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Cazares

7900 GTX BIOS Flash Failure

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Cazares

So, as the title says...

System Specs:

Dell XPS M1710

2.16 GHz Intel Core Duo

2GB DDR2

nVidia 7900 GTX w/ 512MB RAM

Intel 945PM Chipset

17" Widescreen

I have flashed my 7900 GTX's BIOS a few times now, all with full success. The other day I saw some benchamarks of the the 7900 GS with the 7900 GTX's BIOS flashed on it, and I got jealous, so of course I needed to pump mine up a few notches. Well, I normally just burned an .iso of Win98 and threw my BIOS files on there and went to town. This time I decided to download some boot disk that is smaller so I could fit a lot of BIOSs on there to choose from instead of burning a CD everytime.

Needless to say... when I was flashing it (to 600MHz core, 700Mhz RAM) it failed.

I typed nvflash 600700.rom

It came up with the normal messages, asking for 'y' to confirm. I press 'y'

All seems normal... then at the bottom of my screen, I received a message outlined in red stating:

"END OF BUFFER" or something along those lines. And on the right side of my monitor, there was some yellow activity looking icon that had some spinning animation (I guess to show activity or something). I let it sit there for a good 5 minutes, 10 minutes, etc. I knew something was wrong. It normally took only 10 seconds and most, and then rebooted.

So now, I am screwed. My question to all the experts out here is... am I out $400 to Dell for a replacement? I know they have hardware scanners that can detect BIOS mods, etc. So they will find out that I did it and charge me eventually. Is there a way I can fix this myself? My friend flashed his mobo BIOS wrong and we fixed it because you can actually hot-swap BIOSs of the same (or very similar) mobo so you can boot up with a good one, remove it and put in the bad one and flash it. But I highly doubt the Go 7900 GTX (or any vid card for that matter) has a removable BIOS chip. So I think I am out that option.

Option 2: I could buy the Docking Station... it says it has a PCI slot... so maybe a possibilty of putting in a PCI graphics card and hoping it boots up on an external monitor (the BIOS is more than likely set to INIT the onboard graphics first).

I have read about people flashing it blindly (aka, knowing what keys to press when, etc). But I am pretty sure it doesn't even boot correctly because it detecs the video card is messed up. With no CD in the drive, i turn it on, and it never shows any HD activity (aka, never goes to load Windows). I put the KNOWN GOOD WORKING boot CD in and tried to go through the steps as if I could see it, but I know it isn't booting correctly, the CD doesn't spin up when it should. :/

Anyway, I think I have tried just about all I can think of. I am open to just about any suggestions anyone could have. Yes, I know I F'd it up, I knew what I was doing, I just had some bad luck with either the boot CD I was using or the rom somehow got corrupted when burning to the CD. So, thanks for reading, and hope someone has a suggestion :)

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nIM_rOD888

Well I'm not sure exactly how you made your boots discs, or where you got your bios images from but try this guide:

http://www.notebookforums.com/thread154583.html

It will give you some links to download and create a boot disc with many clock speeds on it (thats the one I used).

If you can boot from disc, give it a try.

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Cazares

Well, it was pretty much just a standard boot disk, Ultimate Boot CD or something, either way, it was just DOS. I was just looking for something lightweight since the Win98 CD I had just about filled the CD. As for booting from disc, that may be out of the question. I have tried to boot from a CD, I turn the computer on.... wait a few secs for it to post, I hear the CD-ROM spin up (sounds like it would be booting from CD) and I press the options I know are on the screen (yet cant see), but it doesn't work. Through some troubleshooting at Dell, if you hold down the "Fn" key while powering on, it does a little systems check where it will give you error codes. The codes are the lights on NumLock / CapsLock / ScrollLock... the one mine gives (Scroll Lock lit up, Num and Caps Lock blinking) means my Video Card has failed. I think it is possibly the worst case scenario when flashing a card. You should be able to blindly re-flash it, but I think that flash somehow FUBAR'd the card. Only thing have done different was download the newest version of niBitor and nvflash from mvktech. I should have just left it alone, I was clocked at 590 / 710 without a problem, but of course there is always that thirst for a few more points.

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nIM_rOD888

Dam =\, I know from experience with industrial networking that if you mess up the firmware in a controller it tends to render it a bit of junk... probably the same with any digital hardware.

Maybe you could go for that 7950 upgrade now >_<.

Still where did you get your bios images from??

