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vista will boot into safe mode only

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last week the screen on my monitor started displying very weird characters - diamonds, smiley faces, rectangles- in place of where letters should be. this is before the windows welcome screen. lots of vertical red and blue/turquoise lines. I was able to get into safe mode and get my files onto a flash drive but that was it. normal mode simply will not boot. i tried a fresh re-install of everything and was able to get about halfway through but keep getting an error message saying installation can't finish in safe mode. i can't boot into normal mode so I'm lost.

Bottom line: would getting a new video card solve the problem? i doubt its the hard drive.
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