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Use Dedicated Graphics, not Integrated (Alienware Laptop)

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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May 26, 2013 9:09:24 PM

Edit: The problem has been resolved. See my last post 2 or 3 posts down.

So I realized that my girlfriend's Alienware laptop, which I bought back in June of last year, is running on integrated graphics (Intel HD Graphics 4000 to be exact). The laptop is supposed to come with a 2GB GDDR5 AMD Radeon 7970M. I'm not sure if it was always running on integrated graphics, or if it switched over due to a bios patch or driver or something.

The model of the laptop is the M17X R4.

What I've tried:

I've tried updating drivers for both standard VGA adapters and the integrated graphics, but the device manager is simply not detecting the Radeon card.

You can't install AMD drivers or even run Catalyst Control Center because it can't detect that there is a relevant card to interface with.

I've tried disabling the integrated graphics card and rebooting, no luck. After rebooting I was however able to install drivers automatically, but it was for the standard VGA controller, and had nothing to do with the card.

Doing Fn + F7 to switch the cards switches me between the integrated graphics and the standard VGA. Again, nothing to do with the card. Even after I disabled the integrated graphics.

I have tried booting into BIOS and looking at the Dedicated Drive slot, and it says "ATI GFX." It's not giving me the name of the card, but it's also not saying "Not detected." I assume it's talking about the motherboard controller, but I have no idea.

In the BIOS menu, under the Advanced tab, I have no graphics options whatsoever. I've tried looking at this menu with the integrated graphics both enabled and disabled, but nothing is different.

That's about everything I've tried. I want to see if it's something I can do on the system before trying to crack it open and see if the card is seated properly and/or if the contacts need cleaning. Also, I haven't seen people having much success flashing the BIOS, but if it's something I need to try, I guess I'm willing as long as it doesn't screw up the whole system. It's still under warranty, but I'd much prefer to fix it myself than send it off if I can.

Any comments or suggestions would be very helpful and appreciated. Thanks!
May 26, 2013 10:13:10 PM

Thanks for the response. I upgraded to the most recent BIOS and it didn't help the problem. Might have to contact Alienware support after all.

Anyone else?
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a b D Laptop
May 26, 2013 10:37:01 PM

I would start with Alienware first and see what they say. I'm sure it's something there, but they haven't posted it on their site (at least not that I could find).
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Best solution

May 27, 2013 8:24:45 AM

I fixed the problem.

The issue apparently was that the laptop came with no drivers for the AMD card even installed. I've heard that if you get drivers from the manufacturer, you run the risk of the Switchable Graphics option not working at all (at least with NVIDIA cards).

What I did was, I went to the DELL support site, browsed to drivers and downloads for the Alienware M17X R4, and instead of looking at BIOS updates, I looked down at the Video updates. Right there, below the updates for the integrated graphics, was a driver download for the AMD card. I downloaded this, ran it, rebooted, and voila! Device Manager recognizes the card, the Switchable Graphics option is now available when I right click on the Desktop, and after setting an application to run in high performance (a game, for instance), it starts using the card whenever you use that application and stops when you're not. Pretty nifty.

For the sake of completeness, in case anybody else finds this topic, I still see "ATI GFX" in my BIOS for Discrete Graphics, and I still have no graphics or video options in my BIOS Advanced tab. Thankfully, after installing the drivers from the Dell website, I didn't have to fiddle with BIOS at all. Just had to enable the program in the Switchable Graphics menu.

Edit: I don't know how to set this as the answer, but this is how I fixed the problem. So the forum topic can be considered answered.
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a b D Laptop
May 27, 2013 5:09:49 PM

Lapys said:
I fixed the problem.

The issue apparently was that the laptop came with no drivers for the AMD card even installed. I've heard that if you get drivers from the manufacturer, you run the risk of the Switchable Graphics option not working at all (at least with NVIDIA cards).

What I did was, I went to the DELL support site, browsed to drivers and downloads for the Alienware M17X R4, and instead of looking at BIOS updates, I looked down at the Video updates. Right there, below the updates for the integrated graphics, was a driver download for the AMD card. I downloaded this, ran it, rebooted, and voila! Device Manager recognizes the card, the Switchable Graphics option is now available when I right click on the Desktop, and after setting an application to run in high performance (a game, for instance), it starts using the card whenever you use that application and stops when you're not. Pretty nifty.

For the sake of completeness, in case anybody else finds this topic, I still see "ATI GFX" in my BIOS for Discrete Graphics, and I still have no graphics or video options in my BIOS Advanced tab. Thankfully, after installing the drivers from the Dell website, I didn't have to fiddle with BIOS at all. Just had to enable the program in the Switchable Graphics menu.

Edit: I don't know how to set this as the answer, but this is how I fixed the problem. So the forum topic can be considered answered.


Glad that you found the solution for your problem. The only way to close the topic is to pick the "Best Answer" option, unless a Moderator reads the post and closes it himself.
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December 8, 2013 1:49:32 AM

How do you permanently enable the dedicated graphics card even when on a battery. Most laptops will automatically disable it when on battery power. I'm using mine for CUDA and hence need it to be enabled at all times. I don't care if the battery dies off quickly.
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a b D Laptop
December 8, 2013 3:38:23 AM

Lapys said:
I fixed the problem.

The issue apparently was that the laptop came with no drivers for the AMD card even installed. I've heard that if you get drivers from the manufacturer, you run the risk of the Switchable Graphics option not working at all (at least with NVIDIA cards).

What I did was, I went to the DELL support site, browsed to drivers and downloads for the Alienware M17X R4, and instead of looking at BIOS updates, I looked down at the Video updates. Right there, below the updates for the integrated graphics, was a driver download for the AMD card. I downloaded this, ran it, rebooted, and voila! Device Manager recognizes the card, the Switchable Graphics option is now available when I right click on the Desktop, and after setting an application to run in high performance (a game, for instance), it starts using the card whenever you use that application and stops when you're not. Pretty nifty.

For the sake of completeness, in case anybody else finds this topic, I still see "ATI GFX" in my BIOS for Discrete Graphics, and I still have no graphics or video options in my BIOS Advanced tab. Thankfully, after installing the drivers from the Dell website, I didn't have to fiddle with BIOS at all. Just had to enable the program in the Switchable Graphics menu.

Edit: I don't know how to set this as the answer, but this is how I fixed the problem. So the forum topic can be considered answered.


There! I fixed the topic needing to be answered :)  I hope your laptop is working well?
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April 13, 2014 1:53:50 PM

I had the same problem but what i did was...
Downloaded Nvidia GeForce experience and the required drivers for my card.
Disabled my on board intel graphics in device manager.
Then pressed the function key along with F5 (i/d GFX) to switch to my Nvidia card.

At this point i am now using my Nvidia GTX card but the Nvidia control panel was saying there isn't a display attached to your device so then i did the next measures...

I rebooted and the Found New hardware came up...the card took a while to show in device manager.
I then opened up GEForce Experience and it said i had new drivers to download, so i downloaded them and then rebooted. (i had to wait a while for new hardware manager to copmplete as GeForce experience was saying it was still open, even though i couldn't see it) I waited a while and Ge Force kept trying then a few mins later success, it started DL the drivers.

I rebooted and all is working perfect and i dont have to switch back and forth between cards. I'd rather just use my Nvidia for everything.
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