TechSpot

Alienware Area-51M 7700 D900T freezing/crashing problems

By seanmc
Jun 19, 2010
  1. Machine : AREA-51M 7700 D900T
    Hello All,
    My problems started with screen freezes - various programs / times of freeze - seemingly no common denominator as far as what I was running - after which I would have to do a forced reboot. Windows actually crashed out a couple of times , but I was always able to restart - till now.
    I tried to do a system restore with my restore disc - was told Windows could not be started due to a disc error. Decided to upgrade to a bigger HD and do a clean install. Popped in the new HD and my Windows restore / install disc - hit the power button - and got nothng accept the sound of the cd spinning up. Black monitor. OK. Reset the BIOS - started her back up, enter BIOS configuration screen, and the screen freezes.
    Forced reboot - black screen again, nothing - no Alienware splash, no loading of configurations screens, no Bios edit option for F2 - just dead again. I could hear and feel the CD and HD spinning up - just couldnt get ANYTHING on the monitor.
    I thought maybe I had a bad memory stick. Tried them both one at a time (resetting the BIOS each and every time by removing the CMOS battery) - I get the same results every time - a screen freeze at various points - sometimes while editing the BIOS, once I made it as far as starting the loading of Windows - but it always either crashes out with a mesage of "Cannot start Window - Disc error" (paraphrased), or just freezes up and my only option is a forced reboot.
    During the start of my hardware investigation, I noticed I had a bit of a dust clog issue going on, so Im wondering if maybe something got cooked. If it was my memory, both sticks got it, so Im thinking it isnt my memory. Its not the HD, because I have a brand new one in, with absolutely nothing on it, not even Windows. Brand new CMOS battery in place. Looking back, I think this had been going on for quite some time, gradually getting worse and worse.
    Does anyone have any suggestions as to what direction / component I should consider next?
    Ive GOT to get this thing running again.

    Thanks in advance for any advice,
    Sean
     
  2. Jamboy

    Jamboy TS Rookie

    I have some suggestions: Check your fan to see if it works properly, overheating can cause random errors. Look inside your CPU or laptop to see if anything is damaged or destroyed, if so take your computer to the place where you got it and let the person see it. They might be able to help.


    Hope this helped!
     
  3. seanmc

    seanmc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks, Jamboy,
    All fans are working -and no visible damage. I have been the sole owner of this laptop, and it has been treated very well , no mistreatment. (Well .. except for my recent lack in cleaning out the dust from the vents ...). Shipping it back to Alienware is the LAST resort - I would like to narrow the problem down as much as posible, before I resort to the local PC mechanic.

    If this problem does come from heat damage, the damage has already been done - although this is just speculation, obviously.

    Anyone have any suggestions, hardware-wise, as to what could be causing this laptop to freeze in the BIOS screen or the Windows load screen, or crash out (occationally) during the start of loading Windows? Every time this happens, a resetting of the CMOS memory is required, or startup produces a blank screen, with nothing but the sounds of the drives spinning up. Brand new blank HD or original old HD - swapped memory sticks back and forth, incase I had a bad memory stick - still occurs.

    Thanks again,
    Sean
     
  4. seanmc

    seanmc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well .... took it to a repair shop.
    My mother board is gone.
    $450.00 for a mother board for a 5 year old laptop! I dont think so! (not the shops inflated price - he strongly recommended against fixing it for that price)
    Hafta see if I can find a parts computer, maybe ...
     
  5. seanmc

    seanmc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hello again everyone!
    Well - I found a motherboard for $200.00 and went for the repair.
    My local computer repair shop ordered the part and did the swap.
    I got it back to do the OS reload myself. Made it to the "Enter to load Windows" screen - choose a drive - listed 4 drives, each with no HardDisk found. (RAID config.) Hit Enter anyway, got a "setupdd.sys PAGE_FAULT_NONPAGED_AREA 0x00000050" error.
    Have a brandy new WD HDD - the driver for this should be included within Windows standard drivers. Microsoft lists this error as a memory (RAM) error - So I swapped my sticks around and round, back and forth, all with the same result. Tried changing my disk config to ATI in the BIOS. Same result, slightly different screen. Also noticed when the BIOS were loading, I received a "No drive is attached to the FastTrack Controller" message, as well.
    Flipped it over again, checked that the HDD connectors were seated properly (seemed to be). Started again - Got a "Device not found! - No Bios loaded!!" message.
    Yet was able to edit the BIOS upon striking F2. HDD still not found, anyway.
    Restarted one last time for good measure - getting nothing accept a blank screen now. The Bios could be reset so I’m able to start the whole above process over again - but to what point at this stage?
    So - back to the repair shop it goes for more analysis - but, I was hoping maybe somebody here would have a thought on what could be wrong based on all my above descriptions?? Brand new motherboard, $300.00 in repairs, same ole problems!
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Sean
     
  6. skateduck

    skateduck TS Rookie

    white knight for alieware victims

    to all who suffer from this laptop; i have worked months and finally have defeated the beast.

    this is how it is done;

    hardware: you must buy an external smart floppy drive; about 15 dollars ebay
    you must buy an external laptop hard drive housing from apricorn

    software: you must download the non-raid drivers from alieware

    now you are ready to begin:

    download the promise non raid to a floppy;
    go to bios and set to ata and put floppy in top of boot order followed by cd rom drive
    now restart and hit key to boot from windows cd
    hit f6 for external scsi floppy
    when you get the prompt than load the promise drivers and continue
    then you eventually get prompt that you cannot load the promise drivers and the windows install may not function; just skip the loading of the drivers and install windows anyhow.

    you then restart and get the blue screen of death;

    now you must remove the hard drive from your laptop and insert it into your external drive house; and go to another computer and instrall the house to it and find the drive in my computer; and then drag the promise drivers on to the hard drive and place them in system folder, system 32 folder, and alieware folder.

    now put the harddrive back in laptop and let her start---have windows cd in drive but do not touch anything; it will automatically take you to windows install; sit back and enjoy the next 39 minutes and say skateduck i luv yu.

    ok, now you are ready to download all the drivers from your alieware "hive" for this laptop otherwise nothing will work including the internet.

    use a thumb drive to transfer the downloads from a live computer to your laptop; just find the setup exe file in each download to install them.

    good luck
     
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