RE: Monitor acting like scratch-off ticket on M3800
That's really not an option. The monitor is DP/VGA and the laptop (in Dell's dubious wisdom) uses mini-DP or HDMI. And the user is at a remote location and can't buy a mini-DP cable just for the sake of testing. And since you can't go from HDMI to DP, that option is out as well.
However, the monitor shouldn't be at issue since it can display everything once you "scratch off the black". It seems to be in software that the black is originating.
As to the drivers, I've rolled back the onboard and it reinstalled the new version on it's own. And the nVidia drivers were installed using the clean install option And I updated the BIOS prior to giving it to the user. That's why this is so peculiar.