HDD & GC issues on Asus N56VZ

Dec 26, 2018

After 6y usage, I have some problems on my Asus N56VZ for which I'm asking for your help:

1. Graphics cards : Since 2-3 years, I've been having an issue which seems to be related to one of my GC (HD 4000 Integrated or 650M): after the Windows logo at the start, I had the screen which was flickering more or less heavily, up until the point where the screen was illegible. The problem was disappearing when I launched a video game, even if only in the background (eg. Heroes of the Storm launch screen). It worsen with the time, as at the start it was only small screen jumps.

The theory was that the problem was due to the integrated graphics cards and when starting a video game the 650M was getting active and thus resolving it. The problem seemed also gone when desactivating one OR the other GC (which is surprising if its the Integrated's fault). If done, no longer need to have a video game opened. But I'm far from sure that this is really optimal for the PC.
I went to 2 repair shops which also thought it was a GC issue, although one thought that it was due to the 650M, the other the integrated...

I also what seemed to be huge performances issues - well below what the PC should be able to do - mostly ingame for quite some time (really low FPS with graphs at minimum except native resolution 1980x1080 on Starcraft 2 and Heroes of the Storm, same thing on Fortnite when I tried it for couple of games - hardly playable basically).

I also tried not to shut off the PC because I had huge problems to turn it back on. Often, it crashed during the restart, or I had a black after the windows logo. I don't know if this is also GC related or HDD related, on which I'll talk now.

The question is thus the following: is it possible to figure out which GC is faulty? How to exonerate the processor (because no interest in trying to fix the rest if the processor is also faulty)? I saw some motherboards on Ebay and AliExpress around 50 euros, could it be a solution (at least a short term one)?

2. The battery being dead (didn't last more than a few minutes) from quite some time as well, I had the PC plugged in permanently. Yet, I moved it to another room when the PC was switched on and it shut down during the displaxing in less than a minute. It was then impossible to restart it, I only had black screens, even plugged in in VGA or HDMI to another screen.
I still had access to the BIOS, I tried to boot with an usb key with windows iso (which was working, tried on another PC), but after the first steps and a "please wait", it ended in a black screen once again.
I brought it to a repair shop (haven't taken it back since) which told me it was the HDD who was dead. I thought about sending it to ASUS to have their diagnosis on everything but it costs 75 euros if you don't want them to fix it, which is quite expensive.

To replace the HDD, I have a 500go Toshiba Canvio Basics but I think that its welded so I can't use it as internal drive. Thus, I have to buy another HDD, while waiting for 6 months or so when I will be able the buy a desktop PC (budget not yet established but I guess max 1000 euros, display included).

So I'm thinking about buying a SSD (256go?) that I wil use in this laptop and then into the desktop PC. I have a 6to Seagate Expansion Desktop that I think I could use as internal HDD in the desktop as well. For the Asus, Crucial M4 and Samsung were advised for the SSD's choice, I guess I could buy one of their current version.
Would it be ok to only have the SSD (if only 256go) in the laptop for now? I could also buy a cheap HDD and replace the CD player (which no longer detect disks) with it so I could have SSD+HDD in the laptop but since it's only temporary until the desktop I don't really want to spend too much on it.

Obviously, I'm looking for the most relevant solution as I don't want to spend 300 euros in what looks like a dying PC. I'm aware that 6y for a laptop starts to be long but it's hard to really estimate things when I don't exactly know its real state.

Thanks a lot for your help :).

NB: I did another thread regarding my mother's PC, if ever you have time to take a look at it as well: http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/answers/id-3852856/ram-ssd-lenovo-m58.html
You need to fix issue 2 first, get another drive, install Windows on that with new drivers (from ASUS support site, even for the video card). If the card issues continue, then it's a physical issue with the laptop. Samsung EVOs are pretty much the go-to models but if you find something cheaper from another known brand it would be fine to use.
Dec 26, 2018
Thanks for the answer.
Yes, I agree about fixing issue 2 first, but I'm pretty sure that the card issue will remain. And if it does, I might as well put the Asus aside and instead use the shitty PC I'm using right now (landed by a friend) till I'm able to buy the desktop one. Because by doing so, if I wait x months to buy the SSD, I might be able to get it a cheaper price.
I'd love to be able to at least know exactly whats the deal with the GC issue, see if it's fixable or not then I could decide regarding the SSD buying.
Is there any difference between Samsung EVos and Crucial ? I didn't look much yet but I found them at the same price basically.

If the same price, go with Samsung.

Dec 26, 2018

I come back with some updates.

I connected the so called dead HDD to another PC. It actually isn't dead, only some defective sectors, I was able to recover all the data.

I still got the SSD and installed it in the PC. Sadly, the PC was overheating and it would shut down during W10 install. So I opened it, cleaned it and changed the thermal past (which was in a bad shape) with Artic MX-4.
The PC now works correctly, it heats less, but I might have put slightly too much thermal paste because the temps are still high imo (54C idle).

However, my old issues still are here:
- the screen still flickers and even freezes. This is resolved when desactiving the integrated GPU or if I connect the PC to another monitor via VGA.
When booting/waking up from hibernation, I sometimes don't have any display, just a black screen. When booting, I hear the fan but the keyboard doesn't illuminate (which it does for few seconds during a normal boot) and the screen remains black. No display in this case if connected to another monitor.
When this happens, the only solution I found is to keep rebooting until it works. The integrated GPU being desactivated, I don't know if this is linked to this issue.

- My graphics performances are still not good, even worse than before it seems. I tried playing to MTG Arena (which isn't the most demanding game) and the game was unplayable in native resolution and lowest graph. Even in 1366x768, the game was still not smooth.

My question is thus: what would be the method to test the components, other than the GCs, and confirm that they are in good shape before buying another motherboard (50-60 euros from China) ? Indeed, there would be no point in buying another mobo if the processor is defective for instance.
I did a Memtest run for the RAM and no error. For the CPU, I used IntelProcessor diagnostic tool which didn't find any problem and Aida64, which during the stability test indicates CPU throttling 1% (overheating detected). I assume this is due to a bad application of the thermal paste (at least I hope it is and not something else).

Concerning the SSD, a Samsung EVO 850 500go which is new and barely occupied, it seems that it has bad 4k performances (userbenchmark says "performing way below expectations"). I did some benchmarks with several AHCI drivers and Crystaldiskmark results remain better with the generic Windows driver (unless on Samsung Magician for 1 driver which is better in 4k).
I don't have another PC with Sata 3 on my hand; is there another way to determine if those bad performances are due to the PC or the SSD itself?

Finally, when checking motherboards, I saw that I could also buy one for this laptop with a 750M GC instead of the current 650M. How one can know if would be compatible?

Here is a link with some screenshots I took about all this: View: https://imgur.com/a/mlC10WD

Thanks a lot for your help!