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I have an HP Pavilion DV2701TX special edition laptop. It has Nvidia 8400M GS graphics card embedded into the motherboard. There is a problem with the graphics card, it just dies out after use of a year or two. So, it died the second time now. Now, I am thinking of having alternate options rather than getting my motherboard replaced at a service center, which is pretty costly.

Are there any good options?

The laptop has an external PCI-Express card (/54) slot. I am not sure if I can use this slot for an external graphics card. Even if I am able to use it, will it work right from boot as my internal graphics card is just dead?

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Not directly - there's express card -> pci-e adaptors I think, and some people have reported using these on a laptop. forum.notebookreview.com/e-gpu-external-graphics-discussion/… maybe about 90 dollars for the adaptor + a GPU. Not sure if it'll work with a borked main graphics card. –  Journeyman Geek Nov 24 '12 at 13:52

2 Answers 2

It's worth noting that the GPU on a laptop is usually connected (either internally on the GPU or an external chip) to a LVDS which is what sends the signal to the LCDs controller in order to render images on the screen, it may be possible to connect something up inside as LVDS controllers can be picked up easily online, however you might have trouble finding space inside a laptop in order to fit that in, as well as crazy connectors OEMs will throw in there.

The other issue you may have is BIOS support, not all laptop motherboards will support hooking up a external GPU to them, especially if it's internal, it may even be possible that the BIOS has a lock on it preventing most hardware being added to them. (my current laptop which I'm using has a internal mini PCI port, which has a BIOS whitelist which would prevent me from plugging in a wireless card from another vender).

So, it is possible, however you probably are just better of getting it fixed, or if you really want to deal with the problem for good, see if you can find a suitable laptop online, if the same system board has died twice on you in a few years, it's usually a sign it's probably only going to happen again.

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Actually, "You may not be able to do it" is an entirely valid answer", and you cover reasons why it may not work perfectly well. I'd also add that this specific family of GPUs has been known to fail, and fixing it has been fairly well documented online. You basically need to reflow that chip, either properly, or by bakeing it. –  Journeyman Geek Aug 25 at 0:15
    
My word - I didn't know about the reflowing. If my Laptop wasn't being useful it would be melting as we speak! –  FantasticJamieBurns Aug 25 at 3:14

For the benefit of anybody arriving here.

It can be done: http://www.techradar.com/news/computing-components/graphics-cards/how-to-make-an-external-laptop-graphics-adaptor-915616

I am not sure how you would connect it to the Laptop's panel however.

That said, I get good use from an old Laptop that had the dreaded Nvidia bug by installing Windows and forcing it to use the "Basic Display Adapter" so that it doesn't try to perform any hardware acceleration. It isn't super-fast but it does allow me to use the Laptop for basic tasks without fear the display will lock-up.

I currently run Windows Server 2012 R2 on said Laptop, with Desktop Experience enabled. By default Windows Server installs only the Basic Display Adapter which is handy. Before Windows Server, I used to run Windows XP which installs with a Basic Display Adapter and it was acceptable (only heavy scrolling was slow). Just be careful to never upgrade the graphics driver to anything other than Basic Display Adapter.

Because of the low power consumption, said Laptop has been really effective as a Home Server. It currently manages 16TB of storage with data-deduplication. I mostly RDP into the Laptop now, only using the real display for occasional maintenance.

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They sell boards online that convert a laptop screen into something with HDMI, VGA and composite inputs, actually. That would let you connect it to the laptop's panel at the cost of a lot of extra bulk. –  Journeyman Geek Aug 25 at 0:17

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