Is my videocard dying?

Discussion relating to Socket 7 hardware.
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His Royal Majesty King V
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Is my videocard dying?

Post by His Royal Majesty King V » Tue Jun 10, 2003 1:53 pm

I'm not quite sure what to make of this.....

I'm getting some odd symptoms.

Sometimes when I'm web-browsing (I use Mozilla Firebird 0.6), the screen will suddenly blank out, and the LED on the monitor flash as if the system had gone into power-saving mode. But otherwise, I think the system's still going.

I'm going to try playing a list of MP3s all the time while browsing, to see if they still keep going when the system blanks out.

But when it does, nothing short of a few CTRL-ALT-DEL presses, hitting the reset button, or powering off then back on, will bring the screen back.

The only other oddity is when I play Unreal Tournament Demo (really the only 3D game I play, and not often at that).

The last two or three times I played, I got no more than 10 minutes or so out of it and the screen would freeze up instead of blanking out, although the music would keep going. Likewise, the three-finger salute (must be done at least 2 or 3 times), the reset button, or the power button are the only things that can get me out of this.


I can't say exactly when these things started happening. I do know that a few months ago I could play UT Demo hours at a time without a hitch. The browser I can't really confirm, as I only got 0.6 of Mozilla Firebird when it was released about a month or two ago.


Playing games in VESA mode (most stuff with MAME), other desktop apps, etc., don't seem to give me this problem.

Additionally, it doesn't seem to affect things after reboot. That is, if I've just recovered from a blanking or freeze, it doesn't seem to make the next blank/freeze come any faster.

Sorry for the lengthy description, I wanted to make sure not to leave out any potentially relevant details.

Thanks in advance everyone!


EDIT: Ok, just a minute ago, got a freeze instead of a blanking out while browsing. That has NEVER happened before. Only difference was that I had Winamp running to see if the sound continued. It didn't...
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Re: freezes

Post by georgep1 » Tue Jun 10, 2003 8:58 pm

Could it be heat related? CPU or video card fan?

Perhaps a memory problem (would probably get an error message rather than a freeze though). You could do a google search for memtest86 and run it just be be sure.

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Post by AZK6er » Tue Jun 10, 2003 9:54 pm

"I'm not quite sure what to make of this.....

I'm getting some odd symptoms.

Sometimes when I'm web-browsing (I use Mozilla Firebird 0.6), the screen will suddenly blank out, and the LED on the monitor flash as if the system had gone into power-saving mode. But otherwise, I think the system's still going. " "nothing short of a few CTRL-ALT-DEL presses, hitting the reset button, or powering off then back on, will bring the screen back. "

Mine is doin the EXACT SAME thing :( . I have a Gainward GeForce4 MX440 Golden Sample. Since this has started I have reset ALL Video settings back to default, but it still does it.

I am investigating memory timings right now (main Ram) as a possibility but thus far (since it happens so sporatically) it's hard to be sure unless I run this setup for a week or so. This has been happening for about a month or so. And YES I have (for about 4 years now) my system plugged into a UPS (300 Watt), so it can't be related to bad power. And, I have Memory Sinks, though, still stock cooling fan, on the GF4.

This is one of those problems that come along that you almost have to wait for something to completly fail to be sure what it really is, I guess.

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Post by His Royal Majesty King V » Tue Jun 10, 2003 10:31 pm

Well, I'm fairly certain that I can rule out memory timings, cooling, and such, because all is still working.

Heat's not a problem, card's a Rage128Pro with a heatsink. No fan needed, and even when playing 3D games, the heatsink only gets a little bit warm.

I haven't changed any settings at all in quite some time, and I'm certain the problem started well after the last time I played with any BIOS settings.

Guess I have to wait for something to totally fail!

Ah well . . . if anything definitive or more dramatic turns up, I'll let you all know!
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Post by AZK6er » Tue Jun 10, 2003 10:45 pm

Me too King. I'll keep you posted if anything happens.

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Post by AZK6er » Tue Jun 10, 2003 10:49 pm

On second thought........

This just might be my excuse to upgrade to a better Vid Card.....

What do you think?? :twisted:

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Post by His Royal Majesty King V » Tue Jun 10, 2003 11:10 pm

Oohh . . tempting....

Though the problem always is that "what if it wasn't the videocard?"

