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How to Diagnose a Pre-Operating System Load or Hardware Issue

My friend has a HP Pavilion dv2699ea (dv2500 series - somehow *shrugs*) that has stopped working. It's a Core2Duo laptop with a Nvidia GPU. The unit is no longer under warranty.

Problems first started a few days ago with the laptop showing corrupted graphics in Windows and BSOD'ing after a few minutes of use. I tried booting to an Ubuntu LiveCD which worked for a while before succuming and crashing as well. The freezing/graphics corruption/BSODing does seem somewhat heat related (CPU runs at ~95'c under load) however I believe that if it is heat related, then it's already damaged components inside.

Now the system has corrupted graphics on bootup[1], including booting Ubuntu[2], and neither operating systems will boot at all (Windows can sometimes get logged in before showing a black screen and becoming unresponsive. Ubuntu just looks like [3] after X starts). (See comment below for links.)

The fact the problem occurs both under Linux and Windows says to me this is not a driver issue. I have run Memtest which passed fine and none of this seems HDD related as I managed to get ~30GB of data off the system before it finally gave up the ghost.

She has been using it repeatedly without giving it adequate ventilation for years (i.e. on the bed, or on a pillow), so it's my opinion that the system board has probably warped over years of cooling/heating and that's causing this current problem. If that is the case, then I can buy a replacement system board and fit it myself, saving about £200 over the cost of an out-of-warranty HP repair. Of course, I don't want to make her spend £100 on a replacement part for it to be the wrong thing, hence asking for a second opinion here!

Hopefully I've covered all the bases here. I'm a former IT support guy myself, so I've tried all the dumb stuff (driver updates, examining memory dumps from BSODs [one 'unrecoverable hardware error', three relating to the graphics card], etc).

Thanks in advance.

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marked as duplicate by slhck Jul 26 '12 at 17:11

This question was marked as an exact duplicate of an existing question.

[1] - [2] - [3] - – Xiol Aug 3 '10 at 10:09
Sadly your images are all broken. Do you have the originals that you could reupload? Thanks. – 8088 Oct 8 '11 at 3:53
up vote 0 down vote accepted

I would search on youtube for HP DV9000 blank screen fix. A massive amount of computers HP and Compaq computers with Nvidia GPUs had recalls because the chips got so hot they melted their own solder and the pins no longer made contact. There is actually a class action lawsuit over the issue. If your chip got that hot you may have the same situation. It is a somewhat delicate procedure but it works, I have done it myself. The youtube videos on the subject show you all you need to know.

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That's a little more involved than I'd like, to be honest. Sadly, the laptop in question is not covered under the extended warranty. Could still buy the new part and put some decent thermal compound on there... Seems like even that would be a temporary fix though. – Xiol Aug 3 '10 at 11:00
No, I have done it twice, and both times it has worked great. A year and counting on one of them. Hell if you wanna PM me we might be able to work something out where I could do it for you if you do not trust your technical abilities. I have all the right tools, including an IR temp gun and a special heat shield I made just for doing those. I guarantee the fix is permanent when paired with the BIOS update that turns the fan on more often. – ubiquibacon Aug 3 '10 at 13:53
I'm in the UK I'm afriad (I'm assuming you're in the US). I opened it up yesterday and reapplied thermal paste to no avail. If anything, I think I've made the problem worse - gonna open it up again today and try again. – Xiol Aug 4 '10 at 7:08
You assumed correctly. If all else fails just try what I said. If you fail you have exactly what you have right now, a junk laptop :) – ubiquibacon Aug 4 '10 at 7:25

It's hardware. You can try reapplying thermal paste to the GPU and perhaps the CPU while you're at it. If that fails, don't even bother buying a replacement part. Sell the broken hardware and put the money towards getting something that isn't HP so you get something with better ventilation and actually decent reliability.

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Open up the thing, clean the dust, close the thing, boot it up, observe how the temperature drops.

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The problem occurs from cold, though. I think any damage that has been done due to improper ventilation/cooling has already been done. Cleaning it out and putting new thermal paste on there is my next step, but I don't hold out much hope for that working. – Xiol Aug 3 '10 at 12:09
FYI, this didn't work. I applied new thermal paste as well, still has the same issue. – Xiol Aug 4 '10 at 7:09

Try running a video memory stress test. I have similar pixel errors and the cause is broken video RAM (the infamous Acer heat death, I fear). Since it cannot be exchanged in my case that means I'll have to replace the whole notebook, but if you're lucky, the video RAM is not dedicated - try memtest, if your actual RAM is broken you can replace it.

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