Help - odd display error on older system

I'm hoping someone here can help me out or point me in the right direction...

I'm getting an odd display problem while gaming (all games, not just one).

Basically, during gameplay the screen suddenly turns into something that looks a bit like static on a TV when it isn't tuned into a channel, but in colour instead of black and white.

I can't see the mouse or anything like that, so I'm forced to reboot. Sometimes, after a little while, if I don't restart immediately, my lcd monitor will go into standby mode, or the system will randomly reboot.

The problem started off happening quite infrequently, then it got progressively worse and occurred more frequently to the point that I'm lucky to get in 15 minutes of gaming before the problem occurs.

Most of my system is a bit old, but I'm hoping its not just my PC giving up the ghost.

I've updated my graphics drivers and directX 9 to the latest versions, but its not helping.

My specs:

Intel P4 3.0Ghz

1Gb Kingston DDR400

Asus P4P800 Deluxe (Socket 478)

XFX 6800GT (AGP 8x)

Pioneer DVDRW 108D


Seagate 120GB HDD (primary)

Seagate 80GB HDD (secondary)

Hytec 450W PSU

Windows XP Home SP2

Samsung Syncmaster 940N LCD screen

The components above are all about 3 1/2 years old, except for the PSU and graphics card, which are about 20 months old, and the LCD screen is about 6 months old.

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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  1. Off the top of my head it's definately the video card. The static looking screen is a basic sign of vid card death. What is happening here is that your video card is malfunctioning and is shutting down. Futher proof of this is your monitor. Your monitor is going into stand by because your video card is not producing a video signal for it to pick up on so it does what it's suppose to do when no video signal is being recieved which is to go into stand by mode. Your card is basically acting up and then it looses signal. Here are a few suggestions:

    1) Open your case and remove the vid card.
    2) Inspect the vid card. Look for burn marks particularly around the DVI ports on both surfaces of the vid card. This is to see if one of your DVI (or VGA) ports is burnt out which is usually indicated by black burned marks on the vid card.
    3) If you see no visible burn marks or damage reinstall the vid card into the slot. Your vid card may just very well be loose in the slot and needs to be reinserted.
    4) Start your PC up and play your games and see if the problem returns.

    If you do see visable burn marks on the card then your dealing with a fried vid card and you need to get a new one. If the problem continues after not seeing any burn marks try swopping vid cards if you have an extra handy. If your static screen problem doesnt happen when using the temporary card then you've isolated the problem to the one you were using.
  2. Hi, does your card have an additional molex connector? If so try one from a different/separate line from your PSU, meaning one where you don't have additional devices connected to it like HDD or optical drives. Sometimes PSU's after a while get less efficient (due to heat or old age).
    Also make sure your cards cooler is clean. Dust can gather and raise temps on your card to the point where it starts overheating and shut down.
    Basically clean out your system to make sure that's not the problem (including PSU) before you scrap your card.


    *edit* It could also be your mobo not giving enough power through AGP slot so try reseating as previous poster suggested. On my previous PC I had the same mobo and it kind of exploded giving the symptoms you now describe. Alas for me it only happened once and very definite :P
  3. Thanks for the quick replies guys.

    At the moment, my gfx card is running off a connector that goes first to the card, and then to my a: drive (which I don't use anyway), so I thought it would be getting enough power.

    My problem occurs with both of the DVI slots on my card

    I tried putting my old 9600xt back into the system, only to find I get no screen picture whatsoever.

    The visual problems in-game usually go something like this:

    A minute or so in, I get a flash of the static come up, and then it disappears.

    A couple of minutes later, the entire screen goes to static and stays that way.

    I got rid of what dust I could on my card and my system, but I don't have a can of compressed air handy to blow out the dust from hard to reach places.

    As for temps, my card seems to idle at 68-72 degrees Celsius depending on the ambient temperature. I don't know what temps it runs at under load, but I'll check if I can get the temps before the error occurs.


    After a bit of alt-tabbing while gaming, I saw the temps rise to about 95-96 degrees, at which point my pc rebooted. This seems pretty high indeed to me, and I'm guessing it is the source of my problems.

    Based on the temps from a review here I found after a quick bit of Googling, my idle temps seem to be about 10 degrees C above normal, and quickly shooting past the estimated 75 or so C under load. (Ambient rises from about 45 C to 58 C or so in the same time.)

    So, suggestions then?

    I don't actually use any case fans for this system. I haven't had any problems in the past with temperatures. I've got space for 2 80mm case fans on the back of my case, so should I get 1 or more case fans to help out here?

    I've done my best to clean off any dust off my card, but there's still a bit in some places I can't reach. I'm guessing I should get ahold of some compressed air and give the fan area a few blasts?
  4. Yes, try to get air and blow from the exhaust towards the fan to see if that gets it out. What you might try is remove the cooler completely, clean it and remount using fresh thermal paste. Also, if you have room why not mount an extra fan to increase airflow through your case. Just make sure you get a silent one or it will annoy the hell out of you :D .

  5. Underclock it to see if that helps.
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