Troubleshooting Video Problems

Kait35 asked: “Bought a Pavilion s3137c from someone who didn’t need it anymore. They bought it new from Costco in early 2009. I have had it since October 09. Motherboard has already been replaced under warranty. It has Vista Home Premium on it. It has run fine but after being on for a while the video gets distorted with either vertical or horizontal lines and the system locks up. It was infrequent enough that I ignored it and just rebooted when it happened. I bought Windows 7 upgrade and the problem happens EVERY time I have tried to do the upgrade. Had Microsoft support on the phone. Did a complete backup,format HD,and custom install. Still locks up at the end of the upgrade from the video. Not sure if it’s the onboard video or power supply. Has to be one of those. Any suggestions???”


When dealing with video problems, they can be classified into two categories: hardware and software.

Software Problems usually originate from corrupt driver files.  Drivers are kind of like the middle man between Windows and the actual hardware device.  Without a driver Windows does not know the correct language to speak to the hardware.  For example:  If I went to Korea and needed to buy something, I wouldn’t know how to communicate what I needed to the cashier.  If  I had a translator (driver) with me, I could easily purchase what I needed.

Now that I’ve defined what a driver is, we can start to diagnose the problem.  Since you mentioned that the problem existed when you were running Vista and continued and worstened when you upgraded to 7, it could be due to a bad driver.  To test this theory reboot your computer.  Are you able to see any of the graphics or text (HP Logo screen or RAM count) that appear when booting without the lines running on the screen?   If so, the problem exists within Windows and is most likely a bad driver.   Comment this page after you’ve done what I’ve asked and I’ll continue on once I hear your response.


2 Responses to Troubleshooting Video Problems

  1. kait35 says:

    Thank you for your response. I suppose it would be a good idea to keep communication at the same level, for me to explain my level of computer knowledge. I have been a PC/Network tech prior to the last 6 years as a Telcom tech. I do hold A+ and Network+ certifications. I just wanted to mention this so any responses can get right to the point.
    For unexplained reason I was able to get Windows 7 to install. The freezing still persisted but let me get farther and farther until Win 7 finally made it on the hard drive. Unfortunately any BIOS or driver updates have failed. The system says the updates are incompatible. I don’t think there are enough Windows 7 drivers out there yet. The symptoms seem to be hardware related and after checking several forums and postings on this particular HP model (s3137c) there are many reports of bad motherboards and on board video. I tried running in Safe Mode and even removed the GeForce video card from the Device Manager and ran the generic on board video and it still freezes. I think it’s time to call HP even though that is the last thing I wanted to do. I know they will tell me the board needs replaced and it will cost me twice as much as I paid for the entire computer!


    • The Jim Report says:

      It sounds more like a hardware failure, since you state that the freezing occurred even during the Windows 7 install. Have you tried another monitor or an external video card?

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