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Tag: Dell

Bake your graphic card back to life!

Nvidia 7950 GTX in my Dell XPS M1710

Nvidia 7950 GTX in my Dell XPS M1710

I bought my Dell XPS M1710 in January 2007, so it’s three years old now. Except some overheating issues, which I solved by cleaning the fans and applying Arctic Silver thermally conductive compound, I didn’t really have any major issues with this laptop. If you want more information about letting your XPS run cooler, please follow this link.

A few days ago strange things started to happen. During the boot up of the system, random pixels and stripes appeared, even at the BIOS screens. The Windows loading screen was normal but then a final screen with pixel distortion came up and the screen turned black. I had to shut down the system by holding the power button. Some browsing on the internet with my desktop pc confirmed my fear: my graphic card was fried. Apparently this is a common problem with Dell’s gaming rigs which are terrible at heat management. Some forums report problems when the laptop is only one month old. I guess I am lucky it worked for 3 years.

As my warranty is expired, my first reaction was to search for a new graphic card on eBay and other second hand sites. The graphic card in my system is a Nvidia 7950 GTX and they are being sold on eBay but at crazy prices! No way I’m going to pay about 300 euros for a second hand card that gives me absolutely no guarantee about how long it will work before frying again.

Then I found some forums about people putting their graphic card in the oven and baking them alive! The idea is that due to constant heating and cooling of the card, tiny cracks start to form in soldered contacts. Baking the card melts the solder, restoring the contacts. I thought “What the hell, I’ve got nothing to loose. My laptop is worthless now anyway.” Continue reading

Cool down your Dell XPS

Dell XPS M1710

Dell XPS M1710

Dell’s gaming line of laptops are notorious for how bad they handle heat. Although I must admit they did their best cooling the CPU and GPU with dual fan exhaust and multiple heat pipes, it just can’t handle the high temperature peaks during games. Furthermore after 3 years a nice fur of dust had formed on the cooling fins, effectively reducing the cooling abilities. When idle, the fans would constantly run at average speed with CPU/GPU temperatures of 60/70 degrees Celsius respectively. In games however the fans would go ballistic running at full speed with the GPU temperature peaking at 90 degrees Celsius! At some occasions the system would shut down due to overheating!

I wanted to solve this by doing three things: ‘overclock’ the fans of my Zalman laptop stand, remove the dust on the cooling fins and apply Arctic Silver thermally conducting compound between the CPU and GPU core and their heat sinks. Arctic Silver is fantastic at conducting heat! I already wrote an article about overclocking the Zalman (link), so this article will only handle the XPS itself. Continue reading

Pimp your Zalman ZM-NC1000 notebook cooler

Zalman ZM-NC1000

Zalman ZM-NC1000

I own a Dell XPS M1710. At the time I bought it, it was the best gaming laptop that existed. This means it has quite a hefty graphic card (NVIDIA Geforce Go 7950 GTX) crammed into a tight space. In preparation for the last LAN party I attended (the second one ever, it’s not like I do that every week), I bought a Zalman notebook cooler, the ZM-NC1000, just to be sure my laptop wouldn’t overheat during gaming sessions. It’s a nice device, well designed with some decent quality metal top plate, but I actually never believed the thing could keep my laptop any cooler. Tests I did with my laptop running a game with the Zalman on or off showed absolutely no difference in CPU or GPU temperature. However I keep using it because at least my laptop is raised a bit above the surface and this gives me the feeling my laptop will suck a little less dust… maybe… Continue reading

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