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Squares

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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April 13, 2009 11:22:58 PM

Hi, I recently built a PC.... I'm fairly certain it only has to do with my video card, however I will give you the rest of my specs. I have an Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 running at default speed, a Gigabyte EP45-UD3P motherboard, 4 gigs of G-skills ram, an Antec 650 watt Earthwatts PSU, and a Sapphire HD 4830 video card. I also am hooked up to a 21.5 (?) inch ASUS 1080p lcd monitor via DVI. Not that it's important but I have a WD 640 gig hard drive, and a pretty standard LG dvd drive.

Anyways, the problem is that during video, I see squares. The best example I can give of this is when there is video of outer space, the gradient of the black isn't smooth, it seems there are squares of one color changing into squares of another. This happens in all kinds of video, from video game movie clips, to Wall-E in HD, to flash videos on youtube, anything. This happens in my 64 bit Vista Business partition, as well as my 32 bit xp, and I'm fairly certain even on my partition of linux mint, although that never gets used for video. However, when I play games like Crysis, Call of Duty 4, Heroes V, Diablo 2, hell just about anything it works flawlessly. It is only in the video, not in the game. It is really bad in the Diablo 2 intro video, it is just a bunch of pixel squares due to the dark nature of the intro video. I know the graphics of diablo 2 are old school, however I know for a fact it didn't look like that on my other (older) computer.

Basically the problem is that the gradients of some colors, specifically dark ones, are not smooth, but consist of squares. It seems like a lot of times the entire video is made up of squares of color, however it is not always one color. It makes a lot of video look really crappy. However, most of Wall-E in HD looks perfect, its just at certain times, like the space intro at the start it is noticable.

For the record, yes, my drivers are up to date, however the catalyst program didn't want to install on my vista 64 bit. Any insight on this? I've searched the forums here as well as google pretty extensively, however I came up with nothing.

Thanks in advance for your help!

More about : squares

April 13, 2009 11:38:47 PM

Sounds like it might just be the monitor considering how it happens in just about everything.

Have you tried plugging in any other sources to it, like a set-top cable or satellite box and watching TV? Maybe a console system or DVD player? If it's acts pretty much the same way from a different source, you've got an issue with the monitor.

You could try changing to the 2nd DVI-out on the video card or a different cable, or use the DVI-VGA or DVI-HDMI converters, depending upon which ports your monitor actually has. Just try some different configs and sources and see if it still happens. If it does, it's the monitor. If not, it's likely the video card. Might not be a hardware issue with the card, though. Could be software related.

Narrow it down a bit first by trying different configs, and preferably, alternate sources to the monitor.
April 14, 2009 1:10:17 AM

Try hooking up a 4:3 crt and see if it still does it.
Navigate through your display panel options and see if there is a 4:3 mode.

I noticed a bit of quality degradation playing dvds after switching to lcd.

Online...quality of video largely depends on how fast your connection is to the content server. You will see those little squares when the connection is slow.(FOX HD renders slow on my machine, but the same HD video looks fine on hulu)

Gradient issues are all noticeable on lcd monitors.

Did you recently buy the lcd?

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April 14, 2009 4:20:15 AM

So, after much monitor switching, computer switching, video testing, and head scratching, I have figured out the following.

I hooked up my roommates 32 inch 1080p vizio plasma to my computer. The squares were still there, but not nearly as noticable at first. This was partly due to the brightness not being as high as mine, however overall it still wasnt AS noticable, but it was definately still there.

However, the effect was apparent on his computer as well, just not as bad. Hooked up to a video game console it was fine, however as I said before it's not the game playing that is a problem, it is solely the video. In game it is flawless.

I tried to hook it up to my macbook because I have some movies on there that would be good to test, as well as the WoW cinematics that definately were blocky on my PC. However regardless of the fact that I have ten thousand different adaptors for my macbook and my monitor, none of them worked to hook one up to the other. I will work on that tomorrow if I get a chance.

Yes, I did recently buy the monitor. I bought it with my computer almost two months ago. I think the real test to see if it is the monitor will be once I can hook my macbook up to it.

The squares are there regardless of if I'm streaming or if it is on my hard drive. It is more noticable on youtube HD although thats because it's youtube.

All live video looks weird, the gradients are very blocky and it is, well, jumpy, kind of. I watched about 5 minutes of a House episode on Hulu just now and it was weird. Cartoons, on the other hand, are very clear, although that may be due to the simple colors/gradients.

Overall what I'm getting at is that the video quality is not good, considering I have a decent enough graphics card. I'm considering just going to best buy and buying an nvidia card, seeing if I have these problems, and if I do then I will just return it.
April 14, 2009 4:54:38 AM

If you go to Best Buy, grab an nVidia card, and it doesn't have these problems, you will have paid far too much for your video card. I suppose it's worth it if the problem goes away, but I can't justify paying a 20-40% premium on a video card just because I can walk in and walk out with it. I'll impatiently wait 2-3 days for FedEx or UPS to deliver one instead.

