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Alienware m9700 - Dead / Needs Resurrected

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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March 4, 2010 3:42:20 PM

I have a dead Alienware m9700 that hasn't worked in about a year. I am wanting to start a project to resurrect it and would appreciate any assistance.

Right now, the notebook is getting power from both the AC adapter (just tested it today) AND a new battery (which I just purchased).

The problem is:

A: When just the AC adapter is connected I only get about a 1 second response after pushing the power button. The fans jerk forward for a second, the AC plug symbol is lit and the mousepad button lights up, but then the AC adapter light and the mouse light go off. The system light on the back is off and isn't coming on at all when the power button is pressed. This happens on in about 1 second.

B: When just the battery is connect, the same as above, except the power button shuts off too after the 1 second after its pushed.

C: If both the battery and AC adapter are connected, it does the same as in example A.

With all A, B, and C, I hear something sound like it is engaging on the initial attempt but after the first attempt it never does it again until its sat for a little while.

Now this all started with a bad AC adapter about 1 year ago. The adapter had a short and I purchased a '3rd party' adapter which was listed as compatable. The tip didn't fit my DC jack properly and I had to prob the notebook up to wedge the adapter tip snug onto the DC jack.

We that worked fine for a few months, then I went for a walk and came back and the notebook was off. It has never turned on since.

So I am about to disassemble the notebook. I am going to clean the components, the dual GPU's, the CPU, and anything else I can see that needs cleaned with some diluted rubbing alcohol and a soft bristled toothbrush.

Then I am going to inspect the DC jack with a 10x magnifying glass to look for any solder breaks or burns on or around the DC jack. ( I already have a new jack to solder on if this one is bad).

I don't think its the DC jack though, because the battery powers the motherboard from the opposite side and I get the same exact result when just trying with battery power.

NOTE: The power button stays solid orange but in the manual it says the power button is 'user' programmable and says nothing at all about what it should or shouldn't be doing.

The system light in the back flashes on for a split second when I connect the AC adapter to it but it never comes on again when pushing the power button (is supposed to be solid when notebook is on) and after the initial connection with AC adapter, it doesn't flash on again if I disconnect and reconnect the AC adapter.

Anyhow, Im going to disasseble and clean everything. If anyone can give me any tips on what I can check, please do.

I have a multimeter, a notebook repair kit (tools), and have decent soldering ability.

The notebook has been dead for a year, I have this one to use, so please don't be afraid of killing my notebook, its already dead and needs resurrected. If you want to see if this thing can be brought back to life without me shelling out $450 for a MB, now is the time lol.
a b D Laptop
March 4, 2010 4:59:50 PM

Hello,

I have come across a few people using 3rd party power adapters, and the results of using such devices was not good. Have you tried buying an official power cord for your laptop?

Also - since the connector was not flush as you say this can seriously cause some problems for your laptop. Things include - melting of your power receptor in your laptop - damaging your capacitors on the motherboard...the list goes on.

If you do plan on taking it apart - look near where your power recepticle is located to see if there is anything melted near it, also check to see if there are any capacitors melted on the motherboard. If any of your capacitors are melted - there is no amount of soldering you can do to fix it.
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March 5, 2010 8:26:45 AM

Chainzsaw said:
Hello,

I have come across a few people using 3rd party power adapters, and the results of using such devices was not good. Have you tried buying an official power cord for your laptop?

Also - since the connector was not flush as you say this can seriously cause some problems for your laptop. Things include - melting of your power receptor in your laptop - damaging your capacitors on the motherboard...the list goes on.

If you do plan on taking it apart - look near where your power recepticle is located to see if there is anything melted near it, also check to see if there are any capacitors melted on the motherboard. If any of your capacitors are melted - there is no amount of soldering you can do to fix it.


The adapter was sent back and fixed and a new barrel center tip put on that is compatible.

As I said though, the motherboard should still boot up with the battery as it draws from the battery on the opposite side of the motherboard. The battery is new and fully charged.

Taking it apart today. Will see what I can see. It might just need a good cleaning and everything reseated. Who knows. If that doesn't work, guess I could always give it a bath or bake it.

Its either going to work or continue not to work.

Can't capacitors be replaced? When I was a kid, my dad would replace capacitors on the TV boards and in home stereos.
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March 5, 2010 10:45:12 AM

i know it sounds silly, i had somethin simillar to that and what i have found out that the ram wasn't sittin properly...

so i would say, while cleaning it, try and reconnect all the componnents/cords you can (obviously dont unplug anything you don't know how to put back together).

back to mine, turns out my dad dropped it while it was on, and then middle of nowhere he couldn't turn it on after a while...
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March 5, 2010 10:49:39 AM

btw, about the adapter, some companies (maybe all of em) won't warranty their stuff if the power supply was not original, think about the reason for that (i mean besides them tryin to get more money out of u)...
they do have a point, and even maybe some of the brands will even protect their stuff in many diffrent ways against not orig. adapters... ;) 

as ''çhainzsaw" said i would get the orig supply
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March 5, 2010 11:50:17 AM

The adapter is identical, I've tested it myself with a multimeter. Its the exact voltage as the original and I had them put on my old barrel center tip from the original.

