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Very odd lockup, detailed description

Last response: in Motherboards
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September 27, 2007 4:16:10 AM

Okay, so I've limited down a problem I'm having to either the motherboard, or the video card. The reason I have trouble deciding on which is I've read that you can get the problems I'm having as a result of a buggy one of either. Any guidance as to which one I should try first (as I don't have any spares sitting around of either, and I'd really hate to buy one just to find out it was the other) would be EXTREMELY helpful :)  You'll be my favorite person ever and I'll bake you cookies.

Two days ago, everything was running smooth, browsing the internet, and the entire screen blacks out. It returns a few moments later, but the entire system is crawling. Hard drive is grinding. After a few moments of this, I start getting distortion on my screen. At the bottom, the words on the taskbar had turned to distorted lines. The screen blacks out again, comes back a little more distorted. Eventually, the entire thing locks up.

From there, I restarted. It boots to Windows and runs fine for a minute, max. I start seeing flickering lines on the screen as everything gets started up. Eventually, it starts dragging, getting distorted, and locks up again.

From here on forward, I may or may not while booting have green patchy areas on my screen during POST and random characters flashing and scrolling up my screen if I boot to the CMOS menu. This problem comes and goes, and is sometimes completely absent until I get into windows If it helps diagnose anything at all, when it actually produces the random characters I just mentioned, they always seem to be '$' characters and the 'u' with an accent mark over it. I don't expect taht to help much, but at this point, any details that COULD be helpful, I'm including.

The random character / green patches problem comes and goes, and disappears entirely once I get to the point that it's actually booting to the OS (only to return as new problems described above once I gets into the OS).

I've tried the following with the results listed:

- I can boot to safe mode without any trouble, and everything runs smoothly.

- From safe mode I've loaded a restore point from three days before the problem began. No luck, same problems.

- I've swapped out my memory sticks individually. The problem occurs with one, the other, or both.

- I've booted from several different drives. I originally was convinced the drive had to be at fault, the way it was only creating the issues when I got to Windows, I figured that the problem was somewhere in the windows directory or registry. No avail.

- I can boot to Safe VGA mode, but the second I increase my screen resolution, I start getting problems and it's only a few seconds before it locks. That was leading me to think it was my PCIe card, or potentially the PCIe controller on the motherboard, but I don't have a spare card to test this with. I don't know why it would run fine in extremely low resolution, though, and crash the second I raise it only one step. Could it be the card's on-board memory? The only reason I find it hard to believe is that card is still pretty new . . . less than 6 months old, as I recall. Then again, so is the motherboard . . .

At this point I'm convinced it has to be either the GeForce or the motherboard. Any suggestions?
a b V Motherboard
September 27, 2007 5:06:27 AM

omdown said:
Okay, so I've limited down a problem I'm having to either the motherboard, or the video card. The reason I have trouble deciding on which is I've read that you can get the problems I'm having as a result of a buggy one of either. Any guidance as to which one I should try first (as I don't have any spares sitting around of either, and I'd really hate to buy one just to find out it was the other) would be EXTREMELY helpful :)  You'll be my favorite person ever and I'll bake you cookies.

Two days ago, everything was running smooth, browsing the internet, and the entire screen blacks out. It returns a few moments later, but the entire system is crawling. Hard drive is grinding. After a few moments of this, I start getting distortion on my screen. At the bottom, the words on the taskbar had turned to distorted lines. The screen blacks out again, comes back a little more distorted. Eventually, the entire thing locks up.

From there, I restarted. It boots to Windows and runs fine for a minute, max. I start seeing flickering lines on the screen as everything gets started up. Eventually, it starts dragging, getting distorted, and locks up again.

From here on forward, I may or may not while booting have green patchy areas on my screen during POST and random characters flashing and scrolling up my screen if I boot to the CMOS menu. This problem comes and goes, and is sometimes completely absent until I get into windows If it helps diagnose anything at all, when it actually produces the random characters I just mentioned, they always seem to be '$' characters and the 'u' with an accent mark over it. I don't expect taht to help much, but at this point, any details that COULD be helpful, I'm including.

The random character / green patches problem comes and goes, and disappears entirely once I get to the point that it's actually booting to the OS (only to return as new problems described above once I gets into the OS).

I've tried the following with the results listed:

- I can boot to safe mode without any trouble, and everything runs smoothly.

- From safe mode I've loaded a restore point from three days before the problem began. No luck, same problems.

- I've swapped out my memory sticks individually. The problem occurs with one, the other, or both.

- I've booted from several different drives. I originally was convinced the drive had to be at fault, the way it was only creating the issues when I got to Windows, I figured that the problem was somewhere in the windows directory or registry. No avail.

- I can boot to Safe VGA mode, but the second I increase my screen resolution, I start getting problems and it's only a few seconds before it locks. That was leading me to think it was my PCIe card, or potentially the PCIe controller on the motherboard, but I don't have a spare card to test this with. I don't know why it would run fine in extremely low resolution, though, and crash the second I raise it only one step. Could it be the card's on-board memory? The only reason I find it hard to believe is that card is still pretty new . . . less than 6 months old, as I recall. Then again, so is the motherboard . . .

At this point I'm convinced it has to be either the GeForce or the motherboard. Any suggestions?


List your complete system specs and maybe someone can help you. From your description, I would say you have a bad, slowly dieing power supply. A graphics card gone bad could also be the cause of your problems.
September 28, 2007 3:50:55 AM

My specs are:

Chaintech SNF4 Motherboard
AMD Athlon 64 3800+ Processor
1 GB DDR Memory
GeForce 7300 Video

I sort of doubt it's the power supply just because the thing runs fine in safe mode and VGA mode. It only starts crashing when I try to up the resolution, which would make me thing it was the power supply, but there's still the odd chance of it being the motherboard, and I don't want to buy one just to find out it was the other. :/ 

Any suggestions? My primary guess is the onboard memory for the video card. Ugh.
Related resources
September 29, 2007 7:04:04 PM

You need more memory to support an non onboard graphics card and it would as well help to make shure all the conjnections to the computer are clean and well connected
a c 126 V Motherboard
September 29, 2007 7:50:06 PM

Sounds like bad video ram.....can you test it elsewhere?

Had a Geforce 4ti Do it and it got worse and worse and worse.....Started as just noticeable on post(random crap in places it did not belong...)....then got into windows and games.....
a c 156 V Motherboard
September 29, 2007 8:30:50 PM

From what you said, in addition to the video card, the motherboard also has a built in GPU. If you have and external video card, the on-board GPU needs to be turned off in the BIOS.

The following assumes that you do not have a problem with the PSU.

I would go online and download the most current video driver for my graphics card.

Then I would boot into Safe Mode, remove all the video drivers, and pull the graphics card. Reboot. I think XP defaults to 800X600. Then install the motherboard video driver. That should give you multiple resolutions. If this works, you either have a hardware rpoblem with your video card or some kind of driver problem - conflicting or corrupted drivers.

Then boot into Safe Mode, remove the mobo video drivers, and insert the graphics card. Reboot. Enter the BIOS and deactivate the onboard video. Reboot. Then install the video card drivers. If that works, great. If not, try to test the video card somewhere else.

!