07-05-2014 02:19 PM
I apologize for my tardy reply. I have been preoccupied with work-related matters lately.
Presuming that you've replaced your main hard drive with a SSD, the FX3700M graphics card is the W700xx's weakest link. It is the only component that I had trouble with outside of the warranty period. If you see a new FX3700M with a compatible video BIOS, you may wish to quickly grab it as many other W700xx owners are probably seeking the same.
For W700xx, the following video BIOS have been confirmed to be compatible:
Consequently, it is paramount that you ask the seller what the video BIOS ("vBIOS") is on and the condition of the card. I prefer to stay away from refurbished cards as longevity may be an issue. From the FX3700M list you provided, I cannot comment on the first card on the list as the vBIOS is masked by the protective static bag. You may wish to contact the seller if s/he will reply with the vBIOS of the card. The other two on the list do not appear to be compatible as the vBIOS differs from the above. (Please note that only Lenovo branded FX3700M are guaranteed to run two simultaneous displays at maximum resolution (i.e., 2560 x 1600). An HP branded FX3700M will only run provide one monitor at maximum resolution and a second monitor at 2560 x 1600. Other than that the HP FX3700M card with the above 2 vBIOS numbers will run perfectly on your W700xx.)
Additionally, system11 has replied to you saying that a 6E BIOS card is also compatible but I am unable to confirm that. Finally, I have never tried the FX2700M card since my needs are graphics intensive; thus, I am unable to offer any advice in that case.
I do not remember exactly how much I spent on a new replacement FX3700M video card. I can only recall that it was something less than USD200. Incidentally, MXM is simply a card form factor standard which manufacturers may choose to abide by for upgrade path purposes on their specific machines.
I appreciate that getting the W700xx back in working order is your top priority; I hope it will soon be a distant memory for you. Good luck in your repairs!! Best wishes.
07-05-2014 04:31 PM - edited 07-06-2014 02:24 PM
hello mobius and thank you kindly for the lengthy and exhaustive reply!
Today I have talked with a local technician that will attempt to reflow my 3700M and furthermore I have just ordered an FX 2700M with FRU 42W8202 and vBIOS 62.94.45.00.07 (plus 30 day warranty) that was sold to me as new for 50$ plus shipping and import taxes, I am sure it's a refurb or used but I don't really feel like spending a lot of money for used cards since as you said they aren't guaranteed to last and understandably no seller will offer a decent warranty. Unfortunately there’s not much choice here in Europe as import taxes are prohibitive and Lenovo is asking insane prices for these cards…the UK parts store has the 3700M at 1800 £ which is 3000 $. This is an absurd price for a card that is obsolete and six years old, if they want to force people to buy new machines so be it, but sure as heck it’s not going to be Lenovo or anything Quadro ever again. Sorry for the rant but in my opinion this is not how you treat customers of premium products, even after years.
In any case I will report back with the results of the “new” 2700M and if it works I’m going to put on hold the reflow of my busted 3700M. Might end up taking them to get serviced both eventually. Was going to try the oven trick, but I reckon for 20$ I let someone with proper equipment and experience have a shot at it.
It's also a good chance to apply new thermal paste on CPU and GPU since 6 years on every day will have had its toll.
I am keeping my eyes on ebay for some good deal on another 3700M, want to keep my W700 going as long as I can since it stills serves me well for 3D work...well not so much rendering and the 8GB or RAM is killing me but the integrated tablet is still the best idea anyone had in years. Hopefully some day someone will make another.
I will also report a message that I received from experienced poster Haarp over at the Thinkpads forum:
Known working FX2700M
- Lenovo W700 | BIOS 62.94.45.00.07 (FRU 42W8202) (default)
(other FRU for same card is 42W8024)
Known working FX3700M:
- Lenovo W700 | BIOS 62.92.5C.00.05 (FRU 42W8204) (default)
- Lenovo W700 | BIOS 62.92.5C.00.07
(other FRU for same card is 42W8025)
- HP 8730w | BIOS 62.92.51.00.05 (Displayport may break)
- HP 8730w | BIOS 62.92.6E.00.10 (Displayport may break) SPARE P/N 488125-001, ASSY P/N 460734-001, REPLACE 493984-001, CHIP G92-985-A2
Known not working FX 3700M
- Dell M600 | BIOS (all)
- HP 8730w | BIOS 62.92.3C.00.08
- Clevo M860TU | BIOS (all) MXM 3.0
- Sager NP8662 | BIOS (all) MXM 3.0
Again thank you very much for the reply and kind regards, will post soon with results.
