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NinLi
1 Nickel

Aurora (R1) BIOS update question

Hello,

I've been having a lot of computer freezes/hangups in my windows 7 and found no solution for it, so thought it would be time to try if a BIOS update would fix it.

I downloaded the A11 BIOS from dell and ran it from safe mode. It installed and said it had been successful. When I rebooted it still said my BIOS version is A04. I checked with the AlienAutopsy program and it also says BIOS version string: A04. SMBIOS version is 2.5 (if that info is good for anything).

Why didn't it update as it should have?

I have read a lot of forum posts and know the dell site have shown wrong updates when entering service tag. A04 showed for me as urgent.

I belive my Aurora is the original one, also called R1. It was bought early 2010, has a 0H869M motherboard with the X58 chipset, i7 960 processor and 3chanel memory...

In a post by DELL-Chris M http://en.community.dell.com/owners-club/alienware/f/3746/t/19460149.aspx?PageIndex=2 he lists the BIOS versions for the Aurora models as follows:

Aurora-R4 A01, A03
Aurora-R3 A03, A04, A05, A06
Aurora-R2 A02, A04
Aurora-R1 A02, A03, A05, A06, A07, A08, A09, A10, A11

That is confusing since my BIOS version is A04 but it's not listed for the R1. Is it possible i have a R2 after all?

Have I missed something? Should I try again? With a different one? In order?

I bet someone will tell me to use a bootable usb for the update but is that really necessary?

Help me out please! Smiley Happy

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17 Replies

Re: Aurora (R1) BIOS update question

Hi NinLi,

It is difficult to tell system model based on purchase year. You may click Here -> Enter Service Tag (The Service Tag and Express Service Code are located on a label under the drive panel and on the back of the system) -> You will find your system model and you may also download the latest BIOS version from there and install it.

System freezing/hangups might be due to various reasons. I would suggest you to run diagnostics on system to verify hardware functionality :

  • Power on the laptop
  • Press F12 button on keyboard when you see Alienware logo
  • Highlight Diagnostics option and press Enter
  • Let the diagnostics run and reply with error messages if any and continue tests

If the system pass diagnostics, the issue might be related to OS. You may try starting the computer in Safe Mode and see if the issue persists.

Do reply with the findings. Will take it further from there.

Thanks & Regards,
Sundeep B
#iworkfordell
To know more about Dell Product Support, Drivers & Downloads, Order & Dispatch status -> choose your region USA;India For helpful Dell Support Videos, you may click Here.

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Tesla1856
6 Thallium

Re: Aurora (R1) BIOS update question

I belive my Aurora is the original one, also called R1. It was bought early 2010, has a 0H869M motherboard with the X58 chipset, i7 960 processor and 3chanel memory...

 

Aurora-R1 A09, A10, A11

Yes, you have an Aurora (aka Aurora R1). Obvious with x58 chipset,  i7-9xx processor, and tri-channel memory.

The first machines off the line in 2009 might have been running A04. In 2010, a good stable shipping BIOS is A09. A10 and A11 where released to fix ... well, read release notes. Many machines have been bricked (flashing from Windows) trying to get from A09 to something higher. Mine runs fine on A09.

http://en.community.dell.com/owners-club/alienware/f/3746/p/19512410/20393228.aspx#20393228

 

http://en.community.dell.com/owners-club/alienware/f/3746/p/19512652/20394058.aspx#20394058


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NinLi
1 Nickel

Re: Aurora (R1) BIOS update question

Hey Sundeep,

Entering service tag now lists me the A11 BIOS update and there has never been a R# after the computer model, so with that and the below post from Tesla it really should be the original R1.

I probably should have mentioned that I already have run all hardware diagnostic tools twice or more, both from startup, from the resource disk and inside windows. No errors found.

Safe mode seems to work fine, that's why I tried the BIOS update from there. But it didn't work and I want to know why.

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NinLi
1 Nickel

Re: Aurora (R1) BIOS update question

Thank you Tesla,

It most certanly is a R1 then and the A11 BIOS is made for it. Question remains, why didn't the update work?

So if I try again I might go with the A09.

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Re: Aurora (R1) BIOS update question

Hi NinLi,

As the diagnostics have passed and you are facing freezes/lockups only in normal mode and not in safe mode, the issue might not be related to hardware. I would suggest you to perform a thorough virus/malware scan on system using a good antivirus program. 

If no infections are found and the issue persists, you may run msconfig and disable unnecessary startup items. For more information, you may refer to article Here.

Also, as per the discussion it appears you are using Aurora R1. Still, I would request you to share the system Service Tag and name on account via private message (click on my name and click on start conversation). Will look into the system details and take it further.

Thanks & Regards,
Sundeep B
#iworkfordell
To know more about Dell Product Support, Drivers & Downloads, Order & Dispatch status -> choose your region USA;India For helpful Dell Support Videos, you may click Here.

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NinLi
1 Nickel

Re: Aurora (R1) BIOS update question

Hey Sundeep,

I sent you the service tag in a private message.

Not sure if it counts as a "good" antivirus program but I have scanned with Microsoft security essentials. No detection. I have removed all unwanted programs and I always google services names that I don't recognize. Nothing suspicious found.

I have been running in selective startup for weeks with all non-microsoft services off and testing for "Safe" startup programs. No difference with all on or off.

It's going a bit off topic but you seem determined to help me resolve my computer problem so I better fill you in a bit.

I thought it was game related for a very long time. The first freeze up happened in January when I was playing World of Warcraft. A system restore and turning off windows updates fixed it. All was fine 2-3 months, then the game had a patch... Updating video drivers didn't help so I had to follow the guidelines and make sure windows was up to date. Had problems ever since.

Setting my game settings to DirectX 9 instead of 11 solved the issue for a week.

