Dell Inspiron i5348-2000 All-in-One Desktop - Monitor Constantly Flickering in Task Bar Area

A Dell All-in-one has been functioning perfectly since being put into service in July 2014.  On March 8, 2015, it developed a constant flickering in the task bar area at the bottom of the screen.  All applications function normally, but under all conditions the task bar area constantly flickers.  You may view a short video of the problem at this link.  During an extensive session with Dell Technical Support, they concluded that it is a software, not hardware problem and proposed purchase of the software support service.  However, the flickering area at the bottom shows up as soon as the computer is booted as the Dell BIOS screen appears, long before the operating system starts.  A video at this link shows the flickering during the boot.  I also moved the task bar to the left side of the screen and you can see the flickering at this link.  Additionally, I restored the computer to its status as of several days before the problem first appeared and we still see the flickering. Thus, I am convinced that Dell should accept this as a hardware issue to be covered under warranty.

I would like to know if anyone has seen a similar problem and if you think it is hardware or software related.  Any ideas about how to resolve the issue would be greatly appreciated.
bbaumbergerConsultantAsked:
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rindiCommented:
This is almost 110% a hardware issue. Insist on a warranty replacement. You can proof it by doing a factory restore using the recovery partition. I'm sure the flickering will still be present...
Norm DickinsonGuruCommented:
You may have inadvertently downloaded an erroneous driver that is causing the issue. Download the recommended Dell driver for the video card and see if that resolves it. Often times video drivers are included in Windows Updates, so you may be able to check there for yesterday's date and see if one was downloaded, and possibly revert right from Windows Updates. If that doesn't work, it is a hardware issue.
bbaumbergerConsultantAuthor Commented:
Good suggestion about the video driver, but wouldn't the system restore to a date several days before the problem override a recent video driver update from Microsoft?  What role does the video driver play in the BIOS display during startup?  I am seeing the problem as soon I can see the BIOS display when booting.  

I agree the restoring the computer to the factory image will prove the point about this being a hardware issue, but that gets us into a complete reinstallation that should not be needed.
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Norm DickinsonGuruCommented:
The BIOS screen does indicate that it is unlikely to be a driver issue and is almost certainly hardware, but it is an easy test to perform and may be useful in convincing the tech support person that you need to send the system back. Better do a good backup first, as you will likely get either a different system or one that has been restored to factory in return.
A good tip for working with support at Dell, or anyplace for that matter, is to politely ask to speak to a supervisor. You are likely dealing with a level one tech who does not have all that much experience, nor all that much freedom to go beyond what his screen is telling him.

The video driver plays no role with the BIOS. I sort of ignored that part of your post to my own demise... :-)

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Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software EngineerCommented:
Since the flickering occurs as soon as the BIOS boots, long before Windows starts, any issues with Windows or drivers are ruled out.  Dell's technical support should be ashamed for saying it is a software issue.

You might investigate:

1.  If the display uses CCFL illuminators, the lower CCFL is failing or the inverter is failing.  This can be ruled out if the display is known to be illuminated by LEDs.

2.  An issue with the memory in the display adapter.  This can be ruled out by taking the display to a different system.  If the problem persists, it is assuredly in the display, not a software problem and not the display adapter.
Norm DickinsonGuruCommented:
In the case of an all-in-one PC that is under warranty, it is likely best to leave it up to Dell as to whether the internal components are at fault, and not try to diagnose them yourself. Call them back and tell them that they need to resolve the issue immediately.
bbaumbergerConsultantAuthor Commented:
This is an all-in-one computer, so the excellent suggestion to try the monitor with a different computer can't be done.  The all-in-one configuration definitely limits basic troubleshooting.   I will contact Dell and ask them to read this report on Experts Exchange - it would sure save a lot of time on the phone!

One more point that I overlooked in the initial report is that the Dell technician had me boot in safe mode - still had the same flickering.  The excellent feedback from members of this forum convinced me that the issue is hardware related.  

Thanks to all!
rindiCommented:
You can always do another backup before doing the factory restore. As that will proof there is a hardware issue, and Dell will most likely replace the PC with another anyway after that (unless you are prepared to wait for the PC to get repaired, and during that time you would be without a PC), the reinstallation of software and restore of data will be necessary anyway. Besides that, you don't want to have private data and software that leaves your hands anyway...
Norm DickinsonGuruCommented:
You may also want to consider doing a secure erase with a program such as Lsoft Killdisk, and then a factory restore, to make sure your private data doesn't end up in Nigeria.
bbaumbergerConsultantAuthor Commented:
I visited my client a couple of days ago to do some additional problem analysis that confirms a hardware issue. At this link you may see a video that shows the flickering band at the bottom of the screen.  The Word icons at the top of the screen are showing in the flickering area.  Next, this link shows the screen leading into a BIOS update that was needed.  Then, this link shows the flickering at the bottom of the screen during the BIOS update.  In addition to the flickering at the bottom, the photo at this link shows a vertical line that is always present, another hardware issue.  

My next step is to share this Experts Exchange documentation and dialog with Dell to start the process of repairing or replacing this computer.  Thanks again to everyone for lending a hand with the resolution of this issue!
Norm DickinsonGuruCommented:
We are here to help!
bbaumbergerConsultantAuthor Commented:
On March 13, the problem was reported to Dell in an email requesting that they review the Experts Exchange dialog.  No response to date.  Will follow-up with them later today.
Norm DickinsonGuruCommented:
I would call them and stay on the line with them until you get a tech that can see the thread. Ask for a supervisor or higher level tech - they have them, but won't put them on the line unless they are requested either by the end user or the tech on the phone. Good luck!
bbaumbergerConsultantAuthor Commented:
Dell acknowledged receipt of my emailed report of the problem, but has not provided a resolution.  Unfortunately, i cannot call them for a few more days.  Hopefully, they will respond before then.
bbaumbergerConsultantAuthor Commented:
In early April, Dell agreed that the flickering monitor was hardware related.  Unfortunately, two very long on site service calls (a few hours each) resulted in two occurrences of components not being properly sourced - a converter cable could not be plugged in to either of the replacement LCD panels - very frustrating.  Dell then agreed to replace the original computer with an upgraded refurbished model - touch screen, more memory, faster processor, etc.  It was easy to move the original hard drive to the new computer, so there was no need to do a full reinstallation.     Most importantly, after all the anguish, my client is very happy with his replacement computer.  Thanks to all for excellent troubleshooting advice!
rindiCommented:
Wasn't I the first to mention this being a hardware issue and that you'd have to get it replaced?
bbaumbergerConsultantAuthor Commented:
Yes, rindi, you are correct about being the first to mention the cause as being hardware related, but you suggested a very time consuming way to confirm that is was a hardware issue.  That is why I did not award points to your recommended approach.
rindiCommented:
I fail to see what is "very time consuming" when doing a factory restore. That really only takes a few minutes, and you don't have to sit at the PC while it does the restore. Besides, you would only have needed to prove it that way if Dell had refused to come. I had mentioned you must "insist on a warranty replacement".
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