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help diagnosing possible graphics issue with Thinkpad T61 Nvidia Quadro NVS140

A brief chronology of events:

About this time last year I bought a 23" Samsung display along with a
Thinkpad dock (the kind without the extra hard drive bay but with a
DVI output and more usb slots).  Everything worked.

A month or two later (my memory about the exact time is fuzzy), the
DVI output on the dock suddenly stopped working.  I switched over to
the VGA output and thought nothing more of it.

Fast forward to this past month, I would experience sporadic system
freezes.  The colors would go weird, the entire screen would begin
flashing and the system would not seem to respond to anything other
than Magic SysRq keys.  This would often happen while playing youtube
videos, both in Debian 6 and Windows 7.

The frequency of these freezes increased rapidly in recent weeks until
I found myself no longer able to start X, nor would Windows 7 be able
to progress past the Starting Windows ... screen.  I can't find
anything relevant in the kernel or Xorg logs either.  startx would
run, the screen would go blank like it normally does, but then a
second later it will go black and leave me with a blinking "_" cursor
at the top left.  None of the keys to switch to another virtual tty
work and the only thing I can do at this point is Magic SysRq reboot.

All of this makes me think it's a graphics card issue. The symptoms
are quite bizarre though.  Here's a list of some more that have not
been mentioned above:

I've since removed the dock.  Without the monitor attached, the native
display is curiously doubled - the screen is split across the middle
and the top and bottom halves are exact copies of each other.  This
begins with the Thinkpad pre-BIOS logo and persists after booting is
complete.  If I attach the monitor, the console display goes out to
the external monitor, and appears normally (no strange
splitting/doubling).  In all cases the Thinkpad logo that appears when
the system is turn on initially is a bit corrupted as there are
columns of white pixels going down the screen.

At this point, what are my options?  Based on what I can find online,
it seems the only way to go is to replace the system board or get a
new laptop, or try some crazy and risky tricks like baking the mobo in
an oven at high temperatures for a few minutes.

I'm not much of a hardware person, so any help or advice would be
greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,


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