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Black squares!

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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July 5, 2010 11:13:55 PM

Hello everyone. Wonder if you know what this might be...

This is my machine, for the record:

Motherboard: ASUSTeK Computer INC. P5E Rev 1.xx
CPU: 2,40 gigahertz Intel Core2 Quad Q6600
GPU: ATI Radeon HD 5850
RAM: 3 GB
PSU: Antec Earthwatts EA650 650W (six months old)
Monitor: Samsung SyncMaster 2032
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate


So my old GeForce 8800 GT fried about a six weeks back. I decided to switch to ATI and picked up the Radeon HD 5850. After a while I noticed that in certain situations my screen gets attacked by swarms of flashing black square "artifacts". It happens at times when 3D graphics are turned on, i.e. when I play games (typically Battlefield: Bad Company 2 or Mass Effect). It is not limited to one game.

Apart from the black squares, I noticed problems with overly-pronounced jagged edges (in spite of maxed out anti-aliasing). In particular, shadows are very bad quality no matter what I do, they're almost completely "pixelated".

I also think games are running slower than they should because of this, since I'm having trouble with older games that shouldn't be a problem. Typically though, despite slowing down the game continues to work fairly well, games are mostly playable. Only rarely do I see so many squares I can't play at all, but I do see them quite often, and the shadows and AA are screwy almost all of the time (in some games more than others)

Please help. I have no idea what this is or what to do... :cry: 

More about : black squares

a b U Graphics card
July 5, 2010 11:21:29 PM

Download and run HWMonitor while you play. Exit the game and see what the "Max" temp on your GPU was while playing. It sounds like it could be overheating. You mentioned it does it "after a while".

http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html

Do that to double check temperatures, if that doesn't do it, then I'd want to start looking at trying driver updates. If the temps are okay, uninstall your nVidia drivers from the old card and use Driver Sweeper to completely remove them.

http://www.guru3d.com/category/driversweeper/
July 5, 2010 11:46:19 PM

Temp occurred to me as well, so I checked it immediately at the Catalyst control center a couple of times when I got those weird black squares. It was mainly fine (78 degrees or so). I also ran FurMark on full and followed the temperature for about an hour, it went straight up then remained the same continuously. I don't think its the temp, since the shadows and jaggs are weird all the time. For example, in Mass Effect, the shadows are completely screwy and AA is low quality continuously, but when someone fires lasers I see black boxes flashing.

I already tried Driver Sweeper and didn't find any nVIDIA drivers I missed. I also just recently downloaded the latest driver for the 5850. :( 
Related resources
July 6, 2010 12:21:42 AM

Whoops... upon a second look, Driver Sweeper turned out 10 "nVIDIA - Chipset" hits (1 of type "file", 9 of type "registry" ), and 2 "nVidia - Physx" hits (1 of type "directory", 1 of type "registry" ).

Should I remove them? I have an ingrained dislike of removing anything with the word "Chipset" in it. I also found I cannot open some games at all without nVIDIA Physx. What should I do?
a b U Graphics card
July 6, 2010 4:34:51 AM

Pretty sure the Asus P5E X38 motherboard is based on an Intel chipset, and not an nVidia chipset. So you should be okay to remove anything that's nVidia related (especially PhysX since you're not using that).

I'd also consider uninstalling the ATI Drivers as well. That way you can start from scratch. It sounds like you're having an issue with drivers/software.
July 6, 2010 8:59:53 AM

Will do. As for nVIDIA Physx, how is it that some games won't run without it, even though I have an ATI card?
July 6, 2010 10:48:21 AM

Ok, I uninstalled all graphics drivers (including Physx) and then installed the latest HD 5850 driver. The Driver Sweeper cannot find any nVIDIA drivers. No effect... still the exact same problems. My (uneducated) guess is this has to be a hardware issue?

