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I have a Dell desktop PC, and whenever I choose anything other than an 8-bit 640x480 display, the monitor goes off.

What could be causing this? The monitor has been used previously on this PC before, but it was taken to PC World (UK) to have Windows re-imaged onto it.

Could this be a hardware failure (graphics card, cable, monitor) or is it likely to be software/Windows configuration problem?

What things would you check?

UPDATE

It seems that this is linked to the graphics "hardware acceleration" in Graphics Options > Troubleshooting. Turning this down to zero means the machine opens and I can get to the desktop.

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Make sure you're using the latest driver from nVidia. Make sure you're using the latest DirectX from Microsoft--probably should do a full Windows Update to make sure everything else is up to date, as well.

Perhaps after the re-image, PC World didn't do these updates for you.

Disabling hardware acceleration, as you have, will often resolve some instability issues, but obviously at the cost of some hardware acceleration--which you may or may not care about, depending on how you use the card. That's an old enough card, I'm guessing you're probably not terribly interested in pushing it to its limits, so you may be perfectly happy without acceleration.

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