Talk:Problem with garbled screen

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date/contributor unknown Got an A30 with this problem, don't know what GFX card it has. None of these things seems to help. But a clean reinstall will make it useable during the first boot, during that boot everything runs perfect, after a reboot the screen gets messed up and it can't boot windows in anything but Failsafe mode. Sadly i can't get it fixed under the warrenty as it is 3-4 years old.

Jan 18, 2006 - Me too Just finished a day of working on an A30 with the garbled display problem. Ours boots to the IBM splash screen, but has blue vertical lines running across the screen. When booting to safe mode or to any text mode or utility, the display is responsive (i.e. can navigate using arrow keys, select choices, etc.) but is garbled much like the pictures in the main article of the LILO boot loader screen. The 'garbling' is consistent, and it appears that every other character in the character set gets substituted by the character one value higher than it in the set. For example, capital 'A' displays fine, but capital 'B' get substituted with capital 'C'. 'C' is also fine, but 'D' is substituted with 'E', and so on. The lowercase set corresponds to this pattern exactly as well. As such, the display can be deciphered, but is practically unusable in text mode. When Windows loads, however, everything looks normal. The only Windows-related problem is our inability to load the ATI Radeon driver - the system will not load the GUI with it installed, but will work normally with the generic Windows VGA driver.

Just to be thorough, I did flash the system BIOS and embedded controller software with latest versions, with no change in the display problem.

I attempted to reseat the video connector, but had no luck. Best price I found on a replacement system board was US$279.00, but I haven't decided whether or not to repair it yet.

June 1, 2006 - Here's what happens to me Since a few monthes, I also get the blue thick lines running accross the screen, but only if I enter the BIOS setup utility. In my experience there is no relation between the strange "features" shown by my laptop and the PC temperature, but it is much more likely that the screen becomes completely unusable if it is hot.

"Normally" in X I have thin light blue lines that run across the windows and move with it until I resize the window or cover it with a just opened window. In that case the part of the "dirty" window that was covered by the "clean" window becomes "clean" least until you move it again. If I move the window very fast it becomes completely light blue. It's like if the driver (or the hardware) could not refresh properly the windows. Take a look at this screenshot.

Are we all sure that we are facing an actual hardware problem? Has anybody ever tried to run X by just using the generic VGA driver? I gather from the previous post that MS-Windows does not show problems in that case. I would try myself, but I do not know how to change the driver for X!

June 16, 2006 - This is my experience with this problem I have always had a feeling I have this problem since I tried once to install Fedora Linux on my portable. When initializing the graphical desktop, the phenomenon started.

When I install Windows 2000, except for the first installation stage, than I have a garbaged screen, everything works fine. I can have my full resolution, but, as described above, I can't install the display driver tools. Also, watching video's isn't smooth because it is disrupted by vertical blue or purple lines.

Installing Windows XP is not possible, I only get a resolution of 640x480 8 bit color, when I change the resolution to more colors or more pixels, I only get a blank screen (but you can see the backlight is lit)

I already dissasambled en reassambled my whole portable, checked connectors and so on... but never had any luck.

Also, when going into the BIOS, the inverted screen (gray with blue letters) is normal, but above and below there are blue lines.

Also, take a look at this: discussion and screenshot

I hope we can find more people with this problem and mybe a solution?

June 21, 2006 - An update It is very funny (er...) that when I switch from 24 to 16 bit colour depth the vertical blue lines I was talking about above turn yellow!!! The problem is now not as big as it was some days ago and I think it is related to 3D direct rendering I managed to enable a few days ago. There must be also an issue with laptop temperature because if I place the laptop directly on the air conditioner the problem becomes much less disturbing (although it does not disappear).

I first noticed this problem when upgrading to KDE 3.5 in Suse 9.3. Before then I had never had any kind of issue with my graphic card. What did it change from KDE 3.4 to KDE 3.5? Did 3.5 require a new version of Xorg that contained a buggy "radeon" driver for Mobility M7 cards? How many other people here experience some kind of problem with the "radeon" driver in Xorg? Thank you all.

July 24, 2006 - "more people" Caught my refurbished A30p (type 2653) too :-( It's quite hot here, having read up the discussion. But the notebook was powered off this morning just OK (no artifacts, not that very much heated -- after taking it inside rueksack with a few other things to the office by car (everything as usual) and trying to boot up I've got those infamouse blue vertical lines all over the initial "IBM ThinkPad" boot logo, and on top of (non-scaled) BIOS "window". Text-mode would get screwed up just like reported here on Jan 18, 2006 or at a discussion.

