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Video card problems - buy new or fix current?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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April 7, 2009 10:57:39 PM

Hi,

I recently bought a new computer, which I built myself (I bought it approximately 6 months ago). I wanted a pretty solid computer to use for work, HTPC and gaming. High on my priority list was that the computer was very silent.

Because I wanted at very silent computer, I felt the need to change the stock cooler on my video card (ATI HD 4850) to a Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 with the additional turbo fans.

My problem now is that I have problems with the graphics my computer outputs. Sometimes it makes a lot of squares on the screen, and sometimes it simply stops outputting a signal to my monitor. I suspect it is because the contact betwen the surface of the cooler and the GPU isn't proper. When I use the thermal paste I bought, and I only use a small amount, it seems like one side of the paste on the GPU doesn't connect to the cooler surface. To rectify this, I used a bit more paste on the other side of the GPU. This seemed to do the trick, as when I lift the cooler of the board, all the paste seems to have been in contact with the sooler.

But it is a quite thick layer of paste I have used on the one side of the GPU, and I suspect this is what is causing me problems.

Can anyone tell me, if there is any way to rectify my problem, or if I should just buy another video card??

And if I should buy a new video card, are there any that comes with a better cooler (both better cooling, and more silent) in the box, so that I will not have the same problem again??
The new card should off course be at least as good as my HD 4850 card, and not that much more expensive. It is supposed to be used for HTPC, work, and a bit of gaming (GTA4 etc.)
a b U Graphics card
April 7, 2009 11:41:00 PM

I've read many good things about this cooler, and the fact that it is compatible with the 4850. I would work on getting the thing mounted right before I looked to buy a new card. Maybe get a new cooler. Maybe the cooler you have is defective (it doesn't fit right?)
April 7, 2009 11:51:37 PM

Im not sure if it is just not straight or what. But it does cool the GPU. 45 degrees celcius is fair, when the computer is somewhat idle (in graphics processing terms).
And I did read a lot of reviews before I chose that one. But Im not sure what to do anymore, and the problem is getting pretty annoying.

Maybe it could be the video card RAM heatsinks that are causing the problem. I actually had to buy different thermal adhesive, because the adhesive on the heatsinks wasn't sticking very well, and the sinks came off. Now they are tightly secure on the video card. I can't see why the cooler surface doesn't fit to the GPU surface, but that would be my logical guess for a reason for my problems. But as mentioned, it could be the heatsinks too.

I know for sure, that it is my video card that is causing the problem, since I tried to put in my old one, and that one seemed to work OK.
Related resources
a b U Graphics card
April 8, 2009 12:36:14 AM

Part of the issue could also be that you used too much paste. If you use too much paste on a cpu for example, you can actually cook the cpu, because the paste is a filler, and you can end up insulating it, so the cpu heats up, but all the heat does not escape as designed. Could be the spots are graphics artifacts from your gpu getting too hot.
a c 365 U Graphics card
April 8, 2009 12:51:02 AM

Yeah, I would try re-installing the S1 with a thin layer of thermal compound; clean the off the current compound first from both GPU and the S1.
April 8, 2009 1:05:50 AM

the temps you quote are good so i cant see it being to hot
April 8, 2009 1:45:08 AM

My assumption was the same as you write, ohiou_grad_06. But my problem is that the paste doesn't connect with the copper surface of the cooler, when only applying a thin layer.
I have tried to reinstall the S1 several times, but every time I make sure that the paste is actually connecting with both the cooler and the GPU, and as it is, this requires a lot of paste (comparatively) in one side of the GPU.
There were these small plastic thingys with the cooler, that goes between the screw holesin the cooler and the holes in the video card. They are attached for three of the holes, since I lost the fourth one. I dont think they make any difference, other than keeping me from tightening the screws too much, but I could remove them. But when I test the connection between the two surfaces with paste on the GPU, I don't think these thingys touch the video card.
a b U Graphics card
April 8, 2009 2:49:57 AM

If nothing else, reinstall the stock cooler, and put a pci slot cooler fan under the card to exhaust hot air out of the case. If it works that way, return the other cooler, or ebay it and be done with it.
a b U Graphics card
April 8, 2009 4:02:33 AM

I'm not really sure what's happening here: if the quoted temperatures seem reasonable, then is this really a heating problem? Could be a coincidence that your card actually stopped working when you made the switch. Have you tried placing back the stock cooler as suggested by ohiou? What happened?
April 8, 2009 9:50:35 AM

Oh, I never actualy used the stock cooler. My main problem with the stock cooler is the noice. It is suposedly noisy as hell.
The measured temperature is fair, but my guess is, that the connection between the GPU and cooler is unstable, so the actual temperature is not evenly distributed within the GPU, and that is the reason for the graphical artifacts.

Im not sure if I actually can reinstall the stock cooler, since the termal adhesive used on the heatsinks is a pretty strong adhesive. Im afraid of separating the RAM sockets from the board, if I apply force to get the heatsinks off.

