son and I both got cheap refurbed Dells, same model. At the same time both had graphics issues.
I plugged in a PCI graphics card I had lying around, switched the BIOS video setting from 'on-board' to 'PCI' and turned it on. Waited a moment while SimplyMepis Linux went through a check of the system, it told me it had a change of graphics card, selected on and started up with my high resolution settings all OK.
My son did a similar fix but had to settle for 800 x 600 until he could reset the Windows drivers for that card, then had to reboot. The system recognised the change but Windows was not able to identify and select the correct driver by itself. Then he had to reset where he kept his multitude of icons on the desktop as Windows had automatically repositioned them when it took itself to 800 x 600 from his 1280 x 1024 resolution - he has the icons grouped in different spots on the desktop.
Keep Up with TechRepublic