I have a Dell Dimension 8250 which shipped with an ATI Radeon 9700 card (AGP). Yesterday, out of nowhere, I started getting weird artifacts on my display-- mostly inch-wide vertical stripes in yellow or blue. I tried upgrading my drivers-- got the Catalyst 5.13 package from the ATI website. If anything, it made things worse. The problem was kind of intermittent, so I thought it could be power (I have the 250W supply that came with the system), or heat... I went inside and got rid of dust, checked connections, etc. No help. Finally called Dell, and went through a variety of things, including uninstalling and re-detecting the card (it came up as a 9700 TX w/ TV out). Same problems. A system restore to last week (thus also rolling back to a slightly older driver) has made things better (no idea what could have happened in this last week to cause trouble), but not perfect-- the artifacts still sometimes show up. Dell wants me to reformat my hard drive... I _hate_ that idea, and wondered if they're just resisting the idea that it could be a hardware problem because the system is still under extended in-home warranty. It would take me a day to back up, reformat, do a clean install, reinstall software and files...
I know it's not the display, because I attached a different display and got the same stripes. It doesn't seem to be the card itself, because I ran diagnostics on it and didn't turn anything up. The artifacts don't _seem_ to appear in safe mode, so it may be that Dell is right and a new install of Windows is called for... but I wondered if anyone out there had any other ideas first. Might upgrading the card help? If so, would I need to upgrade the power supply too? Could the power supply itself be the source of such a problem? (the intermittent nature of it made me wonder) I'd hate to strip my system and then find out at the end of the day that the problem remained... advice most welcome!
Restart your computer, and cancel all new found hardware that will start up when Windows XP loads. Or 98, don’t know, no info on Windows given.
Then install Omega drivers, from here too. Pick which Windows Version you have, right to the right of the date today. Download and install them. Best drivers I've found in the 3 some years I've had my card. http://www.omegadrivers.net/
If this doesn't work, you’re going to have to reformat and install your Windows all over again. It's really not that bad, actually, I redo mine, as in reformat. About every 6 months. Only because no matter what, your computer will run just as it did when you first got it.
Just put all the files or games as I have on DVD or CD for whatever burner you have. This time if you have to reformat, partition your drive in 2 parts, instead of one. My main drive is 80 gigs. I have 20 gig set up for Windows, 60 gigs for all my games and other files. This way you never lose anything during a reformat.
Good luck, if you have any question, e-mail me.
If this doesn’t work, your card is, well, done for. But don’t think it’s to that point yet. Is your fan still working on your card as well?
If still under warranty wait it out for Dell to fix this problem then think about upgrading.
That is weird for Dell to recommend a system format. If you do this they will walk you through every step.
Like stated about make sure you back up your files.
Thanks for the quick response, everyone. No, I haven't been overclocking. And since posting, I've been able to reproduce the flaw in Safe Mode too-- does that make it more likely that it's a hardware problem of some kind? When I was talking to Dell, they argued that because (then) things were fine in Safe Mode, it had to be a driver-type issue.
I've given up on Dell tonight-- tried calling back and, after over an hour on hold, couldn't wait any more. Will try early tomorrow am. In the meantime, I just wanted to be clear about Driver Cleaner, which I downloaded as suggested-- do I uninstall through the Add/ Remove programs dialogue (taking out anything with ATI in it); through the Device Manager, or both?
And one more thing-- as I mentioned, I did a system restore to a point last week when things were fine. Would the fact that system restore doesn't help also suggest a hardware problem, or can Windows just get so confused that even the restore doesn't help?
System restore I have found to never work. Yes, use that driver cleaner and select all ATI drivers, everything. Then restart, do it one more time to make sure first, that all ATI drivers are gone. Then restart again, install those Omega drivers, or from the original 9700pro driver disk if you have it. Once done with this, do your Windows Xp update for the net!!
As far as the fan working, check on it with case open.
2nd, when starting your computer, hit delete key or F1 to get into your system bios and use the safe or standard bios settings too.
3rd, then you're going to have to reformat if problem isn't fixed. Your computer should of came with a system restore disk, so it won't be all that bad doing the reformat. But will lose everything.
4th, need a new vid card, which I highly doubt you'll have to go that far with it.
Update: Used drive cleaner, new drivers, etc., etc. Still stripes (started to decide could live with stripes...) I still resisted the idea of a system restore because my gut said it was probably hardware, and today, finally, managed to get Dell to admit it-- ran diagnostics on the card again, and while yesterday it passed, today we got an honest-to-goodness error message regarding writing video memory. So it sounds like the card itself is going. They're going to replace it because it's still under warranty.
Seen that a lot every ati branded 9700 i have ever seen had to be replaced under warrenty at least once. They run too warm at ati settings. the Powercolor cards run a low clock speed and never needed to go back on warrenty.
According to the symptoms you tell, it seems like that the you have a memory fault (video memory of course :wink . That is not something fixable. So don't waste your time with installing new OS'es or drivers, try to RMA your card. Sorry for the bad news.
So the new card is installed, and everything is fine. Yes, it was a video memory problem, brought on, the guy who came suggested, by heat, which is turn was attributable to the fact that the fan had broken...
It's surprising, really, how easy it was to convince you guys that it was a hardware problem, when I really had to push Dell to make them come to the same conclusion. I'm so glad I didn't do the reformat that the first Dell person suggested... but if I'd been a little less experienced, I might have done, and think how angry I'd have been! Thank goodness for forums like this one-- you gave me the ammunition I needed to insist on the site visit I was entitled to under my warranty. So thanks, everyone!