The video card in my Toshiba laptop died. If I can get another one, what are the odds I can install it myself?

Toshiba Tecra, in use about six months when the picture went.  I've been told putting a new piece on a laptop motherboard is next to impossible, but I've fixed a lot of things that couldn't be fixed, so I'm skeptical.  It's been in pieces in my den for 3 or 4 years.  Is there a workaround for video output, like use the card from another machine?  

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nakslageh5 years ago
Hi, if you are sure that the problem is really the video card, try to reflow the motherboard specifically the video card, you can use a heat gun to reflow the video card, see details on how to reflow on youtube.
Reflow means resoldering or reheating the video card and even entire mobo.
Proven and tested to some mobo. Hope it can help to your prob.
dar1bak (author) 6 years ago
Well, I can't try anything because it's in pieces. I know where they all are, except the hard drive, and I'm hoping to find that soon. No malware, it never went online, and the picture deteriorated over a period of time until there was zero response.

Anybody know a good way to find a cheap new motherboard?
dar1bak (author)  dar1bak6 years ago
Okay, it's about settled I'm not going to try to repair the Toshiba now, but I want to thank everyone who contributed. What I really wanted was to get XP working again cheap so I could use the picture viewer, far and away the best I've seen for sorting through images and deciding what to keep. Most won't let you put two images up at once for comparison.

Don't go away guys, I'll probably be back soon with more questions!
Vyger dar1bak6 years ago
Well, here is a barebones system for a very reasonable price. No OS so you provide your own. And I really like MSI boards they are pretty reliable.

Vyger dar1bak6 years ago
Finally a good clue. If the picture faded away over time then the problem is most likely the LCD back light. They are just like florescent lights and they have ballasts. The ballasts go bad and then the light goes out. If you take a flashlight you can sometimes see what is going on in the screen with the light from the flash light bouncing back from reflecting off the back. There is no real repair for this as the ballast are not considered to be user repairable. The way to fix it is to replace the entire LCD. These usually cost between $100 and $175.
The 'ballast' is an inverter and is a separate component to the LCD in nearly all laptops, this excludes laptops with LED backlights. The inverter is easily removed if the laptop is already dissembled and quite a cheap part to replace.

I suggest you try the trick mentioned above of reassembling the laptop, switching it on and shinning a light onto the screen to check if you can see a (what will be very dark) image.

If you can't see anything the it's the graphics chip that has failed. The main reason that these cannot be 'properly' repaired at home is that the actual chip is attached to the motherboard using what's called a BGA (Ball Grid Array). You could imagine it as lots of balls of solder on the motherboard in precise places and very small 'pads' on the chip that must be aligned properly with each other in order to make contact.

Many people may offer the service of 'BGA repair/reflow' but in all honesty it's not worth it as a few months down the line if you lucky it will happen again as it's a design fault not just a one off issue.

Best option is to replace the motherboard, problem with that is that it's very expensive, the GPU may fail again, will probably cost near a new laptop with a warranty.

I called it a ballast because its something that people are familiar with in reference to florescents. Anyway, I have had trouble finding the replacements for those and often they are more costly than they should be, kind of like car parts. If your doing it yourself then thats one thing, fixing it for somebody else where I am charging by the hour is another.
So this becomes one of those things where its better to replace than fix if its for a paid repair job. If I replace the screen completely with a new one its a relatively fast fix, so its a reduced labor cost. In addition they get a warranty, often three years, and my butt is covered as well if it goes out again right away because the manufacturer will give me a replacement. (Customers will usually not argue about covering the shipping charges as they understand that is something you can't control)
If instead, I try and fix it by looking for and then getting an inverter, I will spend much more time, and thus more cost. In addition there is always the chance that replacing the inverter will not fix it, which means I am going to eat the cost and the lost time. And I can't give a warranty. (It has always been my policy that if I don't fix it the customer doesn't pay for it. I think its wrong to charge people for doing nothing. Sometimes I loose a little for the time I spend finding that something is unrepairable but often the customers will then get replacements through me because they know I am not trying to cheat them) The screen may burnout in a couple of months and then the customer is back to zero only minus the previous repair cost. So with this item its better to replace than repair for both me and the customer.
Your laptops video card is just a Graphic chip soldered onto the board with no way of replacing it. Many times when a video signal is lost it is because it get's too hot inside the case and triggers a fail safe shutdown to protect itself from damage.I would clean out the heatsink and all venting ports,and be certain that the fan is still working properly,if it is still not responding than the GPU is shot.
Q: When you bootup do you see any part of the POST screen before it goes blank?
try unplugging the power,remove the battery and then hold the power button for 30 to 60 seconds.Then reattach the power and attempt a boot.
Maybe it's a piece of malware thats changed your desktop to an all black one.
Is the switch that turns off the laptop when the lid is closed working properly? try starting up with the lid only open about 30deg angle
Try some short key's.Alt+Ctrl+F1 and Alt+Ctrl+F3 and Alt+Ctrl+F11
Hope this helps

Mike736 years ago
I assume you're talking about the graphics card.
If it's replaceable, it'll be a part that can be handled like RAM-modules.
So an exchange would be easy, once you tracked down the component.
If it's like so many motherboards today and it's an onboard graphics card, the easiest would be to exchange the whole motherboard from a unit with a broken LCD or so.
But check if your laptop has an external monitor plug. Maybe you can just hook up a seperate monitor to your laptop.
dar1bak (author) 6 years ago
It wouldn't send a signal to an external monitor, so I assumed the chip was the problem. I don't even know which doohickus inside is the video card, so I don't know if it's plug or solder.

I thought of getting another, but haven't seen an exact duplicate available. But this might be the place to find one.

While I have your attention, how do I sign out of Instructables?
Vyger dar1bak6 years ago
When you close your browser you are automatically signed off.
Vyger6 years ago
Are you sure it was the video and not the monitor? Its more common for the monitors to go out.
As far as replacing the components, the best bet now would be to get a non working one and swap parts. Companies often don't keep spare parts for obsolete product lines for very long. As far as do it yourself, if its plug in parts no problem. Soldered in chips, that's another story.