About 2 or so years ago we bought my wife an HP Pavilion desktop computer to replace her old one. About 6 or so months ago now it started crashing. This happened immediately following a windows update. The crashes had little graphical errors and a pink tint and then went straight to a blue screen stop error and a restart. For a few days it would only happen once in a while, so she didn't really care, but soon it got so bad and started boot-looping that she tried to fix it. Well, more like Windows itself tried to fix it for her, but its repair options and restore options it wanted to do did nothing at all. So she used the option to restore the computer to factory settings. This didn't work, either. It kept getting the pink tinted screen and crashing.
I tried to mess with the graphics drivers, and a few others after that, and nothing worked, so fearing a hardware problem, I gave it to a friend of mine that knows how to fix computers. He used to be part of the geek squad, and is generally just pretty good with these things. He took it for about a month and ran tests on all the hardware. He couldn't find anything wrong at all physically. His theory was then that HP made an update that wrote to the recovery partition, and that's why we couldn't completely restore the computer to factory settings without the error popping up.
So his suggestion was to wipe the computer and put Windows 7 on it, since that would give an HP-less install. So we go and plunk down our 200 bucks hoping this would fix our 1000+ dollar brick. Well, it doesn't. After about 10 retries in installing windows (it would always crash at the point you need to put in your info, right after installing and then boot-loop for a while), we got it on and we thought it was working. It worked almost all night that night, until about 6 hours later the screen tinted mostly pink and got kind of funky and it crashed again. After that I tried reinstalling the graphics card drivers, and it worked then for 2 days with only two probles, one after waking it from standby and another of the typical pink tint and blue screen crashes came at the end of one night. What's weird about that night is that she played The Sims 3 for about hours with no hitch, and I played Torchlight for a little bit, and after that while on the desktop doing literally nothing is when it crashed. The day after that it was fine. Well now yesterday it went completely bonkers and started boot-looping again.
Now I've got it working completely fine for her with one exception: It only works with the graphics drivers completely uninstalled. Nothing happens at all then. There are no crashes, and it runs great. Only problem is that she can't play her games, and it doesn't look too pretty either. I'm not sure how telling this is, but in fact throughout this entire process safe mode has worked 100% flawlessly. I'm not sure how much hardware problems affect safe mode, but it was very much working fine.
For information sake the computer is an HP Pavilion m9040n, and it has a Geforce 8400gs graphics card.
What can I do to get her thousand dollar not-quite-brick back up and running The Sims and stuff for her?