Sunday, January 10, 2010

What Kills HP DV series laptops?

The number one issue with DV Series is:
Blank or No Video displayed.

The number two issue is: (tied)
No Wi-fi or Continuous rebooting


After repairing a number of HP DV Series laptops. I wanted to isolate the problem and make it easier for me to fix, and have them stay fixed! So digging deep into them I can only come to a couple of conclusions of why they fail.

1: Manufacturing - Hann-Starr
Either the oxidation on motherboard or the Graphics Chips. Since the failure comes in both versions AMD and Intel lines. And in Intel and nVidia GPU's it seems it could be at the factory.

2: Distribution - nVidia
Could the transit time and shipping packaging be contributing to the oxidation on the GPU? On one unit after a number of reflow failures, I decided to remove the GPU and prepare to 'reball' the chip. Then and only then did I notice there was no solder on some pads. So that points the finger to nVidia. Oxidation is the culprit since the solder balls are put on a the the GPU plant.

3: Bad Solder
I have heard claims from HP techs that nVidia got a bad batch of solder. But I don't believe that because the problem exists on DV2000, DV6000, DV9000, V6000, F700, C500 lines. Too many fabrication points for the same solder issue. As well as the number of years that this problem has been known.

Can they be fixed reliably? Yes
But it would require a good knowledge of solder's metallurgic properties, heat and manufacturing processes. The training I received from my previous employers helped quite a bit. And now repair them from various shops in the area as well as California, Ohio, Illinois and whoever can find my address or contact me.

Will I post how to permanently fix them? Not just yet.
This information will be posted in a technical manual. And people that want to learn how to fix them will have the option of getting a complete kit. Because I don't want them to fail, then blame me for not following directions.

How much did the tools cost altogether?
The cost of all the tools and equipment to fix the DV series was about $100 max. And the would include custom items made.

Blanket tricks and gimmicks
They work (sometime) but the result is not permanent and usually used as a 'get it out' solution. These units sometime wind up on eBay, Craigslist and other venues as 'working' units. But fail in a couple of days or weeks. This does nothing for the corrosion/oxidation which is the ultimate issue.
Tricks seen posted: Wrap in blanket, placing a tea candle on GPU, put in oven and other silly methods that unskilled/untrained hobbyists use

What can happen when it is done wrong?
The board can be rendered useless, shorted and a total mess. requiring replacement or reballing which is a time consuming, expensive and painstaking process.

When overheated:
All the solder under the GPU will tend to collect forming a large blob under the chip. Shorting GPU.
Adjacent caps, resistors, coils will be dislodged.
Fan connector will be burnt.

When underheated:
Wastes time, and will not be repaired or work
Presents or create another problem that will be difficult to determine.

Number of units repaired since Jan 1, 2010
16

Total units repaired
40 

(update 3/23/2010) Now averaging 7-10 a week

42 comments:

  1. I have recently had a bad DV9030 given to me suffering from the blank screen. Did the Blanket trick to see if it would run long enough for me to run some diagnostic software on it.
    Got it running for a few days and found that replacing the foam pad on the GPU with Copper spacer helped reduce the amount of heat in the GPU, also keeping the unit elevated higher above the working surface (+1") reduces the internal temperature as well. This unit thermal cycles the GPU and the PCB alot. I agree that reballing is the ONLY solution that will work to really fix these units. Also I should say that missing solder is no indication of defective manufacturing. The connections may have been unused connections on the mainboard and left unsoldered to save money. Of course as with ALL money saving ideas this may have also weakened the connection to the mainboard by passing more stress to the remaining connections.

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  2. Paul the manufacturing process does not save money on not balling a pad. Since you can get 100,000 balls commercially for $6 on various sites. In practice manufacturers terminate the pads on the motherboard, rather than not ball a pad. I am currently using a non-reball, non-blanket method to cure these issues. The root cause is the expansion/contraction of the RoHS solder. It's metalluric properties are different than that of 60/40 PnSn (Lead/Tin) solder. A secondary cause is the actual oxidation or corrosion of the GPU pads themself.

