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Video signal craps out after a few minutes

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Last response: in Systems
April 28, 2010 9:02:50 PM

Hi. So I just built myself a little HTPC/media server, and it's having a strange problem whenever I try to install an OS -- everything seems to be going well, until suddenly the video feed conks out.

At least, that's what I think is happening, because when it happened during the midst of an OS installation, I left it undisturbed overnight, and it did seem to have gone through with most of the installation, though I couldn't get it to boot successfully.

Here's my specs and some background:

Motherboard: Gigabyte EP45T-UD3LR
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz
GPU: Zotac GeForce GT 220, 512 MB
RAM: 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666)

So far, I've managed to get Ubuntu 10.04 installed and working, with no problems I've come across so far. This took a few tries, however, as whenever I'd boot off of a live CD or USB stick, I'd get a few minutes of normal-seeming operation, before the monitor would lose the signal, and go to sleep. I tried booting up a GParted live CD so I could have the drive prepared for the installation already, but I had the same problem -- after a minute or two, the monitor would go blank.

I eventually worked around this by booting off a previously-installed linux system left over on a hard drive from my prior build. Thus, I was able to get the hard drive partitioned and formatted in advance, and start the Ubuntu installation before things went dark.

Now I'm trying to dual boot the Ubuntu partition w/ Snow Leopard, and am having more difficulty. I've gotten it to the point where the boot USB is installing the OS onto the partition, but unlike w/ Ubuntu, this doesn't then prevent the video from cutting out. I've now installed Snow Leopard twice, and both times, the screen's "gone dark" early in the installation process. I've given it plenty of time to finish, but it never triggers a restart, and when I reboot it myself, it doesn't seem to have finished right.

Even stranger, I've discovered that I have the problem where the monitor goes blank for no reason in the middle of mucking around in my BIOS' setup menu!

Anybody have any idea what's going on? Any suggestions as to how to troubleshoot this?

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April 28, 2010 10:04:12 PM

There HAVE BEEN some recent issues with the drivers ... You want to search the nVidia Driver site for more info AND read the reviews for that card, at newegg (sorted/starting with the worst) ...
... I forget how far you are supposed to roll-back the drivers (or if the latest will fix).
... Also search the Graphics/nVidia forum, here at Tom's Forums ... I found several posts.

You can see if your mobo will let you install in the "other" x16 slot (as a primary).

You can try it in some other system/computer.

Leave the system case open and watch the GPU fan ... GOOD?

Finally ... Reseat the GT220 back into the same (primary x16) slot and make certain that it is FULLY SEATED ("bottoming out" in the slot).

... If you have a spare or old GPU ... you can test the slot with that ...

... That card gets it's power from the bus (no 6-pin power) ... Check the rating on PSU.

How many watts on the PSU ? (this is a low power card so, not likely cause).

I would just completely uninstall and wipe-out any sign of whatever drivers you have installed (including the directories where they reside).

Then, I would turn the system off and remove the card and start the sys w/no card ...

... After "beeps" and a ~30 pause ... turn the system off and re-install the card ...

... Try using the card with NO DRIVERS AT ALL (just whatever Windows provides (generic) ....

Then go with boxed drivers ...

Then go grub around on nVidia's support site and see what else you can find out.

It could also be something completely unrelated, like a PSU that is going bad or a CPU cooler that is no longer functioning properly or which the mounting has been "disturbed/disrupted/bumped"

This is why I do suggest trying other GPUs, as well.

Sounds complicated, but is very simple ... make those changes and the problem will follow(stay with) the guilty party. ... Eliminate/divide/conquer !!!

This is known as "casualty swapping" and requires methodical testing and logging of results ... Start taking written notes!

= Let us know ... I had that exact card in my own cart (at one time) ... until I discovered the 9800GT-EE (a short, lo-power 9800GT ... true single slot and OpenGL3.1)

= Al =
April 28, 2010 10:11:58 PM

Hmm interesting, I actually had a similar issue where it went blank screen in the middle of re-installing Windows 7. I just let it run for a while and then did a hard shut down. After that it wasn't even POSTing so first I brought the vid card in (ATI 5850) but it worked fine in a test rig, so I brought the whole PC in and the stupid thing booted up right away and went to "first time Windows setup"... apparently simply by unplugging it for a bit the problem went away. This all occured just after an issue where the resolution was fixed at 600x300. Apparently, Hydravision is fairly broken and can cause big issues. I know it's an ATI thing but there may be a similar screen partitioning thing with nVidia otherwise I'd have to guess it's either the card not being seated right, or defective drivers.
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April 28, 2010 10:28:34 PM

6GB is an odd setup for that system since it will cause the RAM to run in single-channel mode. Have you tried installing with a single stick of RAM installed? Which exact RAM kit do you have? Have you manually set the RAM speed, timings, and voltage to the correct values in the BIOS? Have you verified in the owners manual that you're using the correct RAM slots?
April 28, 2010 10:50:16 PM

I don't think anyone mentionned trying another monitor ... It's just easy.

Also try the VGA port ... because it is analog.

April 29, 2010 6:01:58 AM

What kind of PSU?
April 29, 2010 3:46:13 PM

Best answer selected by knidsrok.
April 29, 2010 3:57:41 PM

Thank you everybody for your replies.

What ended up doing the trick was rearranging a few other PCI cards so as to give the GPU a wide berth on either side, which then enabled me to re-seat it better.

In the future, I need to remember to try taking everything out and putting it back in again before asking for help. I guess it's sort of like the "have you tried turning it off and back on again" of home-built systems.