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XFX HD 5770: Troubleshooting without additional parts

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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January 12, 2010 9:13:09 PM

3 weeks ago I built myself a Phenom II x3 system using a Gigabyte GA-MA770T-UD3P and running an XFX HD 5770 powered by a Corsair 750W PS.

I wish I could give you all a Win7 64-bit success story here, as my entire rig has been running rock solid for 3 weeks now without so much as a hiccup. However, last night something happened and I am trying to wrap my brain around this.

Here is the course of events.

Sitting at the Star Trek Online login, my screen went darkish blue and everything was locked up.
Upon reboot, I got no POST screens at all
After several reboot attempts I power-cycled and the system POSTed and began to boot, and then dark screen.

Over the next hour I ran through all 4 sticks of ram in various combinations. Re-seated my CPU several times and checked the heatsink to make sure it was seating well.

I was able to get the system to come up after any extended down-time, but for only 10 seconds or so. At one point I was in my BIOS just watching and waiting when the lower 1/4th of the screen would flicker and scramble. It did this for a few seconds and the screen went dark.

Tested the system in the AM with the same results.

I brought it into work so that I could pry out the PCIe card from my work PC, which is the ONLY PCIe I have access to at all, and as I suspected the system booted fine and remained on.

Case closed, I suppose. Except that I put all the hardware back where it belonged and for no reason in particular tried my system again with the XFX. One screen hiccup while I was in the BIOS, and after that was able to boot into Windows no problem and let it sit there for 5 minutes without an issue.

My concern here is that in a lot of ways I am back to square one on identifying the cause because it may not be the XFX at all. If it had remained consistent with the failure I'd have known it was. Thing is, I don't have long-term access to another card, so I am trying to troubleshoot a Vid/MB/CPU problem without any spare parts to swap with, and with a problem that manifests simply as no POST.

To compound this issue, my window for return to NewEgg is closing quickly, and I am also trying to deal with the reality that I don't have the retail packaging anymore. Stupid me, I threw it out. So unless I can find someones trash XFX HD5770 box, I am out of luck on that.

So, I am curious, how would you guys go about troubleshooting such a thing? Is this simply a matter of being an RMA-fest of both the XFX and the motherboard?

What is really unfortunate is that I have all the MB packaging, but I don't want to replace it as I got the OEM Win7 64, and that is just another layer of hassle I am not looking forward to (I am hoping Microsoft will play nice with me if it comes to that).
January 12, 2010 9:32:56 PM

It is hard to test without other parts. I've seen some video cards not play nice with a particular motherboard, but both parts worked fine separately otherwise.

I rarely see CPU's as the cause of the issue. Most likely it is the video card, motherboard, or both.

When you say no POST, you mean no beeps or just no video?

If it works long enough, check out what temps are showing in the BIOS to see if the CPU gets too warm, in case it's still not seated correctly. Watch it for 5 minutes or so.

Since it's easier, RMA the video card first. If a new card has the same problem, then work with the manufacturer on the motherboard.

Though your Newegg return is running out, you still have the original warranty to use to replace defective parts.
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January 12, 2010 9:40:29 PM

Yeah, I was watching the CPU temps during lunch while I had the system up and they were about 35 celcius. I have to believe this is the XFX but I've never had a card give out in quite this way before.

My system doesn't actually give POST beeps. I dug around in the BIOS while I had the chance and didn't see anything there, although I did enable some CPU and fan warning. But the system POSTS completely silently under normal circumstances anyway.

I have a USB backlit gaming keyboard that won't light up when it is giving me the dead black screen behavior, and it always lights up during POST, so it seems to me that the system is truly hitting a wall right away.

I think part of my problem is that I unlocked the 4th core and very VERY slightly overclocked the HD 5770. I haven't done overclocking before so I have been very timid about taking big steps forward. There is that part of me that thinks this is all my fault, yadda yadda yadda... So I think I am feeling stupid as much as anything else.

I may actually go get a cheapy Craigslist PCIe card so that I can have SOMETHING to test with.

I am also on the hunt for an empty XFX HD 5770 box. Any ideas?
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January 12, 2010 9:52:19 PM

Can't help you on the 5770 box. ;) 

Reset the CMOS so all overclocking, etc goes back to default.

If it's that dead on the black screen, I lean more towards the motherboard.

You may not have a case speaker, which is why you don't hear beeps. Does that MB come with any LED diagnostic lights? There's usually something to troubleshoot with, if not beeps.
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January 12, 2010 10:09:01 PM

/sigh

Nothing like a little panic to make you forget your own name. You are correct, this case never had a PC speaker and I had intended on pulling one from an old case just for such a situation.

Looks like it will be a waiting game to see what the beep codes tell me, should it die again (and really, why wouldn't it unless I really have built another "Fondle Me" PC....)
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January 12, 2010 10:11:13 PM

Agreed-panic is normal in these circumstances, so the simple things get missed. :) 

Let us know what beeps you get, etc.
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