Have you tried completely uninstalling all your ATI drivers, including any motherboard drivers if applicable, and used Driver Sweeper to remove their remnants, then reinstalling them along with an install of the most recent version of Direct X? Sometimes people grab the wrong driver versions by accident, or it just doesn't install correctly because we forget to reboot after each step due to being anxious to play with all our new hardware. (Guilty as charged!)

If this is all a pretty fresh install, you could back-up anything really important, format, and start over. Just make sure not to let Windows install too many devices all at once without a reboot. This will allow you to make sure each device is working properly independently. Also, remember that not all Windows Updates related to hardware are actually the proper ones for a system. Always trust the manufacturer first, M$ second.
April 14, 2009 5:06:25 AM

k, so ive got an ATI card and will admit to being a fanboy. but will admit that ATI's driver quality sucks. but it doesnt sound like a driver issue. clearly its not the monitor, cuz the same issue appears in diff displays. Sounds like video artifacting. RMA ur gfx card, or downclock it using rivatuner. if uve got a second display card use that to confirm the hardware isssue
April 14, 2009 5:08:53 AM

Of course I wasn't going to keep the card from best buy, I was simply just going to see if it was my card/ATI problem, and then return it and go get a kick ass deal from newegg =P

But yeah you are very correct.

Anyways, yeah I am very guilty of not rebooting after each driver install. However it is the same across all three of my boots I have, so for some reason I doubt that is the case. It seems more of a hardware issue. I will reinstall all my drivers though and see if that is the case. The fact that catalyst control center didn't want to install on my vista is still making me nervous.

Another point my roommate made to me was that I was looking too hard at the quality, and that it seemed fine if you just kind of lean back and just let it happen. This is true, it is not too bad to where you can't play, I'm just kind of a nitpicker. However my crysis warhead cutscenes are rather choppy, and these videos do not look this bad on computers that aren't nearly as badass as mine. Overall the point is that the quality is not what it should be considering my hardware. It shouldn't be all blockly pixely, especially not HD video.

But yeah, off to reinstall every driver on three different partitions.... Wheeee....
April 14, 2009 6:44:29 PM

Check the display properties and make sure you are on 32bit color.
April 14, 2009 7:59:54 PM

Yep, definitely on 32 bit color.
April 15, 2009 3:19:44 AM

This is starting to remind me of a situation I ran into years ago. I noticed a huge difference in picture quality watching DVD's in the living room on my $200 Sony DVD player vs. watching them in the game room using a PS2. This was on the first model of PS2. Anytime we watched anything using it, any picture that was shaded over a large area was totally pixelated. This was especially noticeable in dark, nighttime, or shadowy scenes.

Seems to be pointing more and more towards the card rather than anything software related.
April 15, 2009 5:53:41 AM

The more I tinker, and the more I use the computer the more it makes me think it's the card.

I have been noticing especially in call of duty 4 that there are vertical skipping lines pretty consistently. Videos in crysis warhead are ***. Gameplay in crysis warhead isn't even that good. I'm just about to drop 150 or 200 on an nvidia card. I contacted sapphire about an RMA but they said it will cost 15 bucks. Hehe might just RMA it and sell it to a friend or something, and use the cash towards my new card. I've had midterms the past couple of days, and I have a computer science midterm tomorrow so I haven't had much time to play around with it. I will give it until next week and if I don't have it resolved, newegg it is. Hopefully the card I choose comes with a free copy of Call of Duty World at War.... =P

Anyways, any suggestions? I was looking at some nvidia cards in the high $100's price range. As you can probably tell by my previous posts I'm a relatively avid gamer, and I'm picky with my graphics... =P
April 15, 2009 6:48:51 AM

I spent $22 shipping my dead 8800GT to EVGA just 2 weeks ago... But $22 vs $150 for a comparable replacement seems quite reasonable. :) 

How long ago and from where did you purchase it? Is it still within their return period?
April 15, 2009 7:00:21 AM

I bought it from newegg about 2 months ago. They have that 30 day limited return policy, and it's past that.

I just watched some of the same videos on my macbook just with the built in lcd and there is some pixellation similar to that on my pc. Maybe I'm just crazy or a nit picker, although it is definately worse on my pc. Probably due to the larger screen. I don't know...

Yeah, maybe I will send it in. What to do in the meantime though.... Maybe buy a card from newegg first, send it in, when i get it if my old card works then I'll return it... Knowing my luck it will take longer than 30 days...
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