Do I need to buy a video card?
September 30, 2017 3:10 PM   Subscribe

Today my computer quit outputting video. The computer has on-board video. My monitor is connected with a regular monitor cable and it shows "no input" when connected to the computer but works normally when connected to a laptop. My TV is connected to the computer with an HDMI cable and it also shows "no input" when connected to the computer but works fine otherwise.

Judging by the pattern of flashing lights when I start it, the computer seems to be starting normally. Are there other tests I should perform? Would a video card solve my problem? If so, which one? I've bought sound cards before but video cards look quite a bit more expensive. Can I get out of this for under $100?
posted by irisclara to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Open the computer and check the connection between the motherboard and the ports (VGA, HDMI) on the case - if you are lucky just one of the internal cables is lose. Otherwise, I think you have done a good job in isolating the onboard video as a cause - depending on your needs you could certainly get a cheap card under $100.

Before you go this route, do you know anyone who might have an old card sitting in a PC in the attic or a closet. Would be good to check first to make sure it's not something bigger...
posted by NoDef at 3:19 PM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Next step is definitely to stick a video card in there -- you won't really know if this is just a graphics chip/HDMI connector failure or something more insidious on your motherboard until you plug one in. Newegg has tons of graphics cards in the $25-50 range, they should all perform better than onboard video. This is assuming your computer has PCI Express and is running Win7 or 10. Here are a bunch of choices. But borrowing one is a great idea for sure.
posted by drapatz at 3:21 PM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I managed to connect to the bad computer over the network so I know that the non-video parts of the board etc. are working. Looks like I do need to buy a video card.

I had an old one from another computer that I tried. It didn't work either, but I have my doubts about the card and/or adapter I used.

Newegg has a good returns policy so if a new card doesn't fix the problem I can always send it back. I just didn't want to buy a video card if I didn't really need one.
posted by irisclara at 5:41 PM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

99% chance the HDMI connector is just getting loose. See if it shows video if you push on it, preferably "up" relative to the way gravity is pulling on the cable. (Vagueness intentional due to differing HDMI port orientation in different motherboards and cases)

You'll likely find that wedging it one way or the other will make it work for a good long while. The pins in the socket tend to get bent slightly over time and eventually make a poor connection, especially when the long side is horizontal. Sometimes a different cable will work better due to variations within tolerance or differing wear.

The only time I've had one fail entirely is when the solder joints holding the socket to the board cracked. Since that particular one had little plastic pegs holding it to the board it didn't come off entirely, just quit working and seemed slightly looser than normal even for a worn HDMI port.
posted by wierdo at 7:44 PM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd try a different cable before replacing the card
posted by KateViolet at 8:21 PM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Before you spend money, you might want to make sure it isn't a software problem. I've had a run of mysterious Windows problems that were cured by using the Restore function to roll back to an earlier configuration.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:16 PM on October 1, 2017

Response by poster: The issue turned out to be a Windows update that borked my onboard video drivers. Had to update the BIOS but that fixed it. Strange problem. Thanks for all your help, mefites!
posted by irisclara at 1:42 PM on November 4, 2017

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