Re: Graphics card problem ... I think
That does sound like a video card failure. When you first power on the PC, the Video card (all video cards) start in a basic VGA mode. Only when Windows starts and loads the driver does it switch to a higher video level mode. Since its not doing that, it suggests a logic problem on the card. If it was mine, I would be looking for a new video card.
You didn't not the Dell model, except "old Dell" so I can't suggest anything specific. Depends on the model and power supply, what it will support.
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