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Is my MB or Graphics Card gone.

Last response: in Components
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September 2, 2010 1:51:44 AM

Firstly hello to all on TH forum.

Unfortunately my favorite Laptop is quite sick and I am hoping someone could help with some advice on what it could be.

Last night the display just went blank on me, no message, no BSOD, just a black screen, but I still had power to the lappy.

I did a hard reset (holding down the power button for a couple of secs) and tried to reboot. On startup I noticed all these comma like characters on screen, and strange lines after the initial Windows XP logon screen. The boot process did not make it to the login screen where i usually put in a password. Just sat there with a blank screen again. I did another reset and got the message "Windows did not shutdown normally" and had the option to boot in via "Safe Mode" which I did.

I managed to get into windows via "Safe Mode" but the dots and comma's where still there. I tried to change the background display via the desktop "properties" option (right clicked on Desktop), but nothing happened. Therefore I proceeded to backup all my important files. Once I finished backing up everything, I shutdown and went to bed.

This morning, I powered up my laptop and it began booting as normal, but after the initial "Windows XP" display just before the login screen, the screen goes black (which is normal on boot up, but usually only takes a few second) but this time it took alittle longer than normal before proceeding to the login screen where I entered my admin password, and logged in.

All seemed ok, and the graphics looked fine once again. Everything worked normally for about and hour before the same thing happened. Out of nowhere, with no warning, a Blank (black) screen but the power light still on.

I had no choice but to power off as I did last night.

I am thinking its either the Motherboard or Graphics card.

Is there anyway to possibly narrow it down to what it could be. Any advice would be very much appreciated.

Cheers

More about : graphics card

September 2, 2010 2:04:22 AM

Does your laptop even have a graphics card? Or is it using a motherboard integrated video chip (IGP)?
Without knowing the make and model of your laptop we can't check to see if it even has a separate video card.
September 2, 2010 2:20:43 AM

sorry WR2

Its a Dell Inspiron 9400. I am sure it has a graphics card. Its an Nvidia 7900GS card.
The laptop was purchased October 2006.
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September 2, 2010 4:03:28 AM

Just to update, as mentioned I was able to get in normally this morning, but after having the computer on for about 45 minutes. It blacked out again, in exactly the same way.

I am back in now again, and everything appears ok, however I am sure its only a matter of time before it blacks out again.
September 2, 2010 6:13:56 AM

Sounds like some chip in there (most probably the GPU) is overheating and shutting itself down as a measure of safety.. Do you feel the laptop abruptly heating up during work.? As a side note, do mention if you or anyone else made any recent changes (hardware or software) or changed any BIOS settings..
September 2, 2010 6:23:17 AM

Sounds like it's time to buy a new laptop.
September 2, 2010 8:00:53 AM

The overheating did cross my mind, however, I have run it in much higher temps and I could actually hear the fan cutting in to cool the temp down, but it has never blacked out on me before, and last night it was running hot, but nothing unusual as the room was an decent temp (about 24 degrees C).
But then it happened again this morning when it seemed cooler.

Strange thing is I was unable to re-boot in normal windows mode. Only Safe Mode. and I did notice the dots on screen.

Since about 4 hours ago, I have been running it, with not too much of a work load, and it has been fine thus far.

If it was the MB or Graphics card, surely I would not have been able to get it to work 100% again... what are your thoughts?

@jsc
cheers, I do have another one, but I really like this 9400. I am not ready to let it go just yet.
September 2, 2010 3:28:41 PM

My cousin has this same laptop, she has had 3 motherboard replacements and 2 GPU replacements luckily while it was under warranty. From what I gathered from her the cooling system for that particular model is not adequate.
September 3, 2010 1:56:21 AM

She's been performing without a problem for almost 4 years. Never had any issues with heat problems, but my every instinct is telling me it may have been an overheating problem.

But my question remains, if it is heat related, why do the graphics all screw up, then fix themselves later on????

I have been testing it now for the past day or so, and everything is working ok.

Maybe i should put alittle stress on it and she what happens.
!