The problem isn't the adapter (power supply), that has already been eliminated as a source of the problem.

As far as the RAM, I've taken it out and reseated it more than a dozen times. That isn't the problem either. I've also tested each memory card by themselves just in case one of them may have been bad and tested them in another notebook.

How can I test to ensure there is power getting from the VRM (voltage regulator module) to the heatsink fan?

I think the VRM is the problem but unsure how to test it.
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March 5, 2010 11:55:24 AM

Also, if you call the manufacturer of the notebook (Alienware) to buy a new AC adapter, they direct you to buy the 3rd party one which I purchased.

They don't sell original adapter for these anymore, not even the manufacturer, 3rd party are the only option.
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a b D Laptop
March 5, 2010 12:54:11 PM

Capacitors can be replaced - but you need the correct type. Is it a solid state capacitor, or one of those "regular" cylindrical capacitors? Would you be able to buy them if you knew what to look for?

Like I mentioned, do you have another spare battery - either from someone else or possibly one from a store you could try out?

Anyways, like you mentioned also - you could just take the whole thing apart and give it a good dust off and cleaning. You could re-seat the processor, re-apply thermaly compound. Hell re-seat everything that isn't soldered onto the motherboard.

I'm out of ideas :)  good luck.
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March 5, 2010 1:04:32 PM

Chainzsaw said:
Capacitors can be replaced - but you need the correct type. Is it a solid state capacitor, or one of those "regular" cylindrical capacitors? Would you be able to buy them if you knew what to look for?

Like I mentioned, do you have another spare battery - either from someone else or possibly one from a store you could try out?

Anyways, like you mentioned also - you could just take the whole thing apart and give it a good dust off and cleaning. You could re-seat the processor, re-apply thermaly compound. Hell re-seat everything that isn't soldered onto the motherboard.

I'm out of ideas :)  good luck.


The battery is brand new and fully charged, just bought it last week and that is an original manufacturer battery. I've tested it both with a multimeter and in the notebook.

I also have a dead battery to compare it with and the notebook has 0 response with the dead battery, but with the new battery it does try to power up when the power button is pushed, It just has the same result as with the AC adapter though.

Pretty sure its a problem with the voltage regulator module but unsure how to test it. The voltage regulator is where the capacitors are used anyways. Anywhere that the motherboard needs to convert one voltage to another, there will be a coil and a capacitor there. Some motherboards have 2-3 voltage regulator modules on them because they can only handle converting one voltage. So if the motherboard requires 5v in some spots and 12v in another, there will be more than one VRM on the board, always surrounded by a coil and capacitors.

As far as the capacitors go, you can get capacitors for anything. They are all a specific color and have a specific code depending on their purpose and you just have to match that to a capacitor of the same color and code which shouldn't be too difficult.

I found a nice site on replacing capacitors on motherboards, figure if thats the problem, Id give it a shot. Have to be sure thats the problem though before I start taking them off and soldering new ones on.

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March 5, 2010 4:02:28 PM

Reading through your posts it sounds to me like you have hit on the problem, that is, you have a bad cap. The reason that I think this is that it sounds like the current protection is kicking in, because the board takes time to reset. In a complete power supply (from AC to a voltage of DC) I would check both the diodes and capacitors, but with the type that you find in a computer capacitors are the main suspect. If you are testing the VRM capacitors I would try to find one with significantly different resistance than its fellows, but your multimeter might not use enough voltage to cause the break - down. Always remember when replacing capacitors that you can use a higher voltage part but NEVER a lower voltage one, and NEVER put it in backwards (lol). Also when testing it is probably a good idea to pay attention to the polarity of the multimeter probes.
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March 5, 2010 5:11:13 PM

Thank for the tips... Will let you know what I find out.
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May 29, 2011 10:56:33 AM

i have an Aurora 9700 with dual 512 7900gs 2 gigs 2.2ghz ML-40 processor......
If your Cd drive goes on, your hd works and you get the orange power button on but no response from the screen then you are suffering from video card overheating. 7900Gs shut down permanently when they are overheated over time. The silicone on the embedded chips wears down causing the cards to shut off the signal to the display. Just got mine resurrected yesterday by a PROFESSIONAL ELECTRICIAN.
If you go on ebay you can purchase the embedded chips im taking about. they are about 35 to 40 usd each. Eventually the electrician did not install those to make it work...rather he bridged the 2 circuits or something like that so that it reseted the video cards forcing them to turn on....he told me the laptop will work fine but that i will eventually need to purchase the ebay chips. He was reluctant to do it because he also does not have the proper equipment which he was waiting to get this week....its a sort of soldering station for nanochips.
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March 30, 2012 4:51:28 PM

@romes, did you get your laptop fixed? What was wrong with it?
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