I8200 - pixel patterns like interference then screen resize - heat problem ?

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I8200 - pixel patterns like interference then screen resize - heat problem ?

  • Hi,

    I'm having some trouble with my Inspiron 8200 (just over a year old).  After about 30 minutes or more, it sometimes displays odd patterns, a bit like interference.  Sometimes the system freezes briefly, before Windows resizes it down to something like 320x256 and says it detected a hardware error, and only a reboot will cure it.  I've noticed that (because of the poor quality plastic case) the whole case can flex slightly if I lift it at one corner.  Sometimes if I flex it, the odd pattern will appear.  Flex it the other way and it sometimes disappears and recovers before Windows has a chance to complain.

    After a reboot and the initial boot screen appears (where it says you can press F2), the pattern will appear if you flex the case.  I thought it was maybe a bad connection between the graphics card and screen, or a badly seated graphics card, so I have reseated the card and plug, but no improvement.  I installed I82kfanFUI and it showed a temperature of 71C after I rebooted from one of those screen resizes and Windows message.  I set fanGUI to have the fans always on, which kept the temperature down to around 37C and I thought it appeared to cure the problem.  But it showed the same pattern again once although it appeared to be much better.

    I have removed the hinge cover now and, so far, it hasn't shown any signs of the problem any more.  I've also disabled the temperature control in fanGUI so Windows/BIOS is controlling it again - the fans seem to switch on at around 60-65C.  The bottom of the laptop is very hot, especially in the centre, roughly where the graphics card and CPU are - I guess this is to be expected.  I'm wondering if the CPU is heating up so much that it's somehow affecting the graphics card (the GPU seems to be sitting around 59C all of the time).

    Any suggestions about how to cure this problem ?  I don't really want to remove the hinge cover every time I want to use the system !

    Oh, I should also say that the pattern looked a little bit like the screenshot shown in another thread about an Inspiron 8500, although it sounded like a different problem.  I'm using the A09 BIOS, and the modded 41.09 graphics drivers and latest video BIOS, if that's relevant ?

    Cheers,

    Og

     

     

    Message Edited by Ogeretla on 06-19-2003 06:51 PM

    Message Edited by Ogeretla on 06-19-2003 06:55 PM

  • So no suggestions then :-(
  • Ogeretla:

    This sounds like a hardware problem and your system will probably need to be serviced to correct it. To have service arranged, you can, 1) contact our Mobile Computing Hotline at 800-822-8965 for Corporate/Government Accounts or at 800-247-9252 for Direct accounts; or 2) you can email mobile_support@dell.com If you do choose to email, make certain to include a brief description of your issue, with your service tag and the troubleshooting steps you have followed.

     

  • Hi Rance,

    Thanks for the reply.  Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's a hardware problem too (I've assembled PCs for many years) - I was thinking of possibly a dry solder joint, given that it seems to happen more when I flex the case slightly.  I contacted Dell UK yesterday via EMAIL with a full description.  It shows the same pattern when connected to an external monitor so at least the TFT is OK.  I'm guessing it's the graphics card.  The only problem is that it is intermittent.  I have had the laptop turned on for the last 24 hours both at the desktop and playing Unreal Tournament 2003 for a few hours and it has behaved itself.  Having said that, it hasn't been moved from the desk throughout that time.  In fact, flexing the case now doesn't show the problem.  I did, however, manage to take a photograph of the odd looking pattern and sent this off to Dell UK as well, in case it's of any help.

    Cheers,

    Og

  • Hi Og,

    - I'm getting the exact same problem - and I suppose our notebooks are the same age, because as luck would have it the problem just occurred. I'm just out of my warranty of 1 year -  well 30 days or so, (kicking myself for not getting the 2yr extension). I'm getting the same problem:

    • sometimes vertical lines (nice & trendy but useless pinstrips)
    • Blurry or non viewable image
    • Blue Screen (only twice so far)
    • I've also been able to run the diags and it shows a video memory error - suprise suprise
    • As you discussed, the only fix I've been able to use to get the system to restart properly is to remove the power button/hinge cover. I've tried this and it worked 60% of the time
    • 40% of the time I'm taking all screws marked 'k' (for keyboard I suppose) and remove the keyboard, reseat the LCD cable and Video card.

