Computers & Electronics

Laptop screen scrambled, is it salvageable?

  • Last Updated:
  • Apr 24th, 2010 4:45 pm
[OP]
Jr. Member
Dec 26, 2007
125 posts
7 upvotes
Vancouver

Laptop screen scrambled, is it salvageable?

Hi fellow RFD'ers, I see some real technogically-inclined people on this board, so hopefully I'll be able to get some help.

My 5 and half year old Dell 600m is facing its biggest problem right now, and it has had many problems over the year. Last week, I put the computer into safe mode to scan for viruses, and left it for an hour before logging in. When I came to log in, the computer screen is all scrambled. I thought it could be a temporary problem or it may be overheating, so I restarted it a while later. However, the screen is still scrambled. Here is what it looks like:
[IMG]http://i968.photobucket.com/albums/ae16 ... C01548.jpg[/IMG]
(Log in screen)
[IMG]http://i968.photobucket.com/albums/ae16 ... C01550.jpg[/IMG]
(Desktop)

I thought it could be a resolution problem, so I readjusted the resolution and no luck. I then attached my laptop to my LCD TV through a VGA cable, and the image on the TV is scrambled just like the laptop, even when I had the laptop screen off and only showing the image on TV.

I also thought it could be a virus problem, thought that is a long shot. I was able to get into safe mode but the resolution is all different. I scanned the computer and got a couple of malware, but nothing improved after I rebooted.

[IMG]http://i968.photobucket.com/albums/ae16 ... C01552.jpg[/IMG]
(Safe Mode)

The scrambled screen appears immediately after turning on the power (Windows splash screen, boot option screen). I also thought it could be a power supply problem, and the screen did improve a little when running on battery power, but still it is very scrambled.

My guess is that it is a video card problem. The computer runs fine, just the screen is scrambled. Is there any fix for this issue? What other causes would there be (software/hardware)? My laptop had many other problems (e.g. Doctor Watson initiating like a cascade, AVG 9 causing system crash, occasional blue screen), so could they have caused this problem? I'm looking to buy a new laptop, but it would be great if I could fix this. My original thought before all this happened was to reinstall XP and sell the laptop for $100 to cover some of my new laptop expense, but now it looks like that is not going to happen. Any help is much appreciated!
10 replies
Banned
User avatar
Jan 4, 2010
1584 posts
53 upvotes
Toronto
I would strip the laptop down to the motherboard and check the video card chip. (If you are still planning to resell it, keep track where all the screws are suppose to be so you can put it back together, there are A LOT of them, use something like an egg carton to temporarily hold them). See if anything would cause it to overheat, maybe a broken fan, loose heatsink, dust build-up etc.
enon
Deal Addict
Sep 15, 2004
3309 posts
146 upvotes
This is a hardware problem.. re seat the video chip and memory, you may get lucky.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Mar 1, 2003
1672 posts
144 upvotes
Scarborough
Five bucks says it's a malfunctioning GPU. Since they're almost always soldered onto laptop motherboards, you're essentially screwed.

Had the same thing happen twice to my Asus laptop from two and a half years ago. First time it was covered by warranty so the whole motherboard was replaced, but the second time occurred a couple of months after the warranty expired and it would've been about $250 for another replacement, so I said screw it.
Ever wanted to shoot guns legally? See here: http://forums.redflagdeals.com/ever-wan ... n-1185701/
Public Mobile $10/month plan
[OP]
Jr. Member
Dec 26, 2007
125 posts
7 upvotes
Vancouver
Thanks guys for the quick reply. I knew RFD would come through.
ah802 wrote: This is a hardware problem.. re seat the video chip and memory, you may get lucky.
How do you reset the video chip and memory?
enon wrote: I would strip the laptop down to the motherboard and check the video card chip. (If you are still planning to resell it, keep track where all the screws are suppose to be so you can put it back together, there are A LOT of them, use something like an egg carton to temporarily hold them). See if anything would cause it to overheat, maybe a broken fan, loose heatsink, dust build-up etc.
My computer has had a history of being too hot. When I'm using the laptop at home I propped the rear up with a book so as to not block the fans from working. I opened my laptop and cleaned out the dust a couple of months ago and that seemed to help. I'll do it again. This laptop is difficult to open, and the last time I didn't open it all the way.
tritium4ever wrote: Five bucks says it's a malfunctioning GPU. Since they're almost always soldered onto laptop motherboards, you're essentially screwed.