    Another thing is to disassemble the heatsink and clear the lint blocking heated air from exiting.

    This problem also exists in other brands- Acer, Gateway, earlier Thinkpad T40 series with Intel GPU's.

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  3. The cost per ball may not be that great when you buy for repair but for manufacture it all adds up.
    But that is another subject. It looks like in this case the actual oxidation or corrosion of the pads keeps the solder from whetting the pads and making real contact. as you also said the use of non-lead solder changes how the connection reacts to the heat from the GPU. I guess we can all blame the problems on the "Green" movement for the use of non-lead solder.

    You also said that "I am currently using a non-reball, non-blanket method to cure these issues." Just how do you remove the oxidation or corrosion without removing the chip? Tarn-X?
    Unless you can clean All of the chemical off the board won't that make the problem worse in the long run? I have seen various reball kits that use a rubber form for the reball process and they look like a good solution for the home DIY repair. Any thoughts?

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  4. Paul - I had not wanted to cover the solution here. Since I wanted to see the long term results of the last batch. So far none has come back.

    And you don't have to remove the GPU to remove the oxidation.

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  5. Wow! that's really good news! I hope that you can post a solution soon. I had the "quick fix" start flaking out as I kept a fan on the unit.
    It was real fun to watch it flicker and cut in and out as it heated back up from 110F to 125F.

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  6. Cool! I can't wait for the kit. I found one on eBay and it explained on reflowing the video chip, the only difference from what I was already doing was that they added 6 quarters and 2 nickels on top of the video chip to help seat the chip onto the solder. This worked for like 2 weeks then my wireless started going again. Bummer man!

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  7. I don't reflow anymore. Well, I offer to, but I strongly recommend against it. Reballing is standard procedure here now for these - with a 37/62 eutectic solder (not perfect, but better than Nvidia's choice). The problem is complex, difficult to manage, and the reballing is tricky and easy to screw up. I have lot of chemicals :)

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  8. And it's not ROHS solder. The European Union ROHS directive wasn't in effect at the time these units were developed. They contain 93% lead.

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  9. Low-lead & lead-free solder has it's problems too. It is susceptible to something called "electromigration". However, ATI chose this type of solder, and clearly has had fewer failures in the field. No solder is perfect, but high leaded solder is no good for a chip that runs that hot.

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  10. Rob: Reflowing does work if you clear the contaminants and allow the pads to become whetted. Solderballs are too much of a hassle, and after the reflow method was perfected, the return rate dropped to ZERO. So I'll stick with it. As well as recognizing where the problem exist South Bridge or nVidia GPU.

    I personally try not to over engineer, or make more complex than necessary.

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  11. Forgot to respond to Gil:
    I tried several methods before having to remove and reball. The stack coins does not work well and may create other problems. Last year I thought that pressing down on the GPU when heating would help - NOT. That shorted so many contacts under the GPU and killed the board.

    So the final reflow method corrects the core issue> non-contact of solderballs.

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  12. I am seeing more and more of these laptops with the same faults. Will you be releasing the method you use to repair these?

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  13. I was just wondering when you are going to release your method to repair the dv1000 motherboard,or re-balling solution. Please get back to me ,us as soon as you can.

    Thank you

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  14. I am preparing/editing the video for DVD shortly. Looks like around June 15. As well as going to various shops training. Usually the shops will have 2 techs so they don't lose any business that day. Trying to create a map for training rates since it takes 2 mornings or 2 evenings. Usually about $1700 per shop and will introduce other shortcuts to save time and money for the shop owners.

    The Dell DC Jacks are a big time killer. So even showing them how to replace those jacks in 10-15 min save them money. Plus a less number of boards are killed versus using a high watt iron and wick. And can be applied to all models that uses soldered jacks. ACER, DELL, Gateway,etc...

    The map rates charge is by distance. Of course it costs more to get to California from NC than it does for me to travel to Ohio or Indiana, and then room rates too are different. So I'm trying to factor in all the variables.

    Distance
    Food
    Hotel
    Time

    This is to come up with a fair price, and lower 'break even' time for smaller shops. So if 2 shops are in the same area, it could be less for each.

