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I have a high end Dell Inspiron laptop with 1 GB ATI Radeon graphics card.

Because of some problem, the LED screen of the laptop is malfunctioning -- it works sometimes, and other times it abruptly shuts off. After that, it does not work for a couple of days, and then somehow magically starts working. I don't know if it is because of overheating or something else; I don't even know if it is my graphics card's problem or some other device.

Now, when I connect to my monitor (external display) -- EVERYTHING works perfectly, and I can play all the games perfectly fine. (I think that shows that my graphics card is not problematic)

My question is: do graphics cards have separate processors for internal and external displays?

Second, when you have a graphics card installed on your machine, does the integrated display processor (the one with my Intel microprocessor) remain inactive? And, in case of a graphics card malfunction, does the switch from graphics card to integrated display happen automatically?

My third question is: if I can play my games on the external display without any problem, and if for some reason my LED screen is not working properly -- does this prove that my graphics card is not the problem, it's something else?

Finally, please explain how the graphics card works in conjunction with the rest of the system.

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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted
  1. Your laptop graphics card is perfectly fine. This malfunction is due coz the wire connecting your LED Screen from your motherboard is damaged. This wire is like paper, it's normally called a 'stripe'. This gets damaged due to opening and closing of the laptop lid.

  2. Graphics cards dont have separate processors for internal and external displays, it's the same processor / GPU.

  3. Since your calling it 'Machine' and talking about installing a Graphics Card, I'm assuming its a desktop / PC. Here, when your install a Graphics card on a PCIe slot, it makes the integrated display chip inactive. If ur Graphics card malfunctions, it will not shift to the integrated one automatically. Instead, it might not give you any display, or in some cases give you a beep similar to the one when your RAM malfunctions.

  4. If everything including your games work fine on your external display, there is nothing wrong with your graphics card.

  5. Graphics Cards use their GPU to the process graphics and have their own RAM. So when the CPU has graphics processing it sends it using the system bus to the GPU for it to process it. This helps the CPU free itself up from graphics processing, and processes other stuff. Hence making it faster. And this helps free up system RAM, as the Graphics card RAM is used for storing / caching data needed to be processed by the GPU.

Let me know if i missed out on anything you particularly wanted to know..

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From the first sentence: "I have a high end Dell Inspiron laptop'". –  Indrek Aug 23 '12 at 14:08
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[D]o graphics cards have separate processors for internal and external displays?

No. Display is display.

Generally, it's possible to install several graphics cards (e.g., one for each display), but I doubt that's the case in your laptop.

[W]hen you have a graphics card installed on your machine, does the integrated display processor (the one with my Intel microprocessor) remain inactive?

That depends on the motherboard. There are motherboards that let you use both, others automatically disable the on-die GPU when an external graphics card is connected. With certain chipsets, there's also the option to use the on-die GPU for video encoding etc. while using the external graphics card as such.

[I]n case of a graphics card malfunction, does the switch from graphics card to integrated display happen automatically?

Most certainly not, even if your motherboard supports GPU switching.

[I]f I can play my games on the external display without any problem, and if for some reason my LED screen is not working properly -- does this prove that my graphics card is not the problem, it's something else?

Yes, that means it's something else. Since the failure is intermittent, it's probably a loose cable.

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