My problem first appeared to me as a video failure when the laptop LCD would not turn on at boot-up and  neither the VGA nor the HDMI port would output a video signal.

Sony Vaio Laptop VPCZ13JGX Windows 7 64 bit

I know the laptop is/was working after the display failed because I was able to login (without a display) and heard the Windows startup music.

I had tried debugging suggestions offered in other forums such as resetting the BIOS, re-seating the RAM, checking the power adapter, trying other video ports, etc. but nothing was working.

There were two Key symptoms I had noticed which led me to believe it was an over-clocking issue.

The fan was blowing out abnormally hot air only seconds after startup.

The time between login to hearing the Windows startup music was clearly much quicker than normal.

Without going into details, let me just say that their is a party with access to the laptop and with a motive for doing this. I only bring it up so that you know that over-clocking is a reasonable possibility without my knowledge and I don't want the discussion to get sidetracked.

My reasoning for believing the processors were over-clocked follows:

It runs very hot only seconds after start-up. Normally it would only be that hot if running with a fully loaded CPU for some period of time. I'm also fairly certain that it ran that hot prior to resetting the Bios and I had a password set for accessing the boot drive setup through the bios. 

Running hot due to software or malware creating an extra load on the processors doesn't seem possible before Windows login and certainly not before access to the boot drive has been granted.

An over-clocked CPU could explain the the hot start-up 

An over-clocked CPU could explain the accelerated loading of the OS.

An over-clocked GPU could explain the failure of the video output. 

GPU failure with the CPU still working seems reasonable to me given the large heat sink on the CPU.

I have no experience with over-clocking processors other than what I've recently read, so I could really use some help to do my own repairs if possible. Please bear in mind that I'm on a limited budget. I require Windows 7 for some custom software I created and still need so I don't think there is a huge advantage to owning a new cheaper model laptop over salvageing the old one. Besides, I can't guarantee that the same thing couldn't be repeated on a new laptop which is a risk I can't afford.

Any ideas on how I could reverse the over-clocking? Given the following: 

The laptop has no video output.

I have previously disabled remote access to the laptop as well as Bluetooth and WiFi. There may be Wi-Max drivers installed if that gives anyone any ideas for accessing the laptop remotely. Also there's the Gagabit Ethernet port, but I probably have the driver disabled and I'm not sure what the driver code would be to enable it from the command prompt.

I have a desktop that could access the laptop SSD boot drive as a non-boot drive if that helps.

Laptop: Windows 7 Pro, 64 bit

Desktop: Windows 7 HP, 64 bit

I'm not sure if any software used would still be installed or if it could have been uninstalled it prior to shutdown. Does anyone know what I would search for to find any software used for over-clocking?

If I replaced the graphics card, would it run at factory settings or still be in an over-clocked state?

Where are those settings stored? It doesn't seem to be the hard drive, since a boot from DVD didn't help. Also I believe I reset the BIOS but, again, I don't know how to verify that. 

Should I assume the graphics card is a loss or is it possible that some kind of safeguard could have disabled the card before any damage was done? 

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • 1
    Most OEM products cannot be overclocked. What makes you think your laptop was overclocked? You indicate not to bring it up but it, you specifically, gave this a title which mentions it.
    – Ramhound
    Nov 10 '15 at 11:49
  • a severe overclock, causing huge problems wouldnt be booting behind the scenes , of the video not initing proper. it instead would be crashing before playing a startup sound. so it is unlikely that a cpu overclock is the cause of not being able to see.
    – Psycogeek
    Nov 10 '15 at 11:58
  • @qasdfdsaq as I stated, it was the only way to explain the hot startup before anything could be putting a load on the CPU. Nov 10 '15 at 12:03
  • 1
    Most laptops have a GPU that is soldered onto the motherboard. In most cases it is not possible for the end user to replace this GPU for several reasons ( Costs, Lack of Equipment, Skill Involved ) there are exceptions to this rule of course. Lets just assume because its a Sony laptop, which isn't the best brand for customization, that the GPU cannot be replaced. Feel free to provide the service manual to us that says otherwise though.
    – Ramhound
    Nov 10 '15 at 12:32

My guess is your graphics card or monitor died, and I doubt it has something to do with overclocking. 99,9% of laptops are not overclockable, maybe some gamer models, but then again you can't kill it that easily as it has it's limits and strict thermal control.

Hot startup is probably caused by:

  1. Cooling problems
  2. Shorted out or otherwise faulty GPU (or some other non-critical component)
  3. Bad battery

Now you said you hear Windows start up and I assume you can access your account. If this is the case you can attempt enabling a network interface and connecting to a network and starting something like TeamViewer, as it will be simpler than setting up remote access.

To help you trough setup, get another Windows 7 computer and work in parallel on both. Enable Windows Narrator by pressing Win + Enter keys on both computers and go from there. It will help you navigate blindfolded.

After you get access to your computer you can check device manager for anything out of place, check CPU/GPU clocks and post back what you found so we can work from there.

  • Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately, I'm sure I had disabled the Ethernet driver and I don't know the driver code for enabling it via an elevated command prompt. :( Nov 10 '15 at 12:46
  • You can re-enable it, Narrator will help you aim your mouse in the dark, that's why I suggested using two computers so you can see and hear on one, and try and replicate that on your laptop using only hearing. Nov 10 '15 at 12:48
  • Cool, so does it work by hovering the mouse over a word in the driver window? Nov 10 '15 at 12:51
  • Easier would be to buy a USB graphics adapter.
    – qasdfdsaq
    Nov 10 '15 at 12:51
  • 1
    @qasdfdsaq Control panel on mine says "Preferred GPU - Auto", with options to choose integrated graphics, high performance GPU and auto. It must manage it somehow, as my monitor in connected via single cable. Nov 10 '15 at 13:33

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