From what we've figured out here with a colleague who has *vast* experience with different hardware, it seems like physical VideoRAM corruption -- due to casual overheating, or mechanical problems with wires on the board between videochip and VRAM. IOW it's rather not easily fixable, I'm afraid the new mobo or new notebook might be the two reasonable choices :-(

I've also requested help on: IBM support site but frankly, doubt it will really fix anything. (still no human reply, only an automated notice)

UPDATE/FIXED: the guy I've bought the notebook from took it back for a service, and it was air-soldered back into shape. Another guy who was actually fixing the thing told that it was undersoldering of Radeon chip (the other two potential targets were undersoldered VRAM or mainboard micro-cracks -- the latter being unrepairable). The whole trouble has cost me $70 in Kiev, Ukraine.

Folks tell that they also have repaired Toshibas with similar problem (obviously not the models with integrated graphics), and refused to fix Sony devices because 100% of previous attempts failed.,

September 28, 2006 - Toasty GPU Set the fan to max. Stopped the problem from getting worse. Problem is linux has the auto fan control. Which works fin in most laptops. But the A30 line has the GPU right beside the CPU with no heat sink. So if the fan turns on when the CPU is at 58C then the GPU is already extremely toasty. SO IF YOU LOVE YOUR LAPPY SET THE FAN TO MAX. FORGET THE NOISE. Remember the A30 line are heavy beasts meant to replace desktops. This means heat. And lots of it. --DammitCoetzee

December 27, 2006 - ThinkPad A30p display defects

Same here... my ThinkPad A30p (model 2653-65U) has developed the infamous display problem that has plagued many A30p owners; flashing blue lines, unreadable, garbled text when the machine is turned-on. The display corruption (seemingly) stops after WinXP loads the display driver (the Windows GUI looks OK), BUT full-motion video (overlays, et al) is severely distorted (flashing horizontal lines), AND instead of 32MB video memory (onboard), only 16MB video ram is detected by the driver, the other 16MB of VRAM is missing! This can be verified in WinXP by bringing up the Display Properties (right-click on desktop), Settings, Advanced, Adapter tab; the detected Memory Size *should = 32MB*, but it shows only 16MB, where did the other 16MB go???

obviously, there is a hardware problem.

details - On the A30p mainboard, there are 2x16MB Samsung memory modules located near the ATi M6 GPU (Graphics Processor Unit), which as we know is NOT heat-sinked (big mistake) and gets very hot (because it is located underneath the CPU's heatsink); this design flaw leads me to conclude that heat and/or mechanical stress has caused the GPU to form a cold solder joint, which is BGA-mounted (ball grid array) to the mainboard, or perhaps micro-cracks formed in the mainboard itself. Whatever the actual source of the problem, it results in an electo-mechanical failure; if the A30p chassis is moved or flexed slightly (during POST), the distortion pattern on the screen (blue lines, garbled text, etc) also changes and sometimes the video corruption will temporarily stop. In my case, this is the second time it's happened, the motherboard in my A30p was already replaced once, for the exact same problem (blue lines, garbled text during POST, missing 16MB VRAM).

I suspect that the display corruption problem stems from moving the ThinkPad when it's still warm. That is, after the A30p has been in operation for a while, the mainboard and GPU heat-up considerably, then, if the machine is packed-up and in-transit (in your backpack, laptop bag), expansion/contraction of the internal components (GPU, mainboard, et al) and mechanical stress (from normal usage) on the delicate chassis causes electrical connection problems to develop; certain components (GPU or VRAM) become disconnected or the mainboard itself develops micro-cracks (broken circuit traces).

IMO, there are design/manufacturing defects with the ThinkPad A30 series, but will IBM will acknowledge this? Unfortunately for their customers, probably not.

Incidentally, I've also had the LCD display panel replaced in my machine twice, because the backlighting dies; there's a problem with the fluorescent tubes, they prematurely fail. Has your backlighting gone dim, acquired a pinkish hue, particularly during a cold start? That means they're gonna die soon. The backlighting in my A30p died not long after I bought the machine. The backlighting issue is unrelated to the overheating GPU (display corruption) issue, however.

Whatever the sources of these well-known display issues, the simple facts are:

A30p ThinkPads are prone to LCD and GPU/VRAM (heat-related) failures and the chassis is much too delicate for portable use.

I firmly believe that IBM should make amends and offer to extend the warranty on these defective A30s, the machine is prone to serious display problems, making it unreliable and costly to own (repair costs, downtime, frustration, etc). It's shameful that IBM won't acknowledge and take responsibilty for what is obviously a manufacturing and/or design defect. My otherwise great experience with the A30p has been tainted by its persistent display problems. The reason I bought the A30p was because of its high-quality UXGA display, ironically, it's the one thing that's been an unending source of frustration and expense. And this machine was not cheap either, with a base price of several thousand dollars (cdn), plus hard drive and memory upgrades, etc, it set me back almost $5,000! I expected to get at least 5 years of trouble-free operation out of it, but it was less than a year before all the problems began.