Edited by nIM_rOD888

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Cazares

Yeah, that is what I am thinking too :/. I got the BIOS files technically from the card itself. I used niBitor to read the BIOS from the card into Windows. Then used nibitor to change the clock speed, then saved the BIOS .rom and then booted to a DOS CD and tried it. Like I said, I have done it numerous times, just no luck this time 'round... makes me iffy to ever flash a video card BIOS again (in a laptop at least).

As for the 7950, hell yeah, I am living in Germany (in the Air Force), so I have to wait a few more hours to call their "Spare Parts" dept. but when I do, I will ask for the price comparison between the 7900 GS, GTX and 7950 GTX. There is the new BIOS flash for the 7900 GS that makes it clock and perform just about up to par with the 7900 GTX, so it would be tempting if it were much cheaper.

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nIM_rOD888
As for the 7950, hell yeah, I am living in Germany (in the Air Force), so I have to wait a few more hours to call their "Spare Parts" dept. but when I do, I will ask for the price comparison between the 7900 GS, GTX and 7950 GTX. There is the new BIOS flash for the 7900 GS that makes it clock and perform just about up to par with the 7900 GTX, so it would be tempting if it were much cheaper.

The new bios update for the Gs doesn't get it anywhere near being on par with the GTX, if you looked at the clock speeds needed.

For example they where running the GS at 670/825 and the 3Dmark05 score just go over the 10k mark, my 7900 can beat that score by a hundred + marks at 600/700, I might even get into the 11 to 12k range if I OC to those speeds.

And 3Dmark isn't a real good test either, its just a static benchmark. If you put the GS into a heavy gaming situation (i.e Oblivion) the card is likely to overheat and hit its threshold and thats when the clocks start to drop. No doubt there will be some serious artifacting too.

Edited by nIM_rOD888

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Cazares

Very true. I have been clocked at 590/710 for quite some time and I know I could push it much farther. I also dissasembled the laptop and put Arctic Silver 5 on the GPU and CPU cores to help the cooling a tad since it isn't easy to modify the stock Heatsinks. But... it doesn't really seem as if I am going to find a way to fix it, I have been racking my brain all day thinking of a thousand different ways. I am stuck with:

1. Using a docking station + PCI graphics card and hope it boots up this way so I can flash it (but then again, the docking station is $300+, so what is the point? :/, might as well buy a 7950 from Dell)

2. The most EXTREME case (which will never happen): I find a 7900 GTX online somewhere that maybe someone overclocked too much and fried it, I could get that from them, de-solder their BIOS chip and solder it onto mine.

Either way, it looks like I am gonna have to shell out some cash, unless I can find someone with a docking station here at work that might work with my M1710, so I can just use it once to flash back, but then again, I don't think flashing will work, considering when I boot up it doesn't even initialize the video card. Again, if anyone has any idea, please help :/

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nIM_rOD888

I never had mine make much heat (hottest it ever got was 70 deg C in a 28 C room, stays really cool in aircon).

When I get home from tech tomorrow I'll have a look around to see if I can find a solution for you (theres got to be something that can be done), those are really nice notebooks (except for the audio)... its a shame you can't use it atm =\.

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Cazares

Yes, I have been on the phone / chat support all day with Dell... I let them know that I OCd it since I know they will find out anyway, and they directed me to the Spare Parts Dept... $878!!!! That's utterly rediculous for a Go 7900 GTX. I know it doesn't cost close to that. I would almost be willing to sell the rest of the laptop and just buy a 8800 GTX and a new mobo / CPU. Anyway, thank you for you help, please let me know if you find anything! Thanks

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mattias

this is from a another website.

citat;

" Those little yellow pixels are artifacts...back off the core to a previously stable level.

Does that mean my gfx card wont handle any of the 1.24v OCing and that I just got a standard GS that can only be OCed to 420x1200? That's a shame

EDIT: Well, I can't get above 420x1200 without changing the voltage.... So I changed the voltage, and it seems to be running stable (but jumped to 73deg idle). So I guess the artifacting was being caused by lack of voltage? Anyone know better? "

he has the same card like you (go7900gtx), and he cant flash the gtx because the gtx allready use 1.24 Volt.

maybe it has something to do with that.

ps. i read some minutes ago on EBay, there they had go7900gtx and go7900gs.

Edited by mattias

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nIM_rOD888

Well I asked a few people and they don't seem to know how you can fix it >_<.

My boss who deals with a lot of communications controllers reckons once you stuff the firmware its ****ed.

Hopefully there is a way you can fix it, I'll let you know if I come across a solution or theory.

