03-17-2010 08:35 AM
After about 1 week of use, my new W510, 820, multitouch, is suffering from significant hardware problems.
First it began locking up. Then crashing.
It was sitting in a docking station, with the screen closed, with good ventilation and in a cold room. My W500 practically lived in the same spot.
Last night I was watching a DVD, and it was working fine. The movie began stuttering. I restarted. The system locked up during boot. I reset, got into windows, and then had a hard-lock. Gave up and went to bed.
This morning, every time a sound starts to play, the left speaker makes a loud popping sound (akin to some kind of short) and then all sound stops. I can listen to the first 3 seconds of an .mp3, during which there is repeated popping, and then all sound stops.
It also makes a popping sound when I push the power button. I even reset the BIOS to factory defaults, and reloaded the system from the factory recovery CDs.
I did not change anything between when the system worked fine and when this problem started.
I am calling tech support later, but as there hasn't been a response from Lenovo regarding this apparent widespread problem, I am hoping to just return my new W510 and stick with my W500 until it seems that Lenovo has addressed this problem.
For $2.5k, I expected a bit more in-house testing. Far too many users are reporting this issue for this to have been some kind of isolated issue.
Not sure if it is due to improper wiring, faulty chips, always-on charging USB, but it is far too big an issue.
03-17-2010 10:41 PM - edited 03-17-2010 11:11 PM
Mdmarine1183, here's one engineer's guess of what happened. I'm not connected to Lenovo, other than being a customer.
Under intensive conditions, the W510's graphics processor can apparently pump out more heat than the cooling system can dissipate, and thus that processor's speed must be throttled down to prevent shutdown. Improving this throttling profile is one of the things that a recent BIOS update apparently does, otherwise the graphics processor simply overheats and the machine shuts itself down. You may see "stuttering" in playback when the throttling happens. This can happen during DVD playback or while playing intensive 3D games.
But there's more involved here, and you appear to have encountered the worst-case scenario. I'm not saying the following is an excuse for inadequate testing or design, because it's not. Like many laptops, these ThinkPads suck air into the cooling system via two avenues. One is through tiny vent slots in the bottom of the machine. The other is through the keyboard. When docked, some of the vents on the bottom of the machine are presumably blocked, thus reducing that airflow. When the lid is closed, the other avenue is pretty much eliminated. Also, normally some heat from the machine naturally rises up through the keyboard/palmrests, but is instead trapped when the lid is closed. (The big vents you see along the left side and rear of the machine are instead air outlets for the fan.)
So the combination of all of the above probably caused the graphics processor to heat up and the DVD playback to stutter. In fact, the machine was probably still pretty hot when you tried to restart, thus perhaps causing it to immediately lock up. Leaving it alone was likely a good idea.
Unfortunately, the wires feeding the left speaker are taped onto the top of the laptop's copper heatsinks (these heatsinks transfer heat from the processors to the fan, where the heat is then blown out of the laptop). Not the best idea for routing the speaker wires, IMHO, particularly in a machine that has overheating issues. Plus a heatsink provides a great vehicle to short out those wires if their insulation melts while on top of the heatsinks. You would expect this to at least cause intermittent interruption of sound through at least the left speaker. It also may provide enough of a load on the speakers' stereo amplifier to cause that amp to cut out altogether, perhaps permanently. (If that were to happen, you may still get sound through the headphone jack.)
All of this may have also been compounded by the overheating-while-off problem that many of these machines have exhibited.
Anyway, that's just a guess. The machine should be designed so that none of this happens. And it should be tested under these conditions before it is released. And it would be good to see a little more active participation and explanation from Lenovo in this forum regarding these issues. So far, everyone here is figuring this all out on their own.
For more info, see:
I wish you the best of luck, Mdmarine1183.
03-18-2010 01:15 PM
I appreciate your response, and yes, I agree that it may be caused by improperly designed cooling and speaker wiring. I called and was scheduled to have on-site repair performed, but at the time the Lenovo call center's own network had crashed and they were unable to give me an estimate on the waiting time. Today I received a phone call from an automated system, informing me that the mainboard for the laptop is on backorder. I called, and was told that they had no idea when mainboards would be available.
So, I am returning my W510 for a refund. I really liked the new features (LED, 95% gamut touchscreen), etc., but until Lenovo modifies the design the W510 simply won't work. I imagine they will be put on notice of this issue when more early-adopters start having to return their laptops. As I mentioned, perusing various forums has led me to believe that this is a widespread problem.
I haven't given up on Lenovo, but if they don't get the W510 straight, I might have to consider one of their competitors.
PS. As for stuttering, I actually was able to play a 3-d game (Mass Effect 2) which certainly would tax the GPU, but I did so with the system open, and not in a docking station. The problem certainly seems to be heat related, but as you said, the system should absolutely be designed to operate under the conditions in which I was using it.