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[SCRAPPED] W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

W530/W540/W550 series specific matters only
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ThinkTwinki
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[SCRAPPED] W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

#1 Post by ThinkTwinki » Wed May 23, 2018 2:37 pm

The Scoop:
I received a W530 in excellent condition (without RAM/HDD/WWAN/Fingerprint/Smartcard/Ultrabay/Battery/Charger) from eBay, however it doesn't POST. Or rather, it posts only if the atmospheric pressure, humidity, air saturation, average kinetic energy generated by the random movement of all particles in the vicinity are just right.

The Specs:
  • Model: 2447-2B0
  • Motherboard: 04X1527
  • Intel Core i7-3740QM (Quad Core)
  • NVidia Quadro K2000M
  • 1600x900 HD+
  • 4 SO-DIMM Slots
The Problem:
On AC power, if the power button is pressed, it lights up for a second or two before turning off. None of the hardware spins up and not POST is achieved.

The Caveat:
Sometimes it boots into BIOS, and I can move around and change settings, before it shutting down randomly.

The Ritual:
I can very rarely get a BIOS prompt if I perform the ritual of:
  1. Remove AC cord
  2. Remove RAM chips
  3. Remove CMOS battery
  4. Unplug and replug AC-to-mobo
  5. Jam RAM chips into their sockets at 30 degree angles
  6. Replug CMOS battery
  7. 10-30x, 1-second power button presses followed by 10-30-second long-press
  8. Replug AC cord
  9. Spam powerbutton
  10. Rinse and repeat
  • Optional: Leave it over-night for a guaranteed single POST before crash
What I've Tried:
  • I've gotten 6 sticks of different DDR3 RAM of different PC3, size, rank, and voltage. They're confirmed to work on other machines.
  • I got my hands on a genuine Lenovo 170W charger and I've tried it with another working Lenovo charger (90W), both are able to power the machine.
  • I've disassembled and reassembled the entire thing and made sure all of the connectors are correct. WLAN is 2-prong, black on aux, grey on main.
  • I've cleaned out the AC female and male connectors, the RAM sockets, and the CMOS prongs.
  • I've tried every conceivable configuration of RAM, without any noticeable difference. Except, sometimes I get the regular 1-3-3-1 beep error when there's no RAM -- that's the only time I get beep errors.
  • With or without HDD makes no difference if it goes into POST or not.
  • I've repasted the heatsinks, and reseated the CPU and the heatsink multiple times
  • I've tried a different working, socket-compatible CPU
  • I've tried three different CMOS batteries and can confirm all are charged
  • Resetting the BIOS through CMOS drains
  • Testing all sorts of different hardware configurations (e.g nothing connected, everything connected, only certain things connected, etc.)
  • Replacing the BIOS chips
Conclusion:

I'm finished. After replacing the BIOS chips with a reflow station, the same problem persisted and I've given up on fixing it. I'm ordering a new motherboard once I return all of the accessories I used for testing.

For those in the near future reading this: Do it right the first time. This has been an incredible waste of time, money, and mental health. If your motherboard starts showing problems, replace it. The cost to fix it is usually more than the motherboard itself (in my case a new one is $200, but I could've made $200 instead of fiddling for days) and the stress isn't worth it. If it's a hobby project, then do whatever you want, but I made the mistake of trying to DIY repair something I needed, instead of replacing it and moving on with my business.

For those in the not-so-near future: Screw laptop motherboards. Screw laptop motherboard manufacturers. There are diagnostic pins on the motherboard, but Lenovo provides the bare minimum for user operation in the manuals they supply. If I had the pin logic schematics, this would've been a different type of ride.

GG NO RE
Last edited by ThinkTwinki on Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:35 pm, edited 5 times in total.

RealBlackStuff
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Re: W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

#2 Post by RealBlackStuff » Wed May 23, 2018 4:16 pm

Welcome to the Forum.
See if this helps: https://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?t=117880
(W520 and W530 can both have 4 RAM-slots).
Have you checked the RAM in another machine?
Are you using low-voltage (1.33V) RAM?
Lovely day for a Guinness! (The Real Black Stuff)

Check out The Boardroom for Parts, Mods and Other Services.

ThinkTwinki
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Re: W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

#3 Post by ThinkTwinki » Wed May 23, 2018 5:23 pm

Hey, and thanks for the info -- crazy configurations.

It's funny, that helped. I transferred the ram from the back, to just one in slot 0 and got it to boot -- for a few seconds before it shutdown while I was changing the date in the BIOS.

Retrying the combinations in the preferred slots yielded nothing.

The RAM works in other machines, they've been pulled.

