Major heat or hardware issue with XFX 9800 GT

Problem: I cannot load or play games any more on my system. At the slightest hint of stress, my computer folds up and calls it a day. Sometimes I get BSODs, other times it just locks up and dies till I hard reboot. Heat is possibly the cause, but I don't know what else to do to fix it.

System Specs
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4 Ghz, 8 MB L2 Cache 1066 Mhz FSB speed.
RAM: 4 x 2GB Transcend 800 Mhgz DDR2
Mobo: Abit IP35-E
GFX Card: XFX 9800 GT
OS: Win7 x64
Monitor: 2 x Viewsonic VX2245wm
Power Supply: Cooler Master RS-650-PCAR-E3 (650 Watt supply)
Boot HDD: SATA2 WD 160 GB
Other HDDs: SATA2 WD 400GB, SATA2 Seagate 1TB, SATA2 Seagate 400GB
External devices attached: 1 x Logitech webcam, 2 x 1TB harddrives (via monitor's inbuilt USB hub)

About 6 to 8 months ago, I was running Windows Vista x64 and my graphics card began to randomly start crashing while I played games. By crashing, I mean the game would freeze, the screen would go black and I would be returned to the desktop with a taskbar notification that said the driver had crashed - Error 43. In the beginning, this was a once-a-week occurrence. I chalked it down to heat and / or driver obsolescence and immediately upgraded drivers, cleaned the case and improved airflow. The problem abated for a while and then returned with a vengeance.

About 5 months ago, the problem intensified. After a relatively calm period of not having any issues, the graphics drivers began crashing again, this time almost every day. Nothing I did before fixed the issue. I even upgraded the power supply, which helped for maybe a day - then it happened again.

It went up to a point where almost any stress on the system would cause a crash (error 43) or a systemwide lockup which needed me to hard reboot or (worst of all) a BSOD. Playing videos, Photoshop, almost any graphics intensive task would bring it to its knees.

I've tried almost everything. My last act of frustration saw me wipe the Boot HDD, install Windows 7 and the latest stable driver for the GFX card. No result.

One possible answer might be heat. The case is left open and is regularly cleaned for dust, but I've installed RivaTuner and using the core temperature monitor while playing a game, I've seen the temps go up as high as 106 C - I know this is higher than normal, but I'm stuck for things to do. The fan was running at 100% (also using RivaTuner) and it made little to no effect. After about 5 minutes of this, it crashed. The reason I don't think heat is the cause is because for the longest time, this config worked perfectly (IE, it worked for almost six months BEFORE the first reported issue six months ago). If heat was an issue surely it would have manifested when the system was built? If heat + dust is an issue, surely it should have been cured when the case was cleaned? All signs point to mystery.

Games and other graphic intensive operations cause a GFX card driver crash with error 43 OR system lockup or BSOD apparently arbitrarily within 5 - 6 minutes of operation.

Installing a brand new OS on a freshly formatted partition has not helped.

Cleaning and dusting has not helped.

Forcing fans to run at 100% has not helped.

Core temps on the GFX card rise as high as 106C
6 answers Last reply
More about major heat hardware issue 9800
  1. how handy are you with a screw driver ? looks like you gonna have to reseat the 9800gt's cooler and get some new thermal paste
  2. Oh craplet! I was hoping that wasn't the answer!
  3. vahishta said:
    Oh craplet! I was hoping that wasn't the answer!

    Ahahaha :lol:

    Not only will you need to take it off you will need to clean the cooler.

  4. Can someone point me to a simple reliable step-by-step guide to doing this?
  5. It is not brain surgery or the dissembling of a thermonuclear warhead (there is a base about 50 miles or north ware they dismantle old Russian and American warheads). First step one lay off caffeine. Step two get screw drivers and other tools. Step three place card down on flat surface with the cooler facing down. step four remove the four screws (spring screws) that mount the cooler to the card. Step five flip card over and genteelly remove the cooler and detach fan (power cable from fan to card) and place the cooler out of your way. Get a small cloth (a junk one compound will stain) and some 70% isopropyl alcohol and remove the ancient stock crap but be careful to not damage any of the small elements on the gpu package. Once clean repeat the step by cleaning the base of the cooler that comes in contact of the gpu core. Now for step six, blow out the dust with canned air of the old lungs remove the dust from the cooler. Now for step seven, get arctic silver 5 (don't get cheap, getting cheap kills components) and use a small drop of it and with your finger and some cellophane wrap and spread the compound evenly (thin layer no bare spots). Once done with that step reattach the coolers and fan. Then test your card the temps should be lower.
  6. Awesome, thanks!
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