started on thursday evening...
As soon as I press the power button on my Dell Inspiron 8600 Pentium M laptop and the LCD screen turns on, there are random characters all over the screen while the BIOS is starting up (square roots, boxes, other misc characters and shapes) however you can still see the BIOS. once the XP login screen loads all of the misc characters go away there are all of these small boxes in patterns making the screen very distorted. you can still see the home screen (i was able to copy/paste all of my files onto a WD Passport drive). it briefly went away for 10 mins then came back and it's been like this all day (see picture above). so i'm stuck with this problem now and i'm trying to figure out what is dying:
2) Video card (i have a dedicated 128MB ATI RADEON 9500)
First thing to try is reseating (remove and replace) the video card. If that doesn't solve the problem, then replace the card.
ok thanks! i'll give that a try. i need to get an anti-static mat from Amazon first though. any suggestion on where to pick up a decent laptop repair tool kit? (all of the tools i have are way too big)