Sapphire X800XT 'open box' from NewEgg - seeking advice

I am having continued problems with corrupted video with with Sapphire Radeon X800XT and could use help.

I've spent a couple of hours installing/cleaning/googling about for advice and looks like I finally found the right forum (why didn't I start here?)

The system is a Dell 8300, P4 3.0 GHz, 1 gig RAM, came with GeForce 5200 and it has a new install of XP Pro. The video card is recognized on boot by Windows and standard drivers are loaded for it.

Using 3dMark03, several full-screen shots will "shake" the monitor and there is noticeable artifacting. This was most apparent during the CPU tests - the number of artifacts made watching the test unbearable and would render games unplayable. I tried the Omeaga Drivers (3.8.231) which load fine but exhibit similar behavior during gameplay/benchmark tests. I used DriverCleaner in Windows safe mode to remove all old GeForce/ATI drivers. However, when I try to update to the Cat 6.4/6.5 drivers I get an error message from Windows telling me that it needs 'standard VGA drivers' and the installation fails. WTF? In any case, the Omega drivers appear fully functional.

My bios is up-to-date and I've used the ATItool (pretty slick!) - in ~10 minutes of auto find core/mem speed, I went from 500/500 to 522/542 without errors before I pulled the brakes.

I included the following data in case it lends any additional information:

ATI Tray Tools Benchmark results.
Benchmark finished at 27 May 2006 12:07
Device Radeon X800 [4A4B]
GPU : 506.25
MEM : 499.50
Final Score = 6622.23

Display adapter Radeon X800 (4A4B)
Core Name R420
Clock Information
BIOS VPU 500.00
Current VPU 506.25
BIOS MEM 500.00
Current MEM 499.50
Hardware Information
Installed memory 256 Mb
Memory Type GDDR3
Memory Width 256 bit
Active Rendering Pipelines 16
Video BIOS Information
Part Number 113-A26104-102
Date 2004/07/07 13:42

I notice some video corruption in Windows - limited but noticeable. However, Civ 4 (with 1.61 patch) is unplayable - the game selection screens shake and gameplay has terrible artifacts/corruption.
System Specs

I'm at wits end here. Is this a driver issue? or is the card fried?
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More about sapphire x800xt open newegg seeking advice
  1. Before and after another benchmark test (AquaMark3) I touched the chips on the card. They were warm, but not nearly to the point where it was painful, I could rest my finger on them comfortably.

    What does the "shaking" screen signify? For example, the title screen of many games or benchmarking programs which are predominantly full screen stills with some 3d aspects will "shake".

    Notice in the 2nd picture above the "blotchy" area. These would rapidly pop up on texture maps - otherwise, the image looked and flowed beautifully. The last image really indicates something is wrong.
  2. Have you loaded the latest mobo drivers, or reloaded the mobo drivers?
    Try to underclock the card, by about 50 to 100MHz for both memory and GPU core.
    Did the coruption happen when you first used the card or later on?
    Tried it on another computer to see if the same thing happens?
    Do you have enough power going to the card, if you can disconnect any extra drives etc. give this a go.
    Turn the computer off & try reseating the card too.
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