Anyone got ideas??? Can we, as a group, petition someone at IBM to replace our (defective) motherboards, free of charge... hell, I'll even put the board in myself if necessary, I've already replaced the LCD panel myself (the second time it went dead). The A30p has a beautiful display - when it works that is - but the machine is too delicate and sensitive to heat. Someone at IBM knows this, but they're not talking... or listening either.

If someone at IBM/Lenovo is reading this, please FIX what is YOUR mistake, and do right by your customers. Replace our *defective* motherboards at no charge or at least offer us an upgrade to the A31 series perhaps, for a nominal fee, if any. Restore our faith in IBM... and what WAS a good brand of portable computers.

btw, my A30p is the third ThinkPad I've owned over the years... the other two are still working great, even though they are older models. too bad the same can't be said for the A30p.

other common issues effecting the ThinkPad A30p include well-known problems with the IEEE1394 bus controller and Philips S-video decoder (PHILDECN.sys). Essentially, the firewire bus is unreliable (resets itself intermittently, causing data loss) and the PHILDECN.SYS driver causes intermittent blue screens in XP). i've had to disable the Philips WDM Video Decoder via the Windows device manager just so the machine remains stable. Thankfully, I don't need to use the S-Video ports, and I was forced to buy a PCMCIA firewire card, but shame on IBM for not dealing with these obvious defects.


January 2, 2007 - Toasty GPU fix? These guys had a similar problem, the heat gun/fire seemed to fix it. I have also read that a piece of metal or plastic between the chip and the case will provide sufficient pressure on the contacts. I am going to try the plastic later and if that doesn't fix it, I will try to reflow it with the heat gun. --DammitCoetzee 03:18, 3 January 2007 (CET)

July 12, 2007 - Toasty GPU fix results? DammitCoetzee: Have you or has anyone else tried the reflowing fix? What about the shim? What thickness should the shim be? I have an A30 which is showing the dreaded symptoms, and it's getting annoying. THeo

August 26, 2007, Markus Wollgarten Here is what I did with my TP A31p, though I could not solve the problem completely. But I think it got better. However, whatever you do, you do it at your own risk. I am not an computer engineer. I just repeated what others did already (Thank you!). I hope it is okay putting some images here (I have no private web space).

  • Part I
    • Bought a heat gun ( I am not brave enough to try the fire solution, see post above), Cu-sheet (0.5 mm thick), metal shears and heat conducting paste
    • Open up the the computer (followed the pretty detailed IBM manual, chapter Changing the CPU) 1
    • glue an empty Al-container of a tea light by using some heat conducting paste on the ATI-chip. I thought this is useful for not blowing away the Al-container with the heat gun and for making a good heat contact to the ATI-chip. Take care that the container stands free. Stress might shift the ATI-chip during re-soldering (?).2, 3
    • Cover the rest by Al-foil from the kitchen. Used some metal teaspoons to fix the foil. I notice that some very fine metal particles came out of the heat gun when testing it (I got a new one) and probably this conducting particles could damage the circuits of the main board. 4
    • Put a small piece of solder (1 mm diameter) into the Al-pot as an temperature indicator.
    • I tested this assembly before, outside the computer to get a feeling for distance and time. With my heat gun (rated temperature 375°C), it took about 30 s to melt the solder while holding the gun about 10 cm away. 5
    • Then the really exciting part: melt the solder in the Al-container on the ATI-chip. I gradually decreased the distance to the Al-pot until the solder got molten into a droplet. On the computer I had to come closer (distance about 5 cm) to melt the solder, indicating that I had some heat contact to the ATI-chip. :-)
    • Removed the Al-container, reconnect the keyboard, harddisk, ... and uff, it's still working. 6
  • Part II, getting the heat away from the GPU
    • Cut out some Cu-sheet that we can have a bridge between the GPU and the Cu-block of the fan assembly. Leave some space so that the CPU still can make contact to the Cu-block of the fan assembly. 6, 7
    • Fixed it to the assembly by some self made clamps (I used the steel band from a binder). In a first version I bent the Cu-sheet around the fan-assembly, but the side wings became to high on top of the assembly so that the original fixating metal sheet (the one you have to take away in order to lift the fan assembly) pushed my Cu-sheet down, probably loosing it from the fan-assembly on the lower side. 9, 10
    • Put heat conducting paste between the Cu-block and the Cu-sheet as well as between the ATI-chip and then Cu-sheet before. Make sure that the end of the bridge makes good contact to the chip and by this giving way for air entering the fan. 11
    • I also covered the edges of the CPU as well as the motherboard with some adhesive tape as electrical insulation.
    • putting everything back in place (this is actually typed on the re-soldered machine :-))

The blue lines are almost completely gone, very small areas occasionally show up. Therefore I probably will repeat the procedure, if it gets annoying again. However, the black lines in glxgears (I am using Linux on my TP) and in videos displayed by kaffein and similar players did not come back so far. :-) I also have the impression, that the temperature of the air from the fan is not as hot as it used to be, as is the temperature of the lower side of the notebook. This part used to become quite hot. I put the fan to maximum power by sudo sh -c "echo 0x2F 0x07 > /proc/acpi/ibm/ecdump" (for kubuntu Linux).

