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Is my laptop graphics card goosed? (GeForce Go 7800)


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I own a 13 and a half month old (which I am regretting not taking the extended warranty out on now) laptop I bought from Dell. It is an inspiron E1705 I bought over in the US, which I took the option of getting the Nvidia GeForce Go 7800 256MB graphics card put into. (I live in the UK)

About a week ago when I was on the machine, surfing the web (not even taxing the computer,) the screen went strange. Lines appeared and then shortly after it went black. It appeared that the PC stalled.

It would do this again after a few minutes of being powered on. I have re-installed windows from scratch on a second partition as I feared a virus of sorts. This took some time as the fault would appear during the install process and i'd have to try again. Started suspecting it could be a thermal problem, so I got my hands on the fan control software utility so that the two inspiron fans are on full blast permanently. I thought this had fixed the problem, as it seemed more reliable once this was done. So then I took the time to download all the latest and greatest from the dell website, so the drivers are all best case, and the bios is now upgraded to A08.

However the problem has now re-emerged. What I have noticed is that it seems I can boot windows to VGA mode, but as soon as I try and up the resolution or colour depth the laptop soon after goes bad. It starts with a bit of corruption of the image, normally around features (like the start button for example in winxp,) and then very quickly after the whole screen goes bad and then goes off and I need to hold the power button down to turn of the laptop.

I'm now strongly suspecting a thermal issues, which might explain the display being alright at a low resolution. I'd be surprised if the geforce card didn't protect against this, maybe the hardware protection has broke, however the fan control software only reports back thermal values for the CPU cores and not any GPU core (which may be my fault if i've not set it up to check for these.) Going to dig into the laptop soon, "borrow" an anti-static strap from work.

Has anyone got any ideas or seen similar? I'd hate to start ripping my laptop apart only to find I was going down the wrong path. Also if it looks like I need to replace my video card, does anyone know where I can get these, as I've been hunting and ebay seems to only place, ebay in the US too so i'd be risking import duty tax bring it in! If there are no 7800's available, i've heard you can put a Go 7900 card into the same laptop with a bit of ingenuity..

Sorry about the epic post, best to get as much detail out as possible i guess.....

Cheers in advance for any help...

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just thought i'd put this some progress...

.....although it is very very slow at refreshing the screen, i have removed the symptoms of the fault by uninstalling the video driver (windows just uses some vgasave driver.)

From what i have tried, running any of the nvidia installs other than the one from dell gives me an error

"Nvidia setup program could not locate any drivers that are compatible with your current hardware. Setup will now exit"

If i use the dell installation (from the dell website) it runs through fine, and then immediately after the graphics go to cr*p.

Cheers again to anyone with any insight.

Edited by allun
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Cheers mattman, I did actually try that after going off and reading the userguides on this forum, (thought I had posted again aswell, something must have gone wrong.) That got me past the incompatibility issue, but almost as soon as I put in the official drivers the card stopped working (during installation.)

Thinking hardware or firmware definately now. Going to look into firmware this evening but ultimately it's looking like a hardware fault, 2 months after the warranty runs out, on a card Dell were short off at the time of purchase and quickly replaced by the 7900 (if other forums are to believed.)

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