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Video card works, monitor works...but no picture? O_o

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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November 7, 2010 11:42:51 PM

Okay, so I built my desktop rig from a partial kit four years ago, and so far the only thing I've had to replace on it is the videocard (a geforce 6800 ultra) and the CPU fan on the motherboard, a ASUS A8N-SLI with SLI switched off. (Something I lament, but there's no way in hell I could afford two graphics cards.) I've got two sticks of DDR with 1 gig of memory between them, running a 500-watt power supply. Granted that the system is dated, it ran pretty well, despite the huge graphics load it had to handle (I'm a graphic artist, and I love me some Bioshock and Half-Life 2.) Ah, and the OS I'm running is XP Pro.

About six months ago, I got an error booting up, but I don't remember what it was exactly, along with a beep error code. The pc ran fine after that, but then all of a sudden when I went to boot it up, I got no video. I tested my monitor, and it works fine. I switched out the videocard with a card I knew would work, and still didn't get a picture. I tried testing to see if one of the sticks of memory went bad by booting with one stick in at a time, and still no picture.
So now, every time I turn on the pc, it will give me a beep error code (One long beep, and about 4 short beeps) but then I'll hear my HD make it's little "I'm awake and loading windows now, k? lulz :D " sound, but no video.

I'm thinking that either:

A: Both memory sticks are bad, and I need new DDR

or

B: Underpants-stealing gnomes?


Please help me. I fear for my underpants. :( 
November 8, 2010 1:06:18 AM

The beeps you are hearing are definitely BIOS telling you there was an error during POST (power on self test). All BIOS I know of will sound a single, short "beep" - and any other combinations of beeps represent different things (primarily error "codes") - but the "codes" will usually vary from BIOS to BIOS or motherboard to motherboard.

If you know the make and model of your motherboard, you can look up what those beeps mean to get at least some broad idea of what's going on. At best, it will tell you the exact problem.

I recommend trying to find this information before assuming your memory is bad and purchasing more. Besides, it's very unlikely that Windows would load normally (as you said it seemed to be doing) if your RAM was corrupt in some way.

But, if you aren't able to determine what those beeps mean, exactly, you might consider resetting your BIOS settings to their defaults. Without video, you obviously cannot do this through any kind of menu, BUT if you remove the "coin battery" which is attached to the surface of your motherboard somewhere, it should wipe the volatile part of the CMOS memory chip which holds any custom BIOS configurations (whether they be accidental or intentional changes). Be very careful if you do remove the battery, and unless you have an anti-static wrist-strap for working inside a computer case, try not to touch anything BUT the battery and battery-mount while removing it as it could cause a difference of potential (due to static electricity) between yourself and the motherboard's circuitry and damage or completely ruin the board.

I've personally had to do this before. It was after I modified some BIOS settings that caused complete loss of video on my own machine, so I can attest to it at least working to correct the problem I was having (which was obviously something in BIOS configured in a way that made things incompatible or unable to communicate/interface at the hardware level). My motherboard (an ASUS P5Q3) also has a jumper next to the on-board battery that the manufacturer recommended I physically change the configuration on during the process. For example, moving the jumper from pins 2 & 3 to pins 1 & 2 after removing the battery, then returning them to their original positions before reinserting it, or something like that, but it will vary from motherboard to motherboard and may not be necessary on the model board you have.

If you can't find the process of defaulting the BIOS configurations on your specific motherboard, I would simply advise that you:

1. Turn the machine off.
2. Remove the power cable, then all other cables
3. Hold the power button for a couple seconds to drain any electrical charge from the capacitors on the motherboard
3. Open the case and carefully remove the battery; leave the battery out for 10 seconds or so (longer if you want)
4. Insert battery, verify you didn't knock anything loose in there, close it up, then boot with ONLY the necessary peripheral cables (power and video in this case)
5. Hopefully that was the problem!

