NVIDIA 8400m Defect

Discussion in 'Mobile Computing' started by Sovereign, Aug 24, 2010.

  1. Sovereign

    Sovereign 2[H]4U

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    Yeah yeah I know that was news two years ago. However, I only now found out about it, having purchased a refurbished Dell XPS m1530 with an 8400m. A friend's GPU failed in an XPS m1330 which has me wondering if my GPU will die too.

    I have the A09 BIOS (the computer came with it). However, I have read that this may just be an attempt to keep the GPU alive to get outside the warranty. While I'm not going to make a claim about that accusation, I am wondering if there is any way to tell if my GPU is one of the affected units or if it has been replaced during the refurbish process.
     
  2. King Icewind

    King Icewind [H]ardness Supreme

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    Use GPU-Z and see what it says about your card.

    I think it's just something you have to hope it doesn't happen and wait it out.
     
  3. Bahamut

    Bahamut n00b

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    The basic rule of thumb is: if you've got a laptop, made by just about anybody, and it's got an Nvidia 8xxx series GPU in it, sooner or later it will more than likely die because of that shoddy soldering situation. It does have something to do with the actual laptop maker to some degree - Dells and HPs seem to have it the worst but they tend to make the most laptops anyway overall. But those things end up failing sooner or later in all the cases that I've had the opportunity to do a repair job on.

    The reflow trick (heating up the GPU to the point where the solder remelts and allowing it to "reflow" and cool) has been pretty successful but not everyone has the skills, the time, or the equipment necessary to do it properly. Yes it is possible to do it in an actual baking oven but, it's even trickier given you can't completely control the flow of heat necessary to target the GPU itself on the motherboard and if you're not careful you'll end up melting a lot of stuff you shouldn't. :D

    From my own experience and research, every Dell and every HP that had the 8400M series GPUs are subject to the defect; it's basically line-wide meaning the entire lineup of those products using that GPU, unfortunately.

    You may find that, if you're not a hardcore gamer, the problem never crops up in the time that you'll own that laptop but, if you are a hardcore gamer, the issue will appear over time because of heating the GPU, then it cooling down, heating it up, etc etc - in other words the typical usage as well as the gaming will cause the solder holding the GPU down to the mobo heats up/cools down in those cycles and over time it'll develop micro-fissures which is what causes them to fail.

    It's similar to why sidewalks and pavement crack over time - it's not the traffic on them that does it, it's the sunlight heating them up to cause expansion then cooling down, day after day, year after year. Over time the cracks develop at weak points in the solder - which wasn't great stuff to begin with - and that's all she wrote.

    If you now own the laptop, go to Dell.com and look through the registration options and transfer the ownership of that laptop (using the Service Tag) into your name so it's legally yours, then wait a day or so for the information to propagate in Dell's systems (I'm speaking from experience here, it takes time, usually about 24 hours) and then check on the warranty status - if it's still under a warranty meaning if it offers anything left, do what you can to get Dell to honor the warranty. Call 'em up and say it's having problems (even if it's not) and let them cover it before the warranty does run out and it's too late if and when it does crap out and die.
     
  4. Sovereign

    Sovereign 2[H]4U

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    Thanks for the tip! The system is in my account, under my name (so ownership is legally mine). The warranty is active for another 288 days. I did play games on it this summer when I was in Washington DC because I didn't have my desktop.

    Should I try to get them to replace the GPU, or what? Is it possible to just swap out the GPU or will I have to try to talk them into getting me a whole new laptop?
     
  5. jeremyshaw

    jeremyshaw [H]ardForum Junkie

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    iirc, the 8400gs is soldered to the mobo? That means the entire mobo will have to be replaced.

    If you are lucky, it will be on a MXM board, which is kindof like a confusing variant of PCIe slots on a desktop. If it's a MXM board (very, very, very unlikely for a low end GPU like the 8400gs), then you can replace - even upgrade - the GPU yourself, rather easily.


    The only fix is to get a laptop without the 8xxx GPU. Any 8xxx mobile GPU and you the run the chance of owning a ticking timebomb.
     
  6. 450

    450 [H]ard as it Gets

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    Depends on the laptop. My Dell Vostro 1500 with the 8400m GS was on a MXM-like card so I replaced it with an 8600m GT.

    However, the m1330 has the 8400m GS soldered onto the motherboard so the whole motherboard needs to be replaced. At this point, if Dell determines that the GPU is indeed defective, he'll probably just get a new or refurbished computer that isn't an m1330.
     
  7. jeremyshaw

    jeremyshaw [H]ardForum Junkie

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    He has a M1530, so he might be lucky and get a MXM variant :D
    His friend wasn't lucky, and got a M1330 :(
     
  8. 450

    450 [H]ard as it Gets

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    Sorry about that. I misread it as m1330 instead of m1530. :eek:

    The m1530 should be similar to my vostro. In that case you should be able to get the 8400m GS replaced. I think they still have those GPU's in stock, its the 8600m GT they ran out of.
     
  9. Bahamut

    Bahamut n00b

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    Just a note: the socketed Nvidia processors and the laptops that used them don't suffer from this problem - it only affected models of laptops with the GPUs soldered directly to the motherboard... the M1330 did it that way (because of space considerations) but the larger ones could/should be socketed as already mentioned.

    I've yet to hear of one case where someone with a socketed Nvidia GPU had it die at any point for the reasons mentioned above (the crappy solder job done at the factory).
     
  10. Sovereign

    Sovereign 2[H]4U

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    The m1530 GPU is part of the system board--there's nothing about removing the GPU in the Dell Service Manual which also refers to disconnecting the "display connector on the system board."
     
  11. Bahamut

    Bahamut n00b

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    Well there ya go then, I'd say get some notice to Dell and make a complaint now as I mentioned earlier, even if it's a "little white lie" at this point. Be preemptive on this situation or it'll end up biting you in the keister... ;)