Plus, now games like Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2 cannot start. I don't know if that's relevant, so I'll explain the problem. When I start some games, I get the message:
"Error initializing PhysX. Please visit http://www.nividia.com/physx for updated drivers."
Um... I have an ATI card, I can't use nVIDIA Physx, right? Yet when I have Physx installed these games work, and when I don't have it installed, they don't. What's up with that? :( 
July 6, 2010 12:39:24 PM

dIRECT0R said:
Ok, I uninstalled all graphics drivers (including Physx) and then installed the latest HD 5850 driver. The Driver Sweeper cannot find any nVIDIA drivers. No effect... still the exact same problems. My (uneducated) guess is this has to be a hardware issue?

Plus, now games like Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2 cannot start. I don't know if that's relevant, so I'll explain the problem. When I start some games, I get the message:
"Error initializing PhysX. Please visit http://www.nividia.com/physx for updated drivers."
Um... I have an ATI card, I can't use nVIDIA Physx, right? Yet when I have Physx installed these games work, and when I don't have it installed, they don't. What's up with that? :( 


Hi director,

I also think that you have some software related conflicts.

Before recommending format and reinstall, you may try some linux live-cd with games on it (you can google some live arcade linux cd).

It will tell you if you have an os problem or an hardware problem.

An indeed, some game need nvidia physx software to run, even if you have an ATI VGA.

Yesterday I had this problem with Bionic Commando Rearmed on steam. I had to update nvidia physx software to play it (would crash without it).

Brad
July 6, 2010 1:15:04 PM

djbrad007 said:
Hi director,

I also think that you have some software related conflicts.

Before recommending format and reinstall, you may try some linux live-cd with games on it (you can google some live arcade linux cd).

It will tell you if you have an os problem or an hardware problem.

An indeed, some game need nvidia physx software to run, even if you have an ATI VGA.

Yesterday I had this problem with Bionic Commando Rearmed on steam. I had to update nvidia physx software to play it (would crash without it).

Brad


Hi Brad, thanks for your time. :) 

I'm not sure I follow you completely, what exactly do you recommend I do with Linux Live-CD?

So you think its not a shader/AA filter problem?
July 7, 2010 6:33:21 PM

dIRECT0R said:
Hi Brad, thanks for your time. :) 

I'm not sure I follow you completely, what exactly do you recommend I do with Linux Live-CD?

So you think its not a shader/AA filter problem?


If you can load some 3d games from a livecd, you will know for sure if it is an os problem or driver/software one.

If it crashes / shows artiffacts with the livecd, the problem is hardware...

Brad
a b U Graphics card
July 7, 2010 6:42:48 PM

I'd so go ahead and download/install the latest nVidia PhysX drivers again. I only recommended removing them because I've specifically seen cases where folks were having conflicts with ATI drivers after switching from nVidia to ATI. Left over PhysX drivers were apparently the cause of the issue in a few cases.

Assuming temperatures are good, drivers a clean (and you've tried different versions), and the GPU is getting the proper power from the PSU, I'd have to say it sounds like you possibly have a hardware issue.

You may want to contact the manufacturer that supplied your 5850 and start their process for troubleshooting. If it turns out you need to RMA your card, they'll probably want to troubleshoot before they send you a new one anyway.

BTW: There is always the nagging issue of how your old nVidia card fried 6 weeks ago. Just makes me curious as to whether that had anything to do with another issue (bad PSU for instance). If there's another hardware problem that's causing this, it could ultimately damage your new card as well. Hard to troubleshoot hardware though without being able to replace individual components to see if it fixes the issue.

Do you have an older PCI-E graphics card around that works? Or even a power supply?
July 8, 2010 10:19:09 AM

That's what I thought as well: either the HD 5850 is damaged somehow or the PSU is bad. I've also heard people say it might be the montherboard somehow (though that's where my computer nowhow definitely ends). Unfortunately I have no way of replacing the PSU/GPU or even placing it in another computer to see if it causes problems there.

The PSU is Antec Earthwatts EA650 650W eight months old, the board is ASUSTeK Computer INC. P5E Rev 1.xx.
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