November 14, 2007 TP240 with no/garbled screen.

I disassembled the screen and opened the case to examine connections but found no obvious problems. On reassembly I left out the plastic piece covering the video flat cable next to the left hinge. The screen then worked perfectly. With the plastic cover back in place the problem came back, so I left it out. The garbled screen shows up infrequently now, but it is quickly fixed by slight shifting/lifting movement of the left side of the visible cable with a toothpick. I seldom need it now, but I keep a sturdy toothpick taped to the laptop. --DrDick 14:31, 14 November 2007 (UTC) Bold text

VESA Driver

February 2007

After 4,5 years using my Thinkpad almost on a daily basis I experience(d) the same problem with the garbled screen (A30p, 2653-66U). However there are two software things which fix the effect: 1) use a framebuffer device for the text console under Linux (appendline: vga=0x<hexnumber>) b) for Xorg: Choose the VESA instead of the Radeon driver (cp -p /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.garbled; sed 's/radeon/vesa/g' < /etc/X11/xorg.conf.garbled >/etc/X11/xorg.conf; /etc/init.d/xdm restart). Note that "fbdev" shows the same problem as "radeon".

Problem: You will loose 3D acceleration. Moreover I discovered that Xorg 7.2pre (the one used in OpenSUSE 10.2) scrolls the contents of all windows way slower than their predecessor using the vesa driver and it seems to use the CPU for copying of screen regions rather then the Radeon chip. Until this is fixed you might be happier w/ distributions which use Xorg 7.1 and below. To unset the option AIGLX in xorg.conf helps a little bit, too.

It should be possible to have the Mobo replaced by a A31p with a FireGL card which is not prone to this problem. However you have to swap the CPU and memory, too then.

Addendum: The external VGA output died a couple of months before. Not sure whether there's a correlation. -- Dirk Wetter

ThinkPad A30 display problems - open letter to IBM

It's been more than a week since i've heard back from anyone at IBM regarding the defective mainboard (GPU/VRAM) issue effecting my ThinkPad A30p (model 2653-65U), which causes severe display corruption (garbled text, blue lines, distorted video), and 16MB of video memory to disappear (only 16 of the 32MB onboard vram is detected).

There are numerous ongoing discussions in various public forums on usenet and the web detailing the exact same problem with other owners' A30p ThinkPads. Obviously, this defect is prone to directly causing premature failure of system board, which can't easily be repaired. In fact, IBM's established procedure for fixing this commonly reported problem with the A30 is to replace the entire motherboard (with a slight modifation, see below). The mainboard in my A30p has already been replaced, for the exact same display issue (above), and at considerable inconvenience, considering the machine was barely a year old, if that.

I'm aware that the warranty period on my ThinkPad has expired, but I am resolute about one thing; if this commonly known defect hadn't existed to begin with, or if IBM had taken steps to correct it, perhaps when my laptop was sent in for service the first time for the same problem, I would not now have to deal with another major inconvenience and impending expenses... and also no guarantee that the same thing won't happen again, for a third time! Despite my best efforts, having taken exceptional care of the A30p, my two older generation ThinkPads have outlasted this newer one. So much for ThinkPad quality and reliability, or did I simply end-up with a lemon... along with all the other unhappy A30p owners whose ThinkPads are plagued with similar display problems.

If nothing more than a goodwill gesture, I would like IBM/Lenovo to actively seek to HELP its customers, by offering to replace these defective system boards for any ThinkPad owner whose machine is effected by this common issue. Through online research, I've come to discover there is a workaround fix that should have been done to my machine (but was not) when the board was replaced the first time; the insertion of a thermal transfer pad mounted atop the over-heating GPU and the underside of the CPU's heatsink assembly. That *important* step, of coupling the GPU to the heat sink with a thermal pad, was overlooked when my A30p was initially sent in for service, thus I'm once again faced with this persistent and annoying issue... premature failure of the mainboard, and through NO fault of my own either.

I need a reliable portable computer, how would IBM/Lenovo suggest I proceed; should I repair my ThinkPad, and hope for the best, that this debacle won't happen again... and who knows at what more cost and inconvenience???

OR should I simply count my losses... and move on to an alternate brand of portable? I was considering a system upgrade in the near future anyway, but my confidence in the venerable ThinkPad has been shaken.

Please advise... thanku -- francis