Did my new RAM kill my video adapter?
August 2, 2007 5:31 PM   Subscribe

BSODFilter: I tried to install a RAM upgrade in my girlfriend's Dell Inspiron 1100 laptop, and got nothing on screen after powerup. So I replaced the old DIMM, and got the BSOD -- the file that was missing was a driver for the Intel video adapter. Long story short, it's still not working.

I wiped the HD, reinstalled windows, reinstalled the drivers, and after some installing and re-installing, finally have the computer starting up in XP. But it's giving me the BSOD seemingly randomly every hour or two. This is with everything as it was BEFORE the troubles started.

I spent a number of hours on the line with tech support, they seem completely baffled. In typical tech support fashion, all they want to do is install and reinstall drivers. I've googled my rear off, but to no avail.

Could I somehow have zapped my video adapter when I installed the DIMM? Could they conflict somehow? Would replacing the video adapter fix the problem? Could I replace it myself, as someone who's never done anything more than replace drives and RAM?

If I start up with the new RAM only, I can get it going in safe mode, but with weird purple lines up and down the screen.

I was about to buy a new computer to replace this one, but part of the plan involved getting a few hundred bucks for the oldie-but-goodie, which won't work if it's an oldie-but-baddie. Help me mefites, you're my only hope.
posted by YoungAmerican to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
Have you tried a linux live cd like knoppix or ubuntu? That way you can isolate if its purely a driver issue. I know the 1100 has weirdo video drivers and you may get a set resolution with a big black box around it, but at least you'll know if the video card is still good.

Yeah, its is always possible to damage the motherboard when doing stuff like this. If you didnt do a proper static discharge the chances go up.
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:43 PM on August 2, 2007

Lines on the screen? In addition to the other symptoms, I suspect you may have dropped something conductive into the machine while you had it open, which is now shorting stuff out and causing all kinds of havoc.

A friend of mine found, upon disassembling his flaky Dell, that the factory had not installed the screws securing the video card, and that it had rattled loose over the preceding weeks. So it might not be your fault, even.

If the machine's not under warranty, just tear it down and see if anything suspicious falls out. Observe static precautions (high humidity, keep touching the grounded parts, no plastic bags, no polyester clothes) during the work.
posted by Myself at 5:45 PM on August 2, 2007

Response by poster: I booted from the Windows CD in order to re-install windows, and everything looked fine in the tiny low-res box. I haven't tried to boot from a linux live CD. What would I look for?

I did, however, do a static discharge.
posted by YoungAmerican at 5:48 PM on August 2, 2007

Response by poster: (Also: There are no lines on the screen if I boot with the old ram. If I boot with the new RAM, I can only use safe mode, and get weird lines/color patterns that change if I mouse around.)
posted by YoungAmerican at 5:51 PM on August 2, 2007

Oh, also check if you have the latest BIOS too. I remember having to update the BIOS on a 1100 because of video problems. Can't hurt at this point.
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:59 PM on August 2, 2007

Are you playing a DVD when it blue screens? The 1100 video driver has issues with DVD play back. I believe this was fixed in later releases. Did you use the driver from the CD or the new one from the web?
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:07 PM on August 2, 2007

I haven't tried to boot from a linux live CD. What would I look for?

Just try to get it to do 1024x768 resolution. If the hardware can do this then you'll know its a windows driver problem.

Anything in the event log when it BSOD?
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:08 PM on August 2, 2007

Response by poster: Not playing a DVD. Tried both the newest video driver from the web and the old one from the CD, but I don't honestly remember which ended up getting me where I am now.
posted by YoungAmerican at 6:09 PM on August 2, 2007

Response by poster: I tried to update the BIOS, but the bios flash exe I downloaded from dell's site tells me my system is incompatible (?)
posted by YoungAmerican at 6:15 PM on August 2, 2007

Response by poster: Haha! I found a BIOS update in .iso format, flashed the bios, and started up with no problems with the new RAM! I think (hope) this saga has come to an end. Thanks so much DDA and Myself.
posted by YoungAmerican at 6:46 PM on August 2, 2007

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