No display until Windows, can't install graphics card

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Thread Starter
Jul 28, 2004
OK, first a description of my system:
  • HP Vectra VL 600
  • Windows XP Pro
  • 128 Mb Rambus
  • Pentium 3 533MHz
  • Matrox Millennium G2500 AGP
  • BIOS (allegedly) Phoenix type 4.0 Release 6.0.7, HP Vectra BIOS Version: HY.01.03US

There is really two parts to this problem: the original symptoms, to which I have tentatively identified a cause; and the attempted fix, which has run into... difficulties.

The Original Symptoms
Quite simply, I would start the PC and get a BIOS error code -- 1 long beep, 2 short beeps -- and no display until Windows booted. This indicates a problem with the video card. Well, it would do, except that is the error code for Award BIOS's, and according to Bios Agent I have the Phoenix one listed above. This problem has been going on for a long time so I can't remember what the BIOS actually said it was on boot-up.

The Attempted Fix
Again rather simple: I purchased an XFX Geforce2 MX400 AGP. Here's what happened next.

(*) I inserted the Geforce and switched on the PC. No error code this time but still no display. As far as I can tell Windows does not load - I get no response from any keys or key-sequence, and the keyboard's 'lock' LEDs do not work.

Upon swapping back to the Matrox, the error codes come back and Windows boots as before. I try uninstalling the display drivers this time, as recommended in the new card's installation guide.

Booting up with the Geforce results in the same situation as (*), but since I uninstalled it the Matrox doesn't display anything even when Windows boots. I press a few keys in a hopeful manner and restart the PC. Evidently the drivers have re-installed as I'm back at the beginning.

My thought now is uninstalling the Matrox drivers and installing the Geforce ones straight away, but I don't know if that'll do anything, and am reluctant to try....
Sep 1, 2004
Does your PC have onboard video? It sounds like it's using the onboard video instead of the graphics card. Once Windows has loaded, Windows uses the graphics card instead. Have you looked in the BIOS for an option to disable the onboard video?
Mar 18, 2005
G'day Rosy, these kinds of problems can be very difficult to try to sort out using a logical approach, there may be low power problems, driver conflicts or digital thrombosis kinds of errors.
I would suggest getting an old simple PCI video card just a couple of megs kind, and S3 or something like that, probably cost around $2 from a swap-meet.
These old cards normally always work no matter what, they don't use much power and have simple settings.
So assuming we can boot up normally without problem and get a good display, we can now do a few things. Firstly it could be an idea to search for a "driver remover" or a "driver cleaner" specific for the card you had fitted previously or some program capable of removing it's drivers. This will clear the driver database of that specific material and assist further progress.
Having the computer working perfectly, cleared of virus and all bots and garbage, defragged and operating in tip top shape, you can progress to fit your new card, ensure the X2 X4 or whatever applicable BIOS settings and memory are sensibly set with PCI or AGP as applicable. If all is well you should get a display onscreen from the beginning boot screen and end up with a low quality display and probably new hardware found kind of situation.
Understand at this stage that a driver is required, in some cases you may be directed to load the new driver before you fit the new hardware, either way the driver will be placed in the driver database and be available as required. In some cases generic drivers may load and be a pain to clear, so follow your destructions for your card and the operating system you are using.
Avoid smoke.......
Cheers, qldit.
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