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An older (~3 year old) PC I have passed on to my younger brother has a Sony 17" LCD monitor and uses on-board Intel GMA 3100 graphics (supports Aero under Windows 7 and no more is required). Recently he has complained to me twice that after booting up the screen looks all 'fuzzy'. Initially I thought maybe he messed up the ClearType settings by mistake, but resetting that did nothing. The only thing that finally worked was changing the resolution to something else temporarily, then setting it back to the original native (highest supported) resolution. The second time this happened the same 'fix' worked.

This is happening only intermittently as of now and is not predictable/reproducible. I suspect either the monitor or on-board graphics is dying.

  1. How can I check and confirm which of the two it is (or maybe something else you guys can think of)?

  2. If it's the on-board graphics, would I be able to keep using the same motherboard with the addition of a cheap PCI-E graphics card?

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Nothing suggests that this is a hardware problem and the fact that changing settings fixes it suggests that it's a software problem. –  David Schwartz Oct 18 '12 at 16:44
    
Reinstalling the video driver was something I did not do, since the 'fix' worked. Are you sure it's not the hardware? Maybe changing resolutions 'jolted' the monitor and temporarily overcame the problem? –  Rob Oct 18 '12 at 16:47
    
1) How can you check? Easy. Change monitors. If the problem happens at an other computer with the same monitor it is in the monitor. Not as easy since you mention it is intermittent, but I good solution trouble shooting. 2) In theory: yes. In praxis: a) If part of the MB is dying, what else might go wrong. b) Does it have free PCIe slots for that? X) Does it happen with a different OS (e.g. a LiveCD or a reinstallation) to determine if it is a hardware of software problem). –  Hennes Oct 18 '12 at 16:50
    
@Hennes, David Yes there are free PCI-E slots obviously. I used a Ubuntu LiveCD once on the machine after the first incident, and it worked fine. Then again, Windows was/is working fine as well, except for the two instances (so far). Also, I did not touch the reset option in the monitor's settings menu. If that also solves the issue next time it occurs without changing any Windows settings, can I then conclude that the monitor is most likely at fault and it's not a software problem? –  Rob Oct 18 '12 at 16:55
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