Laptop screen flickers (vertical lines) - what's the cause?

By cnszun ·

Dell Inspiron 8500 (2GHz), nvidia GeForce 4 Go (Dell Mobile 64MB), WinXP Professional SP2, about 5 years old.


While playing a racing game with my laptop, the screen got garbled with colored dots and the game froze.


When restarting, the LCD screen would display flickering, vertical, random-like lines in different colors. These lines would appear as soon as the BIOS screen appeared.

In Windows, I had to disable the video adapter, otherwise the screen would go black. Also, changing the resolution would sometimes cause the system to shut down by itself.

Sometimes when starting up Windows, the color quality would automatically be set to 4 bits (really bad). When changing this to 16 bit, it would sometimes change correctly, sometimes not.


I plugged an external monitor to the laptop, which also displayed the lines. Also had a look at the nvidia adapter in the laptop and could not find any physical defects.


From this, I conclude that the LCD screen is fine, there must be something wrong with the graphics processing.


Does anyone know what part is wrong with my laptop? Is the nvidia graphics adapter at fault? Or the motherboard? Because when disabling the nvidia adapter in My Computer, the problem still persists. However, when enabling the adapter in My Computer, the screen goes completely black and I have to restart in Safe Mode to disable it again.

If it's just the adapter which is faulty, I can just buy a new adapter and replace it myself. However, if it's the motherboard which has a problem, I would have to send it in for repair.

Thank you for your patience.

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All Answers

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I vote graphics card...

by CookieOrc In reply to Laptop screen flickers (v ...

I would definatly say it is graphics card. If under warrenty just make them do the work. It is better while it is free.
Also if it is the card it self and it ends up being the mother board you can always take the card back...

By the way, you do an amazing job trouble shooting. Very well writtin. I like your style...

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Warranty ran out long time ago

by cnszun In reply to I vote graphics card...

Thank you for your compliments... just trying to write as clear and concise as I can.

Another reason I don't want to send my laptop in for repair (extra cost), is that the repair shop demands 10 days for searching for replacement components. This long I cannot live without a computer.

I'm not sure the shop would allow me to test out a graphics card at home, then if it doesn't work, return it and get my money back.

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How will they know?

by CookieOrc In reply to Warranty ran out long tim ...

There should not be anyway of them knowing you were to buy a new card and tried it out... If you need your answer now you can always reassemble your computer and send it in...

Your a student (and so am I). I know this will suck to hear, but you might have to live off school computers for a bit
I would definitly try replacing the card. You can always take it back..

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by la_date37 In reply to How will they know?

Dell warranty covers the whole computer. i've got the same issue and Dell will do it at there every out of warranty low rates of $100 just to get a box and not including any actual work

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Graphics Adapter is damaged

by bisonics In reply to Laptop screen flickers (v ...

Hey, i had the same problem, and on checkup, it was revealed that the Graphics Adapter (that was unfortunately built in the mother board) was damaged due to over heating.

You'll save a lot if you have a seperate GA unit... i wasn't :)

here you go.

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Most likely the video adapter.

by galaxycomptr In reply to Laptop screen flickers (v ...

In most likeliness it is the video adapter that is faulty especially since you were saying that you were gaming with the laptop . Sometimes being that the graphics chip gets very hot, over time the connection of the solder points on the graphics chip come loose and will result in flaky video . Try too see if you press down over where the graphics chip is if you get a good picture , if yes then it can be repaired in some cases by reflowing the gpu or it can be replaced if it is not integrated into the motherboard. Anyways I hope this helps.


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