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  15. @Kingsley: The DV1000/V2000 is rarely a video issue, it is more of a MOSFET or CAP shorted problem on that line.

    Because the power circuit is all over the place, it usually wind up being the larger ceramic caps on the bottom side of the board. (Brownish color) non-polarized. Of if the unit is dead, no lights the AO4413/FDS6679 next to the DC Jack.

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  16. I have a small repair shop (myself and one other person). So far the only hp I have had a problem with is one I sold to a good friend. I ownwd it for 2.5 years and 1 month after he took it, the video went on it. I replaced the mobo once and it only lasted about 2 weeks. I don't want to put another mobo into it. You said in a previous post that the DVD would be out around June 15. Any luck with that. i would like to purchase one. Thank you.

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  17. Hi John,
    No the DVD is not ready yet, a number of technical/hardware related snafu's delayed me. The major problem was having a system that was fast enough to render the video (quickly) and run WinXP (with drivers available) since the hardware I have doesn't run on Vista or Win7. I had been able to rewrite some XP drivers to work on Vista, but not the other way around. (NO - I will not write or export drivers for anyone)

    My first attempt was to use Oracle's virtualbox- that didn't work - too many IRQ/DMA issues inside Vista.

    Then I tried to repartition Vista to have an XP dualboot. That wasted a day when Vista didn't see the XP partition and would not even boot to Vista itself. used EasyBCD to fix that.

    Now I have both bootable partitions and loaded the software for the XP side, added the capture device. All this while still working 10+ hours a day.

    As stated: Stay tuned as I always complete projects I start, unless they are totally futile and I start to see the impossibility.

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  18. I haven'y seen any more posts so I am assuming that that you haven't been able tp get an instructional DVD out yet. Are you willing to repair a DV9500T mobo if I sent it to you? If so, what would you charge? The laptop that is faulty is the one I sold to a good friend. I paid for the replacement mobo. I just felt bad that it failed after he only had it a short time. He actually bought it for his 10 year old son, and I feel bad that he cannot do any gaming. he is really anxious to start gaming again, so I told him I would fix it or pay to have it fixed. I have the bios update for it and the extra shims to keep it cool for him, but I need to get the board fixed first. Thank you so much for your help.

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  19. Hi John
    Sorry but I cannot at this time, and may be around the 15th before I have an opportunity to even get to it.

    As mentioned in previous posts the Shims are a sham. They are only a band-aid and not the resolution.

    The BIOS update only keeps the fan on longer or turn on sooner. Which may actually cause failure sooner due to collecting more lint/dander.

    Part one: Cleaning the Heatsink Fan.
    Part two: Removing the oxidation on the GPU pads.
    Part three: Applying new Compound to CPU and pads to the GPU.

    Of that, Part 2 is not discussed openly as of yet. Since I had to see just how long the process would last in the field. And which chemical were best. I'd hate to make a claim and sell a product that was not throughly tested/perfected.


    I'm juggling a shop, book, video, and graphic designs. So both sides of my brain are getting worked out.

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  20. Thank you for the quick response. Mt business partner was going to try to reflow the mobo but I am a bit apprehensive about that. he was going to put the mobo in an oven.
    I just hate to buy ANOTHER mobo if the same thing is going to happen I'll be patient and wait till you inform me of a permanant solution. Thank again for the info.
    Don't work too hard and try to enjoy the rest of the weekend.

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  21. Putting in the oven is the worst way to fix. Because the GPU is on the top side, parts from the bottom can fall off. Especially those that are heavier, or smaller. With the heavier parts the solder liquifies and frees the part.

    With the smaller parts, it does not take that much heat for the leads to become hot enough to melt. Then there's the removal, any jarring or bump can move everything else on the board.

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  22. Hello Mayo,

    I was wondering whats the ETA on the video for fixing the issue with GPU/CPU Oxidation problems for chips? I was wondering since i have 4 systems down within a month which is a pain. I tried a reflow using a 200W bulb and that worked for about 3 weeks. Any help on this issue would be great.

    Greetings from montreal canada!

