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Vertical Lines on Monitor for about 30 minutes

Posted on 2013-02-06
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Last Modified: 2016-11-23
A set of vertical lines appear onscreen for about the first 30 minutes after the PC/monitor are turned on. The attached JPGs show the complete screen and a close-up of the lines. Ignore the greenish horizontal band - that is an artifact of taking a picture of the computer screen. After about a half hour the lines disappear for as long as the PC is left on. (It is turned off each night.)

The lines occur at about 89.9% across the screen from the left edge or about horizontal pixel 1725 of 1900.

I'd like to figure out how to eliminate the vertical lines.

Background:

The lines do NOT show up in a screen capture. They must be generated in the hardware. The attached images were taken with a camera.

The PC is a Dell Precision Work Station 370 running Windows XP SP3. The monitor is a Dell 2709W  active matrix TFT LCD. The monitor runs at its native 1900x1200 32-bit color mode.

I think it is something inside the PC. I've seen similar bars using the same PC with two different graphics cards (one ATI and one nVidia) and two different Dell monitors.

I have tried resetting the monitor to its factory defaults - no effect.

Thanks,
Pete
PC-Screen-with-Lines.jpg
PC-Screen-with-Lines---Close-up.jpg
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Question by:Pete2009
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by:tjc123
ID: 38861469
Have you taken the same monitor to different PCs and had the same problem?  How about using different monitors on the same PC to eliminate the PC as the culprit?
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by:Pete2009
ID: 38861567
Same monitor on a different PC works fine with no lines.

Have used two different Dell monitors with this PC and seen the same problem.
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by:tjc123
tjc123 earned 125 total points
ID: 38861580
Since you tried it with different video cards on the same PC, it makes me think the motherboard of the PC is the problem.  Is the system under any kind of warranty where you could call Dell and they would replace the part?  Also, have you tried plugging the monitor into the integrated video to see what happens (assuming it has an integrated video card on the motherboard)?
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by:Pete2009
ID: 38861691
It's well beyond even the extended warranty at this point. Good idea about the integrated video although there is none on this machine.

The motherboard does seem a logical candidate. Any idea, though, why the lines would go away after a half hour? Anything to look for or try to fix on the motherboard? Or is it just something to be accepted and lived with until the entire PC is replaced?
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by:dbrunton
dbrunton earned 125 total points
ID: 38861706
Believe this board doesn not have integrated video.  Specs and images of it don't seem to show that.  See https://www.dell.com/downloads/global/products/precn/en/spec_precn_370_en.pdf

Agree with failing motherboard or possibly power supply.  Once the system warms up the problems go away.

Because it is an old P4 system it might be an idea to consider a new board.  Failing that then try another power supply (borrow one for testing purposes, rather than buy).  If it isn't the PSU then I'd try the following:

Blow out the PCI Express slot and clean the motherboard of any dust.  Wipe the edge contacts of the graphics card with a paper tissue.
Removing the memory and wiping dust off it (even if there doesn't appear to be any).  Wipe the edge contacts with a paper tissue.  Blow the RAM slots clean and then reseat the memory.
Check the capacitors on the motherboard for bulges and leaking.
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by:Pete2009
ID: 38861914
Hi dbrunton,

Some good suggestions, thanks.

Probably not the PSU. That was replaced a couple of years ago and this problem has been hanging around longer than that. (Yeah - it took a while to get up to the "front burner.")

I'll definitely give the cleaning tips a try. For some reason that PC does gather dust a lot. By the way - something that works better than a paper tissue, especially on gold contacts, is a soft pencil eraser. Erasing the leads removes dirt film. Just wipe or air blow off the eraser residue after erasing. I learned this early in my engineering days.

It will probably take some days for me to get to this. I'll do an update with the findings.

Given the age of the PC it probably is within a year of complete replacement so that is a more likely path than finding a new motherboard.

Pete
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by:nobus
nobus earned 125 total points
ID: 38863669
check if the video board has a cooling fan, it maybe full of dust
i also suggest to remove the card, inspect and clean it, and test it on another PC - to be sure where the problem is
it looks like the video board has a problem -  that cures itself when it gets warm ; bad contact maybe?
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by:rojosho
ID: 38863867
Hello Pete2009 y et al,

Wow, this is an interesting one.  

Given that time is the determining factor, then hardware is a very good bet.  Heat related problems fall into two general classifications:
1. Capacitors
2. Expansion

CAPACITORS:
If this system was built between 2005 and 2008, then you could be facing the 'bad caps' symptom (Just Google ‘capacitor plague’).  This is where the top of the capacitors are popped up and not flat as they should be; most of time the ‘pop up’ is pretty noticeable, but if they are not FLAT, then you have a problem.  May I suggest that you inspect all of the caps on the motherboard and make sure they all have 'flat tops'.

EXPANSION:
Next on the list would be weak soldering connections with the GPU.  Heat also causes 'expansion', thus better connections and the symptom goes away.  Senior Nobus has a very nice setup for re-soldering the GPU chip to the mobo - so that you know, this process is not for the 'faint of heart', but Nobus' solution is pretty simple to use.  

MOTHERBOARD:
I have had very good luck buying used motherboards for Dell computers, so weight the factors and see if the cost of a used mobo floats to the top.

Please keep us posted.

Rojosho
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by:rojosho
ID: 38863897
Pete2009,

I forgot to mention, Memory DIMMs or Memory Slots.  I would suggest using only ONE DIMM and try moving it around the different DIMMs slots to remove this variable; with one DIMM, you should be able to boot normally.

Finally, since 'cold' creates the problem, have you considered using a compressed can, turning it upside down and use it to cool down the CPU, Memory and GPU after the problem goes away - you know, to see if you can bring it back.... something to think about.

