W520 Blue Screen

W500/510/520 and W700/710 series specific matters only
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W520 Blue Screen

#1 Post by helicopter » Tue Aug 29, 2017 7:47 pm

I have a used W520 running Win 7 Pro. I've had the machine for about 1.5 years and starting experiencing repeated Blue Screens. I tried reinstalling the OS with all updates and the problem persisted. Thought it was tied to the nvlddkm.sys error (https://forums.geforce.com/default/topi ... his-issue/), which does not seem easy to fix. I tried reinstalling the NVDIA drivers (Quadro1000) but the problem persisted.

I'm new to this Thinkpad and its problems, so excuse the series of questions--

1. Could the CPU or the GPU be overheating and causing these shutdowns?
I read some background on that here
but it's a little technical. Plus, I don't have software installed to read the temperatures. I'm not sure I can keep the system stable long enough to install anything, either.
2. If it's a heat problem, what can I do about it? Open the case and clean the fan?
3. I started to open the case and discovered that one of the two keyboard screws (the one that holds the area near the touchpad) is totally frozen. The head is also virtually stripped. I see there are many recommendations for these, including drilling. Is this screw the long black thin one? Will drilling work? Other options?
4. If the screen occasionally is overcome by a blizzard of colored lines (as if the system is going haywire)-- and can only be stopped by turning off the machine with the power button (not through the system software), is this a sign of a bad LCD? A bad GPU? Something else? This problem seems to predate the repeated BSODs.

I'd appreciate any help. I'm pretty frustrated with this machine.

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Re: W520 Blue Screen

#2 Post by RealBlackStuff » Wed Aug 30, 2017 6:10 am

To find out if nVidia is to be blamed, in BIOS switch to Integrated graphics.

That machine is about 5 years old.
If it hasn't been done recently, time to clean the fan and CPU properly, and replace the thermal paste.

The how-to for removing stripped screws has been well described on the forum, do a search.
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Re: W520 Blue Screen

#3 Post by rkawakami » Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:57 pm

And if you do find that you have been running integrated graphics, then run a memory diagnostic program such as memtest86+. Since integrated graphics 'borrow' memory for display purposes from main memory, you could have a problem with bad module(s). You can download the diagnostic from here:


As far as the stripped screw goes, you could try drilling it out. Or you could try some special removal tools (Google "stripped head screw removal tool"). Bottom line, you may do more damage trying to use a drill. If it were me, I'd sacrifice the keyboard by lifting up the corners and twisting the keyboard instead of the screw. Yeah you'll destroy it and have to buy another keyboard but it beats possibly killing a motherboard if the drill slips.
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Re: W520 Blue Screen

#4 Post by helicopter » Sat Sep 02, 2017 7:08 pm

Thanks for the suggestions. Since I first posted, I reinstalled the OS from an image, because it was possible that my first attempt had failed or was otherwise corrupt. (I think the system crashed during my first attempt to the reinstall of the image.) Also, I *did not* install the NVIDIA drivers from NVIDIA's site, which I had done before. Nevertheless, I got a Blue Screen (with the nvlddkm.sys error) once earlier today. I then rolled back the NVIDIA driver to from 10/28/2013), which I thought had run stably for the first 18 months I had the machine.

I checked the BIOS and saw I was running NVIDIA, not integrated graphics. It has been stable today for about 10-12 hours. If it starts to have problems, then I'll switch to integrated and check the memory with Memtest. (I did check the memory with a program in the emergency tools-- or something you can get to in the pre-boot area, and it came out clean.)

I found the thread about stripped screws from last Dec. (2016) and read RealBlackStuff's Dremel suggestion. The hole is recessed in the plastic case, so I'd have to find a really small cutting disc to not cut into the case. For now, if the machine runs stably, I'm going to leave it alone. Yes, I agree that damaging the motherboard is not worth it.

The previous owner claimed that while the machine was under warranty, the screen, keyboard, and logic board had all been replaced. Not sure if that's true, or if the machine was cleaned at that time.

The last thing I'll mention is that after reinstalling the OS, I've been running the machine on the "Optimized" power setting, not full power, in case this was a heat problem. But previously I would get Blue Screen even when the machine hadn't been on very long-- and when I did tasks such as open the power manager, open access connections, or type a few lines in Word.

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