platin465
1 Copper

Inspiron 4000 video issue

I've looked all over this board, thus far I haven't found an answer to this. A few people have fixed a similar issue, but their fixes don't work for me. Here's my problem:

Computer seems to lock up with a black screen whenever the color depth and/or resolution go above VGA. That's the best general description of the problem I can give. This happens on Win98se, Win2k, Win XP, Redhat 8.0, and Knoppix. I've tried all Dell drivers. I've even reinstalled various OS over & over to make sure I have no problem files left over from one driver to another. I've upgraded the BIOS and tried the drivers all the way up to BIOS A23.
I've changed the video card thinking that would have been the problem. I was trying another motherboard (from C600), but that had some errors at post, so I stopped there. The Dell diagnostics all come back fine on the original laptop with the original parts.

I had been working on this problem about 2 years ago, but gave up and left the computer in pieces. I now wish to give this to a friend that needs a computer, so I came back to it. I've since bought and sold a few other Dell laptops and still have an 8200 (which had a similar problem, and which was fixed by updating the BIOS), and an 8600. Please, please, please help me fix this issue, or at least track down the cause of it. Is it a defective video card, motherboard, cable, or LCD, or what? What part do I need to replace to actually fix this? Thank you in advance for any help.
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7 Replies
funtoupgrade
4 Tellurium

Re: Inspiron 4000 video issue

What happens if you use an external monitor? Same problem? How much memory are you using? I suspect the monitor.  Can you borrow the screen from the C600 and see what happens?

funtoupgrade

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platin465
1 Copper

Re: Inspiron 4000 video issue

Thank you so much for your reply! I read some of your other posts while trying to find an answer to this, which gave me some ideas to try.

As I was typing the original note, I thought about putting it on an external monitor as I don't remember what happened when I did that last time I was trying to figure this out. I honestly don't remember so I'll be doing that when I get home.

As far as the other LCD, the c600 I have was just a scrap motherboard and vid card (someone broke the power connector) I bought off E-bay. I wanted to put the LCD from a scrap 8000 I have onto this one, but the connector to the LCD is different. If the same thing happens out to a CRT, I'd say it's the motherboard or cable (or perhaps the video card, never know). If works out to CRT, I'm going to check out my older Compaq's LCD to see if the connector is the same (doubt it, but might as well). If not, would anyone suggest taking the LCD from the 8000 out of it's encasement and checking if the LCD end of the cable is the same as the LCD end of the 4000's cable?
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funtoupgrade
4 Tellurium

Re: Inspiron 4000 video issue

A 15" 8000 series will not work in a 4000 series, and I have never looked at the back of a 14" for an 8000. The key as to whether an LCD will work for the C600/4000 is whether the sockets for the LCD ribbon cable are in the exact same location on the replacement screen.
 
funtoupgrade
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platin465
1 Copper

Re: Inspiron 4000 video issue

Thank you for that advice, I won't try it now. I didn't realize it was as whether the cable connector was the same or not. I figured any LCD would work as long as you could get the right cable attached to it. Thank goodness I didn't go on a quest for that!

I didn't get a chance to try it last night as I got home late. However, I did try out to a CRT, and what it does is it gets up to the Win 98 loading page on the CRT only, then it cuts out completely from there and gives a dark grey screen on the LCD at that point.

This only happens when any of the Dell drivers I've tried so far are installed, or if the OS has built-in ATI Mobility drivers. If I'm running on Standard VGA drivers at 640x480 & 256 colors, the computer boots fine every time. Any further advice?

Message Edited by platin465 on 03-31-2005 10:01 AM

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funtoupgrade
4 Tellurium

Re: Inspiron 4000 video issue-works out to CRT

When using external monitor does hitting the Fn + F8 key do anything?  Normally, this would toggle between LCD only, monitor only, or both.

funtoupgrade

Message Edited by funtoupgrade on 03-30-2005 11:10 AM

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platin465
1 Copper

Re: Inspiron 4000 video issue

Hmm, ok, I'll try that tonight. I only tried hitting Fn+F8 (is that what you mean?) after it switched. Tried that twice. Actually, when I tried the Knoppix live CD, it got stuck when loading up, and stayed on the CRT. Tried that twice also. Admittedly, I've never gotten Knoppix working on this laptop, but I don't see why it shouldn't work.

