My secondary monitor isn't working

By Dark Phoenix
Jan 11, 2009
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  1. I've already tried asking for help on two other forums, but no luck so far, so I'm just going to cut and paste the problem here and hope you folks know the answer. Thanks in advance.

    My secondary monitor gets stuck in standby mode (orange light) whenever I try to connect it to my laptop. It works fine for other purposes, such as using an Xbox 360, but whenever I connect it to my laptop (Dell Vostro 1700, Windows XP, nVidia 8600M GT) and configure it to run as an extension of the desktop, it just switches itself into standby mode. I've been using this dual monitor setup for quite a while and it had been working just fine up until recently - I can't imagine having done anything to mess it up, and no one else uses the laptop besides me. Strangely, on device manager it lists "default monitor" three times, and also "plug and play monitor", and these four show up even when the second monitor isn't plugged in (I don't know whether this is relevant though). Does anyone know how I can fix this?

    So far I've tried:

    - Messing around with the monitor and display settings on device manager,

    - Lowering the resolution, refresh rate and color depth,

    - Reinstalling, upgrading and downgrading the drivers for my video card,

    - Using the nVidia software to get the monitor working,

    - Using another monitor instead (the same problem occurs),

    - Using a different VGA cable to hook the monitor up,

    - Formatting my hard drive and reinstalling Windows XP.

    None of this has worked, and I have no idea what to try next, so I'd very much appreciate any suggestions you folks can think of. On a side note, I remember hearing that clearing the CMOS may fix the problem, but since I have a laptop I wouldn't know where to start - is this even a plausible solution? Anyway, again, thanks in advance - I hope you folks can help me.
  2. Dark Phoenix

    Dark Phoenix Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    C'mon folks, someone must have a suggestion... I need help.

    Anyway, I tried using the Fn key + F8 to toggle between laptop display, external display, and display on both, but it doesn't work as the external monitor never displays a thing. Please help folks, I'm desperate.
  3. Dark Phoenix

    Dark Phoenix Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I'll bump this one last time in case anyone might want to help.

    I think my VGA port is busted. I tried using the second monitor while running a trial of Ubuntu, but it still didn't work. Is there any way to confirm whether this is the case, and if it is, how might it be fixed?

    Thanks.
  4. Technochicken

    Technochicken TechSpot Paladin Posts: 903

    Have you tried with any other monitors than the one you have been using?
  5. Dark Phoenix

    Dark Phoenix Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Yes, no luck there.
  6. seanc

    seanc Newcomer, in training Posts: 284

    I'll add my thought in here.

    You've got an 8600m GT - these are prone to failure because of nVidias massive manufacturing fault. I think you could be experiencing the first signs of it failing.

    If you have warranty or not - Dell should happily replace your motherboard for you.

    Edit: I have a MacBook Pro with the same graphics chip in it and I've read about that being an early sign that it's failing.
  7. Dark Phoenix

    Dark Phoenix Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Wow... Thanks; guess I need to call them now.
  8. Dark Phoenix

    Dark Phoenix Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I called them, but didn't get anywhere. First off, even if any hardware was faulty, they said I'd need to pay since my warranty had expired. I told them there was an issue regarding my particular card, but they denied it affected the Vostro 1700 model. They insisted it was a driver issue, but couldn't provide me with any drivers since I had downgraded to XP. After that, we just went around in circles, and they wanted me to let them access my computer remotely, to which I said hell no. It looks like I'm on my own now, so I still need help - it may indeed be a driver issue, although I think it's unlikely.
  9. seanc

    seanc Newcomer, in training Posts: 284

    It could be a driver issue, give it a whirl.

    nVidia are releasing notebook drivers now, the XP ones are here http://www.nvidia.com/object/geforce_notebook_winxp_179.28_beta.html

    Dells support (in India) are atrocious - I work as an IT tech - they insisted on remotely logging into a Dell Insipron 1501 I had in. I KNEW this laptop had a faulty sound card - Vista wouldn't detect any sound hardware and the diagnostic hung when trying to load the audio driver.
    They then insisted that I have the restore discs for the laptop before a tech would come out to replace the motherboard.

    As soon as the tech replaced the motherboard (and speakers) Vista booted up & detected and installed drivers, 1 reboot later and I hear the Vista logon sound...

    What a waste of time, but we got there in the end.
  10. Dark Phoenix

    Dark Phoenix Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Dell's support is indeed awful - I got the impression that I probably knew more than the rep I was speaking to.

    Anyway, I've come across those drivers before, but they didn't work; turns out Vostro notebooks aren't supported. I've tried a variety of drivers from LaptopVideo2Go, but I just can't seem to get the second monitor working. I'm thinking of giving up now and buying one of those USB to VGA adapters, but I'll keep trying for a while as I'd rather just have my port working. I really hope I'm wrong and the VGA port hasn't been fried, because if that's the case then I can just forget about it as the motherboard costs a small fortune to replace. Please keep the ideas coming, folks.

    Oh, I almost forgot to mention this, but I've noticed that my laptop's display isn't turning off anymore when I close the lid - I'm not sure whether this issue is related or not, but I'm going to investigate it. Also, the laptop sometimes boots to a blank screen when my external USB hard drive is plugged in. I've checked the boot sequence settings in the BIOS, but the problem still occurs - again, this may be related. It's quite annoying to have all these little problems crop up even after a fresh install of XP. I'll have to look for fixes.

    Edit: Turns out I was wrong and Dell do provide drivers - I just had to install them using the "have disk" method. Anyway, doing this has fixed the lid issue, but the main problem still remains.
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