Troubleshooting Video Problems

January 15, 2010

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.