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Interesting hardware issues

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 8, 2010 10:30:47 PM

I was having all sorts of unusual problems with my old motherboard and CPU. Mostly little stuff; an unexplained crash, everything would stutter at a seemingly random interval, etc. The CPU had been run for some time without thermal compound and at higher than recommended temps, plus at one point it entirely died (before magically ressurrecting after having a meeting with an unknown substance a friend had hanging around) so it was natural to blame it and the motherboard the CPU was associated with. None of this was fixable through many reinstalls and driver tests.

Finally got the money to change out these two pieces of hardware - I've got a Biostar A770E and a Phenom II x4.

Everything's lovely - I reinstalled Windows 7 to makes sure there wouldn't be latent driver issues. But new problems have cropped up, and I think they're related to the video card >:/. Perhaps you can be of assistance?

Current Configuration:
Biostar A770E, 8GB DDR2 800, Phenom II x4 945
XFX 9800GX2, with a sufficient PSU.
Windows 7 x64

The most recent issue has been a sudden, unexplained freezing. This always seems to happen in a game; I got 4 minutes into Nation Red before it did it. Other times, there's a horrible sound that comes from my speakers at the time of the freeze. Not always, weirdly.

I dug through the Event Logs and found nothing interesting preceding this problem - it just seemed to happen out of nowhere.

The other issue is that the graphics driver seems to intermittently fail. I won't be doing anything, just browsing the web, and the screen will go black for a few moments. Everything then returns to normal, with 7 telling me the driver failed. This happened nearly every time I launched the Zune software until I reinstalled it.

I'm using the most current driver version XFX gives me for this card, 258.96. Should I try drivers from another source? What version, you think?

I appreciate any help any of you can give me.

-Coke
Anonymous
a b U Graphics card
September 8, 2010 10:38:57 PM

Sounds like your PSU may be struggling, how old is it?

I haven't had an Nvidia card for a while so I don't know how updated your drivers are, but I'd go for Nvidia's own drivers, not ones supplied by XFX :) 

http://www.nvidia.com/Download/index.aspx?lang=en-us


Good Luck!
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September 8, 2010 10:43:14 PM

I'll give the nVidia drivers a roll.

And the PSU isn't that old. It's 700W, from OCZ. I'd say it's less than 3 years old.
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a b U Graphics card
September 8, 2010 10:49:36 PM

Yeah it really sounds like driver issues. considering you got sli on a chip basically that complicates matters.
Try the latest from nVidia, although that sounds like the latest one. If you are currently using that one, I would look for beta drivers or roll back to the most recent one.
ps-have you done any overclocking or is this all at stock speeds?
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September 8, 2010 10:59:03 PM

Yeah, the ones nVidia offers are the same version XFX offers - although XFX's driver file is quite a bit larger (157MB vs 122MB). Windows 7 came with its own set of drivers, plus ones offered on Windows Update - I assumed it'd be better to go with whatever XFX offered, since they made the card.

I haven't messed with the stock speeds, since the card seems to run pretty warm on it's own (which XFX has said is well within acceptable ranges.) I'm trying out nVidia's drivers for awhile. If I have issues, I'll try hunting for beta drivers or the use the other set I have on hand from XFX (257.21).

I appreciate your help.
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a b U Graphics card
September 8, 2010 11:06:37 PM

If you can borrow another PSU to test I would. Your problems sound similar to ones I had years ago with a supply that seemed to be working fine but ruined 2 motherboards before finally going out completely. And are you monitoring your temps? If you can play a game for 4 minutes without a problem it sounds more like hardware than a driver issue to me, but I'm no expert.
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September 8, 2010 11:10:49 PM

I am monitoring my temps; after restarting, the motherboard shows the temperature of the CPU, it never seems particularly high. The graphics card also seems to hover around safe temperatures; But if it were failing because of that, the card simply shuts off, the rest of the computer keeps running, so I would know.

Sometimes I have no trouble for many hours. Others it takes less than 5 minutes of play time.

Edit: I doubt the PSU was causing trouble with my old build. That CPU, as stated, wasn't exactly treated well and had questionable reliability. The motherboard had serious design flaws, in addition to being very sketchy with PCI cards.

I'll see if I can get a hold of a friend with an extra PSU if playing with the drivers doesn't help. Is there any way I could tell if it was causing that kind of trouble?
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a b U Graphics card
September 8, 2010 11:25:10 PM

Check your temps, the 9800GX2s do run hot and prolonged heat damaged may have caused damage to the Vram/Core
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a b U Graphics card
September 8, 2010 11:29:53 PM

If you have a multimeter there are alot of online guides for testing them.
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September 8, 2010 11:43:07 PM

I've checked my temps, they're well within the range XFX told me is safe.

I've never used a multimeter (although I do have access to one), but from what I can tell, it seems I'll have to disassemble the card. I'd rather not do that, since it is still covered by a warranty.
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