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Video Card making clicking noises leading to massive lag.

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 3, 2009 12:27:14 AM

OK so first a little back info on what's happening today.

About a week ago, I was playing WoW on the lowest graphic settings when suddenly my computer started making an odd repetitious clicking noise. Two clicks, then two clicks in the exact same rhythm just a little bit faster immediately after the first two. During these clicking cycles the entire computer lags and everything comes to a screeching halt. Between clicking cycles it worked as normal. Clicking cycles are about 5 - 10 seconds apart and they force me to pull the plug (I can't even shut down because of the clicking cycles), and once they start, they don't stop until I restart the computer.

I tried starting up in Safe Mode with networking and noticed the clicking cycles didn't occur at all. I did intensive virus sweeping/cleaning and found nothing of interest what-so-ever (which is unsurprising because I keep all of my anti-virus/malware/spyware definitions up-to-date and I'm careful about the web-pages I visit).

Continuing to test the problem, I tried several system restores to no avail, and finally tried just seeing if the problem had gone away on it's own and logged in normally, it hadn't. So I decided to mess with my video settings, and lo-and-behold, running at 800x600 res fixed the problem. So I assumed from that point forward that my video card was in it's death throes. Been running normally about a week yesterday and decided to see if I could run at 1024x768 since that's what all my games have been running at (except WoW which is down to 800x600 and the only other game I play is The Sims 3) and I haven't had a problem. It worked for ~24h then my room mate woke me up to inform me that the clicking cycles were back. I told him just to restart the computer and change the res back down to 800x600, and to my utter dismay, it didn't work. I tried a system restore to five days ago, and continued with 800x600, still no dice.

I'm now running safe mode /w networking, the clicking cycles still don't happen when running in safe mode, and I'm fairly positive that it's my video card causing the problem.

I would give you my system specs, but neither DxDiag nor Control Panel > System give me valid information anymore, just N/A for everything important.

EDIT #2: Found my system info in device manager

NVIDIA GeForce 6150SE nForce 430
Vista Home Premium
2gb ram
AMD Athlon 64 x2 Dual Core Processor 5000+
(Not sure the GHz but probably 3.2).
Tried to update all the drivers, no updates were found for any of them.


My computer is about three years old. I've unfortunately and stupidly neglected to clean the poor lady's guts (more a lack of knowledge and funds than by choice or lazyness). :( 

Can anyone help? I love my little lady and she's LITERALLY all I have to my name and my ONLY source of entertainment, I really need to fix this problem.

Sorry for the editting and double post, I had a censored word in my post that bugged it and kept cutting it off for some reason.

EDIT
One last bit of info I forgot to mention, during the clicking cycles I mentioned one of the fans in the computer gets REALLY quiet. It's still there (I think) but it's very quiet.
September 3, 2009 12:33:51 AM

Sorry about the double post.
September 3, 2009 1:11:17 AM

Double check where the sound is coming from, very carefully.
Clickety click click clickety click is 99.9% of the time a harddrive getting ready to die.
The lag during or at the same time as the clicking is nearly also proof postive this is what it happening.

****It is very, VERY important that you shut the PC down immediately. Do nothing until you get a new drive to copy, or mirror your current drive over too.****

It could suddenly stop working completely at any time, losing all your data with no hope of recovery without sending to an expensive recovery service.
Related resources
September 3, 2009 1:20:55 AM

^ Seconded.
September 3, 2009 10:06:53 AM

Alright so I've set up to copy my hard drive over to a larger external (well the files I want to retain anyways), but I am still curious as to why on earth the clicking cycles don't occur during safe mode, and is it safe to operate in safe mode since there are no clicking cycles? By the way I am only turning the computer on in safe mode long enough to check posts here and transfer data as I don't have an alternative connection to the internet, and thank you for the advice.

Also, is it plausible to replace the hard drive or would it be cheaper/more effective to just buy a new computer all-together?
September 3, 2009 12:37:17 PM

Have no idea why it is not clicking in safe mode, other than Windows will load the driver in PIO mode, which is a much, much slower mode.
You can buy a drive for less than $100, and it should take about 30 minutes to install the new drive, use Acronis True Image to image your old drive (everything that is on it...you cannot just "copy" it, it does not work that way) to the new one, and then remove the old drive.
It sounds as though you are not a PC builder, or do not have a lot of knowledge of the internal workings of a PC. Take it to a shop, should not cost more than a couple hundred dollars AT MOST, including the purchase of a new drive.
a b Î Nvidia
September 3, 2009 2:17:08 PM