    Perry

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  23. Thanks for your reply, Mayo. I too decided to press down on one of the BGA chips and the solder exploded. That was on a Gateway W340UI, if I recall correctly.
    I have also been doing more experiments with reflowing/reballing.
    1. After convincing my wife to use some of our tax return $$ and promising riches,lol.I purchased a T862++ IRDA Infrared welder to reball the BGA chip but the chips will not come off. I gave up after about the 5th board that I ruined. Either the Chip is burned to death or once it comes off it takes pads!!! arghh!!!
    It doesn't seem like the Infrared welder gets hot enough, I told the vendor and they gave me a song & dance ( also advised me to use a hot air soldering gun simultaneously with the IRDA). This is also the cheaper version a little below $500, there are other much more expensive systems that I am considering purchasing in the future.
    2. Hot air soldering seems to work okay but there is still a 50% chance the customer will be back in 3 months. Oh, yea, don't forget the clean flux to get rid of oxidation.
    3. I have used the copper shim (sham) and cut one of the fan cables to keep the fan at full blast. My test DV9000 BGA now stays at around 50 degrees celsius but it sounds like an aircraft.
    4.I have drilled a couple of holes on the bottom of the my DV9000/Aircraft case and put a laptop cooling pad that has 2 fans.
    5. Lastly I'm considering buying a small heat sink to add to the BGA's heatsink or any bridge that needs cooling.

    Can't wait for the Vid.

    Thank you,
    Gil
    www.LaptopSpecializt.com

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  24. hello mayo and thanks for sharing your knowledge here.
    i hope that yew can help me here and point me in the right diction.
    i have a hp dv6000 and it works fin on battery, but does not charge or turn on when using charger.the blue ring on ac jack does light up.
    thanks.

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  25. Mayo
    Are you still going to make the video available for purchase to fix the gpu problems?

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  26. Sal: You may need to test the AO4407 and FDS6679 on the front near the charger connector to the mobo. Replace both and should be solved. But before buying the chips, (about $3 total), check to see if any ceramic caps are shorted.

    RE Video/DVD: Looking at April to get them mastered. Even I had no idea it would be so much of a hassle. Pre-orders page should be up soon, domain and other details are just now getting activated.

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  28. Hi Mayo
    Thanks for keeping us updated with your knowledge.
    Please also share the status of DV9000 GPU repairs, did any fail again?

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  29. Hi Mayo,

    I'm wondering if I've been fleeced with a repair of a DV9000.
    A DV9000 with typical Nvidia failure symptoms; distorted pixelated video, video driver crashes, reboots, so I call someone local. "I just need the board and heatsinc assembly" he said, I can reball it if it needs it and then test the pathways.
    After $170 I received it back, I was told it had been reballed and tested. I installed the board, but screen is dark, and no post. When I plug it in, the lights and fan come on for a second then shut off. A second later, they come on and stay on, but no video (dark screen), no post. Even if I remove the memory chips, no post beeping to indicate they are missing. Fan is on full, lights for quick keys and power are on.

    Any ideas? Or am I missing something here? I do smell the new "electronics smell" when the unit is on...

    Thanks,

    Brad

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  31. I have used a heatgun to reflow (+ addition of copper shim) my dv6000 3 times now. Each time, the fix lasts about a week. Is there an oxidixing removal chemical I need to add? Mayo, please help.

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  32. I am not sure if you followed the directions in the video which describes the solution in detail with the heatgun/shim. It sounds like the process is missing a step.

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  33. I got a long post from DaveC regarding the reflow process he used. Basically correct information but using incorrect items. After being in the manufacturing process for many items, there were concerns. Finding it difficult to go against what other sites post, and the actually methods used. I was at a quandry. As hard as it was I could not post.

    Fluxes have an oxidation point, each type of flux vary in temp that they oxidze at. That is why you see paste, liquid, no-clean, and petroleum based fluxes.

    I have heard of techs using no-clean fluxes in reflows. And on other sites, I would not say otherwise. But here no-clean flux has no purpose except for hand solder. It is intended for volume and speed, rather than accuracy and performance.

