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48 Posts

11-22-2010

Calgary

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W701 Lenovo SSD won't start, intermittent problem

2013-10-12, 14:01 PM

specs:
I think of W701 as the model number, but Lenovo considers it to be 4323CTO
It used to have a Lenovo 128 GB SSD as the C drive, with a 360 GB HD for the secondary drive. Now I've replaced the original SSD with a Samsung 512 GB SSD.
Running Windows 8 now, but it was doing the same on 7. It does seem to be a hardware problem.

This is an unusual problem. I posted here a couple of months ago. I have made a bit of progress since then, mostly in finding out what doesn't work.

It used to be an intermittent problem, but now it's frequent. It's happened since the computer was still on warranty, but it was so infrequent then that it wasn't likely to happen while tech was looking at the computer. It seemed pointless to complain or try to get it fixed. Lately it has been getting worse and worse.

It is 3 and a half years old and this has been the only serious problem, so I'm hoping for a way around it. When I press the power button to start it, it takes 2 or 3 seconds for the first visual to come on. It has the Thinkpad, Lenovo and Intel logos on it, and says: 'To interrupt normal startup, press the blue ThinkVantage button.'

That's as far as it gets. After that nothing happens, no drive activity at all and nothing I can do but shut it off. There is no response to the mouse or to pressing any key. Pressing the Thinkvantage button also does nothing. It would sometimes do this at least 50 times in a row.

What would get it going in those cases was:

1. leaving it for a few days or a week without touching it or

2. removing the SSD, replacing it with the HD (which would attempt to start but had no OS installed) and then switching back.

On one of these forums, someone described a problem that had some things in common with mine. It turned out his SSD was dying and when he replaced it, everything worked. I thought that might be it and replaced the drive. It worked for awhile but now it started with the same problem. (sigh)

I suppose it might be an intermittent connection between the SSD and the rest of the computer. Replacing that wiring harness would be my next guess but there might be other possibilities. I suppose any small electronic part involved in the start up process could be at fault.

Except for this problem it has mostly been a decent machine. It has a 17 inch, 16:10 screen which might not even be available now and I appreciate that size. I would like to get this restored.

tia

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168 Posts

12-10-2008

United States of America

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  • Message 2 of 9

Re: W701 Lenovo SSD won't start, intermittent problem

2013-10-15, 19:30 PM
Maybe both SSDs just died? Do they work as non boot drive in the 2nd drive bay or ultrabay?
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21115 Posts

12-20-2008

Australia, Melbourne

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Re: W701 Lenovo SSD won't start, intermittent problem

2013-10-16, 12:52 PM
i would also test the hdd in the Ultrabay. This will prove whether the SATA connection is at fault.
Regards,

Jin Li

May this year, be the year of 'DO'!

I am a volunteer, and not a paid staff of Lenovo or Microsoft
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48 Posts

11-22-2010

Calgary

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Re: W701 Lenovo SSD won't start, intermittent problem

2013-10-17, 22:33 PM

Thanks people, I think you both have good points.

 

I don't think it's likely that both SSDs failed. The second Samsung is just about a month old and is guaranteed for 3 years. It has hardly been used and I've always had good results with that brand. But I guess it would be worth testing. The complication is that it wasn't the same size as the original Lenovo SSD. It took a bit of shimming with pieces of rubber, and when I got it in I thought 'I sure hope I don't have to take this out any time soon.'

 

The W701 has 2 drive bays, besides the DVD bay. I guess if I just put the SSD now in C, into the D bay and leave the C bay empty, it might boot up from there. If it does and doesn't have the same problem from that bay then yes it must be the connectors. (Although I suppose there is still a small chance it could be another small electrical component involved in the start up.)

 

So as soon as I get the time and the enthusiasm, I'll try switching it to the D bay. If it works from there I'll just run it that way until I'm satisfied that it's (most likely) the connectors in the C bay that are the problem.

