Diagnosing possible causes to problem

Computer Specs:

Intel Pentium 4 2.8 ghz
1024mb (2x512mb) DDR400 PC3200 Corsair XMS RAM
ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128mb
Thermaltake Purepower 420w PSU
I have 3 hard-drives, one is SATA the other two are PATA
Soundblaster Audigy 2 soundcard
CD burner


This computer has been running stable for quite some time, although maybe 2-3 years ago my stock heatsink-fan on my graphics card died and I replaced it with a different one.

Recently my computer has started developing artifacts on-screen. I've read that it could be the video card's processor or memory, or it could even be my RAM / PSU or bus?

Anyways, I have a hard time believing it is an overheating issue. My video card heatsink-fan is attached firmly still and I removed all the dust from it. I also removed any and all dust from my cpu heatsink-fan as well, which is a 120mm zalman.

CPU Fan:

GFX Card Fan:

Nothing is overclocked.

I have a temp sensor placed on the copper pipe on the gfx card and its reading about 105-110 F when the problem occurs.
I have tried opening the case and putting a desk fan blowing right on the card/cpu and the problem still occurs.

Here is a picture of what happens:

After a while the entire screen is completely unreadable and the system locks up (can't remote desktop in).

One thing that slightly bothers me is the readings on a sensor read program:

+3.3V: 2.94 V
+5V: 5.03 V
+12V: 12.00 V

the 3.3 seems a bit too low? thats 10% off, and I read that it should be +/- 5%

I first noticed this problem while playing a game, but now its been happening even while surfing the web.

I am going to run memtest and a cpu strain test over the next two nights

I am basically just looking for suggestions or personal experiences and what the problem turned out to be.
6 answers Last reply
More about diagnosing problem
  1. I would suggest checking out what your temperatures are first. You may also want to check if the thermal paste on your CPU is still good as well.
  2. Normally my first thought would be the graphics card..... regardless of how cool you think it's running.... but, this happened to me not long ago. The first thing I would look at is the cable from the card to the monitor. Replace. If still the same....check card.
  3. 3.3 volt output is a bit low, but I wouldn't worry too much about it. Primary use is to power the RAM. It feeds a simplified version of the programmable power regulator that powers the CPU. OTOH, if the PSU is under warranty, it wouldn't hurt to replace it.

    Judging by appearance, I'd guess video card. Have you tried testing it in another system?
  4. well i swapped the radeon 9800 pro out with a known-working radeon 9200 from an old Dell i have, and when i booted up, some of the icons on my desktop were really messed up looking. I ran TweakUI and did an Icon repair and that seemed to fix that, but then after a little while, the entire system froze. I rebooted and it froze on loading windows, then I rebooted again and it froze after loading the desktop.

    My CPU temp is idling around 120 F which seems very reasonable to me.

    I did run memtest the other day for the entire night and it had no errors.

    Now I really don't know what's wrong...
  5. Ok so I think this might be the problem?

    The mobo looks okay from the naked eye...

    And finally, just curious if this is part in the green box is supposed to look like that. This is inside the PSU

  6. Wudya do that for ? LOL. Bummer man.
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