I'm using low voltage for all of them (16GB pack, 2GB single, 4GB single)

Edit: There's another 8GB Hynix DDR3L coming in on Friday. Maybe the W530 is super picky with its modules, but there's almost no way 5 can all be defective, right? :lol:
Edit2: I forgot to mention I get "System CMOS checksum bad - default configuration used" whenever I do get to POST. I assumed it was just from reseting the BIOS settings via depowering, but could it be that the CMOS is bad?

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Re: W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

#4 Post by RealBlackStuff » Wed May 23, 2018 7:18 pm

Measure the CMOS voltage, preferably over 3.0V
Even without CMOS and with only 1 module (in the proper slot), it should boot into BIOS to set date/time.
Try reseating the CPU.

ThinkTwinki
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Re: W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

#5 Post by ThinkTwinki » Wed May 23, 2018 9:29 pm

OEM CMOS battery measures in at 3.029V DC. The other battery I tried measures at 3.102V.

Reseating gave some good results. The amount of times that powering on leads to a POST has increased.

Still randomly shuts off, but saving and rebooting from BIOS works.
Edit: Or it did the first few times.

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Re: W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

#6 Post by jursky » Thu May 24, 2018 9:47 am

... got it to boot -- for a few seconds before it shutdown while I was changing the date in the BIOS.
Maybe CPU is overheating during those few seconds? I remember back from my days when I was using desktop PC that even slightest crumbs of anything (hair, etc.) between CPU pins and socket may cause overheating problems. I would try to remove CPU from motherboard, blow air over the CPU and socket to remove dust or anything and assemble it back. Just in case.
W530 i7-3840QM FHD (95% AdobeRGB, 98% sRGB) - daily driver, X240 i5-4200U FHD IPS (travelling).

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Re: W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

#7 Post by ThinkTwinki » Thu May 24, 2018 10:26 am

jursky wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 9:47 am
... got it to boot -- for a few seconds before it shutdown while I was changing the date in the BIOS.
Maybe CPU is overheating during those few seconds? I remember back from my days when I was using desktop PC that even slightest crumbs of anything (hair, etc.) between CPU pins and socket may cause overheating problems. I would try to remove CPU from motherboard, blow air over the CPU and socket to remove dust or anything and assemble it back. Just in case.
Checked again, the socket and pins are all good. The CPU is definitely the one it's supposed to be (judging by FRU) and in the right type of socket. I don't think it means anything, but the CPU has one less pin connection than the socket. The CPU is undamaged.

I checked the fan too, it's clean. In fact, the entire machine is basically pristine. I think I've done more damage abusing the screws and wires taking it apart so many times, than the amount it came with.

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Re: W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

#8 Post by RealBlackStuff » Thu May 24, 2018 11:18 am

It sounds more and more like a blown BIOS.
A previous owner might have wanted to remove the wifi-whitelist and failed...
Assuming there's no password on the BIOS, replacing those chips is cheaper than a new mobo, but requires deft manipulations.
Check with the seller first, or return it for a full refund.

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Re: W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

#9 Post by ThinkTwinki » Thu May 24, 2018 12:32 pm

WLAN was wired incorrectly (likely by me), switched the leads to gray on main and black on aux.

RealBlackStuff wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 11:18 am
It sounds more and more like a blown BIOS.
A previous owner might have wanted to remove the wifi-whitelist and failed...
Assuming there's no password on the BIOS, replacing those chips is cheaper than a new mobo, but requires deft manipulations.
Check with the seller first, or return it for a full refund.
I checked the BIOS flash chips and both seem to be intact. What would one do to test whether or not they're blown?

Surely, you could use the chip's manual, apply voltages, and measure outputs.

Edit: Did a bit of digging and found that RAM rank incompatibilities may exist. I've only been testing with rank 1 (1Rx8) RAM. Putting a broken rank 2 (2Rx8) module in got me 8 beeps. I'll be getting a package of 2Rx8 RAM tomorrow and will do tests.

Haven't been able to POST today. Current TODO:

?). Test BIOS flash chip
1). Test 2Rx8 RAM
2). Test different CPU
3). Test will to live

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Re: W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

#10 Post by ThinkTwinki » Fri May 25, 2018 1:38 am

Major Update:

I was reading a thread about the W500, where someone had mentioned how picky it was with DDR3s. I had to double take, because I always assumed the W500 ran on DDR2s.

Well, as it turns out I do have a W500 with two 1Rx8 2GB DDR3 (1.5v) PC3-10080 modules. So I pulled them out to test with the W530: no go.

However, I tried all of the modules I'd been previously testing, and none of them worked on the W500. I received the classic 1-3-3-1 beep sequence for bad memory.

Yet, all of the modules work on other non-thinkpad machines.

Picky is a gentle way to put it.

