I just want to pew-pew again!
October 5, 2011 8:08 AM   Subscribe

What has happened to my computer/video card after an in-home technical/hardware support issue?

I have an Alienware m14x gaming laptop. My video card is an Nvidia GEforce 555m. Yesterday I had an in-home visit from technical support in order to fix a broken USB port, and investigate some minor overheating that I felt.

The USB port was unfixable apparently so the technician installed a new motherboard, and also cleaned out some of the fans (dust/pet hair was causing the temp to rise). My computer was given back to me, Windows a little but slowly but, the web is browsable, temp was fine, everything seemed ok. Well, then I go to open League of Legends, and then World of Warcraft, and all I see
is black screen and green checkerboard-like dots. FFFFUUUU right? I know NOW I should have asked him to run and test a game before he left, but I didn't realize it at the time and I regret it.

I spent all afternoon on the phone with technical support. We uninstalled/reinstalled video drivers. We uninstalled/reinstalled all the games that were causing the black and green checks. Then they,of course, reinstall Windows 7. Technical support remotely accessed my computer, reinstalled Windows and all of the drivers required for my machine, along with all of the aforementioned games. They whitelisted all the games in the video card control.

Still doesn't work. They won't send a technician because they tell me its some software issue, and the second level support keeps telling them that I have to reinstall windows... again. I'm supposed to get a call back today, at some point, but I am not holding my breath.

Frustrated, I did some investigating of my own, and I went into my Nvidia control panel, it's on the tab labeled 3D setting, "Adjust image settings with preview". I see the same black screen and green square checks that I see while gaming.... and then the control panel crashes my machine and I am unable to even CTRL ALT DEL. I have to just hard reset it.

What the hell did this guy do to my machine? It went from a small annoyance (heat and a USB port that shipped faulty) to my computer being unusuable for anything that I bought it to do at this point. None of these issues were present at ALL before, the computer is only 2 months old and I have 10 more months of warranty and they are basically telling me "Lol reinstall windows k bye"

Anyone have any ideas what is wrong, and what I can tell them they need to do for me, or what I can do myself?
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Response by poster: I forgot to add, perhaps it is helpful, the black screen/green square issue is happening with all games, even my toddler's baby games like Purble Place. It's not just the more graphically 3D intense ones.
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs at 8:28 AM on October 5, 2011

Cleaning the fans, if you spin it in the opposite direction than normal, can damage a graphics card.

Also, make sure it is seated correctly.
posted by atomicmedia at 8:30 AM on October 5, 2011

Response by poster: I'd love to go in and look myself, but they told me I'd void my warranty if I opened it up and messed with the card or fans. =/
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs at 8:31 AM on October 5, 2011

Technical issue: There are any number of things that could be wrong with your video card or motherboard. The issue is screaming hardware with the video card is now bad, possibly damaged during the repair. Check to make sure the video card is in all of the way. Check to make sure the fans are blowing towards the GPU, not away.

Technical support hell: You will have to reinstall Windows to play along with the tech support crew because the rules of their job state it. If you don't reinstall Windows and play along then they have to tell you it's a software problem and they can't help. Play along until they hit a dead end, because they ultimately will have to send someone. It's a waste of time, I know, but like anyone else they need to follow the rules of their job.

Once Windows is reinstalled and the issues pop right back up they'll change their focus from software to hardware.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:42 AM on October 5, 2011

they told me I'd void my warranty if I opened it up and messed with the card or fans

Disregard my advice on checking the seating or fans. My bad on not seeing that.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:51 AM on October 5, 2011

I think you'll want to get this back to having a technician check on it. You can say the following things to help expedite:

1. I suspect the laptop's video has a bad capacitor.
2. I suspect the laptop's video memory is damaged.
3. More simply, I suspect the replacement (possibly refurbished) motherboard is defective.
3. I would like to speak with a supervisor.
posted by samsara at 2:01 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

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