As far as removing the battery goes: usually there's a little clip/tab thing that applies pressure to the battery after it is inserted [to keep it in place], and you can use something like a key or a non-magnetic, flathead screwdriver to push that clip back, applying pressure against it and then down towards the motherboard (this little trick is sometimes crucial in getting the battery out without unnecessary force and (a) separates the battery from the clip and (b) causes the battery to slide/pop away from the clip). It should easily pop out if done correctly. If you feel like you're applying too much force in order to get it out, then you're possibly doing something slightly wrong.

I hope this helps you out! ;) 
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a b U Graphics card
November 8, 2010 1:48:52 AM

Odds are this isn't a memory issue. And, AFAIK, the gnomes have left the building.

So that means CMOS and psu top the culprit list. So clear CMOS as ^ suggested. If that doesn't fix it and if you have another known working psu, try that.
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November 8, 2010 4:08:56 AM

How would a PSU cause a display problem?
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a b U Graphics card
November 8, 2010 4:31:54 AM

If you don't power the vid card, do you get a display?

PSUs cause lots of problems that look like this, though maybe not this particular one. They also cause most of the hardware related problems here, so frankly they are always on the list. I've also seen this kind of problem debugged by adding a DVI-to-VGA adapter and running the cable to the VGA port on the same monitor. PC booted up.

I'd love to know his mobo though, and what those beeps mean lol.

So, Trilly - what mobo are you running?
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a c 130 U Graphics card
November 8, 2010 5:10:31 AM

Try looking here for the correct code once you have determined which is your Bios. http://www.bioscentral.com/beepcodes/amibeep.htm

I have tried to find out exactly what it is based on your report of codes but there is an issue with your Bios, it seems in that the Asus one will be Custom to Asus which means it may well not be the same as the standard bios.
You say 1 long beep and about 4 short ones, "about4" doesn't really help im afraid. 1 long and 3 short would be Video card Vram failure. This fits with your situation, any chance of getting a spare card from a friend to test with ?

Mactronix :) 
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a b U Graphics card
November 8, 2010 5:18:35 AM

I agree with the others, try resetting the CMOS jumper and defaulting the BIOS. I was about to post the same link as mactronix did. I've owned the A8N-SLI and have had it running for many years and still use it a couple days a week. The only problem I have had that caused that system to not boot properly is a bad hard drive. Replaced it and all is well.
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a b U Graphics card
November 8, 2010 6:44:36 AM

Ack! I need new glasses - the mobo was reported.

I wonder if this one will turn out to be a shorted out video cable lol.
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November 9, 2010 6:42:29 PM

Yeah, I tried switching out the vidcard with one I knew worked, but still didn't get anything. :/ 
Hmm, well you guys did give me an idea I hadn't thought of before--powering up -without- the videocard. If I get the exact same beep code as I had before, I'll know it's the card and not something else. If not, well, I'll reset BIOS and see if that does anything. I do remember installing a BIOS update before this mess happened, so perhaps that's the culprit. Thanks! :) 
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November 9, 2010 6:52:46 PM

Trilly said:
Yeah, I tried switching out the vidcard with one I knew worked, but still didn't get anything. :/ 
Hmm, well you guys did give me an idea I hadn't thought of before--powering up -without- the videocard. If I get the exact same beep code as I had before, I'll know it's the card and not something else. If not, well, I'll reset BIOS and see if that does anything. I do remember installing a BIOS update before this mess happened, so perhaps that's the culprit. Thanks! :) 


Sounds like a good plan.

If, after all that you still aren't having much luck, you should consider flashing your BIOS with the previous version. :) 
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a b U Graphics card
November 9, 2010 7:44:59 PM

1sti would try putting your gfx card in the second pci-e slot if the cmos restart doesn't work, could be the pci-e slot

2nd reset cmos

3rd try different psu

if none of these work bread box it with the different psu and if that doesn't work i sugggest a hammer to vent your fustration on your new paperweight
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November 18, 2010 10:59:16 PM

Best answer selected by Trilly.
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a c 169 U Graphics card
November 19, 2010 8:16:18 AM

This topic has been closed by Maziar
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