Graphics card problem - pink, green, blue, yellow specks/lines on screen

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Hey guys, my laptop's been acting up and I was hoping to get some advice on what to do. I'll start by saying that I don't know much about computers, which will likely become clearer and clearer with the more you read of what follows, so please bear with me.

Two days ago, I started getting green and pink specks/snow/lines showing up on my laptop's screen, and I have now graduated to blue and yellow specks/lines as well. My initial thought was that I could have a virus, so I ran a virus scan to no avail. I started poking around the internet looking for people w/ similar problems and saw some similar things, but nothing that quite matched my problem. I did however make a few observations that may or may not be helpful that I have listed below.

-emailed a screenshot of the desktop to a friend, who reported seeing the same green and pink specks on the image on his computer that I was seeing (can post if it would be helpful)
-no problems seem to be present when I boot into BIOS memory
-seems like there might be some relationship to the heat of the computer, as the specks/lines seemed to take longer to reappear after allowing the computer to cool off and then turning it on, whereas normally the problem would be evident immediately when I turn the computer back on after shutting down
-there is a definite relationship with the orientation of the computer (tilted) and location and degree of pressure on the case, if I push down hard enough in the right spot on the case (just below the arrow keys on the top of the case), the problem resolves completely, but I usually have to shift to another window or scroll down the page b/c the specks/lines are still on the screen or the text is blurry, etc
-there seems to be no relationship to the orientation of the screen

my roommate knows more about computers than I do and seems to think it is definitely the graphics card and that this is a deteriorating problem that will only get worse

Do you think there is any benefit to be had by opening up the case, and adjusting something (not sure what exactly) as it seems like there may be something loose or not connected quite right that is possibly causing the problem?

relevant info about my computer
-dell inspiron 600m bought in August 2004 so well out of warranty but was custom built with what I understood to be decent components at the time and the hard drive, DVD-RW, and case were replaced at various points along the way all under warranty, but was never dropped, etc
-graphics card ATI Radeon 9000 64MB (I think, based on what I've searched online, but is definitely 64MB)

let me know if you need any other info to help diagnose the problem

sorry for the long post and thanks in advance for taking the time to help...


Posts: 218   +11
Longer posts mean more information and that's ALWAYS a God-send to anyone trying to troubleshoot a problem. So no apologies are necessary.

As for your problem, I'm going to agree with your roomie. There is very little you can do to fix this. Right now, the state of your computer follows one of the following options:

1) The graphics card is dying from years of use, and may be sensitive to heat now that it has been in use for a while. Computer components follow the same rule as any other piece of equipment or appliance. They're made with planned obsolescence. Eventually, things die for no better reason than that's what the company wanted. Your graphics card is overheating and it's causing what are known as "artifacts". Whenever you see specks or lines appearing at random, that's your graphics card screwing up and outputting random things onto the screen.

2) The graphics card has come loose and needs to be reseated. I'm not entirely sure about this one, but it might be the case given that pressing down on the computer solved your issue. BUT! (and this is a big but) I have no idea if you would be able to access and reseat it. Nor do I know how one would go about doing that with a laptop graphics card. I've never seen what they look like, how they're installed, replaced, or whatever else. You also risk breaking MORE things by opening it and trying to screw around in it. If you felt like spending a bit of money, you could take it to a local computer repair shop and have them take a look at it and see if they can reseat the card for a minimal price tag. But most places overcharge and might not even fix it properly. And if option 1 is your issue, then no matter what you do it will still be broken.

Either option more or less spells a message of demise. You might want to consider buying another laptop and finding an external driver to move all of your important files to for the transition phase. After all, a laptop like that one you have is, unfortunately, in need of replacement after 5 long years. Even for a custom built laptop as good as that, 5 years is about as long as it could have lasted.

I feel bad to be the bearer of very bad news. And if it's any consolation, I'd be more than happy to have a look online and find you a laptop at a steal price.
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