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Cazares

Well, thanks for looking for me :) . I have boxed up the laptop and am sending it back to Dell. I let them know I voided the warranty, but lucky for me, I guess they warranty each part individually. So I called their "Out of Warranty" department, and they had me pay $199.99 (and S & H), and that covers ANY defective part in or on the laptop excecpt for the motherboard or LCD. Hell, that isn't a bad deal at all to be honest. So, it is on it's way, but I will still be flashing the new one when it comes back :) . I think I figured out why... that boot CD had a limited version of DOS that must have had a low-mem or something, I think during the flash, the firmware image flooded the buffer too much and it pretty much locked it up. So, if any reccomendation can be made, stick with a Win98 version of DOS lol, or at least know exactly what version you are dealing with. Anyway, thanks for the help nim!

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mobilenvidia

Whoops missed this post.

have you looked here and here

This should fix your problem.

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zzpulp

The cd drive always loads when the laptop is booted...You should have waited for it to calm down and start loading again...even so, I'd have to recommend just making a new boot cd and changing its parameters so you wouldn't have to select to boot in max memory mode...usb is the future...

(Now if I can only figure out how to force floppy drives/cd drives to boot usb from startup...)

Flashing is addicting but you have to know when to call it quits...Personally, I dont value my 6800 ultra at all so I'm willing to try anything with it...

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Cazares

Oh, I waited, trust me, I didn't give up easily. I tried waiting for it to load the CD fully (I know pretty well how long it took to load). But even then, after waiting some time, did it ever load. And about the Hi-Mem thing, well... the CD I used that jacked up my BIOS in the first place probably wasn't Hi-Mem. The one I was trying to use to recover it was. It was a regular Windows 98 bootable CD, which has a great version of DOS to flash with, it was the one I orignially used (and succeded with). I just don't think the computer really finished POSting, if it even started. If you are familiar with desktop systems and when they throw beep codes, they don't start up. IE. if your memory is bad, video card is bad, processor is bad, etc. I am pretty sure it was similar in this situation. The BIOS detected the video card was inoperable (it pretty much locked up during the flash, didn't even complete.), so it didn't boot any further. The CD spin-up is probably a normal operation the drive does when it receives power and a CD is in it.

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mobilenvidia

The flashing stopping part way through upload is a good indication that something major was wrong.

You should be able to load anything to the BIOS, the Video BIOS that the card used at the time of flashing is in the system memory.

Something must have happened during the flash to make it stop, maybe the last BIOS you flashed had bad 2D speeds

Like you I couldn't get the CD to boot to a command prompt to be able to use nvflash.

Luckily for me the USB Flash drive came to the rescue.

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Fabrice Roux

The proper way to make a bootable DOS CD. Bart's CD-ROM Boot Disk

Once you setup everything on your HDD... making a new CD takes a couple of seconds, drag and drop... create BANG new ISO ready to be burned.

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Cazares

Great, thanks for the links guys, this will help a lot. I will make sure I have all the proper tools ready and make sure they work before I give this another go (once my laptop comes back). This experience has not discouraged me from flashing the video BIOS, rather smacked me upside the head and made me remember not to be in such a ###### hurry and do things right. And when I do get it back, I will post some scores of my machine.

I hope Dell enjoys taking off the Heatsink that covers my Chipset / Video Card... I put Arctic Silver 5 on the graphics core and my processor :) . I guess it made a nice difference for the GPU considering I was clocked at 590 / 700 and rarely ever went over 63C, when the room was really warm during the summer it went to 70C I think, but then again the room itself was hot and I was stess testing it.

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Cazares

I just built a couple bootable images useing the guide off of Bart's site. I don't know what the differences are between the cdrommi and cdromsi options... can you enlighten me Fabrice?

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®®®

SI=The way it's meant to be done to put a Single Image (ONE Floppy Disk Boot Image) on 1 bootable CD

MI=The Way it's meant to be done to put Multiple Images on 1 bootable CD (needs a selection menu which Floppy IMAGE you want to boot)

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Cazares

That makes a lot of sense :) , thanks.

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Cazares

Awesome! Just made a SI CD and (since I am on my old desktop), flashed my 6800 GT to 400Mhz / 1.1Ghz :)

Will await the shipment of my repaired 7900, thanks guys!

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®®®

:)

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zzpulp

Usb is preferred method but if not bart's is the way to go...Took me 1h 30 min to recover from a (really stupid) flash one time...

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mobilenvidia
The proper way to make a bootable DOS CD. Bart's CD-ROM Boot Disk

Once you setup everything on your HDD... making a new CD takes a couple of seconds, drag and drop... create BANG new ISO ready to be burned.

Burning to a CDRW is also handy as you can reuse the CD if you need to add more ROM's or newer versions of nvflash etc.

USB is even easier just replace/add the files, no need to continually burn

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