I've had a problem recently with my display. About 18 months ago, I installed a 9600 GT to my pc with no problems after my previous card failed. All was great for about 12 months after that. About six months ago, my gaming (WoW, Total War - nothing too taxing) was hit by artifacts and, fearing the card failing again, I largely stopped PC gaming altogether. However, the artifacts are now appearing across my system during 'normal' windows usage, and even on the BIOS screen after reboots. They're sometimes a bit checkerboard-esque and sometimes a bit more like a snowstorm.
Sometimes the display runs fine though - I recently had a good few weeks of gaming on the machine again before a problem.
I'm not too sure how to fix this. I've thought it could be the PSU being too underpowered for the card, but the 12 months of good usage have made me think that maybe that isn't the case. I'm wondering if the video card RAM is gone or possibly my mo/bo ram - any idea?
System is a dell dimension 9200 (so bios is pretty locked by dell). I'm not overclocking it, or the card. Fans are working as they should be. I've checked the connections in the case.
I have swapped one of the old 1gb RAM sticks for a 2gb - so am running a 3gb combo of 1 and 2 (yes, this is unmatched but I've been told shouldn't have been a problem). I'm wondering whether this is causing the issues though.
My o/s is windows 7, I've updated the bios to latest versions. Tried old and new videocard drivers. Am currently running the latest. I've done a wipe of old drivers on the system.
If you are lucky, you might be running into some excess dirt; but I'm quite sure it's got to do your vga. At least that's my best guess. I've seen a buddy's old Ati 1950pro go to hell by overheating; sapphire old-style cheap cooling with no vram sinks. There were artifacts all over the screen from the bootscreen to the grave.
Recently, I saw another friend's GTS 250 rot in artifacts but it happened to pass away with a lot of circuit cleaner and something they did with a heat gun (I guess it's like what people do to solve the xbox's old 3 red light error).
However, let's not be be pessimistic, it may be just dirt; at worst heat screwed something up on it. Good news is the rest of your PC should be fine. Check out if the vga's all filled with dust. Also check the card on someone else's PC if you can.
Cleaned out the machine - still had the issues. However, it did make me think about the temperature of the machine.
I had a look (with speed fan) at the temperature of the system and noted that the card (when under heavy use) was knocking on 90 degrees +. I used rivatuner to adjust the fan speed to maximum which brought it down to about 65 under load - knocking on 70 degrees for heavy usage, but still had some issues with artifacts so I removed the 1gb ram dimm in the machine. This sorted the issues. I'm guessing that the problems I was having were a combination of both an overcooked videocard and some old RAM (four years) that was starting to fail.