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Time to upgrade Radeon 9700 Pro?!!

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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May 5, 2006 5:27:48 PM

Hi can anyone help?
I have a Connect3D AGP Radeon 9700 Pro plugged into an ASUS A7N8X Deluxe Motherboard - 3DMark03 score 4165.
Just recently I noticed a few odd things going on that are annoying rather than 'show-stopping'. These weird things disappear when I run 3DMark03, either in demo, or test mode, so I'm guessing that the problem lies with the graphics card.
I sharn't go into fine detail, but a quick description would be:
1) A small vertical line next to the 'I bar' cursor when the mouse hovers over text, a text insertion box, or some hyperlinks.
2) Playing any video file (mpg for example) brings up the appropriate player, and the video has dark, vertical bars on it, as if watching the video through prison cell bars. Only the area where the video is showing is affected by these bars. DVDs play without a problem though!
3) The shutdown screen, which is blue has light blue vertical bars from the top of the monitor to the bottom of the monitor (IIyama 19" TFT - but I don't suspect the monitor - should I?!!!).
4) the paperclip in word should appear in front of a small piece of paper with a few lines on it. It appears, however, in front of a number of pink horizontal lines.

I rang 3DConnect's help desk and the guy told me it sounds like I have a problem with the card's on-board RAM.
I CAN live with this although it is extremely annoying and I am tempted to just replace the card if I can't find a way to fix the 9700.

This brings me to my next question - given that I am not up to speed with modern cards, can anyone suggest a good AGP card for gaming that will plug straight into my motherboard for around the £200 or less mark?

I understand that a new interface has emerged called PCI Express, but I'll deal with this when I'm ready to replace my motherboard.

Also does anyone know what Crossfire is? I know that this requires a Crossfire compatible motherboard, but what is it?!

Thanks for any help that may be forthcoming......
KG
a c 89 V Motherboard
May 5, 2006 6:38:46 PM

While not bad per se, the 9700pro is getting a little long in the tooth, so it might be time to upgrade. From what you say, it sounds like you have some artifacts. Either the card isn't getting the voltage it needs from the powersupply, the card is getting to hot, or the card is simply dying. (nothing lasts forever right?) Use speedfan to check your powersupply rails and make sure they are close. You might want to also pull the powersupply out of the case, open it (DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING) and blow out the dust. If the powersupply is outputting what it should, the card could be overheating. Pull the card, and again, get rid of the dust on the fan/heatsink. (It could also be a bad overclcok, remove if you haven't done so already. If its on its way out, nothing you can do about that other then replace.
I believe your motherboard is a "standard" 8x/4x AGP motherboard, so any modern AGP card should fit. I'm not familier with what is available in your neck of the woods, so I can't say what to get. An x1800 of some sort would be great, grab an x800 if you have to.
Crossfire is ATIs answer for SLI. Crossfire/SLI is the act of putting two graphic cards into a computer, and letting them share the load of rendering the image. Most people want to stay away from this, as it is expensive, and might require a lot of upgrading. (case, both cards, powersupply, fans to improve airflow, etc.) Due to the new things you may or may not need, it is usually cost effective to simply get the higher performing single card.
May 6, 2006 3:30:50 PM

Thanks for your reply.
I'm not sure whether I have speedfan, although I guess it's a utility. I DO have ASUS PC Probe though, which shows that the power supply (500W Dual Fan) is outputting perfectly. Also, the fan speeds are all ok (I put 5 fans in, so I think the machine should be quite cool enough - in fact, they seem to work so well together that none of them has to overstretch. As I write, the CPU is 52'C and the MB is 30'C - well within the recommended operating range of 125 and 86 respectively - and it's quite a warm day.) The voltages are also fine - 11.968v (12v) for example.
I had the case open not 3 months ago to install a new DVD Rewriter, so I took the opportunity then to give the components a bit of a dusting, although I was quite surprised at how little dust had accumulated over the 2 or so years since the PC was built. It's a home PC anyway, so it's not like it's on all day, as most business PCs are.
So, if everything is ok, I have to assume that the card has a (small) problem. I can live with it, but like I said, it's annoying. I did initially build the PC to play games on, but since I acquired an X-Box, I don't do this as much as I used to. A work colleague has a Geforce card that he bought but cannot use as his motherboard does not have an AGP slot. He says he will lend it to me to see if putting it into my PC cures the problems I am experiencing. I am under the impression that this card was purchased fairly recently so it is probably better than the 9700 I currently have. I'll give his card a go, as it seems as good an idea as any to prove that I have a graphics card fault, and if I'm not that bothered about performance at the moment, the Geforce would do nicely. (Unless you know better!!).
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a c 89 V Motherboard
May 6, 2006 4:23:44 PM

Unless the geforce is a 5800/5900, it will be slower. (a 5700ultra might be faster) It is a good way to test the slot/powersupply. If the new card gives you the same problem, it isn't the video card. If you now have an Xbox, you might not care about gaming on the pc and simply use it for email/surfing. Nothing wrong with that, its up to you.
May 6, 2006 5:20:51 PM

4745454b layed out a good troubleshooting scenario. Interestingly enough, I gave a relative of mine a Hercules 9700 pro about two years ago in a P4 2.4 B machine. He plays BF2 fairly decently (@10 x 7, no AA, no AF))after we jacked his RAM from 512 to 1 Gig. I had a choice - I could have just as easily put a BFG 5900 in his machine, but found the 9700 pro to be a more elegant solution and overall a better choice for DX8.x - 9.x.

