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Published on Jun 8, 2009
This morning when I turned on my Dell XPS 1330 laptop and I worked for just a few minutes I started seeing some weird artifacts on the screen and a few seconds later I got a blue screen with error and a frozen laptop. When I turned it on again instead of the normal boot screen I got a weird color lines all over the screen... suddenly I remembered all the talk about failing nVidia mobile GPUs from a few months ago and realized that I also became a victim of this problem.
I did not panic and think about RMA-ing the laptop as soon as possible, but instead thought about what can I do to try to fix the problem. The problem with RMA is that it is going to take some time and my XPS 1330 is being used daily for my work and I can't afford to "loose it" for a few days. That's why I've decided to fix the GPU by heating it up with hot air, because the most likely problem was that some solder points lost contact with the motherboard. You can see in the video that I'm using a hot air soldering station, but you can probably get the same effect with a hairdryer set to a maximum heat.
The first heating session (the one you see in the video) did a great job in reviving the GPUs from the dead, because after I've assembled the laptop again it turned on just fine and loaded Windows (no more color lines as before heating the GPU). But the videocard was still acting a bit - it was working just fine in 2D mode, but when I tried to run any 3D application the laptop froze with a black screen. After a few tries with the same "black screen" result I've noticed that it happens as soon as the GPU temperature reached 85 degrees Celsius, so I've prepared for a second heating up session. After a bit more of exposing the GPU and the video ram chip (just in case) to 300+ degrees Celsius hot air the nVidia GPU of my trustworthy XPS 1330 was back again in its top shape and performing without any problems.
So in the end of the day I'm very happy that I was able to revive my laptop's video card. If you run into the same problem with your Dell laptop or any other brand that uses nVidia GPU you can try the same procedure. I don't guarantee you'll succeed, but you may at least try to see if it will help or not. Just be careful not to overheat your chips or desolder any of the components on the laptop's motherboard, because this may do even more damage. Anything you do is on your own risk, so think twice before messing with your laptop's hardware... I'm very experienced in these kind of things, but if you are not you better make use of your warranty in such cases. ;)