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I am getting colorful stripes on my laptop's display, as described by the pictures:

BIOS screen

windows vista console

zoomed image

Thus, I ask:

  1. Whether I have a software or a hardware failure?
  2. What is the cause of the problem?
  3. Should I throw it away or it could be repaired?

The laptop "Sony VGN-FZ21E", model "PCG-392M". The notebook was treated mostly as a desktop for a few hours a day for 2 years.

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migrated from serverfault.com Jun 5 '12 at 18:44

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4 Answers 4

It's ribbon. I have the same problem. Instead of black I have waving red and the majority is changed to cyan color.

Just checked with RGB external connection and it works fine. So in the worst case you can use either HDMI or RGB connections.

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you mean the ribbon of the connection between motherboard and monitor? i've noticed that sometimes pressing on the case the resolution comes back normal for some time after getting hot the sh.t comes back. –  Igor Nov 21 '12 at 23:27

Because this is happening during boot up, it is definitely a hardware problem, not software. It may be something like a cable or connector that has worked its way loose, but seeing as how I had almost the exact same results from my Dell laptop when the graphics card died, I'm going to say it's probably the card failing. Fortunately, from looking here, it appears that your system has a discrete graphics card (Nvidia Geforce 8400M GT), which means it may be replaceable. My Dell had the same card, and I was able to find a replacement (actually an upgrade) on eBay. It's a lot of screws and cables to remove and replace, but for mine it was a fairly straightforward fix. Check eBay or Sony for a replacement card and Google for a teardown/repair video or instructions. Or just get a new computer. ;)

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I had this also happen on my Dell laptop back in the day. However, I think it's a broken connection between the motherboard and the display, and not a dying GPU. I say this because it was like this for a year (progressively getting worse) but didn't cause any issues, and occasionally I could temporarily fix the lines by pressing on parts of the bezel around the screen. The GPU did eventually die but with completely different behavior. –  Ben Richards Nov 21 '12 at 22:56

This looks like the connect between the laptop's mainboard and the LCD panel is broken/intermittent. You might be able to fix it by replacing a ribbon cable, or you may have broken connectors at either end that would necessitate replacing larger components.

If you can't be bothered fixing it (cost, laziness, etc) but you don't want to waste the computer, just plug an external monitor into the thing and continue to use it that way.

Actually, you should try it with an external monitor anyway and see if it looks "proper" or not. This may help pinpoint the failure.

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Looks to be a dead video card issue to me. Not sure if that device has a discrete video card or not, if so you can replace it, otherwise you would have to replace the motherboard, with a device like that it would be much easier to just buy a new one.

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