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SEVERE hardware fault with my M3438G Topic is solved

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SEVERE hardware fault with my M3438G  Topic is solved

Postby Kieran » Sun Jan 21, 2007 9:47 pm

Purchased a M3438G in September 2005 from new ([URL removed]), so I've had it little over a year. It has been working fine up until two days ago where the laptop LCD screen automatically turned black during use and needed forceably resetting via powering down.

After rebooting, the graphics on-screen was shown to be completely garbled, but the problem has seemed to have gone much deeper and has affected even the BIOS and DOS startup sequence.

It's easier to show photos, as they're more descriptive:-


^ Above shows the F8 boot menu, which shows corrupt characters. As is the Operating System menu below:


The Microsoft "welcome" screen is displayed something like this:


... followed by:


Once the OS is "loaded" the main Windows desktop looks like this:


Which, obviously, is utterly unusable. However, I found booting into "Safe Mode" in Windows works fine and uninstalling the nVidia graphics drivers in this way also allows you to at least boot into the main/normal Windows desktop afterwards, but it's very slow at updating the screen as the CPU takes over all graphics duties. Thus I'm led to believe it's GPU related, but not sure why DOS and BIOS would still be affected.

Using DOS, such as checking the hard-disk (as shown above), results in corrupt characters, as shown below:-


Attempting to carry out a full Windows re-install doesn't cure the problem, either, and the characters within DOS are still garbled, so it's certainly not a driver issue:-


Booting into the BIOS gives dotted/stripes in some of the displayed layers of graphics, too.

I guess the GPU is kaput. I'm guessing it has been due to a defective temperature/heat issue as when playing 3D games occasionally the whole computer used to cut out after 30mins of gaming. The noise of the fan also seemed to ramp up overly quickly too. This is in England during winter time, with a room temperature of about 18°C at most, so there's no ambient stress placed on it.

Furthermore, the access to the fan has ALWAYS been kept very clear and completely clean (no dust or fluff), the laptop is even propped up an inch or two on all four corners to allow better airflow underneath, and I'm not a hard core gamer so don't drive it hard in that aspect so much.

Does anyone know exactly what the problem could be, and if it is a GPU issue why the DOS and BIOS are affected too? Where do I send the laptop for repair ([shop name removed] , or Fujitsu, or another?) and what are the cost implications in getting something like this fixed, as well as any insurance and posting aspects?

The computer is otherwise in perfect condition, there's not a scratch on it as it's been exceptionally well looked after and cared for. I'm absolutely gutted.

Thanks kindly for any info anyone could perhaps give. I couldn't find an email for Fujitsu Support (do they have one?!), and it's easier to display pictures this way.

Fujitsu M3438G
17" WXGA+
2 x 512mb DDR2 RAM
256mb GeForce Go 6800
Last edited by aspettl on Sun Jan 21, 2007 9:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: aspettl (Fri Jun 29, 2007 2:22 pm): Company name removed, see my last posting.
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Jun 07, 2006 1:03 am
Location: England, UK
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Postby makdaddy » Wed Mar 07, 2007 11:35 am


Im having a very similar problem, same machine same spec.

topic,454,-3438G-freze-black-scrn-for-a-second-silent-buttn-resolves.html ... 113ebfed3f

Does your machine boot Ok if running on battery ?

Once booted using battery only can you turn on the silent mode then plug the mains power in without the blackouts & Garbles occurring ?

Apologies i do not have a solution to offer

edit : *OFF TOPIC** i see your into music production, my primary use for the amilo was to replace my studio desktop as an Ableton Live workstation.

Do you run the Access Virus Forum ? i owned an Indigo until a year or so ago.. great synth !
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Location: UK, Milton Keynes

Re: SEVERE hardware fault with my M3438G

Postby NickS » Wed Mar 07, 2007 12:31 pm

Kieran wrote:Does anyone know exactly what the problem could be, and if it is a GPU issue why the DOS and BIOS are affected too?

It's a graphics subsystem issue and it affects everything that outputs to the screen, whether it uses the graphics processing power of the GPU or not. It could be a graphics RAM problem, a bus transceiver problem or even a RAM clock speed issue. The characters are well rendered in DOS but wrong, so it looks as though the data that identifies which character should be displayed is corrupt - a common issue with faulty display RAM in the old days of ISA bus video cards. Is the graphics removable on the M3438G?

[edited to make 2nd sentence make sense]
Last edited by NickS on Wed Mar 07, 2007 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SEVERE hardware fault with my M3438G

Postby makdaddy » Wed Mar 07, 2007 1:03 pm

Kieran wrote: Is the graphics removable on the M3438G?

i believe so as ive seen threads relating to people upgrading to a 7800 graphics card
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Postby Kieran » Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:56 pm

Final Result:

After consulting and gathering legal information I finally threatened my retailer ([URL removed]) with court action and a fine, and they instead decided to give me a partial refund settlement out of court, given that I've had good use out of it for 15 months (fair enough). They wouldn't repair the laptop, so a partial refund was the only option.

