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I am trying to diagnose some issues with a friend's Lenovo IdeaPad U350 (3-4 years old), running Windows 7 Pro 64-bit:

  1. Laptop turns itself off sometimes shortly after sleeping.
  2. Generally running slow.
  3. Wifi slow to reconnect.

Issue 1 started a few months ago and has been getting progressively worse; maybe once every 1-2 days.

Initially I thought all 3 were connected. However, there is a bunch of malware on the machine and I am now pretty sure that it is responsible for issues 2 and 3, but I am not sure if 1 is connected. Since we're having trouble cleaning all of the malware we're just going to wipe the drive and reinstall Windows, but this hasn't been done yet.

I am assuming issue 1 is not related to the malware and am trying to find the cause. That's the main subject of this question.

There were never any error messages or interesting items in the event log until today, when, upon restarting after a sleep shutdown, the "recovered from error" dialog came up citing a BSOD with BCCode 116, which by all accounts is display-related.

Things we've tried so far (all prior to the 116 error code):

  • It's probably not a heat issue. This was my first thought. Friend reports possible excessive heat but we're not sure, and it is summer. Fan is running normally. We cleaned the fan and air filters as well. Temperature monitoring does not show unusually high temperatures. Also it never happens during periods of activity. We also tried leaving it in front of an air conditioner, and leaving it on freezer ice-packs when not in use with no effect (and ice packs still somewhat cold after problem occurred).
  • It's not a battery issue. Battery appears to be in good condition, is not generating excessive heat, and is running at about 90% of its design capacity.
  • It's not a RAM issue. At least, full memory diagnostics passed 100%.
  • It's not a hard drive issue. SMART reports nothing out of the ordinary; SpinRite read-scan has no issues. Drive is < 12 months old, and appears to be in excellent condition. No unexpected filesystem error aside from occasional minor errors presumably due to power loss.
  • I reseated hard drive connector, keyboard connector, RAM, wifi, and battery (everything I could easily access) just in case; no change.
  • It's probably not a driver issue. All Windows updates, hardware drivers, and latest BIOS updates installed. (Q: Could it be possible that a broken update / malware is causing an issue? Shutdowns on sleep don't seem to be a malware symptom, but could be a driver issue.)
  • It does not seem to be a Windows installation issue; sfc /scannow reports all files passed.
  • It is related to either sleep mode or display power off. I do not actually know. I do know that it never happens during normal activity. The pattern is always when my friend walks away from the machine for awhile, and it goes to sleep, it sometimes is no longer on (and not in hibernation) on wake up.
  • As for issue 3 (wifi); the slow reconnect is relatively new. It does not appear to be a router issue; nobody else connecting to that router has observed any issues, and the issue seems to occur in other locations.
  • Thinking issue 3 was perhaps related to issue 1, I ordered a replacement wifi radio thinking perhaps the hardware was failing. It has not arrived yet. I will be replacing and observing, however...
  • ... today's error message seemed to be a missing piece suggesting a display related issue.

Based on the error message, I'm leaning strongly towards a display problem. My friend reports no unusual display glitches. I have my doubts that it is a driver issue, mostly based on having faith in Intel's integrated graphics drivers, and also the randomness of it is a little strange and smells of hardware problems.

So my current theory, based on the above, is a failing video controller or LCD driver, with the sluggishness and wifi problems being unrelated to that and caused by malware. Does this seem like a reasonable theory? Are there any other good possible explanations given the above? Is there a possible connection between issue 1 and 2/3?

If it were my own laptop I'd be satisfied to keep buying replacement parts and trying them until something worked, but for this we want to finish quickly with little wasted time and money. If it's a display hardware problem then the only real options at this point are to live with it until if fails completely and eventually buy a new laptop. The machine is past warranty. But if it could be a different problem it would be nice to fix it and move on.

I feel like I keep running into dead ends.

Current strategy, I'm thinking, will be:

  • Replace wifi radio (might as well, since we already ordered it)
  • Wipe drive and reinstall windows
  • Ensure all drivers are up to date
  • Continue to observe

But that's not really a concrete solution. If I can come to a more solid conclusion, we can take the right action immediately.

share|improve this question
    
All the malware, and you don't want to re-install, how about to clone the disk, re-install so you can see "normal" then return the clone if it was just as normal with viruses all over it :-) did you do a rootkit check? Does the battery actually run the thing for hours (as the performace percentage) or is this some number software is displaying? –  Psycogeek Jun 22 at 7:54
    
Thanks. I do want to reinstall; I just haven't yet. Doing that on Monday. All the data is backed up and the reinstall will be smooth. I'm trying to determine if the shutdowns are hardware-related or connected to the malware, and if the former, what hardware. Not sure if the rootkit check was done; my friend did a virus scan with Avira (no viruses, at least) but not sure if the rootkit scan was enabled. I may try it on Monday, but since we're reinstalling Windows anyways, it would be more for curiosity. I suppose we should see if reinstall has an effect but I feel like issue 1 is unrelated. –  Jason C Jun 22 at 7:59
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Drivers up to date, can people change this to Find drivers that are user tested for some time, and that have the "least flaws" instead. There are times with certian things that the most rescent drivers are the most bug filled, because they have not been tested by everyone. Changes made to "improve" bugger up one device while improving it for another. I am not one to see the latest driver as the greatest, but more like the one less people complain about, or one that addresses Only specific issues that I had going wrong, not pies in the sky. –  Psycogeek Jun 22 at 8:02
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Although; that 2010 BIOS has one fix described as "fixed system hang when entering S3 through LID issue". I feel like if there were a bug somebody would have noticed by now but perhaps a downgrade might be worth a shot. Although the machine went a long time with no issue, and the issue wasn't associated with a BIOS update. –  Jason C Jun 22 at 8:11
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By sleep I assume you mean standby, You could test with super cooled situation (low ambient) in standby. I have only 1 time had a computer with a beeping fit in standby with high ambient temps. In stby the fans are stopped, but ram is maintained somehow (right) so there is heat still there, and no fan. Could be a concideration. The CPU is in a very very low state right? but it is not actually off? So it is a low energy output situation with almost zero heat energy removal, add in high ambient and poor passive cooling can it still get hot in there? –  Psycogeek Jun 22 at 8:32

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