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edpare
2 Bronze

Inspiron 9400 Display Problem.

Can anyone point me to a written document or advise me how I should troubleshoot the following display problem? I’m used to swapping out components in desktop boxes to determine what’s failed; but, this is my first laptop situation. I’m unsure whether I’ve a video card problem or a motherboard BIOS problem, or something else.  I suppose a video card problem is more likely; but, how do I determine that for certain, short of pulling the machine apart and installing a different adapter? Looks like an NVidia 7900 GS would run me over $200; and, I’d prefer not to purchase one unless I’m certain that’s the problem.

 

Inspiron 9400, T7400, OYD479 motherboard, MP061, BIOS Rev A09, WUXGA, with an NVidia Geforce Go 7900 GS adapter set at 1900 x 1200

 

During startup, the Dell splash screen has 20 sets of 4 closely spaced vertical lines that are each composed of many small blue dots.

 

That screen is then replaced by a black screen that has 80 vertical lines, each composed of 50 white bars (or vertical dash lines). If I press F8 to enter the protected mode options screen, these 80 lines remain on the screen.

 

If I don’t press F8, the Windows XP splash screen comes up, but has 10 sets of 4 closely spaced vertical lines, each composed of many small yellow dots.

 

The Windows XP splash screen then disappears and the display briefly shows a disrupted pattern of dots and then the screen goes completely blank. The machine appears to continue loading Windows however, since the hard drive light continues to flash as it normally would.

 

I can enter safe mode with networking (VgaSave driver and Default Monitor) and run at a resolution of 1280 x 1024; but, if I try any higher resolution, there is a background pattern of numerous little blue rectangles.

 

Any suggestions will be appreciated.

 

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4 Replies
8 Xenon

Re: Inspiron 9400 Display Problem.

Attach an external display.  If it does not show the same fault, reseat the cable that runs between the mainboard and the display panel.  If that does nothing, the display is faulty and needs replacement.

If the external monitor DOES show the same fault -- which is more likely -- power up, press F12, and choose Diagnostics from the boot menu that appears.  Run the extended diagnostics, which will likely show that the video card (RAM) had failed - in which case you'll need to replace the video card.  You probably have a 7900GS, which runs about $300 or so.  It's a proprietary card you'll need to get from Dell or a Dell parts reseller.

 

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laurence huff
1 Copper

Re: Inspiron 9400 Display Problem.

Good luck-My second card just fried.  I disabled the driver while in safe mode and restarted.  I'm now am running in VGA.

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edpare
2 Bronze

Re: Inspiron 9400 Display Problem.

Thanks. That's what I'm doing, also; running on the onboard video controller at 1600 x 1200 (16-bit). But, it's really a pain when I want to scroll (-: And, I don't dare to stress the onboard; because, if that goes, I'm hosed.

Out of curiosity, would you mind telling me what you had been doing when your card blew?

Everyone I've spoken thinks that the two 7900 GS cards simply got overheated. Kinda sad to think that's what happened; but, I guess this two year old (or more) laptop card technology is a step or two behind being capable of handling the latest video streaming demands.

I downloaded the ISO image of the Dell diagnostics utility, made a boot disk, and ran the utility. Everything else on the unit appears to be working ok, including all of the temperature sensors.

Next, I downloaded the 18kfanGUI; and, now I'm playing around with some fan cooling pads to see what provides the best cooling and what might be modified to to provide even better cooling.

A reseller who has several used 7900 GS cards on eBay told me that if I purchased one of the cooling pads, he'll give me a slightly longer guarantee; but, I'm thinking that, when I finally do purchase another of those cards, I probably won't be trying to stream any HD videos at full sceen 1920 x 1200 resolution. When I want to do that, I'll switch to one of my desktop boxes.

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edpare
2 Bronze

Re: Inspiron 9400 Display Problem.

btw: I forgot to mention that I had purchased and installed a second 7900 and had blown that also during HD video streaming. After blowing the second one at $279, it  finally dawned on me that I should be a bit more careful <g>

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