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Dell xps 15 l502x crash issue

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  • GPUs
  • Dell Studio Xps
  • Crash
Last response: in Laptop Tech Support
February 7, 2014 5:27:20 PM

I have an old Dell xps 15 l502x that I've been using for the last few years, for schoolwork and gaming/netflix. In the fall i decided that this laptop had run its course and I wanted to upgrade into a nice desktop. While I didn't have the capital to upgrade to a new system all at once, and the laptop was still functional, I figured I would buy the peripherals that I would need with my new setup right away, that way I could begin using them right away. This has been working fine lately, I have a nice monitor and keyboard and mouse and headset that I just plug into my laptop, and my laptop just functions as a desktop for now until I can replace it.

The problem is that the laptop will crash into a random colored screen; just a solid color, and becomes unresponsive. This has only happened while playing league of legends( I am not sure if this is league specific, since league is the only demanding thing that I do on my computer). I am pretty sure that the problem originates from the GPU because one time it went to the random color screen-- then it recovered and a notification popped up that indicated that the nvidia driver had been unresponsive, but it recovered successfully. I read of a similar issue online that people were having because their computers were overheating, and my laptop was getting hot when this happened, so I looked into it. I took the laptop partially apart to clean out the dust(lots of it, first time I had done it since I got it) and thought that it would help-- The problem kept occurring even though the laptop was not really getting hot anymore. I decided that I would format the computer, to see if anything I had installed on it was giving me trouble. I formatted the computer to factory settings, removed all of the bloatware, and updated my nvidia driver, hoping that the problem would be solved, but alas, it is not. And this is where I am now. I would really appreciate any insight that anyone has on this issue, I can't quite afford the tower that I want just yet, I would like to continue using this laptop for a few more months.

The laptop Specs:
Dell XPS 15 L502X
Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-2410M CPU @ 2.30 GHz
6 GB RAM
64-bit Windows 7
GeForce GT 525M

The peripherals that i'm currently using with it(I'm not sure if all of this stuff plugged into the laptop would make a difference or not):
Razer naga
Max Nighthawk x7 keyboard
Dell S2440L monitor
Sony Pulse headset (I do not charge the headset through the laptop, just the USB wireless connection)

Thanks to anyone who made it this far into the post, would really appreciate some help if you think you know what could fix it.

More about : dell xps l502x crash issue

Best solution

February 7, 2014 6:05:25 PM

I read through your issue, you described it very well and what you have done to resolve it.. thank you for that, its helpful.

I am going to say that your laptop is about 2.5 years old, maybe 3. Laptops that have dedicated video cards all have the same exact issue, at some point the video card will fail. Failure of the video card almost always seems to be related to heat. The solution is to take the laptop apart entirely and to re-paste the GPU and CPU. The Dell that you have actually uses paste instead of thermal pads, that's a plus and will make re-pasting easier.

This is a video that will be helpful with the complete tear down of your laptop: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goVrdbWoOnA

Order what you need before the tear down.
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February 7, 2014 6:18:22 PM

mopman411 said:
I read through your issue, you described it very well and what you have done to resolve it.. thank you for that, its helpful.

I am going to say that your laptop is about 2.5 years old, maybe 3. Laptops that have dedicated video cards all have the same exact issue, at some point the video card will fail. Failure of the video card almost always seems to be related to heat. The solution is to take the laptop apart entirely and to re-paste the GPU and CPU. The Dell that you have actually uses paste instead of thermal pads, that's a plus and will make re-pasting easier.

This is a video that will be helpful with the complete tear down of your laptop: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goVrdbWoOnA

Order what you need before the tear down.

Thanks, I was wondering if I needed to do that. I didn't have the paste on hand the last time I took the laptop apart so I just removed the dust and that's it. Will definitely try re-pasting it to see if it helps. Thanks very much for your feedback.
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Related resources
February 7, 2014 6:59:19 PM

This becomes fun because, replace the paste once and you will most likely do it again before you replace the system. That is not a bad thing but with that said don't blow a bunch of money on paste and just one tube will last you long enough till your laptop is replaced.