Had the same thing happen twice to my Asus laptop from two and a half years ago. First time it was covered by warranty so the whole motherboard was replaced, but the second time occurred a couple of months after the warranty expired and it would've been about $250 for another replacement, so I said screw it.
I also think it's a GPU problem. However, there was no warning sign. The screen was working fine the night before, and all of a sudden it just became scrambled after I booted the computer up to safe mode and left it running for an hour.
Sr. Member
Apr 15, 2004
711 posts
156 upvotes
It's possible the fan speed controls weren't working properly in safe mode and things got a little too toasty during that hour. I'm with the others suggesting it's the GPU and that you may not be able to do anything about it. You could always try underclocking the GPU to see if the problems go away, but depending what GPU you have it may not be possible. Plus it probably won't work. :(
[OP]
Jr. Member
Dec 26, 2007
125 posts
7 upvotes
Vancouver
Thanks guys for the additional tips. I opened the laptop and cleaned the computer, even taking out the processor to clean the bottom, but still no change...
masterc wrote: Here is the service manual for the 600m .... http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/s ... /index.htm

Good luck!
I opened the laptop, thanks for the link to the manual. This is what it looks like:

[IMG]http://i968.photobucket.com/albums/ae16 ... 010533.jpg[/IMG]
The main board

[IMG]http://i968.photobucket.com/albums/ae16 ... 010532.jpg[/IMG]
The processor

I couldn't find the GPU, but the black part on the CPU, which I assume is the die, doesn't look right. From the pictures, can anyone see anything wrong with the hardware? (Sorry for the quality, had to take the pictures with my N95 instead of my camera)

imposter wrote: It's possible the fan speed controls weren't working properly in safe mode and things got a little too toasty during that hour. I'm with the others suggesting it's the GPU and that you may not be able to do anything about it. You could always try underclocking the GPU to see if the problems go away, but depending what GPU you have it may not be possible. Plus it probably won't work. :(
It's definitely possible the fans won't working. However, it was not the first day my laptop has had a heating problem. The weird part is there was no warning sign (e.g. minor artifacting or blurry sections on the screen). When I opened it up, I did find a clump of dust between the fan and the processor. So I think it's heat that destroyed the GPU. Also, how do you downclock the GPU? I don't think I could because I can't see anything clearly on the screen.

So, my laptop is still pretty messed up. Looks like I have to switch the main board for it to work. Anyone knows how much a 5 year old Dell Inspiron 600m (1.8Ghz, 512 ram, 60GB, 64mb Radeon 9000 GPU) goes for? I have to see if it is worth fixing.
Deal Addict
Jun 22, 2004
1142 posts
196 upvotes
I took a look at ebay to see whether this dell was old enough to have a "video card" (my old inspiron 4150 had a card I could upgrade). I did find a listing for the heatsink here:

http://cgi.ebay.ca/VIDEO-HEATSINK-FOR-D ... 3efac35458

So presumably if you find that piece and look under it, you should find your GPU.

Did you clean you CPU with 99% rubbing alcohol?

If you do need any parts, then I would look at the usual places (RFD, ebay, craigslist, kijiji), but don't just look specifically for that part. You might be able to get a deal buying a 600m with a broken screen off someone and just cannibalize the part from that one.
Sr. Member
Apr 15, 2004
711 posts
156 upvotes
I'm not certain what programs work best, since I've only dabbled with oc'ing my gpu on rare occasions in the past, but you could try rivatuner. Not being able to see the screen well will certainly make that difficult, but it seems like if you were to move the window side to side you might be able to make out the relevant information to get to the overclocking settings. From there it's just a matter of reducing the speed rather than increasing it.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Aug 11, 2004
4205 posts
87 upvotes
IIRC, the 600m has an ATI 9000 gpu, but its on board , so you would have to replace the whole mobo. Not worth it.
Did you reassembly it and check that the cooling fan works ok?

The laptop worth ~$150-$175, working.

Top

Thread Information

There is currently 1 user viewing this thread. (0 members and 1 guest)