Dell Laptop Black Screen Problem

By katja9700 ยท 7 replies
Jul 11, 2007
  1. I have a Dell Inspiron 8500 that is about 4 yrs old. About a week ago, the screen momentarily and quickly flashed random sequence of colors and went black. The computer itself did no turn off. I restarted the computer with no issue and it continued to work for another day before the same thing happened again. This time I left it alone for a few minutes. After about 5 minutes the screen turned a bright, grayish, inconsistent light starting from one side of the screen. I turned it off manually.

    Since then I have not been able to use the computer for more than 10 minutes, usually only about 1 min, before the screen turns black. I have not seen the white screen or such a colorful sequence before going black since. My harddrive is fine, as I have been able to access nearly everything on it with no problem during these intervals. The symptoms vary. Sometimes it flashes a repeating sequence of 3 red vertical stripes initially upon start up. When this happens the screen goes black very quickly. Sometimes the start up screen is visible, but runs at a slower rate and small patches of short, pink vertical lines are just visible in random places across the screen. Sometimes the startup runs as normal and I can use the computer for a while before it turns black, usually this occurs when the computer has been off for a long time, such as overnight.

    I am pretty sure the computer is still running when the light goes out, I don't hear any suspicious noises. When it goes dark I usually lose audio as well.

    I have tried shining a light across the screen (reveals nothing), moving the laptop's top partially open and closed (no effect), closing the top to cause the computer to enter sleep mode (can hear the startup chimes sometimes, not always), defragmenting, opening the blue panel with the audio buttons and looking for lose connections there.

    I am not very computer-knowledgeable, and I am new to form-posting. If anyone has any ideas I would greatly appreciate them. Thanks!!!!
  2. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

    Have you cleaned the vents so the cooling fans have some air?

    After 4 years, it may be time to actually clean the fans and heatsink ribs also (a take-apart).
  3. katja9700

    katja9700 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Yup, I cleaned out the main fan and heat sink a few days ago, as well as the smaller internal fan and heat sink. I don't think it's an over heating problem, as it often happens minutes after start up. The large fan is running for sure, I can hear it. Not so sure about the smaller one. I wouldn't know how to check that.

    Someone suggested to me that, as my laptop usually gets pretty hot, that years of high temperatures could have damaged the video card or connections. Does anyone think that sounds probable? I'm guessing that, for a laptop, it would probably be cheaper to buy a refurbished laptop than having a new videocard installed in this one.
  4. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Usually in the 8100 through 8500 Dell Inspirons, this problem is caused by a failed inverter... Replacement part is inexepensive ( $5 to $50 depending on where you buy it... I think Dell wants $79.00), but installing it can easily take a good technician two to three hours... so the cost can be high unless you have the tools and experience to do it yourself.
    This part is needed to make the video graphics work... it burns out somewhat like a light bulb burns out... unpredictably.
  5. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

    After years of opening and shutting that laptops top, it may well be that the lcd connector has worked loose OR has a broken connection.

    At this point, if it has been trouble free, it doesn't owe you a dime. :)

    Certainly, the lcd 'card' ( I forget what they call that interface) could be failing or dusty inside that area -

    I still say it is disassemble time.

  6. katja9700

    katja9700 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hi CCT - Sorry, I feel silly for having to ask you to clarify, but is checking the LCD connector is a simple thing to do, simpler than replacing the inverter? I'm comfortable to take off the case and can-of-air the hell out of its insides, but disconnecting and removing components makes me nervous.
  7. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Whatever you have, whether lcd inverter or lcd connection, you have a serious problem that involves disassembling the laptop... removing and reseating all plugs and connections... and on a computer that was first made 5 years ago, that in itself is risky because the cables and connectors are brittle and easily break in your hands. A skilled Dell tech with parts can fix it in a half hour.
    otherwise, it is a limited computer with limited memory, that was once a wonderful workhorse...
    Don't let sentimentality talk you into spending a lot of money to fix it, when a pretty Good Dell with quadruple the RAM is not so much more than it would cost to fix that one.
  8. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

    ^ What he said - for true!

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