Re: Alienware m17x black screen
That is good news. The cooler is just a generally good investment because the airflow coming from a replaceable product like that cuts down on the amount of work your laptop's fans have to do to keep your hardware cool. It extends the life of your very non-replaceable laptop fans by letting them not have to work as hard.
You know, another test that occurred to me after you said that is to try playing a game that allows you to disable hardware physics. Two I can think of off the top of my head are Mirror's Edge and F.E.A.R. If you have one of these and can crank all the other settings to max, you might be able to find out if Phys-X is what's giving you fits. Black screen when disabled means Phys-X isn't the problem. While enabled...well, then you'll discover a black screen during something like glass breaking, wind effects, or lots of bodies getting tossed ragdoll-style.
And...maybe someone can help me remember this...there's a way to display your SLI on screen while it's running. The last time I used it, it showed a kind of green band on the screen so you could gauge its performance. If you have SLI enabled, then see if you can choose this option ("Show SLI Visualizations", I believe it is). If you see it start to vary dramatically, either rocketing upwards or dropping down, before a black screen, then that might also help you pinpoint it to SLI.
I wonder if you could disable SLI and still telll Phys-X to use GPU #2? Wouldn't that be interesting...
Ever since I turned off SLI on my wife's laptop and let Phys-X be "automatic", she's not had any problems. Much as I enjoy SLI, I'm starting to come to the conclusion that it's not really necessary for good gaming--it's like a slight visual improvement that isn't always worth the destabilization risk on a product like a laptop. My 8700Ms have always been happy, but my 8800GTXs hated it, her 280Ms seem to do better without it, etc.
Alienware Area-51 ALX: Intel Core i7 980X, 12GB (3x4) G.Skill RAM, 2 x nVidia GeForce 480s in SLI, 1.8TB RAID0 (WD Caviar Black@ SATAII/64MB cache) on 48" Toshiba REGZA 1080p screen.