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Windows 7: Freezing and unusual visuals, but not convinced it's my graphics card

28 May 2016   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
Freezing and unusual visuals, but not convinced it's my graphics card

OK, pretty specific set of issues here; I haven't found anybody on forums and the like that seems to have the same.
I'm not much of a computer guy, so any assistance or pointers at all would be truly appreciated.

I'll describe the issue as completely as I can, in this order: 1.system specs, 2.user specs, 3.symptoms and non-symptoms, 4.what I've tried, 5.possible diagnoses(?) and thoughts.

1. System specs
-HP Pavilion g series laptop, purchased in 2011.
-Windows 7 Home Premium, 64bit, version 6.1.7601 SP1 Build 7601
-AMD Phenom™ II P960 Quad-Core Processor, 1800 Mhz, 4 Core(s), 4 Logical Processor(s)
-Norton and Malwarebytes for anti-bad stuff
-Not sure what other specs would be useful. (Let me know if I should add something.)
-Note: I've never done a wipe or system reinstall, because I've never had a reason to -- everything has worked pretty fine so far, given a troubleshooting session here and there.

2. User specs
-Super vanilla case -- not a gamer, no special software, try to minimize what I'm running at any given time. I don't have lots of programs running in the background (that I know of) and when I run my web browser, I rarely have more than a few tabs open.
-really like Win7 and would like to keep it for as long as I can.
-Not wealthy (to put it lightly) and have had a couple bad experiences with repair people in the past, so I'm a bit non-trusting and would rather do as much as I can (with the help of kind-hearted folks like yourself) before I resort to a tech repair person.

3. Symptoms and Non-symptoms
-Original symptom: random freezing. Doesn't respond to Ctrl+Alt+Del. Mouse cursor still visible. *Occasionally* gives me the Black Screen (maybe 10% of the time it freezes) but stays running/doesn't shut down.
--Doesn't appear to be related to what programs I am or am not running: it happens in the middle of a video, when idle, or after "sleeping". Once while loading Windows.
--Doesn't appear to be related to how long I've been logged on -- sometimes it doesn't freeze for 1hr, sometimes 5 mins.
--It *does* appear to increase in frequency if I log on shortly after rebooting -- it will freeze slightly more quickly than the previous time.
--> NOTE: this symptom is absent in Safe Mode, but apparently NOT in Safe Mode With Networking.
--> Also NOTE: this symptom started soon after a recent series of Windows Updates. Possibly a coincidence, but I dunno.

-Added symptom (a day or so later): parts of the display that should appear WHITE appear BLUE. (well, white with lots of very skinny vertical blue lines).
--this symptom now happens all the time, including in Safe Mode, while doing a "Clean Boot", and while loading Windows (you can see the blue lines in the flashing Win logo).

-Added symptom: the "cmd.exe" window sometimes briefly pops up when Windows is starting. Don't know if it matters, but this didn't use to happen.

-Non-symptoms: for all of the above:
-fan is running normally (i.e. not loud)
-temperature is normal (i.e. not hot)
-lights and screen illumination are normal (even with the Black Screen).

4. What I've tried (with no results)
-Clean out as much dust as I can from the laptop.
-Did a "Forced Reset"
-Ran a malware check.
-Checked all my hardware and drivers on Control Panel-->Device Manager.
-Made sure all my Windows updates, browser plugins, and software I use were up to date.
-*Uninstalled a bunch of Windows Updates, (as mentioned, this problem started immediately after a series of updates.)
-Did a system restore [but I didn't have a restore point before the aforementioned Windows Updates; also I don't have an image to do an advanced system recovery with.]
-Installed BIOS updates.
-Reverted to BIOS setup defaults.
-Ran every HP and Windows diagnostic tool on my computer (hard disk test, RAM test, etc.)
-Uninstalled and Reinstalled the graphics chip driver.
-Consulted HP Support Assistant, Windows Troubleshooting, etc... as well as every online forum I could find a similar problem for.

5. Possible diagnoses(?), Thoughts, Questions.
-My instinct says "graphics chip is screwed", however:
--no problems are listed with the hardware or driver on Device Manager.
--my computer doesn't overheat. (It used to back in the day, but not since I've regularly blown compressed air into it. As mentioned the fan is working normally)
--I don't do anything more visually/graphically taxing than watch Youtube videos,
--For the first week or so, other than the blue lines and the freezing, there was nothing unusual visually: no distortions, artifacts or weird patterns. Photos and video generally load and play normally (except for blue lines in the white parts).
(As of today, I've started to get a couple random red lines here and there. Not sure if they will persist.)
--For the first week, it wasn't running abnormally slowly. (As of today, it seems to be struggling a bit more.)

-I also considered it might be some hardware component reacting allergically to something in one of the recent Windows Updates, but I've uninstalled all the ones that it could have been (*except the security-related ones).

-Why do the blue lines happen in Safe Mode, but not the freezing? (Except it does freeze in Safe Mode with Networking --> is this relevant?)

-Is it worth doing a complete system overhaul and reinstall Windows from scratch, or would that be a waste of time?

-What haven't I thought of?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 May 2016   #2

W7 home premium 32bit/W7HP 64bit/w10 tp insider ring

Hi Peter,
getting you moved to BSOD subforum.
Have a read of the posting instructions there please.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2016   #3

Windows 10 Pro

Hi Pete,

Welcome to the 7forums :)

Please read Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) Posting Instructions and upload the zip file.

Why do the blue lines happen in Safe Mode
That can have a few reasons, the first I would think of is the cable that is a bit loose.

not the freezing?
In safe mode 99% of the drivers are not loaded, only the onces that Windows uses which are the standard onces.
In many cases freezes are caused by drivers.

Except it does freeze in Safe Mode with Networking --> is this relevant?
That sounds to me like your network driver is causing problems.

Have you (re)installed all driver updates from HP? Please make sure that if you have the updated drivers already installed you reinstall the drivers.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

04 Jun 2016   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Hi axe0, hi torchwood,

Thanks for your replies. Attached is the zip file. Please note that I didn't post in this subforum because I have not actually had any BSOD, only the freezing and very occasional black screen described. (As well as the strange visuals.)

axe0, I have double-checked my network adapters and everything appears to be up to date.

Not sure if wiping the drive and starting over would make a difference?

Any pointers or thoughts appreciated!!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2016   #5

Windows 7 pro 64-bit sp 1

Try removing the graphics driver with this tool and then reinstalling. Display Driver Uninstaller Download version
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2016   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Hi townsbg, thanks for your reply.

I tried the DDU uninstall and reinstalled my graphics driver.... Unfortunately I still have the same issue with the weird blue lines, so nothing seems to have changed.

Any other ideas?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2016   #7

Windows 7 pro 64-bit sp 1

Try an older version of the drivers.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Jun 2016   #8

Windows 10 Pro

Do you have any CD inserted?
  Log Name: System
  Source: cdrom
  Date: 2016-06-04T18:02:43.143
  Event ID: 51
  Task: N/A
  Level: Warning
  Opcode: N/A
  Keyword: Classic
  User: N/A
  User Name: N/A
  Computer: PDURAN-HP
An error was detected on device \Device\CdRom0 during a paging operation.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Freezing and unusual visuals, but not convinced it's my graphics card

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