    The oxidation removes contamination from the board, and leaves a pure/clean copper pad. All solder sticks best to a clean surface. I suppose when I get back I should create a video showing the difference...

    And if you use no-clean flux, what does it become 2 years later? A dust collector, a contamintaion point????

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  34. hello I'm new to the blog and find it very interesting, perhaps the only one in the network.
    I do reballing and rework especially hp dv6000 and dv9000 but after 2-3 weeks I go back the notebook.
    Why this happens to me?
    thanks

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    Replies
    1. Maurizio: When a reball fails, it is typically because of HEAT. Even after reballing there are several steps that need to be taken. Not just reball.

      If I get one that continues to overheat, (after reballing and new thermal compound used) I will simply make a modification that keeps the fan on. Of course slightly lower time using battery only, but essentially solves the problem.

      In the DV6000/9000 series at the end of production the BIOS had an option to keep the FAN ALWAYS ON, and this featured continued in most of the DV4,5,6,7 afterwards.

      Delete
  35. "Tools required costs 100$"

    Well this is too good to be true! Only permanent solution is to reball chip and a good thermal paste of course! For a good reballing station you need 1000$.

    Copper shim may warp mobo from pressure and operating heat.

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    Replies
    1. Not necessarily. I have repaired literally hundreds of the DV series, and reball is not the only solution. The core problem of the failure is solderball disconnect. That problem is resolved in 2 manners. Either reball or remove contamination that caused the disconnect. When the pads are cleaned in the reball process it is pretty much similar to decontaminating the pads, removing the oxidation. This problem arises at HannStarr not nVidia factories. See other motherboards with similar problems, and you will see that it comes from the manufacturer even those with AMD Vision chipsets. If it made by HannStar there is a high chance that it will have oxidation or contamination on the pads. Not just the GPU, but other BGA chips too.

      Tell me a little about your experiences?

      Delete
    2. The shims that warp boards are those that are too thick.

      Not knowing the best thickness of the shims you are getting, or using penny-fix, you may warp the board. But if you use a thinner shim, you can spread out the heat to a larger area, and draw the heat from the center of the shim to the heat pipes. This continues the heat transfer, while also providing cooler operation of the GPU. Another method is modifying the fan so that it stays on all the time, but that reduces the battery use time by 10-15% because of the draw.

      Of course new thermal compound is used. Arctic Silver or even Graphene thermal compound works better than generic white paste. But you are supposed to clean the old compound when repairing. There are many 'fly by night' techs that only have basic knowledge of electronics, that are the ones that are dangerous.

      Delete
    3. Thanks for quick reply! I have much experience as a computer repairman/technician. About 7 years. But for the past 2-3 years I have lots of incoming laptops with various problems including of course HP dv series with gpu solder joints problems (most of them) and some Acer 59xx series with the same problems. Last year I made a choice to buy some equipment to make some reflows like hot air station with soldering iron, flux and all these stuff, even reballing jig.I am definitely not having your experience and I am trying to gain some by myself and internet. It is time consuming. I tried to find a professional in my area and went even to my university but nothing. Laptop troubleshooting and repairing motherboards is too complicated even to my professors!! I am not giving up though.

      I hope I didn't bored you! You asked me about my experience. I am trying to buy a preheater at the moment to be able to make a good reballing. You said about contamination on the pads. If you are not doing a reball so maybe you are doing a light reflow with good no clean flux?? How do you fix them?

      About the copper shims, you are right, mine are a little thick and can't place them on some heatsinks.

      I want to thank you and I mean it with all my heart. Your blog gave information I would take years to acquire! Keep up your fantastic work. Each laptop you repair is a big smile on your face! (anyway that's how I feel like!!)

      Regards, Dimitrios from Greece!

      Delete
    4. Contact with email on my site www.mayohardware.com and click contact button for email address - I don't want to post it directly here anymore. Too many unrelated emails.

      Delete

I cannot repair laptops for you via the internet, I can only answer questions related to posts. This is because I have not had experience on every motherboard that is out there. Bear with me.

If you do need it repaired. Contact me for quote (US/CDN Only)

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