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Discussion Starter #1
I have an old hp pavillion dv6 laptop that has recently developed a strange issue with the keyboard; the d,f,j,k,l and ; keys will intermittently stop working for between 1 to 30 seconds. So far as I can tell, they stop and start working together. I've also had issues with a handful of other letter keys over the last month, but it's rare and as far as I can tell, doesn't happen all at once like I've experienced with the main 6 problem keys.

While I'm still in the process of running experiments and I haven't verified this for certain, I suspect that the issue is much more likely to occur if the computer is hot; it consistently strikes when I've been playing computer games for about half an hour, or doing anything else that causes the computer to work hard (the coretemp has also increased lately), and often won't appear for hours at a time if I'm just surfing the web. That being said the issue has appeared at other times as well.

Another quirk I've noticed thanks to playing wasd controls is that pushing the s key will, about 50% of the time, cause the defective keys to immediately start working again.

I tried cleaning underneath the offending keys and while I did remove alot of gunk, the issue persists. Device manager and Troubleshooting didn't detect any issue with the drivers. While I haven't tested it as much as I'd like yet, some preliminary testing indicates that usb keyboards don't experience these issues.

I'm primarily seeking advice on how to determine whether this is a hardware or a software issue--and if it's hardware, what kind. Most of the help articles I've seen online are about either detatchable desktop keyboards or about all of the keys malfunctioning at once, neither of which applies to me. Of course I realize I may just have to start using a usb keyboard or replace the whole computer, but I'd rather not do either unless I'm certain it's necessary, so for the moment my priority is on verifying the nature of the issue.
 

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It is most likely a bad keyboard, and laptops are notorious for this, and the older they are the more likely they are to go bad.

Your first step should be connecting an external keyboard (and mouse, if necessary) and see if the issue just disappears. If it does, you can be virtually certain that replacing the keyboard is the way to go. And it sounds like you've already done the preliminary testing with external keyboards that confirm the most likely diagnosis.
 
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Discussion Starter #3
I got the opportunity to do more testing and I'm now quite certain the issue doesn't occur on a usb keyboard.

Would I need to replace the whole keyboard, or is it possible to just replace the specific keys? Also how can I tell the issue is with the keyboard and not something more fundamental, like the motherboard? Would the usb keyboard working rule the latter possibility out?
 

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Yes, If a USB Keyboard and/or the On Screen Keyboard work but not the laptop keyboard, then you know it is the laptop keyboard that needs to be replaced. You can purchase a keyboard from Ebay. Here is a video on how to replace it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Again, is there a way I can be certain the problem is with the physical keyboard and not the motherboard, or something else like that? I don't want to go to the effort of replacing the keyboard only to find out that wasn't even the issue.
 

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Again, if you remove the laptop keyboard, and only use a known-good external keyboard (and/or the touch screen keyboard) with the laptop's original keyboard out of the equation that will tell you whether the keyboard was the issue or something else.

You will have removed the original keyboard from the equation. If you still get the same wacko behavior, it's not the laptop keyboard, and if you know the external keyboard to be good, it's not that too.

You need not buy the replacement laptop keyboard until you have confirmed whether it, or something else, is the root cause of what you've been seeing.

Even if it were possible to replace individual keys, no one in their right mind would ever do that with a laptop keyboard. They commonly fail, and if part has failed another part is very likely to. They're dirt cheap as far as parts go, too.

And based on what you've now said, several times, you have enough data to know it's the keyboard if you have taken the original out of the loop entirely during your testing - which can only be done by disconnecting it - and I presume you have.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
They're dirt cheap as far as parts go, too.
I was not aware of that when I asked the question. Brief talks with repair shops made it sound like the part was difficult and expensive (50-100 bucks) to aquire. I'm glad to hear that is not the case.

