HD4870 dying - wierd artefacts, even on boot

I have a Palit HD4870 Sonic 1GB. Its at stock clock and is making some very odd artefacts which begin as early as on boot. You get periods where it works perfectly fine, but as soon as it starts making these artefacts, you might as just turn the PC off and leave it.

It seems to be a pretty stable 60 degrees. I'm not sure if this is good for an ATi, but it seems too hot for me. I've had it underclocked to as low as it can go, with fans on 100% to temperatures of 37-40 degrees, but the artefacts still come.

What happens is white lines appear accross the screen, and sections of the screen are mis-aligned during the PC's startup. When in Windows, or if the artefacts begin in windows, the screen flickers between normal and a nasty shade of orange. It could be the negative colours of whatever was on the screen. Not all of the screen flickers at the same time too.

After a while it gives a BSOD, but its malformed and unreadable with the white lines across the screen (left to right) and sections of the screen is misaligned. I dont know what the BSOD error is. I can get some details from Windows 7 task scheduler if needed. The PC is currently not in use at the moment, but I booted it up today and it worked for about 5 hours. Task Scheduler put it as a simple hardware/driver malfunction, but I've changed the driver and tried the card in another machine, but its still causing problems.

I've considered it as a dead card, and the replacement is already on its way so its not a big deal. It's had its use, but im just curious what its happening to it.

More info:
It's about 1 and half years old: Dec 2008
It started happening on the 30th May, 2010
There was a period of it working fine about a week after that for a period of 2 weeks, just with occasional crashes.
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  1. Best answer
    Couple things here, it could have been a situation where an old driver version was interfering with a newer version that you installed over it. (if you completely wipe drivers before installing new ones, then disregard)

    best way to do it is to remove old drivers through the OS, then boot into safe mode and remove the rest of any residual files using driversweeper, then install the new drivers.

    Another thing could be is your OS just needs a fresh install, save any important files you need, reformat and re-install fresh copy of OS

    could be a thermal paste issue on the video card itself, remove the video card cooling solution and re-apply the thermal paste.

    finally, the card could just be dying or dead.

    Typically those temps are fine for that video card, even 80c is fine for that card, so no worries there.
  2. Make sure the card is clean of dust. It may just be a cooling issue due to dust or heat sink related.

    Just added informtion for you to consider
  3. thanks for those choices, but i've tried most of them. driver issues don't explain why it occurs while in the BIOS. I've changed the thermal paste and it looks like its a better job than what Palit did. But still no luck.

    Thanks anyways.
  4. Best answer selected by QuantumArtifex.
  5. I have a Sapphire HD4870 512 which was one of the first available here in Australia (June 2008). Around April this year, it started playing up with artifacts on boot before the DMI pool etc. Sapphire (unlike Palit) provides VBIOS updates and I created a boot USB stick with their pure DOS flash to update to the new VBIOS. That made things worse. After two months of stuffing around, terrible boot screens and inability to load drivers (latest Catalyst etc), I re-flashed the original VBIOS and there is no problem at all now. It runs at high settings Split Second, Sniper Ghost, WIngs Pacific etc, all latest high requirement games. No problem. So, what can this experience do for you?

    Firstly, the HD4870 is a very, very robust card. There are very few problems which beset it if temps are ok (below 70-80 - it is designed for high temp) and the core and memory chips are strong. Most problems are related to a scrambled VBIOS (I think yours has a dual VBIOS). I think based on my experience with my HD4870 that you have a scrambled VBIOS which is not bad enough for the backup VBIOS to kick in. Why is it scrambled? Well, in my humble opinion, it may be the operating system settings and/or the Catalyst drivers which cause the VBIOS to scramble and this then causes the artifacts at boot when the VBIOS is first invoked. Yes, this is possible. What can you do test this?

    First, you need to flash the VBIOS with the original VBIOS in pure DOS mode using a USB stick. I note that Palit does not provide VBIOS updates, however you can obtain the original from:

    Then do a search for "HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool" and use it to format and create a DOS boot USB stick. Its free and google is your friend. If you then go to, look for the same card as yours and download the VBIOS update in .zip format - it will contain a batch file and winflash, you just place your VBIOS you downloaded from instead of the Sapphire VBIOS and edit the .bat file to change the file names accordingly, leave all the switches alone. You will end up with:


    as your DOS boot files, and:


    in your atiflash directory.

    You need to open flash.bat in right click edit (notebook) and change the instructions to:

    atiflash -s 0 Palit.HD4870.1024old.bin
    atiflash -p 0 Palit.HD4870.1024.081006 -f

    Then change your motherboard BIOS details so that the USB stick is the first boot device, and reboot. When it boots into C:/, you are in pure DOS mode and you simply type flash and the VBIOS will flash the new VBIOS and save the old. Your double BIOS will save you if there is a problem which there should not be.

    One word of caution. There are two VBIOS archived at techpowerup for your card, you need to go to "details" and see what clocks they are etc, to obtain the perfect match for your card.

    I see you changed the thermal paste on your card, so did I the original Sapphire paste was dry and crumbled. However, there was a good match between cooler and GPU so it didn't really matter too much. My problem simply was, bad drivers which scrambled the VBIOS in boot so reflashing the VBIOS did the trick.

    Hope this all helps.
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