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2nd Monitor Stopped Working... Permanently

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Old 02-16-2010, 06:57 PM
vlaad78 vlaad78 is offline
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2nd Monitor Stopped Working... Permanently


I've got an issue I've never seen before as a tech/network engineer...

I have a dual monitor setup with an nVidia GTX280 running Windows Vista x64. Originally I had a 21" Gateway HD capable LCD screen as my main and a Samsung 17" flat panel as my 2nd monitor, both connected with DVI. It worked fine for _YEARS_ but eventually and very slowly, the 2nd monitor started exhibiting very strange behavior, every now and then the screen would display all lines, but would be fine if I shut it off and back on again. Over time the symptoms got worse, it would repeatedly just think it had no signal, and eventually turning it on and off again several times would fix it. In the end it was acting like it had a signal, but I would get no picture. The power button would no longer turn the monitor on and off, and it also started flashing in an erratic pattern different from the no-signal pattern, like it was getting a signal and immediately losing it or something. Once this happened, I tested the monitor on several different computers using both DVI and VGA, with the same result. I thought the monitor had simply just gone out until it recently started happening AGAIN with the new monitor configuration I've been using for less than 3 months. I know have an Asus 25.5" and am using my older Gateway as a 2nd monitor. The Gateway is now ehibiting many of the same symptoms as the old Samsung, however it seems to have skipped the early stuff and has gone straight into the no-picture-power-button-doesn't-work phase. I can still get it to give me a picture by turning it on and off several times from the surge protector, but I'm concerned that leaving it connected will eventually cause permanent damage like what happened to the last one, if it hasn't already. This is a much more expensive monitor, and I really can't afford to replace any hardware.

If anyone has seen anything like this before and has any ideas for me, please reply! In my 15 years of professional experience I've never seen a computer fry a monitor like this, but it figures it would be my own equipment the first time it happens. :P Thanks for any input!
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Old 02-16-2010, 09:20 PM
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TommyO TommyO is offline
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Re: 2nd Monitor Stopped Working... Permanently

I've never heard of anything similar, nor can I think of a logical reason why. I think you could rule out coincidence, environment, cable length, noise, etc. It sounds like a very subtle defect in the nVidia card or your cable, leaking one signal/voltage onto another. Normally, I'd spend the money on another card or cable, swap them, if it goes away, trash the old one. If not, save the new one as an emergency spare. You should have a spare cable that came with the newer LCD. But on the card, since you don't want to spend any money, your only option may be to borrow one. Got a friend with an identical board? or a local repair shop that may lend you one ?

Also, pull the board and inspect it closely for solder problems, etc. Sometimes you can find the problem, other times it's too small or buried within multilayer board tracings. You could also use an oscilloscope to check the cable signals for stray voltage.
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Old 02-18-2010, 09:35 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Re: 2nd Monitor Stopped Working... Permanently

there's a couple things that can fry a monitor consistently, dust and a higher than normal voltage feeding the monitor. and, as a third reason, age. stuff wears out. from the sound of your description i'd guess a too high voltage going to the monitor, but if the recently troubled one is as old as the other that burned out, it could just be age. oh, and come to think of it, there's another possibility, heat. i had a monitor once that was getting so hot it was melting the solder inside. i'd periodically have to crack the case open and re-solder a couple places.

electronics do wear out. my worst problem has been with harddrives, but that's usually more mechanical. the motor or bearings tend to wear out. with monitors, especially crt's, heat, dust and excess voltage can chew them up pretty quickly. with lcd's the dust issue isnt usually as great, but can still occur if you block the vents. line voltages tend to vary a fair amount in the U.S. and spikes are an everyday occurrence. so, surge suppressors are always a good idea. back up power supplys shld be checked periodically, also. they can wear down and cause excess power feeds into the computer. i used to have a computer that was supposed to feed an external harddrive 125 volts. it was actually feeding it 190. a power transister had gone bad and was feeding excess juice to the drive, which almost burnt out.

oddly, i dont suspect your video card. are you running an sli rig with two vid cards or just one with two outputs? if you're running an sli rig and one feed is the one constantly causing trouble, then yes, that one card might be suspect. swap it out or switch cords and see what happens. generally, though, there's not enough juice coming from the vid card side of things to do the kind of damage you've got going on. so, i'd suspect the power coming in and feeding the monitor. it's just one of those things you're going to have to track down and if it's just age, it can be tough.

one other thing i've heard from time to time over the years is, with electronics, you're supposed to 'burn the unit in' when you first get it. this means turning the thing on and leaving it run continuously for X number of hours, usually a two or three days, if i remember correctly. this 'sets' the components to a working condition and is expected to give the unit longer life. however, there is another condition in electronics where once you have components that have been working together for a long while and you replace one of them, that new component will not have the same 'set' as the older ones and something tends to go bad quicker, or so the theory goes.

ok, one last note here after reading your problem once again:
The power button would no longer turn the monitor on and off
that, to me, is a very strong sign of a power surge or continuous stronger than shld be power connection or heat. if the power button is getting fried, that's not good. the unit could be shorting out somewhere or heat could be melting something. the first thing i'd do is just sniff the unit and try to detect any burned smells. and, though you didnt mention it, if you've ever heard and crackling or seen any smoke, you've got serious problems with voltage. check your power supplies and line voltages and if you have a UPS (universal power supply), check the juice coming off that, too.
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