    I'm pretty disappointed that the system decided to die now - 30 days out of warranty - and as I use it as a desktop replacement and don't move much at all, I shocked that any flex (massive though it seems to be on this system) could be the cause. As a matter of fact, the issue did only start after using the notebook in another room - a move! Gosh move the notebook and it breaks - maybe they should rename this model. 

    Like you,  I've installed the I8KFANGUI 2.02 and I'm wondering whether its a GPU overheating. I update this thread with any news after the next occurance.

    If you get find out any more info please drop me an email at bluemanion@hotmail.com 

    I've been nowhere with DELL Support - basically just a bunch of phone conversations and such, going around in circles. Oh I'm also asking to renew the warranty but now they want to 'certify' the notebook as its out of warranty ($170.00 Aussie), then I suppose they may/may not find the issue - in which case I may or may not have to pay for the fix - of which they don't know what is causing it.

    Anyway, if anyone has had this issue and knows the fix pls let me know.

  • Hi, I am having the exact same problem too. Same model I8200 approximately 6 months old. There is a large amount of flex in the case especially when the screen is open. This is most definetly part of the problem. With the screen open the display pattern changes every time you move the computer until the computer heats up, approximately 5 - 10 mins. Supporting one corner of the computer will clear the picture, supporting the other will make it worse. You often have to have the computer in just the right position so that the display is readable. If you move it, the bad patterns return. It seems to improve as the computer heats up (bad solder joints or traces?) but it is definetly getting worse, more pronounced with age.

    Some more info I forgot in original post:

    Viewing on external monitor is fine.

    Upgraded to latest video drivers, although the bad patterns are obivously a hardware issue

    Running XP, I occasionally have lockups that force me to remove power and battery to reboot nothing else will work, including cycle power. On reboot, I get a failure msg related to the video card. This hasn't happened yet since updating video driver.

    This issue only appeared about 1 week ago. It was not an issue before that. I move my computer alot, thus the reason for getting a laptop. I also leave it on for days at a time however I usually close the cover and leave it in suspend mode overnight. Not sure if this may have caused a heat related problem.

    Thanks,

    Ashley

    Message Edited by ashleyw on 07-05-2003 10:41 AM

    Message Edited by ashleyw on 07-05-2003 10:48 AM

  • Hi Bluemanion,

    Yep, that's exactly the same symptoms I was getting.  I made a slight error on my warranty though, it actually ran out yesterday, but I had sent Dell UK an EMAIL at the end of June about the problem, so I was still covered.  I included a really detailed description of the problem, similar to what you've mentioned, except I also included a photograph of the pattern.  I got a phone call from 'George' of Dell UK to say that somebody would be arriving with me the next day (or was it 2 days?) to swap the old graphics card for a new one.  He was happy enough to let me remove the card myself and have it ready to hand to the delivery man, since I've built many PCs.  It's simple, and instructions are available on the Dell WEB site technical documentation area anyway.  Those 4 'K' screws are, indeed, for removing the keyboard.  The hinge cover is easy to remove too, simply by prising up the left and right edges, the back middle, and then around the F8 key.  It didn't always cure it for me though, probably 60%, the same as yourself.  You then remove the single screw holding the ribbon cable to the case, and the 3 screws on the video card under the keyboard and then pull out the graphics card.  Real easy.

    Anyway, the new card arrived, I installed it, powered up, and I haven't had a problem ever since (touch wood).  Flexing the case doesn't show any of the symptoms any longer.  Dell Support are probably just like any helpdesk system - they can solve simple problems for the 'basic' user and always want them to go through a whole series of steps.  But if you're technical yourself and can show a good knowledge of the problem, what you've done, etc, then a couple of EMAILs later and you should have a replacement - provided you're still under warranty.  However, since you're just outside it, it'll probably be doubtful that you'll get it done for free.

    You didn't mention exactly which video card you have - mine's the Geforce4 440 64Mb version and I think it can be bought from Dell for around £100 (UK pounds).  I'm 99% certain that the problem was the graphics card, but I always had that little 1% doubt and that it might have been the motherboard (which I was dreading).  However, I've read in many places that lots of people have had problems with their I8200 and Geforce cards.  You could try doing a search and gather some posts from other people who have had the same problem and try to persuade Dell that it appears to be a problem with the 8200.  You never know, they might replace it free of charge.

