Severe graphics glitches with Nvidia 8800GTS; cannot load Windows

My roommate and I recently upgraded our cpu, motherboard, ram, and OS (I have a home built system). We upgraded from XP Pro (32bit) to Windows 7 x64 and have been having a few hangups, freezes, and strange little glitches here and there. The latest Windows Update seemed to solve a few of the issues, but not all.

A couple of days ago I installed a Sims 3 expansion pack, and as it loaded for the first time the screen became very glitchy -- many small static-looking colored squares and boxes and a few vertical lines. The computer froze and I had to reboot. On the next loadup, the glitches appeared even on my desktop and when opening Firefox, and the screen began to flash quickly like a strobe light, then went black, flashed again, went black, then went full BSOD. My graphics drivers were up to date, but I tried rolling back in order to reinstall the driver just in case. The rollback option was greyed out, so I chose to uninstall. When i tried to reinstall the driver with a freshly downloaded one, I got the error:

"The NVIDIA Setup program could not locate any drivers that are compatible with your current hardware. Setup will now exit."

I rebooted a few times and was finally able to install the driver. However, the PC would not load Windows at all (it would freeze just before the Welcome screen), and the ONLY option I had was to use Safe Mode. I experienced NO glitches or other problems in Safe Mode whatsoever. We discovered a problem with System Restore deleting all of our restore points, so I couldn't roll back to a previous point.

I posted on another tech forum asking for help with this (in Safe Mode with Networking) and was given advice on what to try in order to get back into Windows normally. I turned the computer off for an hour or so, then came back to it to work on the troubleshooting advice.

This time, even Safe Mode wouldn't load. When I tried to boot into Safe Mode, the screen became glitchy (several columns of vertical lines) and went to a black boot screen that said Windows did not start successfully, and gave me the options to start Windows normally or do a Startup Repair. I tried the Startup Repair and it ran successfully, but said that it could not repair the computer automatically. Under Problem Signature, it listed:

Problem Event Name: StartupRepairOffline
Problem Signature 01: 6.1.7600.16385
Problem Signature 02: 6.1.7600.16385
Problem Signature 03: unknown
Problem Signature 04: 21200810
Problem Signature 05: AutoFailover
Problem Signature 06: 2
Problem Signature 07: BadDriver
OS Version: 6.1.7600.
Locale ID: 1033

I tried to boot into Safe Mode a few more time with no luck -- each time I would be taken to the Startup Repair screen. The BIOS screen will load, but there are vertical lines all over THAT screen as well (I posted pictures on the other forum). My roommate tried hooking up another monitor and the exact same glitchy vertical lines appeared.

The person helping me on the other forum suggested that I need a new graphics card and probably a power supply as well. I was planning to upgrade my card from an Nvidia 8800GTS 320mb to a 470GTX in a month or so (and a Corsair power supply as well).

I trust the advice, but wanted to get other opinions as well. I've had this card for 3 years now (purchased for a home build in June '07) with pretty flawless performance as much as I can tell. My case (Antec 900) is well cooled, and I've never experienced any overheating issues.

At this point I can't use the PC at all, and my roommate wants to reinstall Windows 7 to see if it will at least load. Can you guys shed any light on this or offer any suggestions? Does it definitely sound like a graphics card issue, and if so, is a replacement immanent?

My current specs:

· OS = Windows 7 x64 (OEM version, upgraded from XP Pro x86)
· Case = Antec Nine Hundred
· CPU = Intel i7 930
· Video Card = Nvidia GeForce 8800GTS 320MB (wanted to upgrade to GeForce 470)
· MotherBoard = Asus P6X58D-E (still using factory settings in BIOS)
· Power Supply = Thermaltake Purepower 600w (wanted to upgrade to Corsair 850-HX soon)
· Age of system = 2 weeks (graphics card is 3 years old, as is PSU and case)
· Age of OS installation = 2 weeks (XP installation was 3 years old)
2 answers Last reply
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  1. Those are the symptoms of a card that is overheating, or has a defective memory chip, or is overclocked beyond stability.

    Has the dust been cleaned out of the card's cooling fins and fan? If the card is clean and operating at stock speed and you are still getting artifacts during the BIOS power on self test then its time for a replacement.

    I would try it in another PC just to prove that it is defective.
  2. Everything else in the PC was cleaned out when we installed the new components, but I don't remember cleaning out the card's cooling fan. I'll have to ask my roommate if he did, but I'm pretty sure he didn't.

    I purchased the Superclocked version of that card and haven't ever tweaked anything with it. I just tried turning the computer on to see if the problem still existed (just in case), and it still shows columns of vertical lines on the very first boot screen and another screen (one that comes just before the Windows loading screen - it flashes by very quickly), plus the lines that are present in BIOS.
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