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PC Screen Flashing Error, my video card?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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June 10, 2009 3:31:35 AM

Hello everyone,

I'm not sure if anyone here can help me but I visit this site often and trust the community here. I have a custom built machine Geforce 8800GT, Core 2 Quad 3ghtz, with 4gbs of ram.

Anyway, lately when I've been playing games on my machine for a few hours (2-4hrs) my machine will lock up for a moment (sound loop), unlock for a moment (sound plays normally), then lockup again but my screen flashes continuously. No blue screen, no black screen, and unresponsive (I have to hard reset). The flashing or flickering isn't my monitor turning off and on, its graphical flashing.

Has anyone encountered this? Is there a problem with my hardware? Bad drivers? I've looked around but can't find any answers, and since it only occurs after a few hours while playing games (can't tell if its specific game related or not) its hard for me to troubleshoot myself.

Any help is welcome.
a b U Graphics card
June 10, 2009 4:05:52 AM

Drivers is a good place to start. Then check your temps (eg, Realtemp) to make sure its not heat related. If that all checks out, could be psu related, or memory, or . . .

Anyhow, do the drivers/temps and let us know what mobo and psu you have please.
June 10, 2009 3:16:46 PM

I have a P5N-E SLI Mobo and a Rosewill RP550 PSU. I updated my nvidia drivers and I ran realtemp and it seems fine (GPU:56c, CPU:60 59 65 65), but i haven't tested it when gaming yet. I will post when I do.
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a b U Graphics card
June 10, 2009 6:43:40 PM

Er, those CPU temperatures are . . . interesting.

If those are at idle or without really driving the CPU, they are quite high. Should be 40 or so.

Please tell me you were running Prime95 with those readings :) 
June 10, 2009 7:52:27 PM

ah . . . no? I'm not really sure what that is. I just bought some new fans so I can put one in. Would that do it or do I need something more complicated?
a b U Graphics card
June 10, 2009 9:31:24 PM

OK, this is gonna get long so stay patient please.

1) Prime 95 is simply a program you can download that will drive all cpu cores to 100% use. We use it to stress test cpus. Since the cpu is forced to 100%, you can test exactly how hot it will get, among other things. DO NOT even think about using this yet.

2) The temps you are reporting are cause for concern if they are (basically) temps while your cpu isn't working hard (idle). At idle and low use, temps for a quad in a room with temperatures in the low-20s should be low-40s centigrade, give or take some.

3) The PRIMARY cause of high-cpu temperatures is a poorly installed heatsink. The Second cause is a poor-performing heatsink. The third is poor air circulation in the case. The fourth is high ambient (room) temperatures, ie, tropic locations etc.

We need to do a few things. Assuming nothing changes you can still use your PC with reasonable care while we do them. Please:

1) Tell me whether you built or bought your PC, its brand name if any, the make/model of the CPU and the cooler.

** Edit - saw custom built in your first post - please provide case make/model.

2) Tell me if you used Realtemp to monitor your temps. If not, please download it here:

http://www.techpowerup.com/downloads/1325/Real_Temp_3.0...

3) Once Realtemp is installed, let the PC idle for 10 minutes, then take its temperature and let us know here.

4) If you can run your game windowed, please do that. Watch your temperatures at the same time. After 15 minutes playing the game, report the temperature. Report anything else temperature related you see that seems worth reporting.
June 11, 2009 12:29:23 AM

Case is RAIDMAX SMILODON ATX-612 and the CPU is a Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 with stock heatsink.

I'm using Realtemp and at idle I seem to be getting GPU: 64 CPU: 64 63 69 69 (I'm not sure why there are four numbers). When playing something it got up to CPU: 81 76 85 88. Which I'm guessing is bad.

Unfortunately my machine is under my desk basically surrounded on all sides (I doubt its getting much air flow) and there's no air conditioning in here. The more I writing the more I feel like I'm an idiot. Either way, would this cause the funky screen flickering if my machine was overheating? Mostly likely the answer is yes, so my follow up question is I just bought two of these:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

would that be enough to cool it?

I should probably just take my machine out from under the desk, dust it and see what the temps look like then.
a b U Graphics card
June 11, 2009 12:51:38 AM

Yes, you need to get the temps down. It'll shut off by itself at 100 (I think), but problems begin (arguably) over 80.

Yes, by all means, move the case, clean out the dust, and test again. It may well be dust prevents much air from moving into the case, down to the cpu, and out of the case.

Assuming the problem remains ( it may not), I'm going to recommend you buy an Artic Freezer Cooler Pro 7. Its not the best cooler, but its quite good and has a couple of other virtues.

Its quiet when not driven hard, and cools well enough at max fan speed when needed. It's relatively inexpensive, comes with the paste pre-applied, and can be installed without removing the mobo.

Pop out the stock heatsink (and fan of course), clean the top of your processor (ideally with a bit of alcohol), pop the new cooler in place, plug it in, done.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Note that this may or may not solve your problem, but we MUST get those temps down in any case.
June 12, 2009 12:15:39 AM

Cleaning the case, moving, and re-seating the heatsink has made some marginal improvements (CPU: 54 53 54 54) but clearly I need a new heatsink. I went ahead and ordered the sink you suggested so I'll just have to wait for it to come. I'll post back when I get the thing and install it.
June 29, 2009 4:38:56 AM

I installed the new heatsink and though it has improved things its again marginal. I think its helped my temperatures remain in a tolerable range. When my apartment is cool I get CPU: 42 42 43 43, when its warm its idling at CPU: 49 51 51 51, and in use its not getting above the upper 60s anymore. My concern now is that I have been noticing that my GPU temperature gets high quickly. At idle the GPU always seems to be 10 degrees above the CPU. In use it hangs out around 79-80 degrees. Is this a problem or are these expected temperature for a video card?
a b U Graphics card
June 29, 2009 6:02:02 AM

If by "cool" you mean your apartment is around 70F (21C), 42-43 is about perfect. The core temps should rise as your room temp rises. You're getting a 7C temp rise when your room is warm, that would require your room to be 82F (28C). Does that sound like your room temps? Close enough is good enough, btw.

My 8800GTX idles 10-15C (ie, high 60s C) over my OC'd quad, and climbs to 80+ before the fan kicks up. It will peak higher (87-89) before settling into the 80-85 range. Its been running like that for 2.5 years.

Sounds like you have things under control now, temp wise. Please remember I did *not* recommend the best possible cpu cooler, just one I've used personally, knew to be easy to install, and knew was very good and would work quite well enough.

Hopefully, these temps have cured the lock-up issue?
!