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I put my computer (Windows 7) to sleep, and a couple hours later, tried to wake it back up, but the monitor wouldn't come back on. I did a hard reset (held power button), but I still couldn't get the monitor to show anything. I plugged it into my laptop, and the monitor works fine.

I then swapped out the video card with an older one I have. The monitor came on and started showing the boot process. However, shortly after the Windows 7 animated logo came up, the screen went blank, it made this weird beeping noise, and I seen the strangest thing ever.

Small, colorful blocks started to fill my screen, and flash, as if something was loading. Inside of those blocks, were smilies (like the ASCII character kind). This continued for about a minute, then the computer rebooted. It scared the sh!t out of me. I've never had a virus before, and I'm savvy enough to keep myself from one, but I'm wondering if that's what it was. I've been using computers for ages, and never seen anything quite like this.

Has anyone ever seen something like this? I'm doing hardware diagnostics before trying to boot into Windows again. Hopefully I can figure this out, but I thought I would consult the SU community while I wait on these results.

-- UPDATE --

I did a Memory Diagnostic, which turned up nothing. I also booted into Safe Mode no problem, and scheduled a disk check on both of my drives (I dual boot XP & 7). I was feeling good, and tried putting my regular video card back in, and the monitor won't display anything with it.

Also, even though the monitor displays nothing, the system sounds like it's booting up. However, I hear a clicking in one of my hard drives that isn't there with the older video card. Could this be a problem with my hard drive, video card, or PSU? PSU makes sense, except for the fact I've been using the same setup for over a year, and the video card doesn't require it's own power plug thing.

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The only way to tell is to swap each component out and test. –  user3463 Feb 25 '11 at 5:31
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1 Answer

The problem with the second video card where the screen fills up with garbage sounds like a bad video card. I used to see this often where all sorts of strange stuff appears when the system starts to initialize and use the GUI. Sometimes the text based stuff still worked okay if the problem was video RAM related.

As to the original card, just a stab in the dark, but the clicking sound you hear - could it be the video card's fan blades? With the case open, stop the fan by wedging something like cotton into it. Start the system and see if you hear the sound. Then pull the cotton puff out - does the sound then come on?

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I'll have to try that to figure out where the clicking is coming from. I thought it was a hard drive, but I could have been wrong. A messed up video card would make more sense. And it'd give me an excuse to get a new one for Skyrim! –  Ishmael Smyrnow Feb 26 '11 at 13:31
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