Question about Dell Inspiron 9400 Notebook

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Laptop screen has vertical lines of garbage 3/4" wide about 3/4" apart. sound system starts making choppy noise after only few minutes powered up. Trying to fix this laptop for a friend - I'm a desktop hardware guy, not super familiar with laptop, but have had good luck in the past. This sounds like a mobo problem, but not sure. Need advice, next steps

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  • Adnan Bhatti
    Adnan Bhatti Jul 03, 2010

    I would suspect the RAM first. Download RAM test tool from Microsoft (search on Google), and follow the instructions to scan the RAM. If possible, try to run with only one RAM stick or a replacement if available.

  • nvjeffhoagla Jul 06, 2010

    I will definitely give that a shot, as this is something i was suspecting as well. It's definitely something along that line. The video problem maintains even when running an external monitor so it lends support to this theory. One question though - It doesn't appear to finish booting - no windows desktop or other indications of booting completed show up - can you recommend a command line tool or something that can run in a shell?

  • Adnan Bhatti
    Adnan Bhatti Jul 06, 2010

    You can try HirenbootCD or Spinrite. Search using Google but you may have to pay to use. Try looking for a free DOS boot CD. Anyway, if the RAM is malfunctioning, it can also stop Windows from booting properly. If there had to be hardware fault, I'd choose the RAM as it is easier and cheaper to replace. If it is the chipset or any other SMD, you laptop may need a new motherboard. Just try another RAM and see if it helps.

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Connect an external monitor to the VGA-output port on the laptop, to see if the video-effects are being caused by the video-card, or by a damaged "internal" LCD screen on the laptop.

Take any genuine Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7 CD/DVD disk, and "boot" from it. Do the vertical lines appear when booting? If so, you have a hardware problem. If not, then only the currently-installed version of Windows is messing-up your display.

If all else fails, backup all the user's files to an external device, reformat the disk-drive, and reinstall Windows, to see if it's a messed-up version of Windows that is causing the symptoms.

Posted on Jul 03, 2010

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