 

 

 

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48 Posts

11-22-2010

Calgary

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Re: W701 Lenovo SSD won't start, intermittent problem

2013-10-20, 23:49 PM

So I took both the C and the D drives out. I put the C drive in the D bay, and left the C bay empty. I didn't expect any trouble that way and things were going fine, until a few hours ago.

 

I started installing 8.1. During one of the restarts in the procedure, I get the same, original problem. The restart just gets to the first Lenovo screen, and then absolutely nothing happens after that.

 

It could not have picked a worse possible time to happen. Now I have 8.1 half installed. Hopefully it will finish if I leave it for a few days and try to start it then.

 

But it means that it wasn't the (SATA ?) connection between the SSD and the computer in C bay that was the problem. I suppose it could be a connection at the other end if the harness is a Y and both bays go to the same plug in. Does anyone know if that's the case?

 

I suppose another possibility is a problem with a small electrical component involved in the start up. I doubt if there is any chance of getting a wiring diagram and trying to find out if that's the case.

 

This is really discouraging. The W701 cost more than the 3 computers I'd owned before that, all put together, and it's the only one that has had a physical problem like this.

 

Time for a double brandy

 

Edit: I find it hard to believe that both the original and the new SSDs have failed. First it doesn't seem like a typical SSD failure, very intermittent and gradually getting worse over about 3 years. I'm not sure how accurate it is, but I've read that the failures were catastrophic and without warning. I did read of one that was close to what I experienced. It first gave me the idea that mine had died, but even then there were some differences. Now I would have had 2 SSDs die exactly the same way, but the second one much faster than the first one.

 

 

Moderator comment: Subject edited to match thread.

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377 Posts

10-20-2008

United States of America

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Re: W701 Lenovo SSD won't start, intermittent problem

2013-10-28, 1:02 AM

I could just be whistling in the dark here -- have you tried a normal, spinning HDD lately to see if the same issues occur? 

 

It sounds to me more likely, especially given the intermittent difficulties you have had in the past, that there might be an issue with the SATA electronics on the main board -- a tiny crack in a wiring trace, cable not fully seated in a socket (or perhaps contacts a little corroded) a flakey chip somewhere, etc.  Excellent SATA hard drives can be bought nowadays for very little $$$, especially low-capacity ones that the stores are trying to unload from inventory.  You might consider trying one of these and seeing if the problem persists.  Alternatively, you can find the service manuals online and -- if you dare -- open the machine up and examine and reseat the connectors.  (Warning--it's really tight inside and easy to mess things up if not careful).

 

If your SSD 's were really at fault, I can't really see that the problems would be so intermittent and only at boot time.  That code should not be routinely shuffled around within the flash chips as you don't often write to that part of the drive.

 

Best of luck with this.

 

 

______________________________________________
P70, Xeon 1505 CPU, 64 GB ECC RAM, Samsung 970 Pro 1 TB + 512 GB NVMe Drives, 1 TB HDD, DVD-RW, 4 K Display, NVIDIA Quadro M4000
W700 model 2757-CTO (8 GB RAM, Crucial MX-100 SSD + Hitachi TravelStar 1 TB 7200 RPM Drives, Bluray R/W, NVIDIA Quadro FX3700M, WUXGA); Windows 7 Ultimate SP-1, W700 Mini-Dock
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48 Posts

11-22-2010

Calgary

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  • Message 7 of 9

Re: W701 Lenovo SSD won't start, intermittent problem

2013-10-28, 16:42 PM

Thank you practical, that struck me as a great idea.

 

The little problem with it is getting an OS on the drive. I do have an image restore for Win 7, and after that it would take installing 8.1 again, so just a bit of work. But it seems clear to me now that the SSDs were not the problem. I basically agree with your comment:

 

"It sounds to me more likely, especially given the intermittent difficulties you have had in the past, that there might be an issue with the SATA electronics on the main board -- a tiny crack in a wiring trace, cable not fully seated in a socket (or perhaps contacts a little corroded) a flakey chip somewhere, etc."

 

I think the most likely possible solution now is to replace the motherboard. I saw someone else with a problem that had something in common with mine; he mentioned that he solved it by doing that. That would fit in with one of your comments. " there might be an issue with the SATA electronics on the main board."

