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GeForce cards + VIA Chipsets ... *Very Bad News*

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  • Motherboards
  • Chipsets
  • Overclocking
Last response: in Overclocking
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March 22, 2001 4:08:32 PM

Like many other people, I assembled a computer with an AMD platform, VIA chipset, and the nVidia GeForce2 GTS ... including a 300 watt power supply.

Ever since, I have run into more problems using this system than any other computer I have ever owned. I've posted here previously about the problems I've had with this machine ... and as you will read, it's been an on-going battle.

System Specs:
Win98 SE
MSI K7T Pro - VIA KT133 chipset
1000MHz Athlon
256MB Crucial Cas2 PC133
Adaptec 29106N PCI SCSI Controller
Adaptec AIC-7850 PCI SCSI Controller (for a SCSI-2 scanner)
18.3GB IBM SCSI hard drive
SoundBlaster Live X Gamer
RealMagic Hollywood Plus MPEG DVD Decoder
NIC Card
Antec 300 watt power supply
(5) 80mm fans
GlobalWin heatsink and fan combo
And last, but not least ...
nVidia GeForce2 GTS w/64MB-DDR

The system ran fine for a few months. I overclocked the video card when playing games, even raising the memory speed to 393Mhz. I was pleased with the performance of the computer, and I got really good benchmarks with 3D Mark 2000.

Then ... out-of-the-blue, while playing MechWarrior 4, the computer locked up, the monitor screen went blank, and the computer refused to boot. The only way to get the computer to restart was to unplug the power supply from my UPS ... and wait for a while, sometimes several hours.

I did not realize what was causing the problem, at first. Like other people, I did everything fundamentally possible to ensure that this was not a software issue, from installing Windows on a freshly formatted drive, to the latest drivers for the chipset and video card. I used probes to test for temperatures, just in case this was heat-related. But ... nothing fixed the problem.

(Note: After the first incident, I never overclocked the video card again. You may have noticed I had several fans in the machine. I took 3 of them out. I also had an NIC card installed at the time; but I removed that also. I am now running an USB ADSL modem, so the NIC card wasn't necessary anymore.)

At this point, I had to conclude that this might be a power issue. The GeForce Faq page had information posted that stated a GeForce card needed to have at least 20 amps available for the 3.3v line in order to run correctly. I saw that the Antec 400W specs said it could provide 28 amps for the line ... so I installed it.

(Note: I kept installing Antec power supplies because these were on the AMD-approved list, and a site that had done some testing found these to be the most stable. But, hey ... don't believe everything you read.)

Everything ran fine for two weeks.

Then, while running a low detail multiplayer game online, the system crashed, and again, would not boot up for nearly two hours. I assumed that this was because the power supply needed to cool.

I fought the system for the next few hours, and watched the video card die. All sorts of artifacts on the screen. Eventually, all I could reach was Safe Mode, and even then, I could barely see the display. I observed that in the BIOS, everything was spelled incorrectly ... and this included the hardware being listed in DOS when the computer goes through the POST.

After installing a new video card, I found that my hard drive's electronics had sustained damage, the sound card was damaged, and one of the memory modules was fried.

I was more than convinced that this was a power issue after I saw all the damage!

Antec power supplies might not be the best ... but a power supply, previously, and successfully tested under load, and 400 watts ... that should have been sufficient to drive this system. However ...

When playing games, or running other 3D applications, the AGP port demands more current than when the system is idle. The 3.3v and the 5v lines "share". This means, when the demand on the 3.3v line is high, less power is available for the 5v line, and vice versa.

I also discovered that a regular AGP port (not the AGP pro) can only deliver 25 amps to the video card.

Basically, this means that whenever I played a game, the rest of my system became underpowered, and believe me, that can be just a damaging to system components as too much current. It just may take the parts longer to die.

My conclusion was that this particular motherboard, with the VIA chipset, does a horrible job of regulating current, especially to the AGP port. I don't think that installing ANY ATX power supply, of ANY size, would make a difference.

Over the last few weeks, I have found literally hundreds of people yelling about this problem. The symptoms are nearly always the same ... lockups when playing games, sometimes only a few minutes into the game ... difficulty attempting to reboot after the crash, sometimes artifacts on the screen, spontaneous reboots with Windows first loads and/or Windows won't completely load the desktop, system tray, and icons.

