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Strange issue, potentially graphics card related

Last response: in Systems
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November 16, 2008 5:28:23 PM

Hello everyone. Two years ago I built a computer for gaming and all was well. Suddenly this morning, whilst playing Red Alert 3, my computer crashed with what can only be described as "squiggly, blue lines" across the screen.

When I restarted the computer, the squiggly lines appeared on the picture when it booted and during POST, random ASCII characters appear on the screen. Once it got through to the Windows desktop, the blue lines were back, but in a slightly different pattern. The lines appear blue on dark colours like red and black, whereas they are yellow on backgrounds like white.

Furthermore, the computer acts as if my graphics card doesn't exist. It comes up in Device Manager with the exclamation mark. It then says "This device cannot start (code 10)" and reverts to using "default monitor" with lowest resolution and so forth.

Courses of action I have tried with no success:
Updating drivers, downgrading drivers, clear CMOS, checked BIOS, cleared computer of dust, took out components & replaced them, checked connections.

I haven't changed any hardware or software (that I know of, perhaps Windows Update), it just happened. The computer still boots, I've had graphics cards die before, but it would have a fit at boot-up. This still boots fine.

Computer specifications:
Motherboard: Abit AN9 32x Fatal1ty Socket AM2
Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200 Retail AM2 (2.6GHz)
RAM: OCZ 2GB (2 x 1GB) PC2-6400 Dual Channel
Graphics: BFG GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB GDDR3 HDTV/Dual DVI (PCI-Express)
PSU: Hiper 580W
HD: 2x 80Gb Seagate SATA RAID
OS: Windows XP Home SP2

I can't imagine it being overheating or underpowered, as it's ran perfectly fine for two years and can handle all the games I've thrown at it. I checked using Speedfan, which said the rails were 12.4V. Nothing is overclocked, to my knowledge. All hardware should be default settings.

I really hope my graphics card isn't bust, as it's very expensive (Almost £400 January 2007). I don't have any alternative PCI-E cards, so I can't switch it out to test. If it is the card, please can a new card be recommended?

Thank you in advance.
a c 103 B Homebuilt system
a c 1318 U Graphics card
November 17, 2008 12:41:36 AM

http://www.bfgtech.com/warranty.aspx
If you are the original purchaser I hope it is your GPU, because BFG has good warranty coverage.
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
a b U Graphics card
November 17, 2008 12:50:06 AM

It would seem to be the card. They really don't last forever. If you tend to hold onto video cards a long time, try to get one from EVGA... at least they have a lifetime warranty.

It could be the MB though... Abit would not be considered high quality, and indeed they are gone ;) 

You should try to find a card to test with if you can.

The good news is that you can beat the performance of the old card and pay very little. ATI 4850 will beat it.

If you prefer nVidia look for a GTX 260 with 216 processor cores... must be 216. They are about $270.00 US right now.

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=GX..."Toxic%20Edition"%20512MB%20GDDR3%20TV-Out/Dual%20DVI/HDMI%20(PCI-Express)%20-%20Retail
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=GX..."Core%20216"%20896MB%20GDDR3%20TV-Out/Dual%20DVI%20(PCI-Express)%20-%20Retail
Related resources
a c 103 B Homebuilt system
a c 1318 U Graphics card
November 17, 2008 1:01:13 AM

BFG has a 10 year warranty for original purchaser residing outside the US.
It is time to contact them!
November 17, 2008 8:01:57 PM

I've been out of the technology loop since I built this computer in January 2007, it seems there's a whole new GeForce series and then some, since the 8800 came out!

If I purchase the GTX 260, would it be correct to assume it'll need more power? I don't particularly fancy purchasing another PSU unless I have to, though I'm sure 580W is pretty much the minimum for the equipment I currently have.

Thank you for the comments so far.
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
a b U Graphics card
November 17, 2008 10:20:14 PM

Is that a Hiper M series?

It's cutting it close, but I would say if it's one of the quality newer Hipers, it will do.
November 18, 2008 7:41:13 PM

I'm puzzled regarding graphics cards and prices. Normally, one would assume that the higher the price, the better overall quality the product. I've looked over the performance graphs supplied on this website, which shows the Radeon HD 4850 outperforms the GTX 260, yet the Radeon is £70.50 cheaper on Overclockers (my preferred retailer).

I'm not an expert on the matter, but this seems confusing. I'm rather strapped for cash, so any money I can save is a massive benefit. Is there any reason why the Radeon is cheaper and better in regards to performance? My final question, if I switch to Radeon (which is looking likely), are there any additional requirements other than different graphics drivers?

Thanks, chaps!
November 18, 2008 7:56:45 PM

Apologies for the double-post, it appears I cannot edit my own posts. In the above post, I accidentally referred to the 4850, but the point I make still stands as there's a 4870 that is still cheaper than the GTX 260.

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=GX...(PCI-Express)%20-%20Retail

As it's on offer for this week, is this a bargain worth snapping up? I'm really behind on the technology and it advances so fast.

Cheers again.
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
a b U Graphics card
November 19, 2008 12:49:04 AM

There are two different versions of the GTX 260. One has 216 processing cores, and matches the 4870 in performance or even beats it at stock speeds.

Several months ago ATI released the 4850 and 4870. These cards cost less and/or performed better than nVidia's offerings. The GTX 260 core 216 was only recently released to combat the sudden market share that ATI gained.

Here in the US the prices are very close. If you are not intending to run two cards in crossfire or SLI in the future, then by all means just choose one with a good price and warranty.
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
a b U Graphics card
November 19, 2008 12:59:23 AM

Personally I favor cooling solutions that channel the heat out of the case.

I own this card:
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=GX..."Toxic"%20512MB%20GDDR5%20TV-Out/Dual%20DVI/HDMI%20(PCI-Express)%20-%20Retail

I really can't rave enough about it. It came already overclocked and I pushed it right up the the maximum the software from Sapphire allows. It still runs under 60c AT FULL LOAD! At the standard overclock the fan can be set to be very quiet while still cooling well.
!