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Blank screen at startup, issues in games - dying cards?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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June 23, 2009 1:40:50 AM

Greetings everyone.

About a week ago while starting up my laptop the screen stayed blank after the scrolling Windows XP logo and never continued on to the Welcome screen. One cold restart later and I was able boot up normally. However, starting yesterday, the blank screen persists and I am unable to get past to log-in without choosing "Last Known Good Configuration".

Coinciding with these hang-ups are some issues I've been encountering while playing games - Half Life 2 episode 2: http://i231.photobucket.com/albums/ee244/Penpen2crayon/... (Frame rate drops too)

In Audiosurf the screen sometimes goes completely white or just freezes while the music continues to play in the background. One time the game was running fine however upon minimizing the game window noticed the desktop was frozen!

I have not made any major changes to my software or hardware within the last few weeks (updated video drivers about 3 weeks ago, games worked great until recently). I recently bought a notebook cooler and also cleaned out the fans/heat vents of dust so my temperatures are lower than they've ever been. All signs seem to point to dying graphics card(s), but why at such a random time, without warning, at such an early age (laptop less than one year old)?

Windows XP Professional SP3
Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 3.16 GHz
2x Nvidia 9800M GT SLI
2x Apacer 1GB RAM DIMM DDR2
233 GB (NTFS) Hitachi - 195 GB Free
Mobo: Clevo D900C
Realtek 883 HD Audio
June 23, 2009 3:20:51 AM

Hi Pen, welcome! What's your laptop?

I guess you can check your cards' running temperatures. It's possible that some dust got into your system, making cooling less efficient.
June 23, 2009 6:17:19 AM

Hi, thank you for the reply. My laptop is a Sager 9262. So are you suggesting that my cleaning the fans/vents actually did more harm than good in this case? Also, when monitoring my video card temperatures, should I just check them while the system is idle, or when under stress?
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June 23, 2009 5:47:45 PM

Considering it worked under a last known good configuration, and that you did a recent driver update, everything seems to point to the driver software. Perhaps somehow they got corrupted? Have you tried a complete uninstall/reinstall of those drivers? Have you tried reinstalling the older drivers? Or a complete system restore? Although I agree some of the symptoms seem to look like hardware issues, I would really try clearing out the drivers first before you start disassembling it or dealing with warranties. A complete restore would at least eliminate software issues
June 25, 2009 5:33:46 AM

As per donpacific2k's suggestion I updated my drivers and so far everything seems okay. Most importantly I no longer experience blank screens after the windows XP logo (actually, I was no longer able to boot using Last Known Good Configuration and had to use VGA mode so I'm not sure if I'm out of the woods yet). Unfortunately now I am confronted with yet another problem - this time it is the resolution that is acting up. I have started a new separate thread about this problem. Thanks again for your time.

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/266427-33-strange-res...
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