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Troubleshoot: Losing Video-But NOT the Graphics card?

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April 20, 2011 11:46:20 PM

I would've put this under Graphics and Displays, but since it doesn't seem to be the Graphics card...

Looking for input and experience: I keep suddenly loosing video. It's no blue screen crash; processes still continue to run; if I'm watching a video I hear it continue unabated, and when I do the shortcut to shutdown Win 7, I can hear the chime as processes close and the machine shuts down normally. I can then restart, and display normally comes back, but often if I restart immediately display will not come back, suggesting an overheating issue, and the need for cooldown time.

First instinct was: okay, I have a graphics card going south. Since I have a 2 card SLI set up, I simply turned SLI off to run single card to see if it was the primary card. (this of course after a thurough cleaning and check of all internal heatsinks and fans). After the eventual failure I removed the primary and replaced it with the slave card running solo with no 2nd card in the slot, but then that failed as well. So I reinstalled original card with no 2nd card just to verify and it of course continued to fail.
SO, unless both cards are coincidentally failing in the same manner, it isn’t a graphics card issue.

What is it then? My next thought is power supply partial failure, but I’ve never experienced a partial only power failure. Second thought is a localized motherboard issue, but again I’ve never experienced and MB failures that didn’t cause crash or failure to boot. So, before I whip out the multi-meter and start to hunt down voltages, I thought I’d seek input and see if someone might say, “I know exactly what it is.”

Quick and Dirty specs if required:
Gigabyte AMD MoBo running Athlon II X2 3GHz
2GB DDR2
Foxconn Nvidia Geforce 8500GT
Rosewill 400W
2 SATA WD Hard Drives
1 IDE WD Hard Drive
I can give specifics if necessary.

Thanks for any help and input!
a b U Graphics card
April 21, 2011 12:17:54 AM

It may not be hardware, but could be a driver issue. I recently had the same problem -- the graphics driver would shut down and fail to restart itself. Of course it was because I had the GPU overclocked too high for StarCraft II, but yours may just need to be uninstalled and reinstalled.

I don't suppose you have an ATI graphics card laying around?
a b U Graphics card
April 21, 2011 1:57:45 AM

Of course you tried another monitor, right? I have had monitors fail just like you are describing.
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April 21, 2011 4:37:13 AM

Leaps-from-Shadows said:
It may not be hardware, but could be a driver issue. I recently had the same problem -- the graphics driver would shut down and fail to restart itself. Of course it was because I had the GPU overclocked too high for StarCraft II, but yours may just need to be uninstalled and reinstalled.

I don't suppose you have an ATI graphics card laying around?


Hadn't thought of drivers. I'll def. give that a try. I'm prone to think that it's not the cause, because it's been otherwise stable for so damn long (around 2.5 years, it's actually my wife's machine), although it's plausible since I think it's set to auto update. Still there really seems to be a time correlation involved, which suggests to me that something's over heating. It'll run for hours with no problem early in the day, and then go down constantly after being on for a long time, and constantly restarted. Still, it's certainly an easy issue to troubleshoot, so thanks for the suggestion.

Unfortunately, no I don't have any ATI cards. This is a digression but I am switching to ATI or AMD cards; I've always used Nvidia, but I anecdotally think their quality is tanking. More to the point though, my laptop failed a few years ago thanks to a combination of poor design coupled with Nvidia's run of defective chips, and I'm currently a member in a class action lawsuit against them. I know manufacturing defects happen, but they've handled it horribly, and have idly stood by while HP has helped lie to and manipulate class members. If I can help it, I'll never buy anything that uses Nvidia components again.


Update: The most recent driver was from Jan 2011, and the instability began around late February or early March, so it's a pluasible cause. Just updated to a version dated Feb 28th 2011, so we'll see how that works.

Update2: Even better, April 7 2011.
April 21, 2011 4:45:09 AM

PhilFrisbie said:
Of course you tried another monitor, right? I have had monitors fail just like you are describing.


I haven't tried a totally different moniter, but I have unplugged and restarted the monitor independently of the system, and with no apparent effect or correlation. I will dig out my old CRT to totally rule that out though.

Leap, I'd consider the monitor driver too, but it's the original, dated as 2006.
April 21, 2011 4:48:57 PM

Your monitor may be going into sleep mode. You can change that by right clicking your desktop, going to display, and changing it there. Or, you can go to power management and change it from there.
April 22, 2011 3:28:14 AM

stingstang said:
Your monitor may be going into sleep mode. You can change that by right clicking your desktop, going to display, and changing it there. Or, you can go to power management and change it from there.


No, it's certainly not sleep mode. It happens smack in the middle of processes and tasks with no hint or flurry of windows shutting down. Also the power indicator on the Dell LCD monitor goes amber and displays a sleep mode message when appropriate; In this case it stays green and there's no message, indicating that as far as the monitor thinks it's in normal mode. Additionally, it flashes a warning message if signal is lost, and each time this happens there's no notification of that, so as far as the monitor is concerned it's getting normal signal, there's simply nothing to display though, which is actually a notch in the driver column no that I think about it.
April 22, 2011 3:40:24 AM

Leaps-from-Shadows said:
It may not be hardware, but could be a driver issue. I recently had the same problem -- the graphics driver would shut down and fail to restart itself. Of course it was because I had the GPU overclocked too high for StarCraft II, but yours may just need to be uninstalled and reinstalled.



Been almost 24 hours now with no failure. Of course, the system goes go into standby after a bit, and I've been out all day and eve, so we'll have to see if it fails as usual after a few hours of use before bed. So far the driver solution is looking successful though. :bounce: 

This is why we ask these questions here; because sometimes a problem as simple as a bad new driver (New is BETTER, right?) is the issue.
April 23, 2011 5:04:18 AM

True Story: I asked my wife if she thought we could consider it problem solved, she said yes. I pulled up a new tab in Firefox to log on leave a post and before I could even start typing "Tom"... video failed.

:cry: 

So unfortunately, drivers did not solve the problem.
April 23, 2011 5:53:45 AM

WerdNerf said:
Hadn't thought of drivers. I'll def. give that a try. I'm prone to think that it's not the cause, because it's been otherwise stable for so damn long (around 2.5 years, it's actually my wife's machine), although it's plausible since I think it's set to auto update. Still there really seems to be a time correlation involved, which suggests to me that something's over heating. It'll run for hours with no problem early in the day, and then go down constantly after being on for a long time, and constantly restarted. Still, it's certainly an easy issue to troubleshoot, so thanks for the suggestion.

Unfortunately, no I don't have any ATI cards. This is a digression but I am switching to ATI or AMD cards; I've always used Nvidia, but I anecdotally think their quality is tanking. More to the point though, my laptop failed a few years ago thanks to a combination of poor design coupled with Nvidia's run of defective chips, and I'm currently a member in a class action lawsuit against them. I know manufacturing defects happen, but they've handled it horribly, and have idly stood by while HP has helped lie to and manipulate class members. If I can help it, I'll never buy anything that uses Nvidia components again.


Update: The most recent driver was from Jan 2011, and the instability began around late February or early March, so it's a pluasible cause. Just updated to a version dated Feb 28th 2011, so we'll see how that works.

Update2: Even better, April 7 2011.


ya i was to in the class action lawsuit, i believe its all chips from 6100 to 9800 are affected..., the 210 and up are not affected due to being a smaller die.., on a side note thought try another monitor, or potionally a another graphics card that wasnt in the rig before
!