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Old 06-14-04, 04:20 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2004
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Unhappy Hardware failure?

Approximately 4 years ago my mother, partly with my advice & support purchased a Dell computer. My mother does basic desktop tasks and so we got the cheapest model video card availalbe at that time - a TNT2 M64 with 32MB of RAM.

I noticed every now and then that the display would get corrupted, slowly. Little dots would appear in the improper locations, almost as although somebody had taken a paint spray-can tool and gon over lightly with a differnt color. Blue areas became red. White areas would become teal. These color changes were inconsistently persistant.

This was an indication of comming system instability, and that you should save an reboot now, because the computer is *going* to hang. Of course, this happened rarely, and I was unable to produce it reliably at the time. My mother was not bothered because it almost never happened to her.

I phoned Dell and they gave me some speil about driver upgrades needed and so forth. I just thought it was typical Win98 being stupid.

Fast forward 3 years. While working on my mother's computer I am able to consistently cause the problem by using the scroll wheel on the mouse. I don't know why this works, but it nearly always causes the video corruption to occur. Note that this is 2D video corruption. 3D graphics look great.

I still attributed the problem to Windows/drivers.

Now we come up to about 4 weeks ago. I manage to convince my mother that it would be neat to try Linux. I boot up the system with Knoppix and encounter the *same* problems, only much more readily. No scrolling required. I just installed linux and used the nvidia binary drivers and I still get the same problem. The corruption gets so bad in the span of about 10 minutes that it looks like the monitor is misalligned due to bluring, plus I get the spray-can effect, plus a few other effects which are impossible to describe.

Thus I have tried 2 O/S with 3 separate driver implementations.

Does anybody know if I have any recourse? Is there a known product flaw/recall that I might be able to take advantage of? The Dell warenty is gone, though this is a problem we have experienced from Day 1. The only related setting in the BIOS is AGP apperture which is set to 64MB. The only other setting is 256MB.

I know that most people claim we should just buy a new card, but I find that hard to do in this case. The card in my personal (Athlon 1800+) system which I use for development has an original TNT graphics card with a big scorch mark where the TV IN port blew up 2 years ago. The joys of being a student.

Thanks for the advice.
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