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Challenge for you computer geniuses.


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#1
theleech

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Hey geeks. In my past experiences I've discovered that you guys are on the verge of being computer gods. I have a laptop (Sony VAIO) that is kaput. I've taken it to two technicians, neither of whom could do anything with it. But as I said, you geeks have been known to perform miracles.

The first technician I took it too diagnosed it with a corrupt hard drive, so for about 6 months it was just left. Then I got another laptop, which is very similar, and tried my hand at doing some mix and match repairs (to the second one). Suffice to say it didn't work. I now have two broken laptops.

Luckily I acquired the second for free so its not a huge problem, but what I'm now hoping is that I can use the second to repair the first-kind of a spares and repairs job. I swapped the two hard drives over, expecting to find that the first computer worked (I know the hard drive from the second was good), but the problem still occurred - exactly the same.

What happens is that the computer whirrs up and sounds fine, but the screen flashes white and black for a few seconds when turned on before settling to a black screen with a couple of white specks on it. It then stays like this. The disk drive opens, everything seems well.

So geeks, my question is what do you think the problem is? I thought it may be a faulty screen, but is it likely that there is something wrong with the hard drive connection or motherboard?

Thanks guys :D
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#2
phillpower2

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Hi theleech,
Without knowing what steps the Techs tried we could be going over the same ground, if you know any of the details can you post them.
Some questions, can you get into or even see the BIOS screen, if you can, have you changed the boot sequence to CD/DVD drive first, HDD second, saved the changes and exited?
The replacement HDD does not have any drivers for the Vaio MB on it so you need to format the HDD, install a fresh OS on it and progress from there with installing the system drivers start with the Chipset drivers.
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#3
theleech

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I'm afraid i don't know anything about what the techs tried.
I cant get into the boot sequence or anything, the screen flickers black and white as soon as it is turned on and then is just black.
The HDD I was trying with was from an almost identical Sony Vaio laptop. I've also tried putting in an XP installation disk hoping that it would run from that but it didn't.
My main reason for suspecting theres something up other than the HDD being corrupt is that even with another hard drive, the problem is exactly the same. If the new hard drive just didn't work then I would understand, but the fact that it comes up identical confuses me.

I can upload and post a short video of it turning on if you think it will help.

Edited by theleech, 08 January 2011 - 05:13 AM.

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#4
phillpower2

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I'm afraid i don't know anything about what the techs tried.

No worries, the information you have provided may be enough (see below).

I cant get into the boot sequence or anything, the screen flickers black and white as soon as it is turned on and then is just black.

This is pointing to a graphics chip failure or a damaged or disconnected MB to screen video ribbon, in the case of a bad onboard video chip it normally requires a MB replacement, a damaged or disconnected video ribbon requires the laptop to be dismantled so unless you are confident enough to do it the task needs to be done by a competent person.

My main reason for suspecting theres something up other than the HDD being corrupt is that even with another hard drive, the problem is exactly the same. If the new hard drive just didn't work then I would understand, but the fact that it comes up identical confuses me.

There may be nothing wrong with either of the HDDs, stick with the original HDD at the moment while you do a quick test for us, you do not even need a HDD in place to get a BIOS screen, this data is stored on a BIOS chip on the MB.
To check if it is a GFX chip or video ribbon issue hook the laptop up to an external screen via the laptops VGA port, if you get a screen it is the video ribbon, no screen = bad GFX chip (you may need to toggle between screens by pressing the Fn key and one of the F1 to F12 keys).

I can upload and post a short video of it turning on if you think it will help.

It will not do any harm, one of the other members or a Tech may pick up on something, I will try and find a disassembly guide for the laptop should you need to replace the ribbon, let us know how the test goes.

Edit: What model Sony Vaio laptop is it?

Edited by phillpower2, 08 January 2011 - 07:05 AM.

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#5
SpywareDr

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If possible, disconnect and reconnect the CMOS battery. (Or, if it has a reset jumper, try it first).

Now power it up and see if you can get into the CMOS/BIOS Setup.

If still a 'no go', first thought would be a bad motherboard. :D
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#6
theleech

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http://www.woofiles....hVsxr-Movie.wmv

First part is the laptop turning on on its own, second part is the display on the TV as it turns on. The qualitys not great but it gives the general idea.
I think it means its a bad GFX chip, which would suck. The only thing is the Vaio logo displays well enough, but theres probably a reason for that.

The model number is PCG-9P7M.

And SpywareDR, could you say that again in slightly more layman terms please, I'm not proficient with laptops :L
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#7
phillpower2

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I cannot find either a disassembly guide or a replacing the screen ribbon guide for the exact model of laptop as yours but if you check out the 3 links you will get the general idea of what is involved;

http://www.insidemyl...ments/#comments





Edit: Additional info, to clear the CMOS as suggested by SpywareDr you would remove the MB battery, it may be the CR2032 type as shown.

Battery jpeg courtesy of rshaffer61

Edited by phillpower2, 08 January 2011 - 12:07 PM.

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#8
123Runner

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Looking at the video I suspect a GFX chip issue. It is trying to sync at different ranges and can't.

Have you tried going in to safe mode which loads all default drivers including the video driver?
That would be F8 at startup (re-boot of the laptop).

Also usually del gets you to the bios.
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#9
theleech

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Safe mode is no good, neither is putting the MBOS battery in and out unfortunately.
I think I may have got the model number wrong, there's two on here for some reason. The other possible number is PCG-K115B.
Phil, do you think its likely to be the ribbon? Because that's a big and risky job to do to find out its not that :L I'm up for giving it a go, I've learnt from my mistakes last time I tried doing some DIY laptop fixing. On the other hand, by the looks of it this is busted anyway, so what's the worst that can happen.
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#10
phillpower2

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I am leaning towards a bad GFX chip Im afraid, this is based on the fact that there is no stable signal to an external screen, the laptops video ribbon is not used when using the VGA port.
The way to look at it is, if it is the GFX chip it is a full disassembly to replace the MB but it is only a partial disassembly to replace the ribbon, you will soon spot a loose or damaged ribbon and replace and try it before going any further with the disassembly.
The 2nd video covers your model of laptop, check out whether replacing the MB is cost effective if it is the chip.
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#11
theleech

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Thanks man. What am I really looking for with the ribbon? Is it obvious damages (rips, scratches etc.) and looseness or is it tiny things?
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#12
phillpower2

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Obvious signs would be the end connections not being securely in place, heat damage/scorching or bared wires, not so obvious dust in the MB ribbon slot or any damage to the underneath side of the ribbon.
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#13
123Runner

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What am I really looking for with the ribbon? Is it obvious damages (rips, scratches etc.) and looseness or is it tiny things?

Yes to everything.
It could be loose (poorly seated) or a break in the ribbon.
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#14
theleech

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Ok thanks for all your help, all of you. You've been great. There was nothing wrong with the ribbon so working on the "what's there to lose principle" I decided to go a bit further and disassemble it. I do have one question, what's the white stuff on this picture?
http://imgbucket.info/?kxhzzfgoy
Unfortunately when I put it back together I must have done something wrong because now I get no screen at all :D It still powers up I think but neither of the charging or power lights turn on. I think it's time to bite the bullet and just see if i can get hold of another one.

One quick question, would it be possible to replace the connector on the MB that the power ribbon goes into? Because thats whats wrong with my other one. I've been told to just leave it but a second opinion is always good ;)

Edited by theleech, 10 January 2011 - 03:16 AM.

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#15
SpywareDr

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... what's the white stuff on this picture?

Posted Image

Thermal compound
http://en.wikipedia....hermal_compound
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