Severe computer issues

I have a 3 or 4-year old Acer Aspire 6930 (laptop), and it was handed down to me by my dad. Since I've had it, I've always hated it; however, this is because it came with Windows Vista. I eventually upgraded to Windows 7, and I haven't looked back.

Until now.

The past week, I've had *severe* issues with it. I'll list the symptoms, in order:

1. The display was always a solid color (black on the BIOS menu, blue on the login menu, red on my desktop [despite my background being blue...]) with vertical colored lines. Sometimes there are a couple of lines, sometimes there are dozens. However, 99% of the time it's one of four specific patterns.
• My laptop has an HDMI out port, so I was able to simply hook up my laptop to my HDTV and use it that way. A minor inconvenience, but whatever. However, this meant I had to haul my HDTV wherever I went, which was a major inconvenience.

2. In order to see if it was a hardware problem (which I suspected it was at the time), I disassembled my laptop and examined the video cable, the inverter board, as well as the display itself, but could not find anything wrong. While I reassembled the laptop, I accidentally severed the two cables that connected to the WiFi antennae (I only mention this if it may be part of the problem).

3. While playing a game on my laptop the next day, I accidentally disconnected the HDMI cable, and *voila*! The display was working perfectly! At least until I accidentally rebooted it the next day...
• This rules out the display itself being broken. I now suspected the culprit was a bad video driver. I updated the video driver, rebooted, and the display still worked, so I assumed that I'd fixed it.

4. The next day (today), the display crapped out again. This time, the HDMI out wouldn't work, so I was stuck with a glitchy display.

Which leads to now. Once every fifty reboots, the BIOS menu displays correctly, allowing me to select Windows 7 (due to a bizarre installation, I wasn't able to install over Vista, but instead had to install it on a separate partition). It starts to load, displays the light dancing around, then crashes and reboots. So, I disabled rebooting after system failure, in an attempt to get an error code and find out what's wrong.
I rebooted, got to the dancing lights animation, then at the end when it normally reboots, I got the trippiest screen I've ever seen. First it was solid black, with a small white dot around the middle of the screen, which grew until it covered the whole screen. Then a small pinkish-red dot appeared in the center of where the white started, and continued to grow until it filled most of the screen. The entire time, the display had a bizarre "cloudy" effect.
I managed to get to the point where it crashes a few more times, and this time instead of a trippy screen it just displayed solid black - no BSoD, as I'd been hoping for.
Fifty reboots later, I got to BIOS and decided to load Windows Vista instead. It did load, but my background was gone, and as it loaded it asked me if I wanted to activate Vista (it's an OEM installation).

Some times it gets to the Windows 7 user login page (I can tell because it's a solid blue with a distinctive black bar on the right side of the screen that's about three inches wide). When I plug the HDMI cable in, sometimes the computer reboots, and sometimes it doesn't do anything.

Some times it will play the little startup jingle. One time the computer beeped twice.

So, um, help? And does anyone know what is the likely culprit? I'm crossing my fingers that it isn't a hard drive problem, because I need to use it for the gaming computer I'm building (which ironically is meant to replace this laptop). And before anyone says "You can't use an existing Windows installation in a new computer", I know. I also know that it's possible, albeit very difficult. Plus, I am extremely cash-strapped right now, and the last thing I can afford is a new hard drive.

Also, any idea what started this in the first place?

- Jak Atackka
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  1. UPDATE: I did a system restore, and now it appears that the screen problems are fixed. Everything is displaying perfectly. However, it won't load Win7, and it still won't show a BSoD when I disable rebooting on system failure. Unfortunately, Windows 7 still won't load. Any ideas?

    - Jak Atackka
  2. backup your data then try reinstalling windows, update the display drivers and make sure that it isn't a hardware problem (your GPU seems to be acting funny if even the bios wont display correctly, I suspect that's the problem), reseat your ram for good measure.
  3. 1. Can't reinstall Windows, because I lost the install disc in a move.
    2. Already updated the display drivers. In fact, I did this *before* it started crapping out.
    3. Already did, and ran the Windows Memory Diagnostic to be sure. The RAM is running perfectly (even though it's DDR2 666MHz).

    It randomly started working again. The system restore fixed the display problem (so it was in fact a software problem, despite what everyone else said), and for whatever reason booting in Safe Mode repeatedly allowed me to circumvent the problem. I still have no idea what's not working correctly, although it's definitely a software problem.
  4. Laptop died and restarted. Now it's back to the glitchy screen. If it is the integrated chipset that is failing, it's strange how it's been so selective, and even stranger that a System Restore temporarily fixed it. Any thoughts?

    Also, it crashed when I tried to plug in an HDMI cable. Would that be a driver or hardware issue?

    - Jak Atackka
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