Old Alienware laptop performance, freezing, and other weird issues

  1. Posts : 2
    Win 10

    Old Alienware laptop performance, freezing, and other weird issues

    Hi guys !

    My computer has been gradually more and more of a mess recently, and since iím out of ideas to fix it here I am. Itís going to be a bit long, but I think itís necessary. Thank you in advance ^_^í

    Itís an Alienware M17x laptop bought in 2011, running on Win10 (Win7 before the upgrade).
    The CPU is an i7 740QM, I have 8Go or RAM @1600 MHz and the GPU is two crossfire-linked 1Go ATI Radeon HD 5870

    Okay, hereís how it behaves :

    I start the computer, usually it starts fine. except sometimes after a few seconds it crashes, or do some sort of shutdown. Then without any input from my part, it starts up again, only to shut down again. This usually repeats three times, then it starts up normally (thatís kind of weird if you ask me)

    okay, from this point, I can log in into windows, everything works but the performances are crap. Like really bad, to the point it lags when playing the all mighty Factorio, slayer of CPUs and GPUs alike.

    Anyway, what I eventually found out is that if I restart the computer (≠ shut down + start up) it runs normally, with the performances and reactiveness I consider ďnormalĒ. But then it will freeze after a seemingly random amount of time, for no reason. And when I say no reason, it is real, sometimes it freezes while doing absolutely nothing Į\_(ツ)_/Į

    generally this happens without warning, yet there was two particularly weird occurrences : once the mouse cursor started to stutter, I was wondering what the hell was going on when it froze. An other is even weirder : I was playing Oxygen Not Included, when the computer became totally unresponsive as usualÖ but the game was still running, stuff was moving on the screen and sound was still okay, but no input had any effect.

    Also sometimes instead of freezing, it actually crashes with the blue screen of the sad smiley, with the error message being something unhelpful like ďUnhandeld_Local_MachineĒ or something similar, I donít remember exactly.

    so of course the computer being completely unresponsive, I force shut down by pressing power for a few seconds, and when I start it up again, three things can happen :

    - weíre back at the beginning, can start up but performances are crap

    - computer goes shrŲdinger and do not start up, instead displaying a grey screen that may or may not have remnants of the last image displayed (they fade away quickly). Also the keyboard lights up for a few secs and then goes black for some reason, also the fans are spinning in this situation. If at this point you press power, the computer ďswitches offĒ, which means the screen goes completely black (no back light), the fans stop, but the keyboard lights up. (wth ?) if you press power again that will just toggle back to the other state.
    The only way to get out of this is to unplug the whole thing. If plug it back again right away, sometimes weíre back at square one, sometimes it keeps doing the gray thing. In this situation, I just unplug it and wait 15 min or something, then it will usually start up.

    - third possibility, the computer starts up correctly, windows starts correctly, and performances are good and the computer doesnít crash. Really iím not joking, it just works and I can play games. yay !

    So I had a brilliant idea : since once it works, everything is just fine, I can solve the problem by never shutting it down ever again ! Easy !

    I did exactly that for the first few days, It worked, except sometimes when I poke at it in the morning to wake it up, it immediately crashes (shut down) then restarts on its own. I was annoyed to see that, but actually it was fine, because then it restarted correctly with good performances. I have no idea why.

    Unfortunately I canít really keep that thing live forever, sometimes I have to move it around and unplug it, and the battery has died a long time ago.

    Iím not entirely sure yet, but I feel this solution has stopped working, because when it crashes after waking up sometimes it falls back to the original state where it starts with crap performances (by the way, only the screen is shut down, the computer is not in sleep mode)

    As far as I can tell, the problem is unlikely to come from windows, although the win 10 upgrade certainly didnít help. But to make sure I removed the hard drive where my windows is installed, put a new empty one instead, started the computer with a windows install key plugged (somehow it didnít work on the previous hard drive, donít ask too many questions.) installed windows, and things seemed to work.

    But then it crashed, and did the gray screen thing. Yep, in a way that makes sense, because the last thing that happens after reinstalling windows, is restarting the computer. thereís some order in chaos I guess ?
    After waiting for a while, I boot the damn thing again, and everything seems to work, but actually the performances are still crap. (my games are on yet an other hard drive)

    Oh, also, I was very surprised so find that my desktop background has been conserved despite physically changing the hard drive, but letís assume windows kindly pulled it from the cloud even though I never put it there (itís either this or witchcraft at this point) also somehow windows managed to find the ATI control center thing that has the drivers and some extra graphics settings. I didnít put it here, should I call an exorcist ?

    And finally, thereís one last thing I think is worth mentioning : out of the factory the computer came with at least two software in particular that managed the special functionalities of the machine :

    One (AlienFX I think) is the thing that allows you to define the light color pattern under the keyboard, pattern which is maintained even if you remove windows entirely -and therefore the software- to make a clean install (which I did in the past). This means some data is stored somewhere else.
    The other (Aliensense) was some facial recognition software that allowed you to log in the computer just by showing your face to the camera. It was fun for a while but got old pretty quickly, and there was some weird bugs in the software that send you back to the login screen every two minutes that was the first weird thing this computer did, should that have any value.

    Anyway, right now iím 99% sure the issue :
    1) does not come from windows, since booting from a clean install on a different hard drive didnít fix it
    2) is not due to toast components, otherwise I donít think it would ever work correctly

    Which means that there is something in-between, the issue being that weíre reaching the limits of my knowledge in terms of informatics. I kind of know what the BIOS is but thatís about it. I would assume there is a memory space somewhere with startup instructions that is largely corrupted, but I donít know what it would be, how to access it, and even less how to fix that.

    Do any of you guys have any lead or advice to fix this mess ?
    I mean except ďtrash this relic and buy a new PCĒ ;-)

    thank you !
      My Computer

  2. Posts : 2,508
    Win 11 Pro

    I don't want to take away from this forum, but Dell has Alienware specific forum support. May be good to start there.
    Here is the link to the Dell Alienware laptop forum section:

      My Computers

  3. Posts : 2
    Win 10
    Thread Starter

    fireberd said:
    I don't want to take away from this forum, but Dell has Alienware specific forum support. May be good to start there.
    Here is the link to the Dell Alienware laptop forum section:

    Hi again,

    yes, i know about this forum, i intended to post the issue there too, but somehow i couldn't login (forgot password and the reset message was slow to arrive)
    i could post my problem there this morning, but i guess more opinions is better. ;-)
      My Computer


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