Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Windows 10 1909 on Dell Precision M2800

Thanks, Microsoft. For... for... for everything!

But especially for cheating me out of all the hours I could have spend more productive. Instead, you released the glorious Windows 10, followed by the even more glorious Windows 10 version 1909. And trying to get that thing to run on my Dell M2800 has been lots and lots of fun.

Though I did get it to work in the end...


M2800

The Dell Precision M2800 is a little older laptop, but still a fairly nice performer. It's huge and ugly and heavy, but with 16 GB and an Intel I7 4810MQ it still is fast enough for daily work, though perhaps not that suitable for the die hard road warriors.

It's considered a 'personal mobile workstation' and to that effect it actually sports TWO graphical cards onboard, an Intel HD4600 as well as a Radion FirePro W4170M. Note that there are different releases with different video cards!

Unfortunately Dell seems to have all but forgotten about this laptop. Drivers have not been updated in ages (the 2015 Radeon driver is all there is).


Windows 10 1809

I stayed on Windows 7 for as long as I could, but had to move to Windows 10 in the end. I could install 18xx (forgot which version) and ended with 1809. Then Microsoft decided to release 1909, and made it a forced upgrade.


Windows 10 1909

Unfortunately the upgrade from 1809 to 1909 fails every time, ending in a 'rolling back changes' screen etcetera. But MS keeps pushing, and my laptop kept trying to update, and kept rolling back.


Clean install

Next try: clean install of 1909. No luck. If you run the installer whilst being connected to the internet it immediately updates all drivers, which results in a crash.


Disabling driver updates

Well, you can use the registry (home version), try a policy (Pro version), toggle the Systems / Advanced Settings option, but nothing works. The moment Windows 10 finds the internet it tries to update the drivers. And apparently Windows installs the wrong driver for the W4170M video card, resulting in a total freeze.

(Windows 10 completely ignores any 'do not update' flags when running the very first install / update.)


Solution

1. Disconnect the laptop from the internet before the clean install of 1909

2. Clean install of 1909 x64

3. Download the following drivers from the Dell website (x64 versions) using another PC:

- radeon_graphics_190601_M2800_Video_Driver_G5JNR_WN32_15.201.1101_A01

- intel_graphics_190601_Intel-HD-Graphics-4000-5000-500-P500-series-Driver_WWW9Y_WIN_20.19.15.5063_A10_01

4. Copy them to a USB stick

5. Manually install the Radeon driver. The filename suggests it is W(I)N32 only, but it actually contains both drivers.

6. Reboot

7. Manually install the Intel driver

8. Reboot

9. Now connect the laptop to the Internet and let Windows 10 do its thing


Why?

Why this works? I have no idea, but it does, for now. I assume Windows 10 (setup / update) recognizes there are already drivers installed for the Intel HD4xxx and WM41xx chipsets, and (fortunately) doesn't think it has better drivers.

I'm pretty sure, once the next Windows 10 update comes along, they'll manage to screw me all over again... sigh. Please, Microsoft, give me an option to block incorrect drivers from installing?

9 comments:

  1. How did this end up with updates? Did you manage to keep it on 1909 or were you forced to update to 2004 or 20H2?

    I just turned on an M2800 that had been unused for over a year, I think it was 1809 but of course it had to try to update to 1909 and now hangs during boot :(

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    1. Thus far it has worked for all updates. Let me check what's currently running on the machine...

      Hmm... currently 1909, but I noticed the settings panel seems to have had an update, even though 'about' still reports 1909. It didn't ask me to update yet.

      Have you tried a clean install of 1909 and continue from there?

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    2. TBH I would not be surprised if I would have to do another clean install of 2004 or whatever comes next to keep it in use... I must say it's still a nice laptop for day 2 day use, as long as you don't have to carry it along :-)

      Mine came with an SSD, and I only added a second SSD (in an internal caddy) and the machine sees almost daily use.

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    3. I haven't had the time to try a clean install yet, maybe at some point...

      As this is a shared laptop for a club we need something that will update without special handling, so we are getting a new laptop for that. If I ever get the M2800 working it will be as a spare.

      Delete
  2. Anonymous9/5/21 19:54

    Thank you NineLizards for this fix!!
    Worked flawlessly as per your meticulous instructions on Win 10 after clean install of 2004.
    Machine had been a brick for 2 years until I saw your post and followed instructions to the letter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very good to hear! This M2800 is, during these Corona times, my daily driver, using Win10, MSOffice, GoogleDocs, LibreOffice, PhotoImpact, Chrome, etc.

      As I'm working from home it doesn't matter much it is a tad heavy. Performance wise it still is a great box (except for running games, but hey, that's what I have a PS4 for :-) )

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    2. As a side note, it's good to hear it works with 2004, as mine is still on 1909, for some reason.

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  3. This was super helpful. I had a m2800 I wanted to get updated to Windows 10. I was starting from windows 7. I installed a clean Dell OEM windows 7 pro image and then used the Latest windows 10 20H2 USB and install the upgrade from within windows 7 and while disconnected from the internet. The install went quickly and I was licensed via a valid upgrade.

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    Replies
    1. Let's keep the M2800 alive :-) If you got one with an HDD get rid of it immediately, I mean, the drive, not the machine :-) Put in an SSD. I use two SSD's (one in a carrier in the optical bay) and that works perfectly.

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