mine needed around ten minutes to warm up before it started clicking and laging, and after it cooled down it was good for a another 10min run. That gave me plenty of time to copy my 'valuable' data to another internal HDD, didn't bother to do a image thou... My windows needed a fresh install anyways, it was starting to get messed up...
September 3, 2009 6:52:02 PM

jitpublisher said:
Have no idea why it is not clicking in safe mode, other than Windows will load the driver in PIO mode, which is a much, much slower mode.
You can buy a drive for less than $100, and it should take about 30 minutes to install the new drive, use Acronis True Image to image your old drive (everything that is on it...you cannot just "copy" it, it does not work that way) to the new one, and then remove the old drive.
It sounds as though you are not a PC builder, or do not have a lot of knowledge of the internal workings of a PC. Take it to a shop, should not cost more than a couple hundred dollars AT MOST, including the purchase of a new drive.

While I'm not that knowledgeable on the guts of a computer I do know enough to be comfortable installing another hard drive. I'm not literally copying my hard drive I'm just organizing all the files and media I want to keep and setup programs etc. and putting them on my friends external TB for transfer.

I did a bit of research and found out my computer, though 2 years old only, is running a PATA, the only internals available at the local best buy are all SATA. The internals for sale have the SATA cords, I'm just concerned that possibly I won't have the correct ports to plug things in to. What do you guys think? It's a prepackaged Gateway that I originally bought from Best Buy (and it turns out it's only ~2 yrs old not three as OP).
September 3, 2009 6:58:36 PM

If you are SATA, use only SATA. Do not let time pressure coerce you into anything else.

You can probably buy from Newegg and get it in three days, or Amazon and get it in tommorrow if you are desperate for time.
a b Î Nvidia
September 3, 2009 11:30:48 PM

vagabondfirefly said:
I did a bit of research and found out my computer, though 2 years old only, is running a PATA,
Check if the motherboard has any sata ports available. It doesn't really matter if the old drive is pata as long as there are sata ports on the mobo for the new one(s).
September 4, 2009 1:58:27 AM

vagabondfirefly said:
While I'm not that knowledgeable on the guts of a computer I do know enough to be comfortable installing another hard drive. I'm not literally copying my hard drive I'm just organizing all the files and media I want to keep and setup programs etc. and putting them on my friends external TB for transfer.

I did a bit of research and found out my computer, though 2 years old only, is running a PATA, the only internals available at the local best buy are all SATA. The internals for sale have the SATA cords, I'm just concerned that possibly I won't have the correct ports to plug things in to. What do you guys think? It's a prepackaged Gateway that I originally bought from Best Buy (and it turns out it's only ~2 yrs old not three as OP).



If you want to dive into it, then go for it. Take the side of the case off then and have a look see. If it is only a couple of years old, I can't believe it does not have any SATA ports. But you can order IDE drives from Newegg, so no worries there.
If you are comfortable changing your drive, I would certainly do that over laying out cash for a new system just because of a failed drive!
However, if you have just been looking for the excuse to get rid of the old Gateway, then maybe this is your sign. But only you can decide what you want to do.
September 4, 2009 7:29:46 AM

Sorry, somehow I got your situation backwards.

jit has it right.
September 4, 2009 8:26:50 PM

Hey guys just wanted to give you an update.

First, thanks for the help and advice.

So, it turns out I'm an idiot and misidentified my rig as having a PATA hard drive, I saw the big "ribbon" cord and assumed it was connected to the hard drive and after further inspection I found I was looking at the wrong cord, and therefore solved that issue.

I bought a 500gb Seagate SATA 3.5" Barracuda. 32 MB File cache 7200 RPM. I installed it myself, format my old HD, and installed Windows XP on the new hard drive (my friend told me his computer ran a bit smoother games-wise when using XP over Vista). I've got the old Hard Drive now as a seconday partition for storing files I can stand to lose, but interestingly enough, I had installed XP on the old HDD just to test it out and make sure the disc worked before I tried it on my new HDD and the clicking cycles were gone while running under XP. Was wondering what yall thought of that and your feelings on me possibly relying on it as a backup storage space, given it's history but current working and non-clicking condition.

Lastly I wanted to say thanks again for the advice and words of wisdom, if it wasn't for you guys I might've lost all my media and that would've been devastating.
September 4, 2009 9:48:46 PM

Glad you are up and running.

HDs can emit a normal sound when operating that some might describe as "clicking". However, IMO you cannot do anything to a HD to make it sound like its "CLICKING". When a HD does that, trouble is comi . . . already here.
September 5, 2009 9:27:11 AM

It might appear to be okay...it might even work fine for a while, but once the problem starts that you have experienced, it very seldom gets better over time.
One day you could turn your PC on, and it simply won't work. Anyhow, glad your are up and runing with all your data in tact.
!