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I have a Sony Vaio SA laptop, which includes a dual-video card solution - you can flip a switch to change from the Intel HD 3000 graphics built into the CPU (a "Sandy Bridge" Core i5-2410m) to the discrete ATI Radeon 6630m graphics chip. (You can't use both, however, nor is there a behind-the-scenes switching or hardware multiplexing like nVidia's Optimus or Lucidlogix Vertu.)

Every so often, usually but not always after I resume the machine from sleep, the colors on the built-in screen look extremely washed out, as if someone cranked up the brightness and contrast settings to the maximum. The problem usually goes away after a minute, but it makes things really hard to read and hurts the eyes. I wish I had a picture, but sadly I don't right now.

Although I could be wrong, I don't think this is a problem with the screen or its settings, because it occurs only intermittently. To my knowledge, I have never seen this problem with the discrete Radeon chip, so I'm suspecting something wrong with the Sandy Bridge chip or its driver. A web search suggests that such problems do exist, but the suggestions come from, shall we say, "less reliable" sources.

Am I right to blame the Intel graphics card or driver, or is there some other likely cause?

Additional notes:

This being a laptop with a weird graphics solution, I use the stock drivers available from Sony's website. Based on comparing timestamps, I believe I use the latest posted version of the driver.

Here's a snipped and censored copy of the dxdiag.exe diagnostic report, which should hopefully still contain all the useful info.

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The intermittance of the problems suggests to me that you have either an interconnect problem or a cold solder joint. In a wave-soldered modern computer board, the chances that the solder problem is fixable is basically NIL, but it could be something as simple as reconnecting the "ribbon cable" like flexible wiring to the surface-mounted interconnects. Obviously if your computer is in warranty TAKE IT BACK FOR SERVICE, don't take it apart. – Warren P Apr 17 '12 at 17:04
Great, a hardware problem. Now I have to resist my electrical engineer's temptation to take the machine apart and fix it myself... Hm, I'll call Sony and perhaps report back if I remember to. – Michael Ratanapintha Apr 19 '12 at 2:09

Sounds like the issue detailed here:

In short, open the Intel Graphics properties (by default you can open this from the context menu on your Desktop), go to the Power tab, select “On Battery” as power source, and disable “Display Power Saving Technology”.

This seems to dim the backlight of the laptop screen when mainly dark colors are displayed, and to compensate it increases the contrast of the LCD panel. As a consequence bright colors on the screen get clipped.

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