    Incidentally, I received another phone call from Dell the day before the card arrived, completely unrelated, asking me if I would like to take advantage of a 55% discount in a new 3 year warranty with next business day on site repair.  And if they can't repair it, they'll replace it with a brand new system.  It was pretty expensive (£233), but since I'd already had problems 6 months ago with the DVD/CDRW followed by this video problem, I thought I was tempting fate by not taking it.  So I signed up and I feel reasonably happy about it.  If it turns out not to be the video card that was the problem (unlikely), then at least I know it'll still be fixed under warranty.  And for the next 3 years too.

    That $170 sounds not too bad for 2 years.  Probably worth going for, even if you end up having to pay for the repair for the current problem.

    I often wondered what would have happened if I had bought one of those spray cans of cooling agent that can be used to cool electrical components, just to see what would happen if I used it on the video card GPU.  Mind you, I was getting 58-59C on the old card, while this new one seems to be sitting around 59-60C (at the moment) !

    I was also wondering if the tiny connections on the video card that plug into the motherboard were perhaps 'flattened' over time and making poor contact.  I noticed when I inserted the new card that it was a much firmer fit.  One possibility would be to try to bend the tiny pins out a fraction (being EXTRA careful) and see if it helps, but you'd need to be pretty confident (and competent) ?

    Og

  • Hi Ashley,

    It's definitely a hardware problem and is not software-related.  At one point, I had the odd pattern when booting and you could see it in the 'blueish' part where it lets you go to the BIOS setup, i.e. even before Windows starts.  Regarding your lockups, yes I got lockups and had to power down - you can power down by holding the power button for 4 seconds without having to remove the power and the batteries.

    Like I mentioned in my post above, gather together as much technical information as possible and EMAIL Dell support, and say that the graphics card is definitely faulty and needs replaced.  Don't let the problem run on - mine just seemed to get worse, and definitely get it replaced while inside the warranty.  If you're happy enough to replace it yourself and can indicate that to Dell, then they'll likely just let you swap the cards yourself.  Otherwise, they might send an engineer out to do it, or ask you to post the laptop in.  I said I wouldn't be happy sending it in as I have some confidential work documents on it, not to mention all of my work (and home) software development which I wouldn't like in other peoples hands...  But it didn't appear to be a problem.

    So, in short, get the card replaced immediately.

    Cheers,

    Og

  • Hi Ogeretia,

    Yeah, I was just anticipating someone from support asking me if I have installed the latest drivers etc. I have the patterns in the startup splash screen too. I am still under the original warranty and I purchased the extended warranty when I bought the system so I should be ok. I plan to contact Dell soon to have this fixed. We are in the same boat so to speak, I too use my laptop for work (software development) and I cannot afford to be without it for any length of time. Sending it in for repair is not really an option for the same reasons you have. I haven't opened the case yet, as I wasn't sure if it would void the warranty or not. Thanks for the tip on holding down the power button.

    Ashley

    Message Edited by ashleyw on 07-08-2003 05:06 PM

  • Hi Og/Ashley,

    Currently the notebook is working OK, and after installing I8KFanGui I see that my temp range is around 40 for CPU and 47 for GPU for standard business type applications (office, web browsing, chat etc etc). Its only when I start loading up on CPU/GPU intensive programs (for instance Unreal 2003) that I've started to get the video problem. I'm almost convinced its overheating on the GPU card problem but since I'm out of warrantly I think I"ll await for your confirmation Og that having your card replaced will solve my issue. I'll try to post a screen cap of the issue just so that you could confirm that is showing the same symptoms..

    When I'm in Unreal 2003, and get kicked out because of the error, I've seen that the temp is around 55/56 for CPU and 57/58/59 for GPU - that was when I didn't have the fans on 'high' ALL the time. Now I can play around 1/2 - 1 hour sessions in Unreal 2003 without an incident, but its still annoying.

    When its cool it works, when its hot it doesn't. I'm still kicking myself regarding that warranty. I help spec DELL servers for business and always without fail are purchasing the additional warranty *argh!* - don't know what went wrong there!!

  • Just a quick update - after over a year of use of the replacement graphics card, I'm happy to say it's still working fine !

    The only problem now is that both my batteries refuse to charge - with either the original AC adapter or the new one I got last week - I've covered this in another thread.  Was gonna say, hope it's not the charging unit, but maybe I should say that I hope it IS, since I've the extra warranty, which doesn't cover batteries !