Back to your problem - you could try reseating the HSF with AS5 after a good 92% alcohol cleaning and also add some ram heatsinks (you'll need to use thermal pads or glue for this task). This might help. But if the GPU RAM has gone bad, nothing is going to help. You could also have a bad cap. Newegg has a refurb Leadtek 6800 gt for $189. This card has an excellent HSF combo - just don't know how long they will be in stock.

The 9700 Pro was one of those pivotal cards that really raised the bar for performance...in it's day.
May 8, 2006 5:30:46 PM

Just to narrow down my problem a little more, when I run 3DMark03, the first test is a scene from WW2 where bombers are being attacked by fighters. This runs fine apart from a load of diamond and triangular shapes (polygons?!!) on the screen. after about 5 seconds these blank shapes disappear and the video runs perfectly. I am assuming that this transition from blank shapes to a perfect picture is the instant when whatever is causing my weird effects is 'cured'.
The next chance I get, I'll open the PC case and make sure the graphics card is properly seated, but I'm 99.9% sure that it already is!!!
I'm also 99.99% sure that the fault lies with the card, and it's just bad luck that it's only lasted 3 years without any errors, which I suppose is not that bad. How long IS a graphics card supposed to last based on average usage and assuming the cooling etc is ok?

Anyway, I built this PC from scratch and as I'm not happy unless I'm spending money on something a little better than average. I'll bide my time and replace the Radeon with something better!! I don't think I'll bother with PCI Express just yet though.
I've got my eye on an EVGA GeForce 7800 AGP. Ok it's £200+ but only the best will do. eh?! (Assuming of course that this is a good card - I need to read some more reviews.....) :!:
May 10, 2006 8:03:06 PM

By the way, could you explain the term 'artifact' with regards to graphics please? I assume it refers to somekind of 'object' that appears where it shouldn't....

Thanks
KG
a c 89 V Motherboard
May 10, 2006 8:35:48 PM

Thats a pretty good description. Lets say your ram is overheating and sends the incorrect values to your GPU. This might show up as a pixel being yellow instead of red. This might not be the end of the world, you might not ever notice it. (although ATItool will say the error occured.) Larger artifacts are lines showing up or mass amounts of pixels errors so that your blue water ends up green... Heat isn't the only thing that causes artifacts, low voltage and a host of other things can cause them.
May 10, 2006 9:40:53 PM

I have the A7N8X Deluxe running in my rig and if you *do* decide to upgrade the video card be aware that newer agp 8x cards run at a different voltage than older agp 8x cards. I got a x800xt All-in-wonder card and it refused to boot up correctly until I went into the bios and disabled agp 8x support (thus making the bus read at agp 4x). It took me two weeks of troubleshooting and I don't know how many calls to tech support to figure that one out.
May 10, 2006 9:44:46 PM

Why don’t you try to underclock the card?

I mean, just the opposite of overclocking, lowering the card memory and GPU speeds usually makes it more stable. So, at stock speeds your graphics memory fails, but lowering the speed a bit it may work properly.
I had a GF4 MX4 with broken capacitors (they leaked), it became unstable showing glitches similar to the ones you mention: pixels/lines with wrong colours, weird/corrupted triangles appearing on the screen when working on 3D and even sometimes blue screens with messages like “the driver nv4_disp… got stuck in an infinite loop…” Lowering the card memory speeds 10% got rid of the pixels/triangles corruptions, the GPU speed was also dropped a 5% to avoid the blue screens.

Try using ATITool. It has an automatic overclocking feature that looks for ‘artifacts’ while finding the highest stable speed.
May 10, 2006 9:47:03 PM

Oh and in regards to what an artifact is...basically it is an error that happens when you have a 3d object rendering (at least that is my understanding of it). A good program that looks for artifacts is ATITool which can be gotten at http://atitool.techpowerup.com. That's also pretty useful because it tells you the temps on the gpu and the graphics card. It also helps with setting the clock on your card (under/overclocking).
May 10, 2006 10:37:10 PM

Quote:
basically it is an error that happens when you have a 3d object rendering

Not only on 3D, but on 2D too. I would define it as: Artifact: An unexpected or undesired noticeable entity (on graphics a wrong pixel or poligon) caused by a glitch (software or hardware malfunction).

I remember that overclocking a S3 Virge DX memory too much caused yellow dots to start appearing randomly on redrawn parts of the screen (for example when resizing windows): each one of those weird looking yellow pixels was an artifact.
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