OK so this is a 4 year old HP Dv7 laptop with an Intel i5 M450 2.4 GHz CPU. 8GB RAM and Win 7 Home Premium 64 bit.
The way I have it set up is like a desktop, with two external HP 2311 monitors. The laptop has two display ports, VGA and HDMI. When I use it at home like a desktop, it has these two monitors attached and after booting, I have Windows running on my two external displays and the laptop built in monitor is blank. Its configured with extended desktop.
When this is working well, I can right click on the desktop for graphics properties and it starts ATI catalyst and all is well.
This has been working great for a couple of years but now something has happened - either a SW install or a HW issue and I don't know what (!) but here (at last!) is my issue.
Now, when I boot, more often than not, it only starts 1 external monitor and when I right click on the desktop it only shows Intel graphics. ATI graphics has disappeared(!) Device manager only shows Intel HD graphics under Display adapters. When its working correctly, device manager shows both ATI Radeon HD 5470 and Intel. Also, for some strange reason, the power icon on the taskbar shows the battery without the power cord picture, even though it is charging the battery.
What I have been doing is to keep restarting until its working right - but now it takes 5 or 6 reboots before it comes up with ATI graphics and both my monitors are on! When they are both on, right click on the desktop starts ATI catalyst and device manager shows the ATI graphics. Also, the power icon shows the little power cord next to the battery which is correct!
One more thing, if I let it sleep when its working correctly, when I wake up the laptop by moving the touchpad the monitors do not come on at all. I can unplug and replug them and can hear the sound that tells me windows detects the unplugging/replugging but neither the external monitors nor the built in monitors come on and I am forced to do a hard power off . Then I have to do multiple restarts until it starts with the ATI graphics.
I am thinking that this is a hardware issue which is why I posted it here but I'm not totally sure. I do have a mirror image backup from before the time this occurred that I could try or I am willing to reinstall windows, however, I guess I'd like to know if its a HW issue or not before I attempt SW fixes.
One more thing, over the summer, the laptop was overheating and shutting down and I ended up taking it apart down to the motherboard and cleaning the heatsink then reattached the heatsink to the GPU and CPU with thermal paste and everything was fine for about 3 months. I mention this though in case overheating may have damaged the GPU but if it did, why didn't the issue arise immediately?
I have run the Furmark benchmark and it completes without error ( though my card is pitifully slow(!) ).
The driver it runs is from 2010 which was the last HP release for this laptop. (8.771.1.0). I tried downloading a current driver from the AMD website but it crashed on bootup so I rolled back to the 2010 version.
I am really stumped here and I would appreciate any advice.