After reinstalling the game I noticed my computer started freezing on the desktop also, while idling or surfing the net.

Description of the "freezes" I'm having:

The screen stops refreshing, gets stuck on last frame. Mousepointer don't move. Keyboard will turn the CapsLock on and off once, then stops responding. Hard disk light blinks a bit now and then. Sometimes I hear it working. The sound seems to loop the last game sound file (perfectly, not distorted).

Lately (this past week) the computer has started to reboot itself after a short while, generating a bug check and dump file, but most of the times I have had to press and hold down the power button Smiley Sad

There is a interesting pattern to the freezes. They usually only happen withing 10 min of boot up and/or the first 10 min of playing WoW. After that critical stage it normally runs fine the rest of the day. But even if the computer has been on for an hr or more while I'm googling around for fixes it is still very likely to freeze shortly after I start WoW.

On two occasions I have been able to play WoW as normal for a week, thinking problems solved, but then the same old thing starts again.

Every boot up since 17th January 2013 gives the Event 3, Kernel-EventTracing Error: Session "Microsoft Security Client OOBE" stopped due to the following error: 0xC000000D

Googling that points to MS security essentials, that I installed only a few weeks ago (had Avira before). They say the error is harmless and can be ignored, but many seem to think it's related to their BSOD.

Analyzed minidumps with WhoCrashed:

Seven of the crash dumps give the Error: UNEXPECTED_KERNEL_MODE_TRAP probably caused by the following module: ntoskrnl.exe (nt+0x75C00). Possibly this problem is caused by another driver that cannot be identified at this time.

One dump gives the same Error: UNEXPECTED_KERNEL_MODE_TRAP, but blames it on the following module: hal.dll (hal+0x13568)

Two times (latest one today) it blames my video driver with a Error: VIDEO_TDR_ERROR, This was probably caused by the following module: nvlddmkm.sys (nvlddmkm+0x13B010). A third party driver was identified as the probable root cause of this system error. It is suggested you look for an update for the following driver: nvlddmkm.sys (NVIDIA Windows Kernel Mode Driver, Version 320.18 , NVIDIA Corporation).

One dump said it was a ActiveX or DirectX thing that caused the crash, but that has gone missing now. The program seem to update the logs to what I have installed.

A week ago I did a super clean install of my video driver by following instructions found on NVIDIA forum. Removed every trace from registry before installing the latest driver (320.18 - very new release).

I also ran every "gaming" tests in AlienAutopsy twice and downloaded the 3D furmark bench thing. Everything passed. Tried playing an other game for a while, no crash there. No problems found with DxDiag.

Things I HAVE NOT done yet: Replace the graphic card (don't have a spare one), Poke around with the RAMs or other hardware, Reinstall Windows (Want to buy a SDD first and be sure that it's not hardware failure)... Successfully update the BIOS :P

Hope this info saves some time and gives you some clues.

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mav711
3 Zinc

Re: Aurora (R1) BIOS update question

Flashing from Safe mode might be the issue.  Why would you flash from safe mode instead of full mode?  As tesla suggests updating to A09 first. might be another option.  

For the freezes.  You could try swapping out RAM chips/DIMMs one at a time to see if that helps anything.  The weirdness is that your error dumps are jumping around to different systems.  All those systems have one thing in common.. they are all software sitting on that same hard drive.  So I'm curious if you have a lingering HDD problems surfacing... maybe...

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Re: Aurora (R1) BIOS update question

Hi Nina,

I appreciate your technical expertise and analyzing the bluescreen errors to identify the root cause was the right move. It appears the problem was related to display driver. I would suggest you to observe system for few days and check if it crashes again.

If the issue persists, my suggestion would be to re-install the operating system as diagnostics and other tests have passed and hardware appears to be working fine. You may refer to article Here for step by step instructions for performing OS re-install. 

Note : OS re-installation leads to complete data loss. Ensure that you have backed up important data before proceeding further.

Hope this helps.

Thanks & Regards,
Sundeep B
#iworkfordell
To know more about Dell Product Support, Drivers & Downloads, Order & Dispatch status -> choose your region USA;India For helpful Dell Support Videos, you may click Here.

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NinLi
1 Nickel

Re: Aurora (R1) BIOS update question

Hey Sundeep,

Still freezing up.

I found a forum post by a IT professional who had a very similar problem... He reassembled his entire computer (different hardware then my) and reinstalled Windows but never got rid of the problem... So I don't have much faith in a reinstallation.

Worth a try though and a good excuse to get me a SSD... Will give a fresh clean registry too (used CClean on that btw).

But I'm stubborn and not solving this annoys me so I will keep on searching for other solutions. If it ends up with a reinstall anyway, I don't have to worry too much about messing up my OS in the process Smiley Wink

Did you confirm I have a R1 with the service tag?

You don't believe a BIOS update from A04 to something higher will do my system any good?

Thank you for your effort.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

To Mav711

I did the BIOS update from Safe mode because normal mode was too risky. If my computer would have frozen up during the flashing it would have been really really bad. I also read a comment like "Most people don't even do it from safe mode..." so I thought it was the better choice.

I haven't ruled out RAM or HDD even though they passes all tests... I know swapping RAMs is easy but me poking around with hardware is more likely to cause a problem then fixing it (ESD). Will read up about the symptoms first and run some more tests.

Forgot to mention: No hardware changes except for 2 hard disks a year and a half ago. Old one died. I use the second one for backups (lesson learned).

Got me a gaming mouse after problems had started (and switched back to old one) so it can't be blamed.

Disconnected second monitor that I've used over a year.

My video card is a GTX 260.

No overclocking.

And it's not a overheating problem. (very common suggestion in WoW forums. That and the power supply...)

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