1 Copper

Laptop crash when using graphics card


I have an XPS 15 L502X (december 2011) with these specs:

  • Intel Core i7-2670QM
  • 8GB RAM
  • Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • NVidia GeForce GT 540M
  • Windows 8.1

First of, I have also tested these issues on Windows 7 and Windows 8 (all of them 64 bit) and it also happens in those OSes.

Working (MS Office, programming, web development, browsing the internet, ...) on this laptop has no issues at all. Using the Intel HD Graphics has no problem either and the external display connections (mini display-port and HDMI) also work correct.

In game however, I have between 1 to 5 minutes (some games up to 5, others just a few seconds) before my PC crashes. When this happens, the sound goes crazy (seems like a low buzzer - though it is just the sound of the game going in a loop - coming through the speakers or the headphones), the screen stops on the frame it produced last and the laptop just freezes. Sometimes, I am able to go back to Windows, but this only for a few moments before the laptop completely freezes or goes into a blue screen (BSOD). The occasional time it gives a BSOD, one of the error messages was DPC_WATCHDOG_VIOLATION. The only way to get out of the freeze is by powering of the laptop with the power button.

When booted back to Windows, the Windows Event Viewer has no data about the crash except for the two events:

  • Error: The previous system shutdown at 22:01:59 on ‎2/‎02/‎2014 was unexpected.
  • Critical: The system has rebooted without cleanly shutting down first. This error could be caused if the system stopped responding, crashed, or lost power unexpectedly.

The time in the first error above refers back to approximately 5 minutes before, the time the game started. The second error (critical) is listed above the first, thus comes later (just a few seconds).

To be clear, this happens for legally bought games as downloaded games. The games for which this happens are these (but this list is most likely not exhaustive):

  • Dirt 3 (via Steam)
  • Hitman: Absolution (via Steam)
  • Assassin's Creed 3 (downloaded)
  • Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 (downloaded)

The issue is only occurring for the last 3 to 4 months now. Before this, all of these games worked without problems. I suspect it has something to do with the graphics card (NVidia), as it ONLY happens when the graphics card is taking a good load. The laptop gets moderately warm, but the cooling fan works as it should and just blows out the warm air. I also ran the DELL PC Diagnostics (those extended tests with the screen flickering and so on) and these revealed no problem.

I have formatted and re-installed Windows 8.1 yesterday and installed the latest versions of all drivers needed. Today I have tested both Dirt 3 as Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 and both crash, although I was able to play Dirt 3 for a few hours. A few hours later, the problems started again and now they come back within the usual time interval of 1 to 5 minutes.

I have had contact with NVidia Support, but cannot reach DELL support as my warranty has ended. My conversation with the NVidia support engineer is attached below.

What is the problem with this laptop? Is there any solution for it?

I hope to get an answer from both users as DELL Support Engineers.



