Faulty, dying GPU or something else?

Hey guys.

I have an Acer Revo 3610 (Intel Atom 330, 2 GB RAM, Nvidia ION chipset/GPU) that I use as an HTPC and media server (fancy name for it's always on, and has one of my big external hard-drives with most of my digital media hooked up to it). I've had it for a bit over 2 years now and it's been on pretty much all that time. It's hooked up to a TV and I run XBMC from within Windows Home Premium. Up until recently it's been quite the trooper and hasn't given me any problems.

A couple weeks ago, while in the TV room (where the computer is hooked up to the TV and sound-system) I heard that bah-bum sound that windows makes when one of its settings has changed or a device has been disconnected. I didn't think anything of it at the time. That evening when I turned on the TV, I got the "no picture" message and a blank screen. The computer was still running fine (I could access its shares from my main computer). Since I couldn't see anything I ended up turning off the computer and then turning it back on.

This is the first weird thing. When I did that I didn't get the BIOS splash screen when the computer first starts up. Just a blank screen. Then it went into the screen where I can start in Safe Mode. I tried starting normally to see if it was just a fluke, but again, I got the blank screen. Turned it off and on again.

This time I went into safe mode. I uninstalled the display drivers (I had been using the latest Nvidia Drivers) and restarted. This time I saw the BIOS splash screen, was taken into Windows and just installed the ION drivers that Windows Update installed. Restarted again, BIOS splash, and Windows is fine. OK.

The next day when I turned on the TV again I was faced with the same black screen. Turned it off and on. No BIOS splash screen, went into Safe Mode and uninstalled the drivers and restarted. This time, though, when I restarted there was no BIOS splash screen. I logged into Windows and let Windows Update install the ION drivers and restart again. No BIOS, and blank screen.

This is where I'm at now. I've uninstalled and reinstalled the drivers a bunch of times, but it seems like a no go.

Do you think the GPU is on the frtiz? It's surprising that this is affecting the BIOS. Though there is no splash screen, if I hit the delete button when the computer starts I can get into the BIOS and fiddle around, but I just don't see the splash screen.

What do you guys think?

I was thinking of trying to reinstall Windows to see if I'd just totally messed up my drivers and maybe a fresh install will set things straight. I don't knnow.

try a new cable first? It doesn't really sound like a cable problem, but just to rule that out...

So weird. Last night when I turned on the TV (not to the hdmi channel that the computer is hooked up to), I heard the bah-bum sound like something had been connected. Switched the hdmi channel over and the screen was showing up. And I thought to myself, huh, I wonder if the cable is faulty. Then I check the forum this morning and see that Chairman_Mao seems to have a direct line into my brain.

After a while on the screen went blank again. So, I changed the cable to a different hdmi I had lying around, and bah-bum, back in action. That might have been the trick.

I'll give it a few days though. What makes an hdmi cable go bad?

I've seen it happen a couple times where the tip gets bent just a little bit, and it makes the signal really intermittent. Probably a manufacturing flaw if no one has been messing with it, and it just took a while to show itself.

If you wiggle them and one tip seems somewhat loose, that's probably your issue.