I own an Alienware Area-51m (laptop) 7700
It is a D900T clevo case with a version 5.3 motherboard.
I'm copying a post I've made numerous times describing the issue, as it provides most of the information in one package:
Here is my post, with a few modifications for clarity:
A few weeks ago, I determined that my videocard had begun damaging itself overheating and called alienware about a replacement. The videocard had become enough of a problem that they were willing to send me a replacement (under my warranty) x800mobile.
I replaced the videocard myself and everything was working fine for about 2 weeks until my computer started randomly shutting down. To be more specific, it would shut down (just about any random time... sometimes it wouldn't happen for 2 or 3 days) and then blast the fans at full power for a few minutes, jetting out burning hot air.
After awhile (and with the help of SpeedFan) I determined that the crashes must be related to overheating, but not normal overheating. The fans were perfectly capable of cooling the computer and I keep them completely clean. The shutdowns actually occured when the temperature sensor randomly started reporting the temperature as being 1 degree Celsius. This would cause the fans to shut down (because they didn't see a need to be on). The temperature would then increase rapidly until it shutdown the computer to jet the fans. I had no way to fix the issue until I updated my BIOS to the point where I could manually set the drives to maximum using a Fn+F2 command.
The rest of my information is below. I directed my post to a user, dave, who had the same issue.
I had the IDENTICAL (down to the last detail) issue as you, dave.
Eventually, I came to the same conclusion about the temperature sensor as you did although I found a different solution. I realized I needed a BIOS update (both the regular update and the keyboard bios update) from Alienware. I found the updates on their website. They allow the use of the Fn+F2 key combination in order to turn the fans onto maximum manually.
Essentially, I'm doing the same thing you did with GetThermal (turning on the fans manually) with a key command.
I wasn't really happy with having to babysit my computer's fans all of the time when the temperature sensor went nuts so I sent it in for a motherboard replacement.
It arrived back a few days ago and was working fine until it restarted because of an overheat again.
I reinstalled windows to see if it would help and yet as I write this post SpeedFan is telling me that the temperature sensor thinks the processor is 1 degree Celsius.
So. It wasn't the motherboard...
Also, I've been looking around on the Alienware customer technical support forum and noticed a BUNCH of Area 51 7700 owners having similar, if not identical, issues very recently. (Makes me wonder if there wasn't some sort of time release stupid juice set to pour onto the temperature sensors around March 1, 2007).
At this point, process of elimination strikes out my videocard (which was replaced by Alienware 2 weeks ago) and my motherboard (which was replaced by Alienware 1 week ago) as causes for the problem.
My latest theories place the next likely culprits in this order of probability:
1) The small temperature sensor soldered on the heatsink (and thus the heatsink as a whole) is broken.
2) The processor is somehow malfunctioning.
3) My hard drives are somehow malfunctioning.
4) There is some setting somewhere in Windows or the BIOS I am missing that is causing this. Possibly a software conflict. I've been doing a lot of CDR, DVDR burns lately, had you been using your DVD or CD drive a lot when your laptop started dying, dave?
4) My ram is somehow malfunctioning (I doubt this, I ran a 24 hour long Mem Test to see if it had any issues, there were none).
Keep up the discussion! I'm going to find the solution to this issue for all of us Area-51 7700m owners out there if at all possible!
(A proud, if not stubborn, Alienware owner)
Here is the original thread: http://www.tech-pc.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=49037
Anyone want to give me any comments on my theories? Any new Ideas I hadn't considered? I want to fix this really badly not only for myself but for other Alienware customers... its really an annoying issue.