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Stable Vista-compat. "not nVidia" card?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 1, 2008 1:33:22 PM

I've currently got an EVGA 256-P2-N615-TX GeForce 7600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 SLI Supported Video Card on a ECS 945P-A (1.1) LGA 775 Intel 945P ATX Intel Motherboard, Intel Celeron D 356 Cedar Mill 3.33GHz LGA 775 Single-Core Processor (running Vista Home Prem. SP1 32-bit).

I don't know much about video cards, but I'm having what I think are compatibility issues with the latest nVidia driver update and Vista. I'm not sure about this (am waiting on tech. support from EVGA), but I'm getting a blank monitor screen with a flashing orange/green monitor light. Can't see the screen when I boot. I've seen lots of similar complaints from various forum posts, and have tried some of the possible workarounds (like rolling back drivers & changing resolution) with no success. I can intermittently see the screen if I disconnect the monitor, blindly attempt to start in safe mode, and then connect the monitor. But I digress...

I built this machine and use it mostly for office-type work -- my children play mostly Microsoft games on it, but nothing fancy (my sister occasionally visits and plays Warcraft on it).

Is there a non-nVidia video card out there that would fit my needs? I'm just looking for something stable that can play low-intensity games and not have a fit when Vista updates (and quiet would be wonderful). I suppose it's possible that this is not an nVidia issue, but I've not had great success with their motherboards either, so I'm ready to change to another brand...

Thanks very much. mcaren
a b U Graphics card
December 1, 2008 1:48:40 PM

There are plenty of GPUs out there.

It depends on how much you want to spend and the monitor you use, as well as the games you are playing.

Give us some ideas about these things, and we can recommend something for you easy

Here's some ideas: ATI 4550, 4670, or 4850 (under $50, under $80, and under $140). These are all solid performers from ATI. It depends on what you need/want to spend.
December 1, 2008 1:49:36 PM

There is something wrong with your monitor, monitor cable or the graphics card. I would find out which, before buying a new card. It is clearly not a driver issue, since you're having problems even before vista has started. Just to make sure, you might try a Ubuntu live cd. Download and burn the newest ubuntu cd and try to boot up on it.
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December 1, 2008 1:59:50 PM

Yeah, as daskrabbe mentionned, you're having major issues pre-Vista load, so drivers are out of the equation for this.

Either your video card is dead/dying or there's a cable connection problem somewhere. I have a double of everything at home so I can troubleshoot stuff (old video cards/monitors/power supplies/etc...) so it's easier, but if you don't have access to extra hardware, then you might just have to bring it in somewhere to find out what the problem is exactly.

Buying a brand new video card IF that's not the problem will only waste your money.
December 1, 2008 2:08:15 PM

Thanks for your replies. Huron -- I'd like to spend <$100, and my kids are eight, so we're talking games like Zoo Tycoon, Sim City, etc. I don't play Warcraft, but my sister thought it looked nice on my current (7600gt) card -- I suppose I'd like to stay the same or upgrade in quality if that's possible...

Daskrabbe -- I'd originally thought this was a card or monitor error, but after reading posts like this one, I'm not so sure:

http://forums.nvidia.com/index.php?showtopic=33671

(23 pages of problems similar to mine...)

The card is as loud as a truck, but I've taken it apart and think the fan is just wobbly. Aside from this blank screen issue, I don't see artifacts, lines or any visual weirdness. It doesn't appear to be overheating.

(The nVidia problems I had before were more motherboard-related (prior motherboards) -- and I can't be sure about the source of the issues -- just saw lots of similar complaints w/nVidia as the common thread...) I am even more unhappy with Vista than I am with nVidia, but for the games my kids use I'm stuck with Vista or XP, and I think XP was actually worse... (am checking into emulators, but I digress again...)

I've connected the monitor to other computers in my house without an issue (although they all run different OS's). That forum thread mentioned above is certainly not the only one I've seen about this problem (sometimes naming the problem can be an issue with finding answers -- not sure if the flashing green/orange light is called "sleep mode" or "hibernation" or what...).

Anyway, thanks for your advice. It'll be interesting to see what EVGA says...

I was just feeling very out of my element when selecting another card -- wasn't sure what features to look for or which cards were really Vista-compatible. Mine is supposed to be, but am not so sure... mcaren
December 1, 2008 2:18:24 PM

Your card is Vista compatible. As other mentioned, if you're having issues at boot, then drivers are out of the question as the cause of the issue. The bios is talking directly to the hardware at bootup. there is no software layer in between.

The card is just dying it sounds like, or you've shoved some dirt down into the connection holes with all the unplugging and plugging.
December 1, 2008 2:41:32 PM

Thank you for all your replies. I don't know enough about electronics to understand what's happening with this card and Vista, but there certainly seems to be a difference in outcome (blank screen vs. visible) when restarting, cold booting, booting first w/o monitor plugged in, etc.

When reading through the posts in the forum I linked above, other people are noticing the same behavior. I don't know which would be weirder -- that we all have coinciding Vista/Monitor weirdness, or that our nVidia cards all failed at nearly the same time.

I don't know if or how operating systems "set" resolutions or refresh rates, or how cable signals are reset. It is possible that the card is failing -- but I would be happier if I could use this card again in another machine with another OS -- guess we'll see.

But, if it's dead -- does anyone have a few specific suggestions for stable Vista cards? Thanks. mcaren

December 1, 2008 3:03:33 PM

If you have to use an adaptor with your graphics card because of the monitor, that could be an issue too. When moving a PC that has the DVI connectors only and setting it up with one a CRT with only VGA connector, the VGA to DVI adapter can get loose enough to not make the connection. Kids or pets can bump a PC too causing a lost pre-Vista load connection.

I'm assuming a 7600 has VGA connectivity, but what's your monitor? A CRT with VGA (hence no adapter) or an LCD with DVI needing an adapter?

If you want a new card that's ATI (the only choice other than Nvidia until 2010 when Intel tries it's luck with Larrabee), then for office work and light gaming I'd recommend a 4670:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...
December 1, 2008 4:04:23 PM

Thanks yipsl. I've got a lcd (Hann) monitor using a regular (vga? serial?) plug (it's blue w/pins). I usually have it set to 1264/1060 (have no idea -- can't see the setting numbers -- but something like that) and I think a refresh rate of 75. I've taken the card out a few times (even voided my warranty [I think] and cleaned & reapplied thermal paste) -- same symptoms. Would try it on another machine, but don't have one similar enough (have an iMac, Win98, Vista business laptop -- nothing else close...).

Thanks for the card advice. mcaren
December 1, 2008 4:50:20 PM

You should be able to test your monitor/monitor cable by connecting your laptop to the monitor.
If your card is broken, I would get something like the 4650 from ATI.
December 1, 2008 5:46:51 PM

If you can't see the the bios splash screen it has nothing to do with your OS. (it most likely has nothing to do with the OS one way or the other) If you can get into safe mode then you might want to make sure that the resolution isn't set to high if it is you will get a black screen. If that is not the problem try rolling back the driver if it was working fine before you updated. Although maybe the first step you want to take is plugging another monitor just to rule out a monitor problem.
December 1, 2008 8:04:36 PM

Thanks again. Should have done this earlier. I tried the monitor with my Win98 computer, and it works just fine. Plugged the Vista machine (with the video card in question) into my old CRT monitor and it works just fine.

What does that mean?

Thanks. mcaren
December 3, 2008 6:31:28 AM

Maybe the cable was just loose after all? If the monitor's fine, the GPU's fine, and the OS and drivers have no issue, then the cable just might have been not making the connection.
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