Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fixing the BLACK SCREEN of DEATH when playing games on the Toshiba Qosmio

If you have had a Qosmio laptop that hangs while playing games on it then this is the place for you! This site/ blog has a SOLUTION for the problem. Guaranteed! It works for EVERYONE who has used it. 

27 march 2012: Now having sold 500 fixes! Today we crossed the halfway mark to our target of 1000. Don't know whether is should be happy or sad (at Toshiba)

0. Index [0.0.0]

This page is long! (Like really Long!) It has the following sections (just jump to a section by finding the index key which is written in square brackets like 0.0.0 for the index
  1. History [1.0.0]
  2. The Problem Begins [2.0.0]
  3. The Problem is Compounded [3.0.0]
  4. Typical Symptoms [4.0.0]
  5. The Toshiba Service Desk [5.0.0]
  6. Problem and Solution [6.0.0]
    1. The Problem: Root cause [6.1.0]
    2. So what is the problem? [6.2.0]
    3. How do we fix it [6.3.0]
      1. Preliminary work [6.3.1]
      2. Download the Solution [6.3.2]

1. Some History [1.0.0]:

Long long time ago in a galaxy far far away.... A company called Toshiba released the Qosmio series of high end laptops. They were supposed to be the coolest fastest laptops around and were supposed to give alienware a run for its money!

They were: Wiki Entry on Toshiba Qosmio

The strong point was definitely the dedicated gaming hardware on board. The X300 series had the Nvidia Geforce 9800 GTM/GTX giving a total of 1 GB of GDDR3 RAM and the X500 series had the Nvidia Geforce 250M/360M with 1 GB of GDDR5 RAM.

I bought one of them too! The X305.

2. The Problem Begins [2.0.0]:

The problem with the Qosmio's was that they overheated like crazy. Think Angelina Jolie on Megan fox in the Sahara crazy. The heat dissipation systems were not designed well and the GPU and CPU heatsinks shared a common vent. This ALWAYS caused the GPU to overheat. Look below for the example

3. The problem is COMPOUNDED [3.0.0]:

Toshiba realized this when gamers started to have problems. So instead of a costly recall, they tried to fix it using software BIOS updates. As per last count, this was well into the 2.10 series (that's at least 12 BIOS updates in 2 years).

Good idea, the problem was that it started to FREEZE UP the laptops in the middle of playing any graphic intensive game (including solitaire I might add!)

4. Typical Symptoms [4.0.0]:

You know you have the problem if:
  1. You have a Qosmio
  2. Your computer HANGS in the middle of playing a game that requires decent graphics. This includes CoD, Starcraft II, Disciples, Saboteur to name just a few.  The hang should happen anywhere between 60 seconds to 5 minutes into the game
  3. The hang is a BLACK screen that cannot be fixed by anything except a hard boot
  4. The sound loops. You should hear ghost loops from the last sound that was playing. Like if someone was saying Hello you should be hearing Hhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllllllooooooooooooooohhhhhhhheeeeeeeelllllll.... you get the point!
  5. The laptop WILL NOT HANG if you run the game on battery only (unplug the power). Connect power and poof! it will crash.
  6. You are about to make your friend hammer meet the Qosmio
NOTE: if your laptop crashes in NON gaming environments, then this is NOT your problem/ Solution! It may be a hardware/ Software issue.

5. Enter the Trusty Toshiba Service Desk (If you are under warranty) [5.0.0]:

Well typically we do what everyone does when we face a tech problem (and are lucky enough to have a warranty). we call tech support. The problem with this is that Tech Support has NO CLUE on what is wrong. Thats because TOSHIBA has no idea whats going on! And Toshiba is NOT interested to solve it for you. So DEAL with it!

What does Tech Support do? They do what they know best. Here is what they will do:
  1. Check Bios: Upgrade it if it is not upgraded
  2. Check the internals: Clean them and return
  3. Do standard service and then return it
  4. Change CPU and GPU thermal paste and return it
  5. If you bring it back again (and the warranty is still valid); try to do one of the following (depending on your luck and their mood)
    • Replace RAM, 
    • Replace heat Sinks, 
    • Replace GPU, 
    • Replace Motherboard
  6. Charge Toshiba for it
Does that work? Well for Sometime it does. This varies between 10 days and 2 months. But it comes back! Oh it does and that's when you are out of a warranty :) and you are in for it...

Now Tech Support will make you PAY for the parts, the service, everything. The thing is that will STILL NOT FIX THE PROBLEM!

Trust me I feel for you, I went through this myself. Every single bit. And now I know at least a 100 people who relate to what I went through.

6. So What's the Problem and what's the SOLUTION? [6.0.0]

Well to let you know what the solution is, let me explain (as simply as I can) what the problem is:

6.1 The PROBLEM: Root Cause [6.1.0]

I have spent a total of $19,798 on this of my own money. I know I could have let this go a long time ago, but I did not. I do believe that every problem is solvable (even though the bigger firms believe its not worth it). I have bought 7 Qosmio's for parts/ spares and experiments and spent close to 2 years to solve this conundrum.