edit_just for reference sake, I've had two Toshiba FRU hard drives die, one a month after I bought the machine which was in RAID 0 and made me lose everything.Had to throw away two batteries as they simply would not charge and I gave up because battery warranty is only for 6 months or one year, so I've been using it only plugged into a wall. I've had to change the keyboard because the laptop shipped with a dreadful mushy one with no metal backplate that felt beyond horrible and cheap and it took a while to track an older FRU with a decent feel to it. Also the color calibrator and Wi-Fi radio have been dead for years. Still love this thing but it takes a lot of patience and ! I want to resurrect it so badly but with these dodgy bits it's going to feel like a time bomb.
07-05-2014 05:05 PM
You're most welcome; it was my pleasure to be of service.
I agree with you that it's best to leave the reflow process to an expert. In another life, I used to work in circuit board manufacturing and can provide an informed opinion. Infrared reflow ovens (nitrogen or not) provide a very specific thermal profile to "reflow" solder without damaging the SMT components on the board. A simple conventional home oven bake may stress, and therefore, damage the componentry on your video card. Unless you are aware which component is faulty and able to find a replacement component, an IR oven reflow will most likely be of no help. Like you said, it's best to be patient and wait for a good deal to appear on eBay.
Thanks to Intel and Microsoft, all PC have a degree of obsolesence built into them. I believe Lenovo has done a good job in supporting the W700xx's software system drivers, etc. In regards to replacement spares, I agree that prices are outrageous, especially for home users. Moving forward, the availability of replacement cards will be more scarce. Thus, you may wish to consider keeping the FX2700M as a backup card when you do find a FX3700M that works for your machine.
(The W700xx -- though obsolete -- is an incredible machine with unprecedented longevity. I purchased mine when the W700ds first came out for around CAD5K back in Q3/08. Another several more months, it will be her 6th anniversary! When it's time for her to retire, I intend to build my own machine and hope that it will last equally as long as her.)
I wish you well in your travels with your W700!! Cheers.
07-06-2014 10:32 AM
once again thanks for the awesome insight, I hope I can keep my W700 alive as long as I can.
I have another question, on this link with instructions for installing a new card:
it states the following:
"When you replace following video cards, you also need to replace FRUs listed in the following table."
and lists three different FRU (system board, base cover assembly and structure frame) as parts that need to be replaced...I must be misunderstanding something because quite a few users installed new cards and I never saw anyone mention having to upgrade anything else...am I worrying for nothing?
07-07-2014 12:47 PM
07-07-2014 11:03 PM
thanks Mobius, I disassembled my W700 to dust the fans and everything else at least once every six months using an air compressor, since it was on pretty much 24/7 I always worried about that, this time I've also removed the heat sinks and I think I should have applied new thermal paste too as the stock one consisted of uneven blobs.
In any case I haven't heard back from the seller (can't say I'm surprised) where I purchased the 2700M so instead of waiting I'm going ahead with the reflow of my 3700M today, I will post back with the results of this.
07-08-2014 01:15 AM - edited 07-08-2014 01:17 AM
That's a mess! Too much paste on the sides and too little on the dies. You definitely need to repaste it, make sure to apply an even thin layer to the die, something similar to this:
07-09-2014 12:19 PM
thanks Tasurinchi, new thermal paste has been applied and the reflow of the 3700M was successful, so far so good...hopefully it lasts a while. I'm keeping a lower screen resolution to stress it less and constantly monitoring temps. On the other side the card I ordered has been shipped with FedEx so it should be here soon, unless there are problems with customs. I'm probably just going to make sure it works and keep it as a safety net for the inevitable...
07-09-2014 12:34 PM
Cool, hope you get it without issues. Keep us posted! ;-)
07-10-2014 04:19 AM