Rahul: Hi, my name is Rahul. How may I help you?
Jens V: Hi, I'm having touble with a driver for my geforce GT540M
Jens V: When trying to play games like Hitman Absolution (and previously also with Assassin's creed 3), my laptop crashes after about 3 to 4 minutes of gameplay
Rahul: Do you play games in Ultra settings?
Jens V: No
Jens V: I tried turning down my video settings to low and ultralow
Jens V: In the past, there was no trouble playing both games
Jens V: But the last few months there is
Rahul: Okay, Is the laptop getting over heated by any chance?
Jens V: Not that I know, it warms up a little, but not extremely hot
Jens V: I Googled a lot for the issue, but there has never been a real satisfying answer.
Rahul: At times with the graphics card like this you may face issues while gaming, but do you get any error message on the laptop ?
Jens V: Sometimes, there is a blue screen (or whatever it is called in Windows 8).
Rahul: Let me know the Operating System (Windows XP/ Vista/ 7 / 8 ) with the version (32 or 64 bit).
Jens V: Windows 8 64 bit
Jens V: It's a Dell XPS 15 L502X
Rahul: What is the driver version installed on the laptop now?
Jens V: 331.82
Jens V: I re-installed it today and gave it another try, but it crashed again
Rahul: http://www.nvidia.com/download/driverResults.aspx/70740/en-us
Jens V: I'll give that one a try.
Jens V: Do you know by any chance this one fixes issues related to the problem?
Jens V: Because I already updated a few times in the last few months
Rahul: Let me explain you about the possible reasons for the issue you are facing
Rahul: There are several factors that can contribute to system instability. Since the graphic card is always drawing to your screen, Windows will often report the graphics card or its drivers as the problematic device after a system error. In most cases, the problem is caused by another device or component in your system such as
Jens V: Sure.
Rahul: 1. Corrupted drivers 2. Issue could due to the OS. 3. Or, issue could be due to the other hardware components like motherboard, processor or system memory. 4. Application specific issue. 5. Defective graphics card.
Jens V: Mmh. Okay.
Jens V: But I'm not sure that's the case here.
Jens V: A few weeks back I installed an additional Windows 7 64 bit in dual boot with this Win8
Jens V: I used to latest drivers at that moment, but the crashes persisted
Rahul: Did you try flashing the BIOS on the motherboard?
Jens V: No
Jens V: I just search for a picture of my BSOD, the error I sometimes get (it's not always the same) is DPC_WATCHDOG_VIOLATION.
Rahul: Okay,
Jens V: Any suggestions for that?
Rahul: I am checking please stay on line
Jens V: okay
Rahul: Thank you for your patience
Rahul: Installing the drivers may not fix the issue you have, but I would suggest you to check if you can flash the BIOS on the laptop for the motherboard
Jens V: I'll check at the DELL website
Jens V: It looks like I'm running the latest version of BIOS updates from the DELL website
Rahul: That's fine even if you have the latest BIOS, I would suggest you to re flash it once
Jens V: Oh okay.
Jens V: I'll search how to do that.
Jens V: I assume this will require me to reboot my laptop. Will I be able to contact you (specifically you) again?
Rahul: Yes, please come back on line and ask for me
Jens V: Okay. Then I'll try this now.
Jens V: Thanks anyway!
Rahul: You are welcome
Rahul: You have a Good day ahead

Rahul: Hi, my name is Rahul. How may I help you?
Jens V: Hi Rahul, I flashed my BIOS again
Jens V: And installed the updated driver you gave me
Jens V: I just tried to run the game, and about 3 minutes in it crashed again
Rahul: I am sorry about this, Did you get the laptop per installed with Win 8 OS ?
Jens V: No, it had Windows 7 on it, but there are drivers and updates for Win 8 on the Dell website
Jens V: But in windows 7 the issues were there too.
Rahul: You have tried installing a different OS, installed multiple drivers, checked with the settings and you still have the same issue
Jens V: Yes
Rahul: I would suggest you to Run the System memory test and the CPU test and check
Jens V: I installed Win 7 about three weeks ago just to check if the issue was Win 8 related
Jens V: Also did those already. All came back clean
Rahul: Okay, I would suggest you check with the laptop manufacturer on this once
Jens V: Okay, I'll try there.
Jens V: Thanks anyway.
Rahul: You are welcome
Jens V: Bye
Rahul: I am sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused
Rahul: Bye

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2 Replies
1 Copper

RE: Laptop crash when using graphics card

I have the same problem (the buzzer sound and the laptop just freezes).The Dell ppl tried fixing it twice, but I still have the same problem. This happened after I installed Windows 8.1. Has anything worked for you yet?
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1 Copper

RE: Laptop crash when using graphics card

I have exactly the same issues. It only happens when playing games. I play World of Tanks and Spintires (Steam). Dell suggested rolling back the video card driver to my original one as I had updated it. It improved the situation for a day but now its happening again.

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