Hardware: Check the Drivers First

This isn’t a database post, instead, I’m going to talk about my laptop.

I got an HP Spectre x360 a couple years ago and was using it for work and presentations while traveling. Everything was fine, and then the COVID-19 pandemic shut down travel. I rarely used it across the last year, mostly working on my desktop, or using another laptop I have around. I didn’t sit idle for a year, but I might have used it every 2-3 months for a few hours.

I know I have updated some software, including Windows in the last year, but a  few weeks ago I picked up the laptop and took it with me on a trip to work. I opened it to get something done and the screen kept flickering, sometimes going dark. I rebooted, and it seemed to do better.

I used it a few more times across the last few weeks and each time the flicking got worse. It was essentially unusable, and I assumed that the hardware hinge between the keyboard and screen was damaged somehow and causing flickering. I started to go down the support process for repair, but then stopped.

I’m not sure why, but I searched for “hp spectre screen flickering”. Google auto completed the last word, so I suspected that this was a known issue. I still assumed hardware, but I clicked and read a few posts, like this one.

The medium answer (we’re past short here) is that the driver for this laptop from HP causes flickering. It acted like a poor connection, but when I downloaded the drivers from Intel and installed them, the flickering stopped.

Crazy.

It always pays to do a little research and ask some questions before assuming you know what’s wrong. In this case, I found a solution I never would have thought of: using the generic chip drivers instead of the manufacturer.

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