Seems like it is, don't get me wrong, but there's always that nagging question.

As for me, lack of employment prevents an upgrade . . as does the FIC motherboard, which seems particularly stubborn. Won't accept ANY Nvidia cards in the AGP slot.... So far Rage128Pro chipset is the most advanced of ATI's cards I've tried . . might give the original Radeon LE a shot myself . . just to see what happens...

But I gotta get some money first. I've got computer projects, and an Oldsmobile V8 swap on hold due to finances!

EDIT: Oooohh, this time, UT Demo "blacked out" the screen to powersave mode. And then there was the recent freezing of the browser. Looks like the symptoms are starting to mix-and-match rather than "browser always blacks out, UT Demo always freezes"
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Post by AZK6er » Tue Jun 10, 2003 11:31 pm

Yeah, Mine does it sometimes while Browsing, and sometimes while Backing up a DVD Movie to DVD-R (right in the middle of the burn process), so that costs me a DVD-R when it does that. Frustrating :x

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Post by AZK6er » Wed Jun 11, 2003 2:30 am

King....

I went ahead and just ordered a new Sapphire ATI 9500 128M RED board from NewEgg. I will not mod this one for about a month, will run it at default to see if my problem goes away. If it does then we will know, if it don't then we will know that it is something else for sure. It should be here in about 3 days, I will immediately install, then let you know how it goes.

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Post by His Royal Majesty King V » Wed Jun 11, 2003 12:09 pm

Great! I look forward to seeing if this resolves the problem or not.

Out of curiosity, what motherboard do you have?
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Off on a different tangent?

Post by grahamv » Wed Jun 11, 2003 3:38 pm

Just a totally different thought. Have you looked at your power supply?

I've had problems in the past that involved inexplicable freezing of the system - though often, I must admit with a frozen rather than a blank screen.

If the supply is building up heat levels you might not see anything untoward for a long time, but any heavy load on the system will bring the problem back. Voltages go adrift and you're as good as dead. Had some success replacing the fan, but in the case I'm thinking of, eventaully the power supply just gave up completely (and, I think, ruined a GA-5AA board at the same time).

Like I said, just a thought.

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Post by AZK6er » Wed Jun 11, 2003 10:01 pm

My MoBo is a Abit KG-7 RAID, so we're using 2 completly different platforms.

My Power Supply is a 3 month old New Antec SL-450. My temps are Room ambient about 27-28C constant, System temp is 4C above that at 31-32C, CPU temp is 4C above that at 35-36C (this is with NO software cooling whatsoever, just case fans). Temps should be alright I would think.

My problem has happened sometimes right after a cold boot-up, sometimes after my system has been idle for a couple hours, and sometimes not for days, It has no rhyme or reason that I can figure out. Same with you??

Also, all case sides are installed and closed and box is in a computer desk with an open front and back for ventilation.

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Post by His Royal Majesty King V » Thu Jun 12, 2003 1:35 am

Likewise, sometimes a short time into usage, sometimes a long time, sometimes a long time after such a blanking or freeze has occurred, sometimes a short time after freeze/blank, and sometimes not for days.

I suppose my power supply could in theory be suspect, but it's thus far been rock solid. I think 250 watts it provides is probably more than enough for:

K6-III processor running 500MHz at stock 2.2V
128 MB Crucial CAS2 PC100 SDRAM
8.4GB Maxtor 5400RPM drive
Plextor 8x4x32 CD-RW
ATI Xpert 2000 AGP videocard (Rage128 Pro chipset)
Ensoniq AudioPCI soundcard
2 network cards (3Com 905-TX PCI and SMC EtherEZ ISA)

Heat doesn't seem to be an issue either. Nothing gets hot enough that I can't comfortably touch it, and the air in the case is only slightly warm.
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Post by AZK6er » Thu Jun 12, 2003 10:32 am

250 Watts is more than enough for what you are runnung, as a matter of fact, that is what I am running on my k6-3+ 450 OC'd to 600 thats in the other room and I've had no problems whatsoever with that rig (since 2000). That's the rig I ran "back in the day" of AMDZone then the original K6Plus site after that.