Because I had had the 15 months of normal use out of the laptop before it died, the partial refund was calculated from that. Two years is the claimed lifespan of a laptop. However, I finally managed to claim back £575 from the £1169 figure originally paid, which is just under half of the original amount. Unfortunately the laptop also had to be sent back to them as part of the deal, which sucks, so I can't sell the laptop for spare parts, even.

Basically, for all Europeans, there is a little known law called the "Sale of Goods Law 1979 (as ammended)", which states that consumers have legal rights for up to six years for defects not relating to wear or tear for any products purchased under European Law, this apparently being the responsibility of the retailer ('[name removed]' in my case) and not the manufacturer ('Fujitsu'). This is separate to the Guarantee/Warranty, as you are still protected by the SoG law (as mentioned for up to six years from the point of sale) even after the warranty has expired.

This allows you to obtain a repair or partial refund where you've had normal use of the goods for a while. A full refund is only ever possible if the goods are found to be defective immediately after buying them, or after little use, and that the relevant parties were informed and challenged quickly upon finding the defect. Once you are deemed to have 'accepted' the goods, your rights are limited in the first instance to claiming a repair or possibly a replacement or partial refund. Additionally, any defect that has been caused as a result of misuse or mere wear and tear will not have a legal claim under the SoG Act. "Consumables" (such as batteries, etc.) are not covered, either.

However, in this case with the M3438G, it appears that there is a severe and inherent defect with the graphics card and the thermal module on the Fujitsu Amilo M3438G laptop, and is NOT user-related NOR normal "WEAR AND TEAR". - To date, I have seen and know of 20 DIFFERENT people with the EXACT same problem with the EXACT same model of laptop, from several forums (Amilo-Forum, NotebookForums, NotebookReview, and of course this Fujitsu-Siemens Support forum). If this is but a cross-section of M3438G users with the problem, it's highly likely there are many other sufferers out there, too.

M0rt, a fellow user on these forums, had the exact same fault with his M3438G and had it repaired (luckily under warranty) by Fujitsu. He kindly gave me the official Fujitsu engineer's repair report after it was repaired and sent back to him, and he has given permission to show it, as displayed below. I have censored personal data.


The faults are circled.

Regards the legal aspects, if you are in the UK, then give excellent advice to initiate formal complaints, lobbying for an early result, and will then otherwise pass you on to Trading Standards if the response from the retailer is negative, who will then take over your case and advise you further.

So basically it's about chasing up the retailer rather than Fujitsu themselves to get the problem fixed.

The stumbling blocks I found were:

1) The retailers tend to imply that they do not know of the Sale of Goods law (as it's little known) and thus immediately repel it...

2) They then have to be convinced of it by Trading Standards contacting them (on your behalf) and, thus....

3) Tend to really drag their heels in trying to ammend the problem afterwards. The Trading Standards people you contact also have to be in the same county (sic) to the retailer you're trying to get the item fixed. So, even though I live in Derbyshire (in the Midlands) I later realised it's best to contact the Trading Standards situating in the county of the retailer (Yorkshire, in my case, as my retailer happened to be based in Huddersfield).

The other main problem is that, ultimately, Trading Standards have no powers to force the retailer to cough up in such "civil cases", so if the retailers still stand their ground and refuse to repair it for free the only other avenue left is going down the legal route, and this is either: 1) going to court to force the retailer to fix it, or 2) getting it fixed by the manufacturer or a third-party repair specialist at your own cost and then taking the case to court to win back the damages from the retailer.

Trading Standards can give you advice on such issues. Luckily in my case an ultimatum to the managing director at [name removed] ended the case by means of settlement. But I was fully intent on taking this to the courts, in addition to fining the company for wasting my time and for all the administration incurred, if they hadn't.

Last notes:

* If you have the problem whilst still in warranty, get it sorted ASAP.
* A recommendation by M0rt was to also invest in a USB laptop cooler with fans directed to the base of the laptop unit. I would also recommend this, as it would reduce the strain of the internal laptop components and would likely extend the life of your (or any) laptop.
However, make sure that, whichever laptop cooler you choose, it has been designed for 17" laptops, and has the fans placed in suitable places so as to best effectively cool the laptop, such as being situated near the air intake or exhaust grilles or similar to maximise effectiveness - however be careful the cooler's fans don't impede the laptop's own air flow by "pushing and pulling" (overriding, or working against) the laptop's air flow/fans at the same time.

It's a shame, the M3438G is a very nice little laptop if you haven't these problems. I will certainly miss it. However, with the heavily documented [Amilo Mx43xG lag] problems (which, I have to say, weren't apparent on mine), and along with a previous purchase of a Fujitsu hard-drive (for a desktop computer) which died well before time despite careful use - these being my only dealings with Fujitsu - I will find it very hard to recommend Fujitsu to others in future.

Best wishes,

Last edited by aspettl on Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: aspettl (Fri Jun 29, 2007 2:21 pm): Removed company name, it's not important for this case.
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