M18x R2 Three Beep Error Code, no-post.


Jan 13, 2014

A little over a year ago, I was fishing around to upgrade my old Lenovo laptop and took an interest in the old Alienware models and their large “built like a tank” sizes like the M18x R2. I’ve read up on a number of users experiences of folks still using this laptop today and figured a small bid on eBay couldn’t hurt. Even on the off chance that I won and it was rough around the edges, I’m no stranger to working on desktops and laptops. Oh, how naïve I was.

I don’t have a spec list on hand and the seller didn’t exactly save a list of those for easy accessibility. So here’s what I can recall:
Some i7 2.60 GHz
16GB of RAM(4x4GB)
2 GTX 675Ms
1 Samsung 850 EVO
2 500GB HDDs

When I first received it and powered it on, I was greeted by a sea of red pixels. Also at random, the screen appears to shut off as if there is a phantom primary display it switches to. This usually happens during logging into or operating windows but it has happened during boot. I decided to install an SSD to speed up the boot times while troubleshooting, but to my surprise, the HDD flex cable arced burning the cable and the socket. Leaving me to purchase a second motherboard and hard drive cable.

So with those replaced, I was back to functionality on an SSD but still stuck with the previous two issues. I ruled out via the HDMI port to another monitor that the LCD panel was causing the issue and have replaced it; fixing the red pixels from what I could see. I also replaced the flex cable a third time because the second eventually snapped from repetitive handling. Powering up as I said, fixed the red pixel issue, but the screen shut off issues began to happen more frequently and at earlier points in startup. Eventually, the laptop straight up won’t even boot up anymore, returning a three beep error code (beeeep--beep-beep) implying a chipset failure.

So I grumbled and purchased a third motherboard hoping this would be the end of it. But not only does the three beep error code remain but now no lights will turn on. I even questioned if the fans were receiving power until I physically checked them to see they were spinning at a very low RPM. I’ve still have a three-month warranty to return the item but the seller attests there’s nothing wrong with the board saying it passed all their tests (although they will accept my return). What if he’s right? It’s pretty bizarre to have the same error code across two boards and the only parts that have really stayed the same are the GPUs, CPU, RAM, and the media expansion board. I’ve already tested booting with each single RAM chip and the computer seems to be able to detect each individual one, only complaining when there are no RAM chips inserted. Could any of these cause a chipset error?

In summary:

My M18x R2 will not boot regardless of the motherboard so far. It insists with three beeps that there is a chipset error. The seller will take my motherboard back, but if he’s right about it being completely functional, then I’m still back to square one on what could be causing this issue. I’m considering this repair service as opposed to purchasing someone else’s “defective board” for a higher price. They’ll only take the board which should limit what else they could bust up in the process. But I’ll be a little nettled if it turns out said motherboard isn’t the actual problem and something else is the cause.

I also still will probably have the screen shut off issue once I get the thing to boot properly. I have a theory it’s probably a faulty bios setting not staying on the correct display method or if I should straight up not install the GPUs. Not being able to boot prevents me from exploring this further though.

I like to think I’ve learned my lesson in bidding on used laptops, but it sure would be nice to be able to actually use this massive paperweight for even a little while after all the work I’ve put into it. Any aid this forum could provide me would be greatly appreciated.


Does not seem like a RAM issue since it does the same thing with any of the RAM, but the video card, CPU and the fact that you must be using used motherboards can be an issue. I am afraid to ask how much money and time you put into this system vs just buying a working one. A bad BIOS setting you can rule out since your laptop has had issues across 3 motherboards, the chances of the same "bad setting" in the BIOS being set on all 3 is less likely than the motherboards or some other component being bad.


Jan 13, 2014
Sorry, it's been awhile but I've managed to solve the issue.

Evidently, there is a difference between "3 beeps" and "1 long beep plus 2 short beeps". The latter is GPU failure, particularly the one in the primary slot. Swapping both the GPUs into a single card config and the motherboards did the trick and my year-long battle nears its end. Stress testing shows no signs of the display shutting off so both major issues have been dealt with in one fell swoop.

There are still some minor more troubleshoot-able problems and looks like I'll not get a chance to see what SLI it like, but I've never been so glad to just move my mouse wildly around a basic windows screen before.
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