But I will try to reinstall the cooler, and try to remove the plastic thingys to see if they might be the reason. Another reason could be the metal frame around the GPU area on the board. That one might actually be keeping the cooler from touching the GPU.
April 8, 2009 2:09:24 PM

I have the nvidia version of this cooler on my 8800gt , the one thing i ran into was one of the heat pipes was making contact with the rams heatsinks , causing improper contact.Like others have suggested try reseating the cooler , with less paste (a small blob in the center) , also watch how much you bolt down the cooler , as GPU's don't have heat spreaders. I remember killing my "new" Celly 1 gig back in the day because of that.Other then that it does sound like it may be dieing , or your having driver issues , also what power supply are you using?
April 8, 2009 9:46:26 PM

I think you are right about the card dying. It crashes more often now. I just reattached the stock cooler, and the heat is up to 72 degrees celcius.
It crashed again, but after the crash, the ATI reset the card, which it didn't do earlier with the Accelero cooler on.

I think I need a new card, since this is bugging me big time, and I have already spend too much time trying to fix a card, that really doesn't cost that many work hours.

It might have been the RAM heatsinks that werent attached properly (maybe too thick a layer of thermal adhesive, or something in that vicinity.

But I have kind of given up on the card, and the cooler - next time I'll buy a card with a proper cooler attached from the begining.

Can any of you guys give me some advice on what to buy. I need a card that is just as good, or maybe a bit better than the 4850 card, and it should come with a proper cooler (both silent and good at cooling). And the price should be fair too (im thinking the 200$ vicinity, unless someone has a good argument for spending a bit more).
It is to be used for HTPC (so both HD video, SD video should be able to be output - I have an HDMI-DVI cable), work - no specific graphical needs for that, and a bit of gaming - Im not planning on going SLI or using several video cards, but the card should still be able to process the latest demanding games without problems.
April 8, 2009 10:05:40 PM

^^Price range? else it seems like a waste to give up on that nice card 4850 is a good card given stock coolers are usually loud and annoying too bad putting aftermarket cooler probably voided the warrenty but they wont know if you put the stock cooler back on with the same paste they used :) 

hosereh said:
I have the nvidia version of this cooler on my 8800gt , the one thing i ran into was one of the heat pipes was making contact with the rams heatsinks , causing improper contact.Like others have suggested try reseating the cooler , with less paste (a small blob in the center) , also watch how much you bolt down the cooler , as GPU's don't have heat spreaders. I remember killing my "new" Celly 1 gig back in the day because of that.Other then that it does sound like it may be dieing , or your having driver issues , also what power supply are you using?

That's what i thought 45c seems very reasonable but some ppl get issues with ram heat sinks on the card something going wrong in that department getting memory errors causing the crash.
April 8, 2009 10:45:29 PM

Hehe, right now Im trying the stock cooler, and the heat is up to 71c.

I'll give it a last try with the stock cooler. And since the last crash, and the following automatic reset of the card, there have been no problems (for about an hour now).
Maybe the stock cooler (which had never been used before) needed to stick properly to the heatsinks (it had these rubbery kind of sticky things, which I assume would turn into some kind of adhesive to connect the RAM blocks with the cooler).
Trying to get the warranty is probably not that easy, since 1: I used a white paste, while the original paste was gray, and 2: the rubbery things that were in place to connect the RAM sinks to the cooler might have been placed a bit differently than they were originally.
Yes it is a waste to see a perfectly good card thrown out the window, because I installed an aftermarket cooler, but the time spend on trying to fix the problem is getting too much now.

As mentioned, I will see if the original stock cooler will work now, but the first sign of problems (in addition to the one experienced just after I installed it) and I will buy a new one (and temporarily install my old one).


My price range is around 200$, or if there is a good argument for spending 100$ more, I can go as high as 300$.

Specs:
- It should not have any more than 512 MB RAM (since im on a 32-bit system, and want to make the most of the 4 GB system RAM)
- it should preferably be able to handle most new games without problems
- it should be able to output both HD and SD video
- it should have a silent and efficient cooler (I will not overclock or go SLI)
- And if possible it should have low power consumption (this is not a must)

in a quick search, I stumbled across these two cards:
- ASUS ENGTX260/HTDP (896 MB)
- Sapphire TOXIC HD 4870 (512 MB)

They both have great reviews (I read the conclusions of the reviews), and seem to have the power and silence and cooling I am looking for within my price range. - Im not sure of the power consumption of the two cards, but the price is around 250$ (260$ for the 4870 card) where I live (Denmark)
Can anyone vouch for them, or come up with other alternatives??
April 9, 2009 4:13:38 AM

Get over the noise issue, spend for water cooling or put some headphones on...Thermal paste is applied to fill the MICRO defects of the surfaces in contact, to get closer to the 100% heat transfer you would hope to achieve. Anything thicker than a hair is called INSULATION! Don't worry about video memory and the 4 gig limit in the 32 bit world, fire up the apps you REALLY want running at the same time and check the memory usage in Task Manager, I'm pulling less than one gig running six apps, and I could fire up Crysis and not be over three.

