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Jimmy Wu 01-26-2012 04:31 PM

help diagnosing possible graphics issue with Thinkpad T61 Nvidia Quadro NVS140
 
A brief chronology of events:

About this time last year I bought a 23" Samsung display along with a
Thinkpad dock (the kind without the extra hard drive bay but with a
DVI output and more usb slots). Everything worked.

A month or two later (my memory about the exact time is fuzzy), the
DVI output on the dock suddenly stopped working. I switched over to
the VGA output and thought nothing more of it.

Fast forward to this past month, I would experience sporadic system
freezes. The colors would go weird, the entire screen would begin
flashing and the system would not seem to respond to anything other
than Magic SysRq keys. This would often happen while playing youtube
videos, both in Debian 6 and Windows 7.

The frequency of these freezes increased rapidly in recent weeks until
I found myself no longer able to start X, nor would Windows 7 be able
to progress past the Starting Windows ... screen. I can't find
anything relevant in the kernel or Xorg logs either. startx would
run, the screen would go blank like it normally does, but then a
second later it will go black and leave me with a blinking "_" cursor
at the top left. None of the keys to switch to another virtual tty
work and the only thing I can do at this point is Magic SysRq reboot.

All of this makes me think it's a graphics card issue. The symptoms
are quite bizarre though. Here's a list of some more that have not
been mentioned above:

I've since removed the dock. Without the monitor attached, the native
display is curiously doubled - the screen is split across the middle
and the top and bottom halves are exact copies of each other. This
begins with the Thinkpad pre-BIOS logo and persists after booting is
complete. If I attach the monitor, the console display goes out to
the external monitor, and appears normally (no strange
splitting/doubling). In all cases the Thinkpad logo that appears when
the system is turn on initially is a bit corrupted as there are
columns of white pixels going down the screen.

At this point, what are my options? Based on what I can find online,
it seems the only way to go is to replace the system board or get a
new laptop, or try some crazy and risky tricks like baking the mobo in
an oven at high temperatures for a few minutes.

I'm not much of a hardware person, so any help or advice would be
greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

Jimmy


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Preston Boyington 01-26-2012 04:38 PM

help diagnosing possible graphics issue with Thinkpad T61 Nvidia Quadro NVS140
 
Jimmy Wu wrote:
<snipped>

the screen is split across the middle
and the top and bottom halves are exact copies of each other. This
begins with the Thinkpad pre-BIOS logo and... the Thinkpad logo that appears when
the system is turn on initially is a bit corrupted as there are
columns of white pixels going down the screen.


this seems like a definite hardware issue unrelated to any operating
system. I might look to see if there is a firmware update/fix as a last
ditch effort. if it were me I'd start saving for a new laptop.



At this point, what are my options? Based on what I can find online,
it seems the only way to go is to replace the system board or get a
new laptop, or try some crazy and risky tricks like baking the mobo in
an oven at high temperatures for a few minutes.


how about trying a usb video card (USB to VGA adapter)? not a fix mind
you, but maybe a workaround until you can get a new system. I haven't
used them with Linux so I can't tell you from experience that it will work.


good luck.
Preston


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Michael 01-26-2012 08:38 PM

help diagnosing possible graphics issue with Thinkpad T61 Nvidia Quadro NVS140
 
Doesn't Lenovo grant 2 years warranty ? Claim it.

I would tell them the issue anyway, because only then they might get attentive and fix the issue in new models.


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Michael 01-26-2012 08:47 PM

help diagnosing possible graphics issue with Thinkpad T61 Nvidia Quadro NVS140
 
Uh, sorry, last year you bought the monitor, not the laptop.

Well then, like Preston said. If you are lucky the DVI is a separate part and exchangeable. Graphic card could be exchangeable too (but could be also on-board chip). If you find another T61, in the used parts market, which is defect in some other way, you could be able to do it yourself.
But it's a lot of effort with totally uncertain outcome.
I would be interested in your resolution.


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Jimmy Wu 01-26-2012 10:48 PM

help diagnosing possible graphics issue with Thinkpad T61 Nvidia Quadro NVS140
 
First, thank you to everyone who replied with suggestions.

On Thu, 26 Jan 2012, 20:08+0100, Peter Funk <pf@artcom-gmbh.de> wrote:
> > A brief chronology of events:
> ...
> Did you check the temperature of your NVidia GPU ?
> Use
> sudo nvidia-smi -a

Overheating may have been the cause of the failure in the past but
currently X won't start even when the GPU is at a fairly innocuous 56 C,
so I'm afraid the system may be past that point now.

On Thu, 26 Jan 2012, 11:38-0600, Preston Boyington <preston.lists@gmail.com> wrote:
> this seems like a definite hardware issue unrelated to any operating
> system. I might look to see if there is a firmware update/fix as a
> last ditch effort. if it were me I'd start saving for a new laptop.

Getting a new computer is what I plan on doing.

Does it mean anything if console output seems to work normally out the
VGA connection? The weird split and duplicated screen behavior only
occurs on the native display.

On Thu, 26 Jan 2012, 22:47+0100, Michael <codejodler@gmx.ch> wrote:
> Uh, sorry, last year you bought the monitor, not the laptop.
>
> Well then, like Preston said. If you are lucky the DVI is a separate part and exchangeable. Graphic card could be exchangeable too (but could be also on-board chip). If you find another T61, in the used parts market, which is defect in some other way, you could be able to do it yourself.
> But it's a lot of effort with totally uncertain outcome.
> I would be interested in your resolution.

I can still use my thinkpad as a headless server and I'll keep an eye
out for used boards being sold for cheap so I can troubleshoot it in my
spare time. However, I really need a reliable and functioning main
system to do work on *now*, so I've decided to go buy a new laptop. I've
been trying to decide whether I want to buy another Thinkpad or use this
sudden opportunity to get a notebook from one of the linux hardware
vendors like ZaReason [1], System76 [2], or Ohava [3].

[1] zareason.com
[2] www.system76.com
[3] www.ohava.com

Thanks again,

Jimmy


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Jimmy Wu 01-27-2012 10:58 PM

help diagnosing possible graphics issue with Thinkpad T61 Nvidia Quadro NVS140
 
On Thu, 26 Jan 2012, 18:48-0500, Jimmy Wu <jimmywu013@gmail.com> wrote:
...
> I can still use my thinkpad as a headless server and I'll keep an eye
> out for used boards being sold for cheap so I can troubleshoot it in my
> spare time. However, I really need a reliable and functioning main
> system to do work on *now*, so I've decided to go buy a new laptop. I've
> been trying to decide whether I want to buy another Thinkpad or use this
> sudden opportunity to get a notebook from one of the linux hardware
> vendors like ZaReason [1], System76 [2], or Ohava [3].

As a temporary stopgap, I've been able to get slow 2D graphics on my
external monitor via the fbdev X11 driver.


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Michael 01-28-2012 12:49 AM

help diagnosing possible graphics issue with Thinkpad T61 Nvidia Quadro NVS140
 
> As a temporary stopgap, I've been able to get slow 2D graphics on my
> external monitor via the fbdev X11 driver.

fbdev does use the GPU memory but not the GPU itself, if i recall right. So maybe either the GPU chip is defect (or lose) or there was a change in driver or kernel (upgrade). Or the always unknown third possibility ;)

Anyway, i would at least screw it open and have a close look, maybe something simply got lose or some rubbish laying around.


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