 

So I started checking around at Lenovo.com and got the part number. I was able to talk to sales twice to confirm that it is the correct part number, and they transferred me to parts to find out about price and availability. Both times the parts person could not hear me, after having a normal conversation with sales. It seems like their phone system has some kind of problem with transfers. I called back 2 more times to let sales know about the problem, and got busy signals.

 

I had phone problems that I posted about in my T530i laptop problems topic. I had at least 3 calls that could not be completed by their system, and I'm starting to wonder about them getting anything fixed if they can't take care of that.

 

So I checked out the motherboard at http://www.sparepartswarehouse.com/IBM-Lenovo,Thinkpad,W701,4323000,Laptop,System-Boards.aspx They didn't have one in stock, and all the guy could tell me is that it would be more than $600 if they did get one in. I did appreciate even that much info. It was more than I had been able to get from the other supplier. I did see one on another site while searching that was over $1000 so I expect the $600 is low.

 

But this is getting seriously discouraging. This might change, but right now I feel like getting a Toshiba or something and just giving up on Lenovo. The prices of new laptops aren't that much now.

 

But thanks again for your comment. It jolted a bit of thinking, and most of the research I've mentioned in this post.

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16 Posts

03-28-2013

Illinois

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  • Message 8 of 9

Re: W701 Lenovo SSD won't start, intermittent problem

2013-10-28, 22:19 PM

I have nearly identical 701. Same age (little over 3 years now). Originally had the 128 Toshiba SSD and a 500MB HD. Went to a Samsung 840 Pro as boot drive, transferred the Toshiba SSD to a Ultrabay caddy and put in place of my DVD drive. Left HD right where it was. Running Win 7 Pro. Upgraded memory to 16GB about two years ago. Never an issue or blip with this unit.

 

Have you run a memory test on your DD3 RAM?  Have you run the Lenovo hardware check program? And have you tried booting from the original Windows OS disk using the DVD drive? Or even booting from a thumbdrive? I personally would take the 701 down to the chassis and reinsert the mem modules, and the Nvidia video card. You may have already tried all these things, but I'm just sayin...

 

I personally would stay as far away from Win 8.x on your W701 as possible. What advantage do you see in switching from Win 7 Pro? Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

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48 Posts

11-22-2010

Calgary

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  • Message 9 of 9

Re: W701 Lenovo SSD won't start, intermittent problem

2013-10-29, 3:16 AM

Hi Grays, thanks for the comments. You never know when any idea from anywhere might help. So here are the questions I can answer.

 

I haven't run a memory test. Do you think that could possibly be the reason for this problem? If so I'll see if I can do that.

 

I have run the Lenovo hardware check a few times, everything always scored perfect, with no faults found.

 

I haven't tried booting from the original install dvd. Unfortunately that was separated from me in a move. I've been on the road for most of the last 2 years and that's caused a few problems. But that's a really interesting idea. If I could even boot from the dvd drive and still get work done on this computer, that might be a (slightly clumsy and slow) way to save the day. I would still need to create files and have them synched with Skydrive, etc, the normal computer operations. Would work like that be possible? I suppose the start up time would be very slow, but I can probably live with that for awhile. I'll check around about creating a bootable dvd or usb drive.

 

And the only reason I went with 8 was because it takes care of SSDs better than 7. Nearly everything else about it is infantile imho. As far as I'm concerned, the people that put it together are disorganized and have no artistry or common sense.  Even the appearance is dreary compared to 7.

 

If they did update 7 to take care of SSDs like 8 does, they would have lost my sale. (7 actually outsold 8 in Sept and that couldn't have been easy. Nearly all the new computers already have 8 installed.) You can manually make the changes to 7 to handle SSDs as well as 8. I must have been feeling unenthusiastic when I just ordered 8 instead. So basically I agree with you about 7 over 8 for most of it. If I do have to get another computer and 8 is the only Windows option, I will seriously look at anything else including a Mac before getting another 8.

 

So thanks again for your comments. I do appreciate the ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

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