Question Alienware 17 R4 Strange POST behavior


Apr 1, 2017
So like an idiot I traded my perfectly good desktop for a gaming laptop so I could have something more flexible(compact, mobile, smaller, less power consumption ect..). I have had nothing problems with this thing so far.

Current issue is in the title but I will list all issues that led up to this point.

First thing first it is an Alienware 17 R4 2017 edition with a GTX 1070, I7 7700HQ, 16GB Ram.

First day I had it, it was stuttering like crazy. I decided to run the built in dell pre-boot diagnostic, even ran thorough test after the initial test passed. All passed and was all good. Booted back into the desktop and continued with typical re-installing drivers after uninstalling everything but base necisary stuff one by one to try to find the culprit. About 2 hours later on an attempted reboot I got a critical preboot error pointing to the 128GB M2 SATA ssd. After attempting a few thing including attempting to reformat that SSD(witch resulting in the windows installation media boot locking up) I ended up removing that ssd completely and formatting windows onto my 500GB 2.5inch evo. All was well.

However still constant stuttering. Next day the system started to lock up and reboot in a few different games after a few minutes playing.

All thermals were looking good by the way, max cpu temp was 80c under heavy load and normaly around 70c while playing low CPU intensive game. GPU as well under 70c.

At this point I just did another complete reformat of Windows and only installed a few base drivers and programs with a couple test games. Everything seemed pretty stable. Still alot of stuttering in Vampyr(I assumed it fine because that game seems to have its performance issues), however no real stuttering while running Remnant From the Ashes and running Shadow of the Tomb Raider Benchmark netted about 77avg FPS on Ultra with no stuttering what so ever.

All was seemingly decently well for 2 days from there just biting the bullet on the stuttering in Vampyr assuming it was just that game.

Today I installed Assassins Creed Origins to test run it after noticing some stuttering on the Desktop.

and of course, while playing in the starting city area constant stuttering(hard drops from 60+ FPS) down to 30ish and back up with basically a freeze frame effect.

Monitoring the whole time it is being heavily power throttled while on power, voltage throttle the whole time. However temps were seemingly good.

After reading some information on the internet about these laptops having bad thermal pad contact with the VRMs I decided to tear down to take a look at them and repaste since I wanted to do that anyways.

After getting both the bottom cover off, the heatsink shroud, and then the inside cover removed so I could see the heatsink clearly I could clearly see one of the points on the heatsink on the top corner above the GPU had a clear plain to see gap between the chip and the thermal pad(I could clearly see daylight on the other side without even looking closely).

So I proceeded with the service manual process of removing the mainboard(just to unplug the fans that are plugged in underneath the board even though the entire heatsink assembly can be completely removed from on top? ***? have to remove the motherboard just to unplug the fans?). Anyways after getting the heatsink off and cleaning up the old paste, witch was horribly dried and very little on the dies btw, however 2 tubes worth of paste smeared all over the PCBs around the dies, I repasted, adjusted the thermal pads and made sure all were making perfect contact(as much as I could It looks like somebody replaced the factory pads at some point and did a horrible job of it) I reassembled the whole system(besides the bottom cover).

After all of that here is where I am at now:

The laptop is now displaying strange post behavior.

After booting for the first time I got the initial expected errors after having the CMOS battery unhooked, restarted and again. Then rebooted and finally allowed me to configure the bios. After this all I get after powering on the system is the power light comes on, all other lights come on, Alienware splash screen appear for a moment and back off again.

From here I "reset" the bios by pulling the battery and cmos battery and holding the power button(if this is wrong please correct me).

Upon rebooting this time all I got was a series of flashes on the power light witch seem to correlate to error code with CMOS battery failure(the table says 3:1 amber/white respectively looking at it now), but mine was 3 red and 1 blue.

At this point now I cannot get the laptop to post unless I remove the ram from the slots and swap them around. DIMM1 in slot2, DIMM2 in slot1. Suddenly the system boots no issue. However if I shut it down completely(Power off, not reset) I have to repeat the process of swapping the ram slots to get it to post again.

Somebody please help me. I am completely stumped here and completely screwed, no warranty.
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