Screen Goes Black Frequently

This started suddenly while I was watching an old movie on youtube. The screen went black for an instant and came right back. Had no effect on what I was watching. Happened again a minute or so later. Then continued to happen at shorter and shorter intervals until it was seconds apart, still not effecting anything that the computer was doing. Just got so annoying that I had to shut it down. Now, when I turn on the computer and just leave the desktop on without bringing up any websites or doing anything else, it starts doing that about two minutes after the computer finishes starting up.
History: The computer is a 7 year old Compaq Presario desktop with Windows Vista Home Premium 32 bit with Service Pack 1.
In July 2012 I got another computer for my office and set the Compaq up in the den and hooked it to a TV by HDMI so that I could watch TV shows and movies with the computer.
To do that I had to upgrade the video card and got an EVGA GeForce 210 1G. With that I upgraded the power supply to 460W.
In April 2013 the video card went bad and EVGA put me through 9 yards of you-know-what and then sent me another one.
Subject to comments by experts, I suspect it's the video card again, but it might be something else.

Comments welcome.


Fantastic Member
Premium Supporter
What is the exact Model of your Compaq Presario?; there are literally hundreds of them.
Next, you posted a problem with your Vista installation in the Windows7 hardware forum. Did you do an upgrade from Vista to Windows7? Or perhaps you couldn't find another sub-forum to post this on.

In any case, if you did not upgrade your Presario to Windows7, and are running Vista 32bit SP1, you do not have the latest Service Pack, that is SP2 for Vista. The first thing I would do is to download and install the SP2 for Vista, and see if the problem persists.
Newer video cards such as 1GB and larger can often cause video problems with older hardware without full OS update support.
SP2 install may very well solve this problem.

There are 2 other possibilities as well. Does your Presario have an on-board Video port (VGA)? If so, REMOVE your EVGA 1GB card from the PC completely and retest with just the built-in video port. If the problem still occurs, you may have a faulty Monitor or TV. Try hooking up a Monitor that's working Ok on another working computer in your home or borrow one from a friend. If the problem persists even on a tested Monitor from another Computer, then it's not your TV/HDMI setup, but rather a fault in your PC. If your Presario doesn't have a built-in video port (VGA), leave the EVGA 1G card in and test with another tested Monitor as before. If the problem persists, then you have a hardware failure elsewhere in your PC and you'll need to troubleshoot further to find it.

If your problem persists, you likely have a hardware problem somewhere else in your PC and you'll need to run Hardware diagnostics to find the faulty component. There are 2 common causes for failures like this in PCs that are over 5 yrs. of age:
1) Faulty hard drive
2) Faulty RAM stick(s)

To test #1, download the free SEATOOLS* drive test program from and run BOTH short and long tests. If SEATOOLS returns any errors, your Hard Drive has failed and must be replaced. Attempt to make a Backup of all needed Personal Information such as documents, photos, music, movies, E-mail, etc. to external media before removing the drive from the PC. If you are unable to do this, remove that drive and replace it. Set that failed drive aside for further data recovery.
Reinstall Windows Vista 32bit from your installation Media and retest. If the drive did fail, this should solve your problem.

To test #2, download the free MEMTEST* memory test program via Google. Test each stick of RAM individually for a minimum of 8 passes. If MEMTEST returns any errors you have a failed RAM stick and it must be replaced. Test ALL the RAM sticks you have and then reinsert all of them once they pass the MEMTEST, and run MEMTEST one final time with all (1-4 typicall) sticks installed. If MEMTEST returns any errors after the 8 passes, you'll need to begin replaced pairs of RAM sticks with new ones until MEMTEST completes without errors with all sticks installed.

*Note: Downloading both the SEATOOLS and MEMTEST programs will give you an ISO file image file, which you will then need to burn to CD or DVD blank disc. For this I recommend the free IMGburn program available via Google. Use the IMGburn program to create a bootable disc that contains first the SEATOOLS test and a 2nd disc that contains the MEMTEST program. You should be able to fit both on blank CD disc; but if you only have blank DVD disc this will work just fine. Remember to change the Boot Order or Boot Preference in the boot screen (F9, F10, F11, F12 key, check your owner's manual) so your Presario can find the boot disc you are trying to load (SEATOOLS or MEMTEST).

Retest your PC again. If you indeed found a faulty hard drive or RAM stick(s), this should solve your problem.
If neither test produced any errors, you most likely have a serious problem with your Motherboard if you reach this point, and it should be tested and replaced if faulty. If you don't have the money to replace it, you should consider buying a replacement computer either used or new. Used PCs with Vista WITH TV/HDMI support can be had for under $100 US; and brand new Windows8.1 PCs can be had for under $250 US.

Let us know how it goes or if you have any questions along the way.

Good luck,

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you posted a problem with your Vista installation in the Windows7 hardware forum.
Brain fart. I was using my Win 7 computer to post a question about my Vista computer. I reported my own post. Maybe the moderators can move it.

I'll be back after I've done some testing.



Fantastic Member
Premium Supporter
No problem! I've done that a few times myself. :hide:

Don't forget to get back to us on the Model # of your Presario, and whether it has VISTA SP2 or not.



I'll be back.

I got sidetracked for a couple of days. When I got back to the computer the screen wouldn't come on at all. The TV is relatively new and works fine independently of the computer. I replaced the HDMI cord with a spare that I hadn't used yet. No help there. Then I went right to your suggestion about the video card. I took it out and hooked up a VGA monitor to the onboard VGA and my desktop came back rock solid.

I suspected the video card in the first place. The first card failed after 10 months and EVGA replaced it. The replacement failed after 20 month. I've contacted their customer service but I'm not holding out much hope for another replacement but we'll see. There was only a two year warranty on the video card and I don't know if they start another two years on the replacement. Probably not. At any rate it was a cheap card. Even now it's still $32 on Amazon.

Meantime, the computer is a Presario SR5507F running Vista Home Premium Service Pack 2, 32 Bit. AMD Athlon Dual Core Processor 4050e, 2.10 ghz, 2.03GB memory.

I'm not a gamer so I don't need a real powerhouse video card but I do watch a lot of video online, either on youtube on TV network websites.

The EVGA card worked fine for that purpose up until it quit.

For my computer specs and usage would you suggest any alternatives that might last longer?

I have an ATI Radeon HD 3600 on my Windows 7 computer that's probably 5 or 6 years old and hasn't given me any trouble.

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