Help make an N800c boot in VGA-out!
November 28, 2007 5:53 PM   Subscribe

I need help changing BIOS settings in a headless laptop to make it boot in VGA-out mode.

Story: I recently bought a barebones Compaq N800c over ebay, and am intending to make it bootable. It starts up fine (I think), but is unable to automatically switch over to VGA-out after boot.

I'm pretty sure that despite the lack of a display, if I know the proper key sequence I should be able to enter the BIOS and change settings to make it boot in VGA-out mode so I can see what I'm doing.

Since it is barebones it didn't come with any OS, so unfortunately I can't do any remote logins or that sort of thing - in effect, the only way out I see is blind key-pressing until I get VGA-out working in BIOS.

If anyone here knows of resources for BIOS screen options, please help me out. Better still if you have an N800c and can give me the exact key sequence to enable VGA-out =) Or if you know there's no such option in the BIOS, kill my hopes early so I can start finding an N800c screen on ebay... any help will be appreciated.
posted by kureshii to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
I have never seen a "boot in VGA-out mode" option in any laptop BIOS.

That said, have you tried hooking up an external monitor and doing the key-combo to switch displays? I should work even in POST sans OS.
posted by wfrgms at 6:08 PM on November 28, 2007

Yeah, I don't think that will do it in your BIOS.

Let it boot with your monitor plugged in then use FUNCTION+F5 to toggle to VGA out (I think that combo is fairly universal on laptops).

This is how I run my MAME cabinet.
posted by sourwookie at 6:42 PM on November 28, 2007

"if I know the proper key sequence I should be able to enter the BIOS and change settings to make it boot in VGA-out mode so I can see what I'm doing."

And if you get that key sequence wrong, you could brick your investment. That, and are you positive that the bios is not password protected? I myself, would be more inclined to figure out how to get the main display working / replaced or go with wfrgms' idea of key combos in the OS. I know fixing the display is probably not what you wanna do (a lot cheaper to use that VGA, or even RDP).

Looks like it has S-Video, right? Could try to plug into that, but you probably still need a key combo.

(goes to find answers)

(back with answers) From: Hardware Guide - Page 89 (PDF)
When an S-video or composite-video device is on, an image is displayed. When the device is off, an image is not displayed.

A device that is connected to the system can be turned on or off 3 ways:

■ Start or restart the notebook.


■ Repeatedly press the Fn+F4 hotkeys to switch the image among the notebook display, all connected displays, and simultaneous displays. When the image is switched to a connected video device, the device turns on.


■ On the ATI Displays tab in Windows, press the TV Power button, then select the OK button. To access the ATI Displays tab:
❏ In Windows 2000 Professional, select Start > Settings > Control Panel. Double-click the Display icon, select the Settings tab, press the Advanced button, then select the ATI Displays tab.

❏ In Windows XP Home or Windows XP Professional, select Start > Control Panel > Appearance and Themes icon > Display icon. Select the Settings tab, press the Advanced button, then select the ATI Displays tab.
The 3 methods for turning a video device on and off are interchangeable. For example, if you turned off a connected device in Windows, you can turn on the device by either restarting the notebook or pressing the Fn+F4 hotkeys. To conserve power, turn off the device by using one of the 3 methods described above. Disconnecting the device from the system without turning it off using one of these 3 methods will not conserve power.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 7:03 PM on November 28, 2007

Is the docking station for it cheap ? At work I have a Compaq with a docking station and external keyboard and mouse, and with the lid closed it always starts up on the external monitor.
posted by rfs at 8:25 PM on November 28, 2007

Nearly all modern laptops will sense a connected external display and boot up using it. There is no magical bios setting.
If you start it with a powered on external monitor and you got a black screen, I'd first assume the thing has a dead video card or mainboard.
You used the word "barebones", that often refers to machines without a CPU or memory. Did you bother to check?
Just assuming it does start up fine by looking at the power light or hearing the drive spin up is not sufficient. That just means the power supply works.

Contact the seller and ask if the thing worked and how he checked. Without even seeing a BIOS message there is no way to tell if this thing is an expensive door stopper.
posted by Nightwind at 12:36 AM on November 29, 2007

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