This is what I use and have used for almost all my major builds: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you need any assistance update this or just PM me.
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July 31, 2014 8:30:12 AM

@Spruo, thank you for this post. I've experienced the exact same problem, but what is a little more scary is it's only when running on my 23 inch and whilst doing general day-to-day activities. Not even gaming. Did using the re-pasting work for you?
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October 31, 2014 1:59:03 PM

Posting in case anyone else stumbles upon this thread.
I had the exact same problem: Dell XPS l502x w/ GT 540M, games were locking up (mostly League of Legends for me) and playing a bizarre buzzing sound through the speakers. The solution in this video worked for me:


And in case the video gets taken down, the instructions are:

    - Download and install the nvidia system tool, located here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/nvidia-system-tools-6.08-d...
    - After installing, open your nvidia control panel and you should see a new section called Performance. Click in this section the accept the user agreement, then select Device settings.
    - Under Clock speeds click Custom, then change the Graphics clock from 672 to 522 and change the Memory clock from 900 to 700.


I've been playing for more than 24h and my pc hasn't crashed since I changed these settings. I don't know exactly what is the problem but I may guess that the default settings let the graphic processor go overclocked and this causes huge heating... and crashes.
I hope this helps to you too
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November 14, 2014 8:35:42 AM

wereR00b said:
Posting in case anyone else stumbles upon this thread.
I had the exact same problem: Dell XPS l502x w/ GT 540M, games were locking up (mostly League of Legends for me) and playing a bizarre buzzing sound through the speakers. The solution in this video worked for me:


And in case the video gets taken down, the instructions are:

    - Download and install the nvidia system tool, located here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/nvidia-system-tools-6.08-d...
    - After installing, open your nvidia control panel and you should see a new section called Performance. Click in this section the accept the user agreement, then select Device settings.
    - Under Clock speeds click Custom, then change the Graphics clock from 672 to 522 and change the Memory clock from 900 to 700.


I've been playing for more than 24h and my pc hasn't crashed since I changed these settings. I don't know exactly what is the problem but I may guess that the default settings let the graphic processor go overclocked and this causes huge heating... and crashes.
I hope this helps to you too



Could you please explain the reasoning for the under clocking?
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February 20, 2017 5:58:00 PM

I came back to say underclocking IS the answer. I reapplied the thermal paste and it did not help. In the past, I have given up on Skyrim and Fallout 4. I revisited Fallout 4 because I really wanted to play it. I would get random crashes of the game or operating system freezes everytime I played. Sometimes it would take 2 hours and sometimes it would take only 5 minutes. I downloaded and used MSI Afterburner to underclock the GPU and it has not crashed since. The reason the underclocking is necessary is the card is overheating. I honestly think the card was not cooled properly at higher loads, hence the need to underclock. After underclocking, I have not had a single crash. After I play through Fallout, I'm looking forward to revisiting Skyrim. It's breathed life back into this otherwise near perfect laptop!
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April 25, 2017 10:45:56 AM

Just an update on this OLD issue. I have the same problem with my laptop and re-pasting the processor and the GPU did not work. I used artic silver and the problem persisted.
- I downloaded MSI After Burner and decreased the memory clock and the Core Clock. This worked perfectly... for a while. The the problem came back and I had to decrease both clocks even more. Right know I have configured the Core Clock at 500 and the Memory Clock at 700. This really sucks. Is this a problem that can be fixed through software?
- Drivers are up to date.
- FAN works OK.
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April 25, 2017 2:24:28 PM

Works Absolutely fine. I couldn't underclock the gpu from nvidia control panel. Installed MSI Afterburner and underclocked it to the above mentioned values. I was skeptical about Afterburner, but it's safe. Either way, underclocking helps. I'm so glad it worked for me. Thank you!
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May 12, 2017 4:52:21 PM

Same problem here... (for 5 years now)

Changing the clock & memory speeds (Nvidia Performance or MSI Afterburner) doesn't even work for me. It seems it does, but eventually the problem appears again.