We'll see today if the 2Rx8 is the saving grace that puts some use into this paperweight.

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Re: W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

#11 Post by ThinkTwinki » Fri May 25, 2018 1:05 pm

Tried 8GB 2Rx8 PC3L-12800S Hynix RAM, no go in either the W500 or the W530. Looks like it's almost assuredly not a RAM issue.

I also tried disconnecting all the non-essential components and trying that: no go.
RealBlackStuff wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 11:18 am
It sounds more and more like a blown BIOS.
A previous owner might have wanted to remove the wifi-whitelist and failed...
Assuming there's no password on the BIOS, replacing those chips is cheaper than a new mobo, but requires deft manipulations.
Check with the seller first, or return it for a full refund.
Looks like you may be right. I contacted the seller and am awaiting a response.

The WLAN chip (FRU: 60Y3427) is correct though and there's no password on the BIOS.

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Re: W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

#12 Post by thinkpadcollection » Fri May 25, 2018 4:48 pm

Try a ivy bridge 2 core test i5 CPU with heatsink compound and 1 memory module in one memory slot under the keyboard. Also make sure GOOD contact with GPU on the heatsink and pasted properly.

Beginning with i core series, they have memory controller integrated into processor itself for both dual core and quad core processors. The chip-set on the motherboard should have a thermal pad and squeeze the sides of the pad to thicken up the thickness of the pad before re assembling.

Cheers, thinkpadcollection

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Re: W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

#13 Post by ThinkTwinki » Fri May 25, 2018 9:29 pm

thinkpadcollection wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 4:48 pm
Try a ivy bridge 2 core test i5 CPU with heatsink compound and 1 memory module in one memory slot under the keyboard. Also make sure GOOD contact with GPU on the heatsink and pasted properly.

Beginning with i core series, they have memory controller integrated into processor itself for both dual core and quad core processors. The chip-set on the motherboard should have a thermal pad and squeeze the sides of the pad to thicken up the thickness of the pad before re assembling.

Cheers, thinkpadcollection
Slapped in a i5-3337U, cleaned off the old paste from the GPU and the CPU. Put one (1) memory module in the top-most slot. Tightened the spring-screws over the heatsink, as tight as I could. Even squeezed up all the booger pads I could find.

End result: no go.

I'm at my wits end. All that's left is the BIOS chip, and it's just not seeming worth it anymore. So much time, so much energy, so much electrolyte balance -- wasted.

Gonna give it a few nights off without the CMOS battery and wait for the seller to reply. If he hasn't in a week, I'm gonna order another chip and do it myself.

Baring that, I'll have to trade in all of the hardware I've bought for a new mobo. :SH!:

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Re: W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

#14 Post by ThinkTwinki » Sun May 27, 2018 1:05 pm

Tried to start it up again and got a few POSTs out of it. First time it went to bad checksum (no CMOS battery inserted), second time I got to my HDDs bootloader, and then crashed. Now, no more POSTs are to be found in this hellish landscape.

I've gone ahead and ordered another BIOS chip and an extra CMOS battery just in-case. I'll get a hold of a soldering/hot air rework station soon and report the results.

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Re: W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

#15 Post by thinkpadcollection » Sun May 27, 2018 5:47 pm

I had a T61 14.1 widescreen do exactly the same, the solution is motherboard.

Cheers, thinkpadcollection

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Re: W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

#16 Post by ThinkTwinki » Sun May 27, 2018 7:28 pm

thinkpadcollection wrote:
Sun May 27, 2018 5:47 pm
I had a T61 14.1 widescreen do exactly the same, the solution is motherboard.

Cheers, thinkpadcollection
That'll definitely be my last resort if the BIOS swap fails.

I'm foregoing it as the default solution, only because I can get a new BIOS and a decent rework station for $100. While the exact board (quad core 4-DIMM, K2000M) will set me back $200.

EDIT: Cleaned up the horrific opening post to be easier on the eyes.

EDIT 2 (June 1st, 2018): Received new pair of BIOS chips and the wrong CMOS battery. Ordering a soldering/reflow station soon.

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Re: W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

#17 Post by ThinkTwinki » Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:43 am

Update: Received soldering station last night and replaced the BIOS chips this morning. It won't POST, but I get a fan spin up for a couple of seconds now, instead of the dead silence from before.

Will mess around with RAM and CMOS again, then reflow the chips if nothing improves.

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Re: W530 POSTs Once in a Blue Moon

#18 Post by ThinkTwinki » Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:35 pm

No go, replacing the BIOS chips made no improvements. I've abandoned trying to repair it.

I've summarized my thoughts in the "Conclusion" section in the OP.

Time for a new motherboard and a vacation.

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