I found an entire section of a forum devoted to this issue ... including information on why this is happening:

<A HREF="http://www.insanehardware.com/articles.php?i=00003" target="_new">http://www.insanehardware.com/articles.php?i=00003&lt;/A>

The first thing you'll see, is that this is happening primarily to people with the KT133 chipset, regardless of the mobo manufacturer. Also, people who are using a GeForce card like the MX seem to experience less problems, as these types of cards require slightly less current, and may even be a more efficient design. But people using these cards may experience problems, nevertheless.

The solution? I really hate to say this ... because I have been an AMD fan, right from the beginning ... but the solution, at least for the moment, is an Intel chipset and mobo, like the revamped 440BX, or the 815e. Unless you wish to use RDRAM, and that's your business ... and your money.

I haven't heard enough about the KT133A to know if this problem has been addressed. I also don't know if the newer GeForce cards, like the Ultra, or the GeForce3 handle power the same way. But I would be surprised if there have been any major changes to the nVidia reference design, and the way the cards handle current ... the company didn't bother to correct the problem with the earlier cards ... so why do so now?

I'm hoping that a couple of things will happen in the future. One ... AGP Pro cards will become affordable. AGP PRO 50 and AGP110 (or AGP Universal) can, respectively, provide 50 and 110 amps to the video card and port, using not only the 3.3v line, but the 12v line as well. Second, nVidia and VIA will fix this problem. Or I'll never come anywhere near a mobo with VIA chipset, ever again. Third, power supply manufacturers will recognize the need for affordable, higher power, cooler ATX units that will fit on existing motherboards and inside ATX cases. How many people do you think will want to cut up their cans, and install redundant power supplies? Heck, how many people would even know how to do that? We are PC users, not electricians.

Right now, I have a replacement KT133 motherboard I obtained from MSI, because the parts were still under warranty. I am using a Creative Labs Annihilator2 with 32-DDR, at least until my replacement GTS card arrives. For power, I installed a 400W Leadman PowMax, which seems to be a better constructed unit than anything from Antec. It was no problem to install new memory, but I'm also waiting for the new hard drive to arrive.

The computer is cranky, but running. I CAN play games ... I tested the system with the new 3D Mark 2001. But that's as far as I went ... I don't want to damage the new card or the mobo. Rebooting is still a problem ... I might have to restart the computer two or three times to finally load Windows. But once all the new parts arrive, I am going to put everything in a new can, install an older video card, and set the system aside as an emergency backup.

I'm going to put an Asus Solano2 815e motherboard in my old can, install a 600W ATX power supply from PC Power and Cooling, load up Win2K ... and I expect that all my problems will disappear. I've built systems similar to this for other people, and they haven't had any complaints, whatsoever. This is what I get for trying to get more bang for my buck, and trying to support healthy competition between chip manufacturers ... hit right in the wallet, and very disappointed.

That's the real deal, whether you are using an Abit, Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, or any other mobo with this chipset. You've been burned. If you want your GeForce to run the way it should ... go to the Intel platform, get a big power supply, and never look back. It'll be cheaper to buy a new proc and motherboard than to gut your entire machine and start over from scratch when the video card dies, weakens the power supply, and the rest of your system bites the dust.

Comments? Additional information?

Yours truly,

Toejam31

More about : geforce cards chipsets bad news

March 23, 2001 1:34:47 PM

whoa...you know what would suck...if you had your power supply set to 220, instead of 110, but you prolly already thought of that right?

Y0u 7h1nk 7h@7 y0u c@n fr0n7 wh3n r3v31@710n c0m35?
March 23, 2001 11:26:41 PM

LOL! Thanks for the thought, but I kinda think I would have caught an error like that! But who knows ... sometimes it's the simple things that screw us up! <GRIN> Thanks for the feedback.

Toejam31
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Anonymous
a b V Motherboard
a b K Overclocking
March 28, 2001 6:37:01 PM

if you think the low power intel board needs a 600w power supply to run why not try feeding the amd with the same amount of overkill?

who is more foolish...
the fool, or the fool that takes his advice?
March 28, 2001 10:01:46 PM

i have built a lot of amd systems with geforce gts and even ultra cards in them. i have always used the kt133 or kt133a chipsets with either a msi or asus mb and the vid card i usually use are asus, guilmont, elsa, or visiontek. i personally haven't had problems with it. also it note i have almost always used win2k on the systems and not 98 (only 1 gts system was 98) and never me. i have though sold parts to other ppl to build systems that are identical to the ones i build and they have had a lot of problems. in those systems i usually find the problem to be either software or hardware install. in one amd system the guy build his computer would keep locking up and wouldn't boot half the time. when i looked at it i found out that he didn't use thermal paste and almost baked the cpu (the ceramic was starting to turn a difrent brown color). also i have seen a LOT of people (even in the shop i use to work for) either not load the correct current driver for stuff or load the wrong driver for a lot of things and then tell the customer it is thier fault it didn't work. this happens too much anymore. anyway what i am trying to get at is that it may not be the hardware that is messed but it could be windblows. not booting into windows is really wierd and a vid card problem shouldn't cause this. also i have found that the antec ps are overrated but a good amount. a server of mine runs a 1 gig c athlon with 4 atlas 10k II drives and i tired a antec in it for the kicks of it and it blew within a half hour. i use only sparkle, ultramax, or powerman ps anymore (these 3 to me seem to underrate their ps and sparkle was the only one to have a 250 and 235 ps on the original amd ps approved list).