And based on what you've now said, several times, you have enough data to know it's the keyboard if you have taken the original out of the loop entirely during your testing - which can only be done by disconnecting it - and I presume you have.
I'm not sure why you think I disconnected the original keyboard. All I did was plug in a usb keyboard. Whenever the offending keys would stop working on the laptop keyboard, I'd immediately try them on the usb keyboard and they always worked. After using that for several seconds, I'd then switch back to the laptop keyboard and often the defective keys still wouldn't be working.

Would that test prove that the problem was with the laptop keyboard alone, and not some other part? I read that keyboard failure can also be a sign of a failing motherboard, and my laptop is certainty old enough to plausibly experience something like that.
 

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Yes, this is the way to troubleshoot, and this is an definitive answer. if you find some keys don't work on your Laptop keyboard, but you plug in a USB Keyboard, and all keys work, then the Laptop Keyboard needs to be replaced.
 

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As @spunk.funk has said, and I have said as well, if you can plug in an external keyboard and instantly have all keys work then that's pretty much a definitive way to diagnose that one or more of "the normal keys" on your laptop's built-in keyboard are malfunctioning, and if it's more than one you most likely have a bad keyboard. If it's only one, there could be some bit of something beneath the key. But whenever clusters of keys stop functioning on any keyboard, your first suspicion should be: bad keyboard.

There is an exception to the "plug in an external keyboard and all keys work" test, and that's if the built-in keyboard has a problem with one of the modifier keys being stuck as part of having gone bad. If, say, the CTRL key on the laptop's built in keyboard were part of the issue, and being "stuck on" for whatever reason, were part of that, this would render the behavior of an external keyboard "weird" too. The computer would be taking input from both keyboards, and if a modifier key is stuck it doesn't differentiate between CTRL+X, say, being cut or just X being cut since the CTRL key is considered pressed. This is relatively rare, but we just had one poster who potentially had just that situation with their built-in keyboard having failed in that manner. In their case, the use of an external keyboard showed little difference from the main keyboard, but the symptoms for both were intermittent. The only way to isolate that between keyboard and some other hardware (most likely motherboard) is to disconnect the built-in keyboard and test again. If the results remain the same, then motherboard. If everything is "back to normal," then the issue is with the built-in keyboard.

Your situation is not this complex, and what you've already done has proven beyond all reasonable doubt that what you have is a failed laptop keyboard.
 

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The only way to isolate that between keyboard and some other hardware (most likely motherboard) is to disconnect the built-in keyboard and test again. If the results remain the same, then motherboard. If everything is "back to normal," then the issue is with the built-in keyboard.
I assume when you say "test again" you mean with a replacement built-in keyboard.

So are you saying that the fact that the usb keyboard works fine doesn't rule out motherboard problems being the cause? I was hoping that it did.
 

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So are you saying that the fact that the usb keyboard works fine doesn't rule out motherboard problems being the cause? I was hoping that it did.
I think they've said it in every possible way.
 
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So are you saying that the fact that the usb keyboard works fine doesn't rule out motherboard problems being the cause?
Under very specific circumstances, very clearly outlined in the entire paragraph that precedes the lines you cherry-picked for the quote. I don't deal with "divorced from context" questions with pleasure. Take the time to read, carefully, please.

I have said everything I have to say on the matter. And there could be no clearer set of comprehensive explanations, from multiple technicians with deep experience, than there have already been on this very topic.
 
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Under very specific circumstances, very clearly outlined in the entire paragraph that precedes the lines you cherry-picked for the quote.
If those circumstances did not apply to me, why did you bring it up as though they did?

In this very post, you continue to insist that what you described pertained to my concerns about having motherboard issues when an external keyboard worked. Of course, what you actually described was a scenario in which both the laptop and the external keyboard malfunctioned because of non-motherboard issues. I couldn’t see how this double deviation was relevant but since you were the expert I just assumed that it (and the upshot, which I quoted) must be somehow. My mistake.

Now you’re simultaneously criticizing me for thinking that what you said was relevant to my question and insisting that it was relevant. I’m not sure how you can blame me for misunderstanding what you were talking about when you don’t seem to understand yourself. I do appreciate your assistance, but frankly if anything has unnecessarily prolongued this conversation, it was your confusing writing style.