Story:

I was asked by a good friend to clean out and upgrade his computer alittle bit so that he could run it a few more years without having to put out the money for a new rig. I said sure, as I love to play with computers anyway and I'd be helping a friend in the meen time. I picked up his rig and monitor (he had bought a Compaq with 17" monitor at Best Buy, I'm thinking 1999), anyway, when I got it home I took it apart to find it had a 20Gig HardDrive, 8x4x32 CDRW drive, onboard sound and video, 64M of main SDRam, USB out the back of the box that I remember he had hooked up a USB camera - USB printer - USB scanner, plus a IR port for his Keyboard and optical mouse. I thought OK, lets see what processor he had to run all of this stuff, must be a Cellery since the case was so small that I had one-hell-of-a-time getting my hand inside there to undo the cables AND there was absolutely no case fans for any type of air flow, just the power supply fan and the processor HSF (factory at that). Well, I did manage to get the whole thing taken apart (since this was the first time it had had it's covers off since it was new, it had some serious dust bunny problems) and layed out all over my kitchen table. I then took off the HSF to check out the Processor and found a K6-2 500 from AMD (well now, good choice I thought, at least I won't have to dock my friend on style points) which I cleaned up a bit, put a fresh coating of Arctic Silver on the K6-2, ditched the factory HSF and put on a new 5000 rpm 60mm fan and HS combo, then reassembled. I took all the pieces outside and fired up my compressor to blow out all the dust, man, that looked like the "Dust bowl era of the 20's or 30's" when I got to the power supply, just a cloud, but the fan still spun, so I thought great. I took everything back inside to start the upgrade since it was all clean and I now could see what I was doin. I added another 20Gig HardDrive so he could do backups of his main drive and a CD-Rom drive so he could do a CD copy-on-the-fly instead of copy to the harddrive first then to the CDRW, and another 128M of Ram to bring him up to 192M total. Man, was that case stuffed tight (oh, lets not forget the NEW PCI Promise card to run the NEW UDMA 100 HD I just installed). I thought wait, he needs more air flow with all this stuff in there, so I added a 80mm exhaust fan to the back of the case and a 80mm intake fan to the front (good thing I had a Dremel tool). There, all done. WAIT.. I'd better check the power supply just to make sure it will handle all the new stuff I just added. WRONG.. I liked to shit. It was a Compaq proprietairy power supply that I had never seen the likes of before, that was rated at 90 Watts total output. Lets see, 2 20Gig Harddrives, New 5000 rpm 60mm HSF Combo, 128M memory module, 1 PCI Promise Card, 1 CD-Rom, 1 CDRW, onboard sound, onboard video, 3 USB devices, 2 IR devices, 2 80mm case fans, and a 17" Compaq monitor? No Way!!! Not on 90 Watts. I started searching the net for a suitable power supply as a replacement and came up "Snake Eyes" "Empty". The style of that thing had to be exactly the same just to fit into that case. I called my friend to tell him and suggest a New Case/Power Supply combo, but that was not in the cards. he said to run with what I had and see if that works first. I thought "Holy Smokes", this will be interesting. Well, I got it all put back together, crossed my fingers, and hit the switch.........

DAMN, It worked. I don't believe it. On 90 Watts....

And it's been working flawlessly for him for the past year.

Go Figure...

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Post by His Royal Majesty King V » Thu Jun 12, 2003 11:25 am

You know, I always wondered with the OEM systems having such low wattage ratings on their power supplies....

Does there Wattage specification mean the same thing as on the power supplies we have on our home-built systems?

I don't recall exactly, but I think my buddy's new Dell system (of the time) a 1.7GHz P-4. if I remember right, was rated at less than 250 watts.

1.7GHz processor, 40GB hard drive, CD-RW and DVD-ROM players if I recall right.

On the other hand..... I'm not surprised at the minimal cooling your friend's system has.

After all, the smaller the case, well, a 25CFM fan, for instance, will get 10 cases worth of air through a PC case that's internally 2.5 cubic feet.

If that case were only 1.25 cubic feet, that same fan pushes enough air to fill 20 cases worth.

In my own system, the only thing I have on the K6-III is the cooler-master heatsink-fan combo that I bought 10 for $30, and the power-supply fan, which is 80mm if I measure right.

Even that fan alone, I can feel the pull of air through the front of the case with my fingers, and when I put my hand on the vents at the lower side-panel, I can feel the draft pulling in.

Fan's not that loud either. The hard drive and CPU fan make more noise. Always kept the system pretty cool.
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