If nothing changes by hitting Fn+F8, I guess I'll try the other video card again, then the other motherboard again. If that motherboard works, I'll try soldering the power connector from the scrap 8000 onto it. Ah, the joys of laptops...

I still welcome any ideas as to what is causing the problem. I'll give an update with the Fn+F8 thing. Does anyone need any further info on this problem?

Message Edited by platin465 on 03-31-2005 10:02 AM

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platin465
1 Copper

Re: Inspiron 4000 video issue

Ok, when out to CRT, I can switch back and forth with the Fn+F8 until it locks up. At that point, no matter what screen/screens it was on, the CRT goes blank, and the LCD goes dark gray. If it was just on the CRT, and the LCD was black, then the CRT goes black and the LCD goes gray. I can still use some of the other function keys, like eject CD, but ctrl+alt+del doesn't work to reboot (as is possible in win98). I have to hold down the power button for 4+seconds to get it to turn off.

So, I installed the other video card, and changed the RAM. Same thing. I installed Win2k. Used the drivers supplied by Dell. I hadn't tried win2k yet as far as I remember, and someone suggested that to another person having a similar problem. Win2k gets stuck on it's loading screen, the LCD or the CRT, or both, don't go blank nor gray. Either that, or it gives a BSOD. It says:

Stop: 50 (0xA126C47A, 0x00000000, 0x804B6607, 0x00000000)
Page_fault_in_nonpaged_area
Address 804b6607 base at 80400000, DateStamp 3ee6c002-ntoskrnl.exe and then some nomal info about if you've seen this before, etc.

I took out one of the new sticks of RAM, rebooted. It got stuck on it's loading page from then on, no BSOD anymore.

Tried Win98 again, it now lets me in, stating that the video drivers are not configured properly or incorrect. It now shows that I've got an M3 Mobility. It never did that before. If I change it up to even 256 colors, it goes back to the same problem after the forced restart. However, after a hardboot, it goes back into win98 with the low-res, 16 colors and it still shows the actual video card. Why would it now always keep that info when it never did that before? I didn't install any different drivers in win98. Anyway, so I installed the IBM drivers for an M3 as suggested by a Stonent in a different post, and that didn't change anything.

So, I tried installing Redhat 8.0. The installation gets stuck a couple of windows after it changes to 1024x768 mode, but it doesn't lock up. That's the same thing it's been doing when I do the graphical install. Text install works, but then locks up with the X cursor while it's booting up. That is also the same thing it had been doing.

I then put the spare motherboard together on an anti-static bag... used a different video card than the one I had just been working on (less screws to take off), a battery, a different processor, the original 64Mb of memory I had, the original CD drive, no hard drive, no LCD. Tried booting it up without an LCD. Nothing. Put the LCD on, works. Put the CRT and the LCD on, I can switch back & forth. Updated BIOS settings, & tried the Redhat graphical install (as the CD was still in), the screen is little until it gets to the graphical part of the install, at which point it switches to what I think are more colors, and 1024x768. I can now get past the point it would get stuck on before. However, no hard drive, so I can't install... Shut down, put in same hard drive, win 2k booted up. I changed to 256 colors at 800x600... When it came back, it was 16-bit color at 1024x768. FINALLY!!! Now I have to figure out a way to get a power connector onto the motherboard. I've saved all the data I found posted on a thread about it for this computer. Hopefully It'll work out and I won't fry the motherboard.

Honestly, I'd still like to know what the problem with the Inspiron board is, but I've got to get this done by Saturday. If anyone has any further ideas/suggestions, please let me know and I'll try it after that if it'll output to a CRT without the LCD being attached.
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