just my 2 cents,


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Chris
ws6@kc.rr.com
March 29, 2001 1:28:45 AM

What does a VIA chipset have to do with power handling to an AGP card? Try bashing the mobo manufacturer, not the chipset.

I've used a GeForce 2GTS and and Ultra on both a pentium board and KT133A board with 300W supplies without issue. I use 2K and it is all fine. I've just been running a system fulltime (never off) with a 300W Enermax, PIII@815/148/1.85V, DVD, CDRW, 3 x HDD, GeForce Ultra or GTS2 and they were fine.

I think you'll find most time boot failures and OS issues are down to correct drivers and patching. Your toasted components, however sound very odd!!!

-* This Space For Rent *-
email for application details
March 29, 2001 1:29:42 AM

Oh yeah - do you use a surge protector or similar on your PSU - maybe your house had dirty power feed?

-* This Space For Rent *-
email for application details
March 29, 2001 1:45:57 AM

or the powerstrip/apc might be blocking some power from getting to your pc. a old apc 400 a bussiness that i did some work for was the cultrite of a really odd pc problems that wound up frying 3 mb, a cpu, multiple ps, and some other things

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Chris
ws6@kc.rr.com
March 29, 2001 5:48:35 AM

I had that exact same problem.
I have the following

300 watt PS
Geforce GTS 32 from hercules
msi K7T Pro KT133 Chipset

Plus two Hard Drives Nic card T.V Card, SoundCard, CDRW, DVD Drives, floppy and modem. This isn't Bare bones by any means.
so as you can see, I'm not doing this quite right according to AMD.
Should be running at least 400-450 Watts with everthing I have inside, Right?

Wrong.

Here is the problem with the blackouts.
I was running my continuous and when I'd reboot, it wouldn't do a thing, but, look back at me dead as a stone.
I'd have to shut it off completely and leave it sit for 30 minutes to an hour to get it to kick back on.

I'd then use it for a while....BANG.. off it would go again.

Grrrr. "Now dont tell me this damn power supply I only had for a year is taking a crap on me." Am thinking to myself.
And I was really close to buying a new one.

Now, I been reading up on overheating on this site and a couple of others, and happen to be an article I was reading about air intake to the case that caught my eye.
and wasn't on what my problem was, but, gave me an idea.

What if it isn't a lack of power,"which I knew the moment I called AMD they would tell me BUY A BIGGER POWER SUPPLY YOU OAF." To which I would of replied with something smart like, "DO YOU THINK I'M MADE OF MONEY DICKHEAD?" Or something to that effect.. ANYWAYS, or it wasn't the power supply That was dying. What if it's simply overheating?

Sooo... The cheapskate in me decided to pull it apart.

I basically flipped the fan in the powersupply over.
So instead of drawing air in, it was pushing it out.
Also I added a second fan beside it to draw more air out the rear of the case.
Then I made sure there was a clean shot, from the front fan to the cpu and power supply. sealed it back up.
Turned it on, and ever since then, I haven't had this problem.
Funny thing is on this.
Everyones so busy ripping in to microsoft ,Intel,Via AMD, and anyone else who has several zeros in the bank. they tend to forget the most important part of the system. and thats the POWER SUPPLY.
Oh sure, we toss the names about I have this and I have that yada yada, but don't mean a damn thing if all of the system isn't cooled properly.
And I kicked myself too for getting caught up in this name bashing thing and not looking at my system from an objective P.O.V.
Basically I was calling AMD and VIA and MSI everyname in the book.
After all, never had this problem with Intel, ever.
But anyhow,once I did look at my system objectively, I fixed it in about 20 minutes.

Think on the COOLING aspect to the entire system before you go blow the bucks on a new piece of equipment. or start calling companies names.
maybe a simple heating problem.

I know it was mine.

Now to note the differnce on how well this worked?