BTW, at HP, we use to use the eraser method for many years, until the gold contacts came out.  Our Repair Facility in Roseville proved with their electron microscopes that this method actually removes the gold plating.... just an FYI.

Rojosho
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 38866220
An update! The PC is now the cleanest inside that it has been in years; I did:

* R&R graphics card, cleaned fan & contacts (with photo lens paper!) & connector

* R&R all four memory DIMMs, cleaned as above

* blew and vacuumed CPU heat sink, Power Supply, rest of PC

* inspected caps on motherboard. All seem fine except for one cap near the memory DIMM slots whose top has a slight bulge although no leakage.

No change. Lines appear when PC turns on and disappear after about 30 minutes.

The other troubleshooting ideas make sense if I would do something about it - e.g. replace a motherboard or re-solder components.

The PC was purchased in September 2004 so it is 8+ years old now. I see that motherboards may be available for about $60 used to $150 new. But I'm not too inclined to do that at this point.

If anyone has more ideas about cleaning or R&R or other similar types of steps, please let me know. But if we've narrowed it down to a motherboard needing replacement, it will probably be the entire PC that gets replaced.

Pete
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by:nobus
ID: 38867094
>>  whose top has a slight bulge although no leakage  <<  then you have bad caps, and they need to be repalced ALL,
 if you can solder, the cost is about 10-15$

what mobo model is it?
also look for bad caps on the video card !
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by:rojosho
ID: 38867709
Hey Pete2009,

Here are some interesting URLs on the topic of 'bad caps'.

The begining of this one gives you a pretty good idea of what to look for in marginal looking bad caps:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDGjWOabJ2E

And here is a URL for the 'Bad Caps' home front.  It is pretty good if you are new to the idea of replacing components:
http://www.badcaps.net/

Good Luck,

Rojosho...
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 38869389
Hi everyone,

This is fantastic input. I understand about the capacitors and the videos with the pix was really useful.

Realizing that the PC is within a year or less of being replaced due to age, speed, capability, one immediate question is whether the one apparently defective capacitor on the motherboard could be causing the lines on the monitor display for the first half hour of on-time?

I realize the caps themselves are inexpensive although it will take a fair bit of time to remove and replace the motherboard. The soldering is not much of an issue. I started my career as a hardware/software design engineer. I just don't know that it's worth the time/effort given that the PC is so close to replacement. But if the cap is likely to be causing the lines then it might be worth trying it. (Or calling Dell sooner rather than later...)

The caps on the graphics card seem fine. And as I mentioned initially this problem has been present through two different graphics cards.
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by:dbrunton
ID: 38869588
>>  is whether the one apparently defective capacitor on the motherboard could be causing the lines on the monitor display for the first half hour of on-time?

Won't know until you try.  It may be worth doing as an experiment but I'd wait until you buy the new machine.  Note if you replace one cap, replace the lot.
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rojosho earned 125 total points
ID: 38869887
Pete2009,

"Is it worth replacing the caps...."
That depends on what you want.
... If you want a quick and solid solution and move on to other issues == then either replace the unit or replace the mother board; $65.00 for a used one is a cheap solid fix.

... If you want to resolve your curiosity, then replace the caps and go with the hand that is dealt to you.

The real question is, 'Can you afford to continue with the fault isolation?'... It boils down to what we called at HP, a ‘technical solution’, versus a ‘business solution’ - to use the coined phrase, 'time is money'.

If it were me, I would find a used mobo on EBay, replace it and "be home in time for corn flakes" (Movie: Total Recall).  Then, when I had time, I would replace the caps to gain the experience.

Rojosho...
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 38870011
Hi guys,

I'm curious about something. Two of you have mentioned  that if one cap is replaced then all need to be replaced. It seems that if one is defective and no longer serving its filtering function then only that one needs to be replaced. Or is there precedent with these cap problems that the other caps probably aren't too far behind the one that is presently bulging?

Rojosho - being trained as a design and systems engineer and now being a business person I resonate extremely strongly with your technical vs. business solution. The time includes the time to R&R the mobo and R&R the caps. I'll read up on Dell's instructions about R&R the motherboard. I'm leaning towards business solution and will think about it over the next day as I plow snow here in the northeastern USA.

Pete
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by:dbrunton
ID: 38870068
>>  Or is there precedent with these cap problems that the other caps probably aren't too far behind the one that is presently bulging?

Yep.  Dell Optiplex had these problems.  If one went the others weren't too far behind.  See http://www.monkey.org/~blandoon/gfx/caps/ for some pics.  If you really want lots of information then badcaps.net has it all.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 38870635
for many models, the capacitor kits were even sold on the net
as for replacing the board - note that probably you buy the same capacitors, but they may run till the PC is replaced
and you can find several shops on the net offering to replace them for a standard fee
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 38872205
Hi everyone,

You all have been extremely helpful in looking for causes of the monitor lines and considering the options. And educating me about the capacitor issues!

Ultimately two factors heavily influenced my decision. (1) The age of the unit, 8+ years, and that the primary user already comments about slowness especially when recalculating very large spreadsheets. (2) While the cap or mobo replacement job is well within my technical capabilities I've never done it so it would be time consuming and we're not sure it would solve the specific monitor lines problem.

I've decided to take what rojosho called the business solution - replace the PC with a new Dell machine. I'll have to look into their current lines, and probably open some other questions about that.

Now is when I wish I had more than 500 points available. All four of you have been very helpful so I plan to pick one response from each of you and share the points.

Pete
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Expert Comment

by:rojosho
ID: 38872275
Hey Pete2009,

Thank you for the update.

BTW, 4 goes into 500 very nicely    :)

Work forward to working you in the future.

Rojosho...
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