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Troubleshooting Alienware x51 r2

by BubbleTeaRex / December 21, 2017 3:16 PM PST

So this computer has had issues for a long time, like a year or more. It gets lots of blue screens, crashes, freezes, and often boot loops when trying to restart after crashing. It'll power on, beep once, fan is going, then stop, then repeat until it eventually makes it through. I've updated all drivers and updated BIOS as recommended by Dell a while ago, but that didn't fix the problems. I've factory restored it twice, which seems to kind of make the blue screens happen less frequently for a time...

Now it gets a lot of visual glitches when it freezes. Almost always when loading into a game (like league of legends), it'll freeze with particles all over the screen, the image jumping around and flashing, etc. So I'm not sure if this is a graphics card issue.

I've been planning on just building a new computer... but if I can buy a piece of hardware that'll fix this thing up, I'll do it. I just don't know what will fix it. I'm not great with computers, but have tried many fixes just by scouring other forums and videos and looking up solutions to the blue screens that I've gotten. Maybe the motherboard is bad? I just wish I knew what piece had a problem so I could fix that piece. Surely the graphics card, but that might not be the only issue.

Here is a list of all of the blue screens I've seen:
Page fault in nonpaged area
System service exception
Kmode exception not handled
NTFS file system (ntfs.sys)
Driver IRQL not less or equal
Bad pool caller
Bad pool header
Unexpected kernal mode trap
Timer or DPC invalid
System thread exception not handled
Kernel security check failure
Attempted write to readonly memory
Memory management

I don't have anything saved on this computer, I'm just trying to resolve the problems it has, or to learn what the problem even is.

Here are the list of components
210-AANM : Alienware X51: Standard Base
370-AAMQ : 16GB Dual Channel DDR3 at 1600 Mhz (2x8GB)
580-AAOJ : Alienware Standard USB 2.0 Key board (English)
490-BBPI : AMD Radeon R9 270 with 2GB GDD R5
400-AALK : 2TB (64MB Cache) 7200 RPM SATA 6Gb/s
321-BBIY : Matte Stealth Black with Dark Chrome Accents
619-ADTB : Windows 8.1 (64Bit) English
340-AIXK : Resource DVD windows 8.1
340-ACGV : Placemat
338-BCBX : 4th Generation Intel(R) Core(T M) i7-4770 Processor (8MB Cach e, up to 3.9GHz with Turbo Boo st Technology)
340-ACGW : Ship Material
570-AACL : Alienware USB Optical Mouse
429-AANL : Slot-Loading Dual Layer DVD Bu rner (9.5mm)
555-BBKI : Dell Wireless 1550 (2x2 11ac c ombo with Bluetooth)
450-AAGO : US Power Cord
340-AARJ : English Documentation DAO
450-AARV : Alienware 330 Watt Power Suppl y
620-AASU : Windows 8.1 DVD OS Recovery(En glish)

I have not changed any of the inside parts. I now use a Razer chroma keyboard and a corsair mouse... Diagnostics tests that I've done haven't detected problems. Let me know any steps to take, information to provide, etc, and I will gladly do so.

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All Answers

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How old?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 21, 2017 3:29 PM PST

At a few years old these will start giving what we call "a bag of BSODs." The usual cause is not always the same but can include lack of cleaning (heatsinks, vents), malware, banged up OS, HDD or RAM errors and other.

What I like to do is to go ahead and get the cleaning done first. Remember only your newer techs balk at this or shout it's not heat. This is something that takes just a few minutes with the canned air and then you retest. While cleaning you check the heatsinks are on solid and leave the cover off for the test where you give the fans a spot check. They must work like new.

After that you check out the age of the machine and possibly replace all heatsink compounds even on GPU and bridge chips. Then retest.

If that did not change the results you look over the Web Speccy (how at ) and if that's clean head for a clean OS install.

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September 2014
by BubbleTeaRex / December 21, 2017 3:37 PM PST
In reply to: How old?

It was purchased in September 2014, so it is a few years old. I will definitely try cleaning everything from the inside and will update. Thanks for the quick response.

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wow, a lot
by James Denison / December 21, 2017 3:32 PM PST
and often boot loops when trying to restart after

You can stop that by entering BIOS and set it to NOT reboot after a power failure. Considering the situation, I'd do that FIRST.

Most of the errors you sited seem related to (data) hard drive problem, which is probably something unrelated to the rest of the situation. Check the SMART values on the drive. I don't know if windows 10 has something in it for that, but can get a SMART reader program online and use that. You might also consider going to the drive manufacturer site and downloading it's diagnostic software and check the drive out with that.

RAM, that is a problem can cause the same error msgs and also result in crashes. Run memtest86 on it to see if it has a problem.
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Working on the tests
by BubbleTeaRex / December 21, 2017 4:20 PM PST
In reply to: wow, a lot

So, I ran wmic diskdrive get status on command prompt and it said the status was "ok." I'm currently using the mdsched.exe tool, which is taking a while. I'm pretty positive that I have run both of these tests before and both have not found any problems, but I'll update if it does find a problem with the RAM. I'll find a third party SMART reader and will check the hard drive's manufacturing site. I tried to download CrystalDiskInfo for the SMART test but I like couldn't figure it out hahaha. Maybe I'm an idiot. Will see if I can find another tool. I don't have a USB for memtest86 currently, but will put a pin in that and give it a try as well. Thanks for the suggestions.

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Testing ram
by BubbleTeaRex / December 21, 2017 6:23 PM PST
In reply to: wow, a lot

So that ram test said that there was a problem. Then it froze and wouldn’t complete the test (tried twice). So, I opened up the computer and cleaned with can of air and took out one of the ram sticks. After starting up the computer, it was very slow and the mouse was lagging all over the place. I switched the ram stick and now it seems to be running fine. So maybe it was that stick of ram or the port causing some issues. I’ll switch the current stick to the other slot and see what happens and will see how long it goes before crashing haha. I’m still expecting the graphics card to be an issue with all of the visual glitches I was getting, but if I’m able to just upgrade the graphics card and ram, that’s a great outcome. Thanks again for the tips. I’ve been tinkering for over a year and couldn’t figure anything out. I’m still learning about computer stuff...

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Ah, windows 8
by James Denison / December 21, 2017 3:34 PM PST

Also be sure to check your RAM speed settings in the BIOS, set it to Safe Default setting, to remove any overclocking that might be causing this.

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Sounds like something bad
by itsdigger / December 21, 2017 3:51 PM PST

is going on with Bad pool caller and Bad pool header.
Maybe read some here from Google >

Unexpected kernal mode trap here >

Start with the cleaning and Thermal Paste as Bob suggests but I think your'e gonna find more with a Speccy...

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Frankly, I'd move to W10 before year end.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 21, 2017 3:59 PM PST
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Have attempted, will try again
by BubbleTeaRex / December 21, 2017 4:10 PM PST

I upgraded to windows 10 a couple of months ago, but the computer was still having issues. After it was unable to boot into the operating system for a few tries, I factory restored it again and it brought it back to windows 8. I have tried to upgrade back to windows 10 several times, but every time the computer fails and reinstalls the old OS haha. I haven't given it a try in the last week or so, so I'll have to try it out again to see if it'll work this time.

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If it has trouble on 8, W10 is usually no better.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 21, 2017 4:27 PM PST

But here at the office and home we moved everything to W10 for many reasons. Mostly because the OS reinstall stick is the same for all the machines now.

After a HDD failure for example I can slip in a new drive, install W10 and not have to hunt down license keys due to its digital entitlement feature. Install all the drivers and we're mostly back in operation.

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