Compaq CQ60 Display Issues

So lately I acquired a (almost) new Compaq CQ60 laptop from the missus as she got a new one from the government (*sigh*). Anyway, we got this laptop about 6 months ago back in November ’09. When setting it up, I noticed the internal screen would take a while to switch on. I never thought anything of it as it was a first boot, then the screen came on and everything was happy. The troubles I had setting it up only become evident after more recent events. Just before she gave it up to me, opening the screen would result in a almost-white screen, one of them ‘pictures’ that show up when the LCD controller is goosed. It’s was very ‘wet’, drippy almost. But resetting the machine and the picture would come back to normal – weird.

When I got the laptop back, I re-installed it with a 64-bit version of Windows 7. From there things went downhill. The internal screen started to become very tempramental. I had an external screen attached and the BIOS POST screen would randomly switch from screen to screen upon each reboot. Eventually, it settled on the external screen and that, by the looks of it, was that for the internal monitor.

Having done some Googling around for this fault, only the more evident fixes came up – update graphics driver, update BIOS. Tried them all. Updated to the latest BIOS (F.54 at the time of writing) and the problem seemed to go away – briefly. I found one article which suggestesd you ‘hard-reset’ the laptop (remove all power (A/C & Battery), push and hold power button then put A/C power back in and hold for ~15 secs. Let go then press the power button again. Power LED will flash constantly. Pull power and re-apply, then switch on as normal). This would get the POST screen back on the internal LCD, until Windows (or Ubuntu) initialised the graphics card. Then the picture would flip back over to the external screen and never again grace it’s presence on the internal monitor.

I got on the phone to HP the following morning and they suggested the same things, except this time they wanted me to run a full graphics driver update within Windows. As I’d planned to send this machine back to HP under warranty, I’d removed my copy of Windows 7 and put Ubuntu 10.04 on it (BTW, nice O/S; highly recommended). I made a point to the tech that it would be impossible to be the graphics driver as; a) it wasn’t even running Windows, and b) the driver doesn’t control where the POST screen appears.

So the call was booked and the laptop was picked up last Thursday (3rd June 2010). This afternoon, (8th June 2010), it’s returned. The paperwork said the techs replaced the mainboard and CPU. So I guess there was a fault.

My guess? The airflow channels in this laptop aren’t all that logically routed. The heat for the CPU is channelled almost entirely over the nVidia graphics chip, so I’m possibly thinking the graphics chip started to burn out. I could be wrong, I don’t have any more information on what actually went wrong. But that seems the only most logical explanation for what went wrong. *sigh*

Other observations during this debacle: Windows 7 system image restore works a treat! Took ~20 minutes to restore a ~30Gb system image taken before the laptop left for HP, and it’s as if it never left!

Update: The laptop has since gone back to HP for repair again. Turned out this didn’t solve the problem. My guess this time? LCD controller. We’ll see what happens.

Update 2: Laptop returned to me again today. Paperwork says ‘LCD Replaced’. Looks like my guess of the LCD controller being fubar’d was correct. So far it hasn’t hiccuped once. We’ll see what happens in the coming days, but all indications show that the fault is now resolved :)

Update 3 (11/07/2010): Still not resolved, *sigh*. I’ll be getting back to HP tomorrow morning and most likely demand a new machine. Nothing goes back 3 times to the manufacturer under warranty that doesn’t have a design flaw. These updates are getting ridiculous, I’ll post a new post next time :)

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