I was monitering my CPU from the start. Worried I'd blow it up 'is an AMD 1100'.
basically I was paranoid on the heating issue's I been reading, so kept a close eye on it.
When I started I was concerned about my CPU because it was running at 155 Degrees F.

"Didn't even want to know what it was after gameplay ,but could feel the heat on my feet from the computer.So I always shut it off afterwards."

After I did this bit of rerouting it now runs at 102 Degrees And after long game play or a DVD movie its at 114 Degrees F. and the power supply dropped something like 15 Degrees to 86 F and the motherboard is at whatever room temp it is that day.

Now it runs 24/7 without a hitch.

Well, ok. Have this tiny problem with the t.v. card....

But, thats a whole new kitten to kick around.

Damn them VIA chipset Drivers... :) 
March 29, 2001 6:16:22 AM

your ps fan blew in???? that is realllly odd. i don't have any ps (including cheap deer ones) that suck air in.

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Chris
ws6@kc.rr.com
March 30, 2001 12:34:29 AM

yes, matter of fact, the past 4 ps i had blew inward not out.

Obviously im just one of those lucky buggers LOL

thats 4 cases across six years by the way and now u got me looking at the ex's as i speak and its doing the same thing as mine did prior to it flipping around

'shrugs'
April 1, 2001 1:24:01 AM

Well, I guess that heat was probably your main enemy?

Frankly I'm surprsed you managed to boot with your cpu running 155F (77 celcius for the Asian/Europeans amongst us)

That is the hottest I've heard anyone running a chip at, when the fan was running anyway. What was your case/mobo temp at that point?

Anyway - getting down 51 degrees F (to 51C) is good. Is that load or idle?

Cases and cooling are my current crusade. Interesting to hear these stories. A freind of mine has a similar issue with an odd case that inverts the ATX board, placing the cpu front and bottom of the case and mirroed in orientation.

Very neat use of space but IMHO poor for cooling characteristics. That used the PSU to draw air in too. What, I wonder, makes the PSU manufacturers think we want to inject PSU heated air INTO our cases? ;o)

Pete.

Pete.

-* This Space For Rent *-
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April 2, 2001 6:04:44 AM

That was under load , had me worried also

motherboard was was at ' sorry keep writing when my head is half asleep cant do conversion right off...' but roughly 102 so what 40 c? or so before i swapped it around

the intel one i had which is a 500 upped to 550 is at 130-135
thats been that way since i got it when it first came out

now the board on the athlon is at room temp the intel is about 37c thats a 100f right? grrr hate when i cant think straight.

but now under load for the athlon is roughly 40. mother board um what ever 72 works out too ... sorry... and ps is about 80..
April 2, 2001 6:18:52 AM

I think what it was originally was that the idea was to blow air in from the out side across the cpu to help cool it down ... cant remember to well on it but the first p-2's to come out the new ps was designed that way.
stupid part is always told ppl when i worked for gateway to watch the heat on the ps as it would over heat alot and never gave it a thought on mine. tell i read that one article on here. and u see it ... ill go look it up if u wish and show u .. but shows it blowing in from the rear as well and being sucked out the front .. and as i looked at it thought it was a bit silly ...thats what prompted me to switch the fans around. and was instant

the athlon under load is 40c by the way now

was at 114f underload when i wrote last time but i clean up the cables and made it as neat as possible in the case now.
at idle now its 92f
am using an orb on it 'but belive me its not an improvement over the stock one i got with the cpu to start get the same results' but am going to rig up the stock cooler with something i did to my old voodoo2 card i had cause it was over heating big time back then. and see if it works

i have a steel epoxy i used on my voodoo 2 card and i redid the heat sink and attached this stuff to the bottom of it. and it helped big time in cooling that. so what im thinking of doing now is taking a copper pipe from the hardware store pounding it out flat cutting a piece to fit the bottom and basically gluing it down with this stuff see how it goes to help disappate the heat more.

did a hell of a job in transfering the heat off the voodoo card so am thinking should do the trick as well on this.

all u would need is piece of copper same thickness as a penny 'american that is' and hammer it flat cut it same size as the heat sink and attach... should work.
April 2, 2001 12:49:25 PM

Wow. Rather than use the copper pipe (which is a long way from being pure; they mix in P so it can be extruded better), just pick up a small 'sheet' of copper. Usually measure 12 inches by 18, 1/16 inch thick. More than likey, it's a little more pure, flatter, and around $5 a sheet. You can pick those up at any halfway large hardware warehouse.
April 2, 2001 3:40:34 PM

sadly, im now living so far north, they only discovered electricity a year ago. so my chances in finding that are a bit small lol
!