddrive/s, casing screws, DVD rom drive, Cmos battery and ram) I feel that for me its worth getting it back to working condition again. From what I can see its using the AMD 7970 HD GPU, and i7 CPU.

I seem to be getting the 7 beeps with no boot or lights or anything, searching the web all I get is the common 'bad CPU or motherboard' explanation but no other indication of how to check if its the Motherboard (as well as what components may have gone bad) or if its the actual CPU and to be honest there is nothing very specific (at least that I was able to find) for this model.

Perhaps if you could share your experiences as well as what might have solved the issue in your specific case it could help point me ( as well as others ) in the right direction? I've read about some models being wrapped up and left to beep for 10 mins as well as "reflowing the motherboard" by placing it in an oven (LOL, I can see that going very wrong if I tried it) but somehow these don't seem like very viable options. I'm handy with a soldering iron so I would be interested to know if perhaps there is a specific component that fails that could be replaced.

Apologies in advance if I have duplicated this thread as I was unable to find anything related to the '7 beeps' issue on this forum at the time of posting.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
 

MattyB

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I'd say one of the most common terminal issues is the 7-beep CPU error that you have. I have seen it many times. Intel CPU's are all but bulletproof so this CPU error almost always means that the motherboard needs to be replaced. I have had one 4910MQ that failed on a 17 R1 but it's very rare. The only real way to know is to find a working CPU to test. A 2nd or 3rd gen mobile i5 should be cheap enough just for testing. You can always sell it again later.
Other than that there is GPU failure as another common issue but that's not really system related. They just go bad after a while.
Those items that you're missing should be easy to find. The CMOS battery will just be a standard 2032 lithium battery which you can buy from the supermarket for $2. I'm sure that the CD drive can be found on ebay but I would have a spare to sell if you're desperate. Shipping from Australia though.
I definitely wouldn't suggest the old wrapped up blanket xbox fix.
 

MattyB

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You could try the i5-3320M. I've never heard of one being put in an Alienware but the socket should be the same. They are pretty cheap. There is one here on ebay for $29AUD.
 

VRTX

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Apr 30, 2021
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I hear you, probably best to test CPU first. Ill have a look around, unfortunately South Africa isnt very friendly with shipping fees and 8 times out of 10 the postoffice here will loose the package, but no choice really as no one has anything locally. Ill reach out when im ready for the optical drive, no point getting it now at least until i can get the machine to respond with something other than 7 beeps.

Is it possible to get the results im getting from a bad bios update? Ive seen a few of these cases but those machines still turn lights and fans on so its not the same symptoms as mine.
 

MattyB

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Couldn't say for sure, anything is possible with a bad BIOS flash. My gut says that it will need a new board. There are ways to force a BIOS flash when the system is having problems using the esata port but it's been a while since I've tried it
 

VRTX

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Just researched this esata port method, will give it a try later today and provide feedback. In any event, ill keep tinkering around with it and provide updates and feedback here. Im hell bent on getting it running again but have to figure out what exactly has failed.

Out of curiosity, do these machines work well with windows 10 or should i rather keep it on windows 7? I would hate to upgrade and then loose functionality, seen alot if guys complain about windows 10 on these but the videos are quite old so not sure if W10 has started to play nice since then.
 

MattyB

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I have no problems with Windows 10 on my old machines. Best to set the BIOS to pure UEFI mode and do a fresh Windows install.
 

VRTX

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Ok, progress update...

I have opened it up and taken it appart... Big problem. Seems that the CPU has been incorrectly forced into place in the socket. I have never seen this level of incompetance and am still shocked at what i saw in there. One of the CPU pins have been bent completely flat as a result. See attached pics.

I assume that turning the system on with the CPU mounted completely back to front has resulted in the failure of the CPU or the Motherboard or more than likely BOTH.

Ive bent the CPU pin straight again and proceeded to correctly fit it to the socket however im getting the same 7 beeps with no lights or screen. So next steps are CPU replacement, then test and if i still get 7 beeps ill move to motherboard replacement. Let me know if anyone has a CPU laying around that i could purchase for a reasonable amount.

Did some reseach on the CPU its using (there is no indication other than product codes on the CPU) and it seems its an intel celereon B800??!! I was expecting an i7 of some sort... did any of the m17xr4's come with this processor? And are all CPU's compatible with this socket type compatible with the motherboard?

Lastly does anyone know what the GPU model is in the pic ive uploaded? From what i have searched its a 6970m but cant be sure...

Thanks in advance for any assistance.
 

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MattyB

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Someone has butchered that poor machine. That Celereon is a Sandy Bridge mobile CPU so technically it should work but I've never heard of someone using one. They definitely didn't come from Dell with them. It's a pretty crappy CPU so it's possible that the board was already faulty and they bought that cheap CPU to test with.
That is definitely an older gen AMD card but I can't read what's on the die. I'm not sure if it's a 6970M though as I thought the die's on those were seated on a diagonal on the PCB. I could be wrong but I think it's even older than that.
 

MattyB

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Ahh looks to be a 6870M which was released with the R3 model. Are you sure yours is the R4?
 

MattyB

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If yours is actually an R3 then you have to use a 2nd gen mobile CPU but if you have the R4 then you can use a 2nd or 3rd gen CPU. I have a spare 3630QM. $60USD + shipping
I may have a spare 2nd gen 2760QM (not sure yet) and that would be the same price.
 

VRTX

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Apr 30, 2021
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Well, to be honest I dont know what the exact differences are between the R3 and the R4. The motherboard model number on this one is LA-8341P... not sure if the same MB is used in the R3? It has a service tag sticker on the bottom case (see attached picture) that says its an R4 but its not fool proof, anyone can put that on there to make a quick buck.

I agree with your thinking, this MB is definately fried somewhere.

I also noticed it has an mSATA ssd, is this used as a OS boot drive on these units?

Im definately keen on the 3620QM you have, but want to do some more digging to make sure i dont need anything else. So far from what youve told me I am keen on both the 3620QM as well as the optical drive, we can see what the shipping will cost in the interim and sort those out. Thank you.

From what I have seen so far, still need a Motherboard, a GPU that can actually run recent and some current games and still dont know if the display actually works as i cant even get the backlights to respond with this set up. So if anyone has any spare parts that they would like to sell... please let me know.
 

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