I can't believe there isn't a definitive solution for this yet (in 2017)
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May 13, 2017 2:10:07 PM

Dlrow said:
Same problem here... (for 5 years now)

Changing the clock & memory speeds (Nvidia Performance or MSI Afterburner) doesn't even work for me. It seems it does, but eventually the problem appears again.

I can't believe there isn't a definitive solution for this yet (in 2017)


The reason it isn't solved is because it is 2017. If the problem had been properly addressed back in 2013 or 2014, Dell would have had to recall all of those laptops. I just think the games back in those years didn't really tax the hardware as much so it didn't really appear until later, after they were out of warranty.


If you are still having problems even after underclocking, I recommend you reapply the thermal paste.
-MD


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May 15, 2017 11:34:16 AM

Darkehorse said:
Dlrow said:
Same problem here... (for 5 years now)

Changing the clock & memory speeds (Nvidia Performance or MSI Afterburner) doesn't even work for me. It seems it does, but eventually the problem appears again.

I can't believe there isn't a definitive solution for this yet (in 2017)


The reason it isn't solved is because it is 2017. If the problem had been properly addressed back in 2013 or 2014, Dell would have had to recall all of those laptops. I just think the games back in those years didn't really tax the hardware as much so it didn't really appear until later, after they were out of warranty.


If you are still having problems even after underclocking, I recommend you reapply the thermal paste.
-MD




Thank you for your message. I am not really sure this has to do with overheating… This is what happened in my last tests:

- I switch my L502x on
- I check the GPU temperature is ok (just 40 degrees!!)
- I plug the HDMI to an external monitor and extend the screen…
- … in less than 20 seconds the external monitor freezes (random solid color) and the computer becomes unusable and the fans go crazy. The only way to switch it off is by pressing the power button for 8 seconds. So bad.

For the test above, the Core clock was 672 MHz and the Memory clock 900 (both the default values). If I underclock them, I will take longer to crash, but it will eventually.
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May 18, 2017 6:17:13 PM

I've been having a similar problem for a few months now. At random times when I'm using an external HDMI monitor, I get either a random solid color screen or a weird pattern. Either way, most of the times it doesn't come back on its own and I have to press the power button for a few seconds to turn the laptop off.

I've tried the underclock solution, but it didn't really make any difference. Now I'm just not using the external monitor, which kinda sucks because I have this 24 inch screen just sitting here.
Besides, I've tried playing Starcraft 2 without the external monitor, but it crashes after a few minutes.
I thought about reapplying the thermal paste but that seems like a lot of work for a solution which is not garanteed to work, but if nobody knows a better one, I guess we don't really have any other option.
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May 19, 2017 3:02:14 PM

Hmmm. I too am using an external monitor but I do NOT get crashes after applying the MSI afterburner under clocking. I DID get crashing before I even owned an external monitor , so unless your issues actually different than mine, I don't see how the monitor is the problem.

FYI, my XPS is connected to a 24" Dell monitor through a VGA cable via a display port adapter.
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May 30, 2017 5:25:27 AM

This is not a solution. There is no solution, and you'll have to accept it. The graphics chip uses bga solder, little spheres that with time and constant use will overheat and start to crack. So when you underclock you make it use less power,so it "works". Until it overheat and crack more and more. Until it's dead. Even if you buy a new video chip and make a reballing, 100% accurate and sucessfull. With time the problem will happen again. So accept it. There is no solution. Be happy if your laptop is still alive after a underclock or a repaste or internal cleaning. But always remember it will die sooner or later. Only the new series of Nvidia GTX for notebook are promissing to heat less, and dont cause this type of problem. Sorry to be the one to tell, but there is no solution. It's not related to the software. It's a hardware problem. Sorry for the bad english too.
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