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Is my graphics card busted? or my LCD?


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#1 David90

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 08:51 PM

I've had a Dell Inspiron 1520 with Windows XP for a number of years with few graphical issues other than rare 'pixel seizures' in games, but today in a game called Heroes of Newerth, my screen froze black with a few random images frozen on the screen. I turned off my laptop and tried to restart it, but the display wouldn't appear even during POST.

I plugged in an external monitor and it displayed the Windows loading screen, but then went to the BSoD. Instead I went into Safe Mode, disabled my graphics driver (so it'd be at minimum settings), and rebooted in normal mode. This was successful and I downloaded drivers for the card (which is an Nvidia GeForce 8600 m gt), uninstalled the currently disabled driver, rebooted and have tried to install the new driver several times. Every time the driver unpacks all of the files, my display blacks out and the computer reboots, without applying the new driver.

I don't know what to do with this point and I still don't know why my built-in display doesn't work while a cheap emachine monitor does (without an enabled graphics driver).

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#2 MrBruce1959

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 11:50 AM

Hello and welcome to Bleepingcomputer.

I take it your computer boots Okay in safe-mode and if this is correct, then we have two possibilities here.

One is your driver, being that video drivers do not load while booting into safe mode could mean your driver is either the wrong one, or the driver is a corrupted version.

The second possibility is your laptop has a cooling problem. If either the CPU or integrated video chip is getting too warm for safe operation, the computer will run unstable and either freeze up, restart or shut down.

Can I ask you if you have ever tried blowing this laptop out with a can of compressed air?

If it has been a while since you have done this, I would suggest you give this a try, because when you run games that use a lot of processing power, this causes the CPU to process faster and generates more heat, more heat causes system instability to be possible and things start freezing up, in many cases, the video screen shows the first signs of this instability.

So it may not be your drivers that are at fault here, it could be heat related.

I also see where you said an external monitor works, but your intergrated laptop video screen does not, I need a little bit more information here, does your laptop's built-in monitor work at all?

Bruce.

Edited by MrBruce1959, 24 August 2010 - 02:31 PM.

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#3 David90

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 01:35 PM

The computer boots on the external monitor successfully in both safe mode and with the graphics driver disabled in normal mode (minimum resolution, etc).

It doesn't have the best cooling system and heat could be an issue, but the computer now seems to have the same issue whether it's been on for a while or if i've just booted it up. I'll definitely try the canned air, though.

When the computer is turned on, the built-in screen backlight vaguely illuminates the screen, but it is otherwise blank. I use the crt/lcd function keystroke turns off the backlight and displays the computer starting up on the external monitor.

Is there any easy way to know if my graphics card is functional or at least to get the driver reinstalled?

Thanks for your help so far!

#4 MrBruce1959

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 03:01 PM

As always, you are very welcomed for any help or assistance I offer you here at Bleepingcomputer, this is an enjoyable past time for me and I can not stress enough how much I enjoy doing this.

I see where you said you can see the video graphics on an external monitor as long as you do not have any drivers loaded, so there-fore you are running the graphics card with minimum video processing taking place.

I am borrowing a sentence you posted earlier in the following quotation marks. "I downloaded drivers for the card (which is an Nvidia GeForce 8600 m gt), uninstalled the currently disabled driver, rebooted and have tried to install the new driver several times. Every time the driver unpacks all of the files, my display blacks out and the computer reboots, without applying the new driver."

When the correct video drivers are used and loaded into memory, the graphics card starts accelerating at a faster speed, this causes the video processor to conduct more heat, because the transistors that do this processing, process faster and thus heat is generated in the process. It does not take long for this heat to start happening, if it is not allowed to escape safely into the surrounding air and exhausted out through the air vents, the processor's core temperature reaches a point where it shuts down. This causes the entire computer to freeze, because the video screen can not refresh any more.

Now we have another issue to look at with laptops, the fact that the wiring that supplies both video and back-lighting is channeled through the left laptop hinge.
Being that laptops are like a book and are opened and closed so often, there exists the possibility that this wire can become damaged over time, in other words a broken wire can eventually be the result.

At this point, I can not tell you if your laptop's LCD screen wire harness has a broken wire or not. But if there is not video on this LCD screen, or if there is and there is no back-lighting happening, then we would be looking at several things here that has happened.

Broken wire in hinge.

Inverter is defective.

Back-light is burned out.

You also have to remember another thing about laptop computers. They are built into very cramped compartments, there is not the air space desk top computers have that offers better cooling and air flow.

They also do not take long to accumulate enough dust, that actually blocks up air tunnels, which are designed for air flow in and out of the laptop. Therefore, cleaning the laptop for dust problems, should be done more often than that for a desktop computer.

Bruce.
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#5 David90

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 08:05 PM

Well, I opened it up and cleared the dust out. There was a good amount accumulated after 2 years, mostly on the filter, but I'm still having the exact same issue. If I could at least get my driver working so it would run properly on the external monitor, I'd be alright with that. Any idea why else the computer would restart after applying the driver?

#6 nightspydk

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 09:24 PM

This is the recommended procedure by nvidia for reinstalling drivers.
http://forums.nvidia.com/index.php?showtopic=169555&hl=

Here's the short version.
- Install Driver Sweeper.
- Uninstall driver in add/remove programs.
- Reboot in Safe mode.
- Run Driver Sweeper.
- Clean all files/registry entries in all Nvidia categorys, except the chipset category.
- Reboot normally and install new driver.

Personnally I don't think it's the driver, but rather a hardware problem with the vga or agp/pci-e socket on the motherboard, since the install just crashes like that.

Hope it helps. :thumbsup:

#7 David90

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 12:25 AM

Well, I got the driver reinstalled following those steps (thanks a lot nightspy. that's exactly what I was initially looking for), but am pretty much at the same place I was 2 nights ago.

If I have the driver enabled, it only runs in safe mode. If the driver's disabled, it runs in either. If it's enabled and I try to boot normally, it blue screens as soon Windows finishes loading with a PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA error and reboots. I figure it's probably hardware at this point and would like to narrow it down asap so I can order a replacement and get this thing up and running for school.

What makes you think it's the graphics port? Is that more likely than the card at this point? How can I quickly figure out which piece is the problem?

Edited by David90, 25 August 2010 - 12:27 AM.


#8 David90

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Posted 26 August 2010 - 08:21 PM

Well, I'm probably just going to order a new graphics card, can always return it if it doesn't solve the problem. I don't know how I could tell if it was a socket or the card itself on a laptop, but if you have any insight to that matter, it'd be greatly appreciated.

#9 MrBruce1959

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Posted 27 August 2010 - 04:05 PM

Looking at your error which is PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA try going to the link below and scroll down till you see this error PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA

Look for the solutions listed under that heading.

http://www.aumha.org/a/stop.php

This will hopefully help you in resolving this problem.

Bruce.
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#10 David90

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Posted 01 September 2010 - 08:58 PM

Alright. Well, the replacement graphics card came in and solved the display issue. I enabled my drivers and everything looks great. Looks like it was busted after all. Thanks for your support, guys! Case closed.

#11 MrBruce1959

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Posted 01 September 2010 - 09:22 PM

I am happy to hear you found the problem and it has been resolved.

Graphics cards do go bad after a while, you have to think that besides the CPU, the GPU has a lot of the intensive work thrown upon it and thus is the most prone to hardware failure.

Happy computing!

Bruce.
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