I'd personally go with the ASUS Nvidia 260, but either card should do what you want...
a b U Graphics card
April 9, 2009 8:17:24 AM

It's a 4850... Who made it? Like Izzy said, stick that stock cooler back on it and RMA it. If they don't accept the RMA, all it costs you is $25 for shipping back and forth instead of $150 to $200 for a new card.

Also, I'm doubtful you'll find any cards that have equal or greater graphics power that also have lower power consumption than a 4850.
April 9, 2009 8:56:15 AM

ASUS made the card I have now. Im not sure, if the service shop charges for looking at a card that I have personally voided warranty on (if they find out). Then they would charge around 100-150$ just for having a guy look at it.

The noise issue is important, since the computer is in my bedroom, and is sometimes turned on, while I sleep.

I know what the paste is for, but if it doesn't connect to both surfaces, I have a problem, since the GPU would heat up in the areas that dosen't have connection to the cooler.

The HIS 4870 is not available in Denmark at the current time.

a b U Graphics card
April 9, 2009 10:05:10 AM

Service shop? What service shop, and why would you take it to a shop? Contact ASUS directly, explain that the card won't work correctly anymore and ask for an RMA. If they approve it, they'll tell you to ship it to them and wait for the replacement. If upon inspecting your card they decide it's not covered under warranty, they will ship it back and charge you for the return shipping.

Start here: http://dk.asus.com/ The worst they can do is decline your RMA request after shipping it to them. It'd be better if they denied it up front, though, so as to avoid those charges completely.

Or... Are things really done that differently in Europe than in the US?
a b U Graphics card
April 9, 2009 10:13:37 AM

Here's their process, in english, from the UK site, and it applies to all of Europe with the exception of Russia: http://support.asus.com/repair/repair.aspx?no=201&SLanguage=en-us

Looks like they send out replacements, first. That could be a bad thing, as if they find the fault is what they call CID (Customer Induced Defect), they will charge you for both the testing and the replacement card... Hmm... I still say call 'em and see.
April 9, 2009 11:30:49 AM

The process is usually this:
I contact the reseller (which is a internet shop called Getmore, that is actually known for their slow service), who probably have their own service shop to do the repairs. Getmore will then charge ASUS for the price of repairing the card, if the service shop finds the problem.
But if you ship in an item that is not broken (where they can't replicate the error), you are usually charged for one hour of work, which is usually aroung 100-150$.

I recently had my TV fixed, and there the reseller told me to make sure that it was actually a problem with the TV, because othervise Id have to pay for the checkup and the transport (which is somewhat more expensive with a heavy TV).

I am not sure if it is the same procedure with video cards as it was with my TV (the TV problem was actually induced from the video card problem, as it burned my HDMI input ports on the TV, because I tried to switch DVI ports on my computer while turned on, because I wasn't getting a signal).
April 9, 2009 2:44:08 PM

Like Izzy said could be the ram getting too toasty , but anyways trying to RMA a card that has the warranty voided is dicey at best.Best to see if you can make it work right , and if not get a new card.You where going down the right path originally with buying the 4850 and replacing the stock cooling with the accelro , but with that cooler you need decent airflow and careful reading of instructions.You probably killed your own card , either with too much pressure on the GPU , or improper apllication of the ramsinks causing em to over heat and die.Next time read the piece paper slowly and do not rush ,it says in there to clean off the ram with rubbing alchohol and then using a pencil eraser rub the ram to remove any oils.I used the process and they stick damn well , also there is no need for a tonne of paste jus a little ,and you don't need to crank the heatsink down too much.I hope this helps cheers :) 
April 9, 2009 7:29:55 PM

I did follow the instructions closely. And some of the heatsinks stuck pretty well. But some of the adhesive was just not sticking, so I bought some proper thermal adhesive, and that stuck pretty well, although by the looks of it, I might have applied a bit too much.
The airflow was also right I assume. But to be sure, I bought the turbo module fans for the accelero, and got the temperature pretty low.

But what seemed to be my problem was, that the surface of the GPU was placed a bit lower than the metal frame around the area of the GPU on the board, and that made it difficult to attach the cooler properly.

I am not sure what was/is the cause of my problems - the GPU or the RAM. If it is the RAM, and they arent broken (and were just improperly cooled), it is an easy fix - if it is the GPU, I can't see how to raise the GPU to connect better with the accelero.

But right now I havent had any problems today (there were a few graphical artifacts last night), so 7-9-13 I hope it will work for a while.
I am a bit worried about the temperature though - 77c is pretty high, when the card is idle.
April 10, 2009 5:24:35 AM

yah , sounds like something was seated improperly , atleast ram wise .What you can do is see if you can purchase a kit of heatsinks for your video ram , and pop em on , as it sounds like your GPU was cool with the accelro.That or clean off the old gunk from the ram coolers and reapply a little less , download GPU-Z it'll display the temps of the GPU and ram , other then that,pray to the PC gods lol
April 10, 2009 9:05:48 AM

wow, I just installed it. Is the MEMIO the RAM??
- because they are at 85c
!