Some time ago on my original Alienware machine I ran into the following problem:
During an active session, without (knowingly) updating any drivers the screen suddenly flicked on/off and when it returned there were regular VGA resolution lines down the screen - as if the gfx card were returning garbled output to the display.
Shortly after that (1-2 minutes) the machine froze entirely.
When I attempted to reboot the machine the boot screen were filled with garbage characters (random letters, cyrillic characters etc) and the system would proceed to a black screen instead of a login prompt.
I found I could startup in safe mode - still with screen clutter, but much less pronounced.
After reading around the general consensus was that a full wipe/install would be needed, and after eventually finding my original OEM disks I re-installed and after many hours/days of patching I was up and running again.
For about 3 weeks - then there was a nasty "pfzzt" sound and the magic smoke got out of my gfx.
I moved back to my older machine, another alienware machine, now 6 years old and started using that until I could save the funds for a replacement.
Unfortunately last night I hit exactly the same symptoms again with this machine. I am finding it hard to conceive that two different build machines, with different HW could run into exactly the same issue within a few months of one another - but there is always that possibility - could this be a foreshadowing of another gfx failure, or has anyone run into this before and found it to be a vista 'glitch'
I did run a number of searches but most returned crcdisk.sys problems related to boot sectors or recently patched drivers - neither of which is applicable here (drivers were updated yonks ago)
If anyone has any tips I would be grateful (tech knowledge and time very limited unfortunately)