  1. I first perfected replicating the problem. 
  2. Then found the CAUSE
  3. Then figured out a solution
  4. Then replicated the solution close to 76 times
  5. It works
6.2. So what IS the problem? [6.2.0]

Modern laptops have CPUs (and GPUs) that work on scalable voltages. i.e If you connect it to the mains supply you will have the computer running on HIGH performance (the CPU works faster) but when you disconnect it from the mains, the system has to run off the battery and to conserve power, the system scales down. Less power is given to the CPU, the CPU works slower.

So basically; MAINS = Higher voltage = Faster CPU; Battery = Lower Voltage = Slower CPU

With the advent of faster and better GPUs (Graphics cards) the GPUs also do the same things as the CPU. i.e. scale performance based on power available (Mains/ Battery)

The CPU and GPU also scale performance based on other factors such as HEAT. If the CPU/ GPU get too hot, they scale back performance to cool down and prevent damage.

In these circumstances, the CPU and GPU should be communicating with each other fairly regularly. You dont want to have a situation where they are talking at different speeds and hence not communicating well. That will cause a ... You guessed it.... A Crash!

So, due to a mixture of factors: the Heatsink, The Bios Updates, The Heat generated, The performance scalability due to heat and power ratios; The laptop simply FREEZES up in the instance where the CPU and GPU cannot communicate information to each other reliably.

I have a lengthy equation that explains at what point this happens and at what voltages, temperature combination and CPU/ GPU speed. Suffice it to say, it happens and I can reliably replicate it.

6.3 So how do WE FIX IT! [6.3.0]

If you lasted this long into this article. you need the help. You must have tried your best to fix it. If you have Hooray! and if you haven't, read on

Preliminary Work: [6.3.1]

Please make sure that you have done the following before trying my solution (these are the first 4 steps in my solution, but I want you to have the satisfaction that you have tried to fix it, but to no avail)
  1. Make sure you have the PROBLEM we are talking about. Read above for symptoms and trying to replicate it
  2. Please take your Qosmio to a Toshiba service station (if you are under warranty) and ask them to SERVICE THE LAPTOP. they should clean out all the gunk and dust that might be clogging your heat sink and vents
  3. If you are out of warranty (and can afford it), take your laptop to Toshiba to service it as above. This should cost you $30 to $60 depending on where in the world you are at
  4. If you cannot afford that, use a compressed air can to blow air into the back of the Qosmio (where the hot air comes out of)
  5. Check AGAIN of all is OK. if yes, then you didn't have this problem but had the "overheating problem". your problem is solved and you are welcome.
  6. Still crashing? Then dear fellow, the solution awaits.

The Download [6.3.2]

The solution is the little program I made. I call it the Qosmio Hang Fix (QHF). It is a small exe file that you need to download and run. Here are the instructions:

  1. Send me a mail: qhf@fixmyqosmio.com requesting for the QHF
  2. Send me your Qosmio Model number (X300, X305, X500, X505)
  3. Send me your Qosmio product number
  4. Click on the link below to make me the payment 
    • Yes! yes! I do want to get paid for this. A princely sum of 25 US Dollars
    • I will REFUND the money 100% if the application does not work
    • This is NOT a scam
    • I get paid for me to recover my costs on spares and time for the past 2 years
    • The application will become free the day I collect 15,000 dollars.
    • Sorry cannot give it for free. Have worked really hard on this
    • The payment is through ANY credit card on PAYPAL
  5. Please make sure that the payment is sent THROUGH the same address that you have sent the initial mail through (Step 1)
  6. When I receive both, I will then code in a SPECIFIC fix for your laptop.
  7. I will send the email within 24 hours of the cleared payment
    • This is because you may be in some other country and I might be sleeping
    • I have a life (at least after I solved this problem)
    • I sleep
    • I work
    • But you shall have it within 24 hours of the payment. that I promise
    • if you want it to be SAFER, let me know. I will create an eBay auction and you can use the BUY IT NOW feature to buy the application
      • This way you are protected by eBay buyer protection
      • Please note that in this case, I pay eBay for you to feel secure
      • It will cost you 2 USD more in this case
      • Your call. My recommendation is to trust me. Use Paypal
  8. The Paypal Button is here. Click it to send me the payment directly: 

  9. Buy Options
  10. I will email the application to you
  11. Download it
  12. Extract it to a folder of your choice
  13. You will be asked for a password to extract, the password is in your email along with the application
  14. Navigate to folder
  15. Follow instructions based on OS
    1. Windows 7/ Windows Vista: RIGHT Click and choose run as administrator
    2. Windows XP: Make sure you are logged on as administrator. Double click the application
  16. Run your game!
  17. Enjoy and send me a thank you note if you can :) It encourages me!
  18. In case it does NOT work, send me a mail. Will refund your money. no questions asked. You will actually be the first! I have given this to over a 100 people and I have had a 100% success rate. So do let me know what you did.
    1. Do try to do everything I asked ONE MORE TIME before saying it doesn't work :)
    2. If it still does not, You have your money back and I have another project
Hope this was useful for you!