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My laptop recently started to BSOD when booting up XP (I haven't got the text of the BSOD yet). It starts up OK in safe mode except for the fact that the video output has a regular repeating pattern of corruption, a bit like this:

........****............
****............****....
................****....
****....****............
****....................
........****....****....
........****............
****............****....

where a '.' is a normal pixel and a '*' is an incorrect pixel. There are two important aspects to the corruption. The pattern is in vertical strips, alternating between a strip of corrupted pixels and a strip of normal pixels, the strips are equal width and more than one pixel wide. Also, the pattern, when view top to bottom, repeats with a constant period.

I am wondering, then, if this is a RAM fault? The corruption doesn't appear to be there in alphanumeric modes (i.e. old style BIOS screens).

Update

I took out each RAM card and the problem still persists. I guess it's not the RAM. The corruption also appears in text mode - it's just a bit trickier to see.

I disabled the nVidia device and the system boots up without BSODing. So it's going to be the vidia chip that's blown I guess.

Time to get a new laptop then. :-(

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5 Answers 5

This is most likely to be related to bad video / graphics in your laptop. I have seen an increased amount of these faults recently.

There is a big problem especially in the Nvidia 8xxx range of laptop cards, the problem is seen more in laptops where either the cpu is at 100% for long times or (3d / intensive) games are played on a regular basis as this adds to the heat.

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This is the most correct answer here. It is not the RAM, as it would be very unlikely to cause these graphical artifacts - it is most definately the video card. –  Breakthrough Sep 8 '09 at 10:53

Could be RAM. If you have more than one stick of RAM installed, try booting with one of the sticks out to test each one individually. If it is a hardware issue, running the machine with and without the hardware can usually help you figure out which component is faulty.

If none of these seem to be the issue, you may need to reinstall your OS.

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If you want to tell if it's a ram issue run memcheck86. This only tests the onboard ram not any dedicated ram on the video card. Most non gaming laptops use the on board ram. You can download it as a stand alone bootable CD or it is included on all the ubuntu live cds if you have one.

It's also probably worth updating your graphics drivers in case it is a software issue. If you boot from a live cd and the graphics look ok it's a software issue if it doesn't your in trouble because that means hardware.

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Does it have a geforce 8400M or 8600M graphics chipset? If so, it may be hardware failure, as these chipsets have a notoriously high failure rate.

I'd contact your laptop manufacturer to see if it's covered under warranty.

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I have an nVidia Go 7600 –  Skizz Aug 24 '09 at 18:26

While it won't fix the immediate issue bluescreenview should show you the blue screen on a running system, and whocrashed should help identify the reason for the crash, assuming you can boot.

If you disabled the video device, shouldn't you not get a display at all? unless you mean its using a generic driver, which dosen't indicate a blown video card - only that the driver may be at fault.

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I did think that disabling the video device would result in no display, but, it seems to default to a generic VGA driver. The display still shows the corruption, although the spacing is different. My conclusion is that the graphics chip has a fault in it, probably related to memory, that the nVidia driver couldn't cope with but the standard VGA driver is OK with. I have since replaced the laptop. –  Skizz Sep 8 '09 at 14:54
    
Also, switching off the 'automatic reboot on failure' option allowed me to read the BSOD. –  Skizz Sep 8 '09 at 14:54

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