Why would hope there were motherboard problems over a Keyboard problem?
I said I was hoping that the usb keyboard being error free proved that there were no motherboard issues.
 

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It's your keyboard. Your particular keyboard is very easy to replace. Watch a youtube video, order a keyboard off ebay based on the model number on the bottom of your laptop. Get a medium thickness guitar pick. Watch the video again. This is a simple replacement.
 

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It's your keyboard. Your particular keyboard is very easy to replace. Watch a youtube video, order a keyboard off ebay based on the model number on the bottom of your laptop. Get a medium thickness guitar pick. Watch the video again. This is a simple replacement.
I've understood this for a while now. I just wanted to be double sure that I could rule out motherboard issues at this stage and was seeking confirmation. That was the source of the confusion.

You've already answered my question about whether or not there were multiple models of the dv6 keyboard.
 

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If those circumstances did not apply to me, why did you bring it up as though they did?
Because there will be later readers other than yourself. You were told clearly, by myself and several others, that your keyboard was your most likely problem AND that you had done adequate testing to make that diagnosis.

You dragged, and dragged, and dragged this out. Own that. Most others would have done as advised before post number 5. It is not our fault that you kept ignoring what you had been clearly told.
 

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Although my heat issue is not directly related to your issue I'd check system temps while playing the game. I have a HP tx2500 custom and the gpu chip lost it's thermal conductivity to the heatsink. Caused all sorts of issues.

Could also be that the keyboard cable isn't seated right. Could have an intermittent connection when warm.

You really should be using a usb keyboard or a usb gaming keyboard anyway. All the lettering on my usb keyboards gets worn off after a few months. A lot easier to replace a usb keyboard then one on a laptop.
 

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Because there will be later readers other than yourself.
So you switched from talking to me to talking to someone else in the middle of a post addressed to me, and didn't tell me, and it's my fault for not understanding? I don't know why you think that sounds reasonable.

Besides you clearly framed that discussion as an answer to my question, and framed it as such again in post 12. It's a bit late to pretend the stuff about stuck ctrl keys wasn't addressed to me.

You dragged, and dragged, and dragged this out...It is not our fault that you kept ignoring what you had been clearly told.
I didn't ignore anything. All I wanted since post 5 was verification that the successful use of a usb keyboard ruled out motherboard issues. It's a very simple question, yet you couldn't answer it straight. In post 6 you ignored the motherboard issue and instead talked about how I could only test the usb keyboard after I removed the built-in keyboard. I still don't know why you did this. Then in post 9 you finally indicated that motherboard issues could be ruled out, but just when I thought we were going to wrap this up you brought up an "exception" and muddied the waters again. Of course I stayed to ask for clarification on the mixed signals you were giving and here we are.

I'll grant you that Spunkfunk was pretty clear. It was your needlessly mystifying posts that kept confusing me and drawing me back into the discussion.

Although my heat issue is not directly related to your issue I'd check system temps while playing the game.
Over the last week the keyboard problems have been occurring more and more even when the computer is cool, so it doesn't seem to be the root cause after all.
 

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Again, is there a way I can be certain the problem is with the physical keyboard and not the motherboard, or something else like that? I don't want to go to the effort of replacing the keyboard only to find out that wasn't even the issue.
If you know your way around multimeters and fine electronic repair, you might be able to verify if the KB slot is defective. But, since you're even worried about replacing the KB, that's likely a "no". I used to sell these HP's retail, and the DV6 is one HOT frigging laptop. If it were me, and this was mine (it wouldn't be due to HP ignoring their heat issue), I'd have a go at not only replacing the KB, but also replacing the thermal compound while I was at it with something like Arctic Silver. I'd also blow out the dust from the fan, as well. You'll learn something in the process. PS: don't buy KB knock-offs. Try to get an actual HP KB.
 
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