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Soubresaut's avatar

Computer issue: something's going on with my screen. Any ideas?

Asked by Soubresaut (11218points) 4 weeks ago

I’ll try my best to describe what’s going on. Please ask clarifying questions as needed! I haven’t taken screen shots of it, though that probably would have been helpful. I will next time it shows up, but I wanted to ask this question now and start getting ideas of what might be going on rather than wait.

My screen has started to do a thing where sometimes it “ghosts” previous images instead of moving cleanly on to the next thing. It would be like you reading this question on Fluther, and then trying to move to next question, only to find that you’re only seeing the next page at half opacity, and this page at half opacity, frozen and overlaying the active page.

This “ghosting” covers all of the screen except the first 1.5” along the top. That continues to work as normal.

It doesn’t seem to last too long. Eventually it will return to normal in a kind of fading/flickering way, though I will still see a dark/shadowy line on the left most side of what had been the border between the normal 1.5” of screen and 50/50 “ghostly” part.

Sometimes when I restart my computer to try and help the “ghosting” disappear, I will get a seemingly random-shaped patch or patches of the frozen image, at full opacity, covering parts of the screen—by “random-shaped” I mean it has an irregular, zigzag-y edge sort of like a country’s border. (Also, the shape isn’t quite the same each time it appears, though it often looks similar.) Usually the patches favor the left side, especially near where that dark/shadowy border can show up. My computer has a magnet in that area to hold a stylus on the edge of the screen. I’m not sure if that’s a coincidence or not.

Any guess as to what’s going on?

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9 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Is it a CRT? If not, the magnet will have no effect.
Have you tried the monitor on another machine?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Check your monitor cable. Past that it’s likely going to be your monitor or video hardware. Hopefully it’s a video driver issue, that’s another possibility. If it is a Windows machine try safemode and see if it is still there.

Soubresaut's avatar

Quick edit: I meant laptop. I don’t have a desktop, the laptop is my computer, so I forget to differentiate…. So, nfortunately, no monitor cable to check, and no way to test the monitor on another computer :/

AYKM, you’re saying it’s likely a hardware failure/issue of some kind?

Loli, good to know it’s not the magnet, then… there’s just been some discoloration that shows up in that area for a while before this so I wondered… Okay, this is how little I know about hardware: a modern laptop wouldn’t have CRTs, right? They use LCD screens?

Soubresaut's avatar

(I’m also wondering if it’s something that’s going to get worse over time, or if it’s just an intermittent annoyance? I don’t know that I’ve given you enough information to know that, though.)

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Or a driver. Try safe mode, reboot and hit F8 a bunch of times until you get the selection screen. You can select to use with networking or not. This forces Windows to boot with the minimum it needs to run so your video acceleration will be off. If it looks good it’s likely a driver.

Soubresaut's avatar

Thanks! I’ll try that next time the issue pops up and see if it makes the issues go away.

I hope it’s a driver. If that’s the case, would it most likely be the graphics driver or a different one?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Probably graphics. When things only happen every now and then though, it’s usually hardware.

funkdaddy's avatar

Just wanted to add, kindly, that it’s probably a good time to search for either your warranty information, a new laptop, or a repair shop, depending on how old it is and how much you like the current one. Also, backup everything you want to keep if you don’t already.

The steps above are perfect as a first step, and it’s totally possible it’s a software issue, but if you type the model of laptop plus “graphics” into a search engine and there aren’t multiple people with the same problem on the first page, then most likely some component is loose or dying. Pulling apart laptops isn’t really DIY stuff anymore unless you’re into it.

With automatic updates on so many levels, software incompatibility, even of drivers, is getting pretty rare.

Most likely it’s dying. Better to prepare for that then the other way around.

Soubresaut's avatar

Thanks all, again.

Update:

I took my computer to the store yesterday, since this discussion made me more sure that it was a hardware issue. They guy who looked at it said yep, this is something he’s seen before, and when the device is under warranty they’ll replace it outright. Bummer is—I’m out of warranty by several months, which I knew. I had videos that showed the issue started within the warranty period, and I thought I’d try asking if that would make a difference (it didn’t, which I guess is no surprise). I’m a little annoyed because I’m pretty sure I remember a different employee telling me, when I was still under warranty, that the flicker didn’t matter (it was smaller and less frequent then). But I have no way to prove that conversation took place, or even know if I’m remembering it correctly. I might just be making up that conversation.

This was already the warranty replacement for the previous laptop that had a different screen issue and was also very sluggish with everything… I think some poor-decision-making part of my brain thought, “Hey, if it’s only a tiny flicker and everything else works great (which it did and does), why throw the dice again! This is fine!” In the future, that voice gets no vote.

The guy yesterday did say the issue shouldn’t affect anything else, so that’s something. He said it was an issue “with the pixels” in the screen, but the issue will likely continue to slowly worsen. I have an option for an out-of-warranty replacement with a discounted price on a refurbished machine with the same specs if I want.

Thanks for the advice to backup, funkdaddy. Fortunately, I already have everything stored on the cloud. I won’t lose anything even if the device does completely fail.

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