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Display troubles with the Sapphire HD 5870 2GB

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 6, 2010 6:23:47 AM

I have the Asus M4A78T-E motherboard, AMD Phenom II 955 x4, and 4 gigs of G.Skill DDR3 (don't remember frequency offhand), running Windows 7 Pro 64-bit. I recently purchased a Sapphire ATI HD 5870 2GB and installed it... and it works great 99.9% of the time. But every once in a while (I cannot currently reproduce consistent circumstances) the display will simply turn off, usually accompanied by a USB unplug noise from Windows. The computer continues to run in the background (on voice chat I can continue talking and listening, keyboard inputs are still accepted by chat programs and games, sound still plays) and the display typically recovers soon afterwards. It has sometimes gone blank during games, sometimes after exiting games (typically while viewing web browsers), and once on the Windows login screen, though it happens most frequently out of games. I already RMA'd the card once and obtained a replacement, and the replacement is beginning to exhibit similar issues.

Discussion with friends has pointed possibly towards motherboard issues, but I also find myself wondering if this is a Displayport problem? This is the first card I've owned that utilizes displayport (it has 6 displayport outputs, and then you attach an adapter for your monitor- I'm currently using DVI). The USB unplug noise is unsettling and confusing in this circumstance, which is part of what suggests Displayport problems to me.

Another piece of information- I've been using GPU-Z to monitor the card, and after the most recent screen flicker, I noted that the core clock spiked from its idle of 157 MHz to 600 MHz, and then immediately settled, but that this was not accompanied by a corresponding memory clock spike as I usually observe when running games.

Operating temperature is currently ~35 C idle, and rarely exceeding 65 C on load, so I don't think this is a heat issue. The fact that it doesn't typically occur during full load rules out power supply issue to me.

What else could it be? I would be grateful for any ideas/suggestions, and ESPECIALLY for corroborating evidence/solutions.
December 6, 2010 7:47:17 AM

First of all,make sure you have the latest VGA drivers installed.
Also,since you hear the USB unplugging sound,then you may want to try using another cable or use a different monitor you can.
As for clock speeds, it should be 157/300 in 2D mode.(with non-GPU usage)
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December 6, 2010 1:34:48 PM

In between the old card that was RMA'd and the new card, I used driver sweeper to clean out old drivers as a possible issue, and installed this one with the latest drivers on the website.

As far as the monitor, I have tried using my wife's monitor as well. It is the same model (24" Dell flatscreen) and have also experienced the flickers on it. One friend had mentioned it MIGHT be the monitor not always detecting the video in a low-power state, but also said that that was extremely unlikely. Further, my fallback card is an XFX GeForce 7900 GTX and it has never exhibited any problems with my current interface. I also had a BFG 8800 GTX and an EVGA 9800 GX2 that worked fine in this setup, until they died.

Those clock speeds are consistent with my current readings on GPU-Z.
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December 6, 2010 1:54:50 PM

hmm,download the latest BIOS and see if it helps.
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December 6, 2010 7:45:00 PM

I managed to get Sapphire to send me the latest BIOS, but their instructions for installing it were written in Thai, translated to Japanese, translated to English, translated to Turkish, and then translated BACK to English. So I'm not really certain if I'm doing ANYTHING right. Do you have a guide you recommend?
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December 8, 2010 6:40:02 AM

This problem is beginning to accelerate on this card as it did on the first one. Still no discernible specific cause. The screen has in fact just switched off while I am typing this. Anyone else have experience with this or a similar problem? I've heard passing references to ATI "grey screen" issues but can't seem to find a comprehensive description of symptoms or solutions. Could this be related?
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December 8, 2010 6:50:08 AM

By BIOS update,I meant the motherboard BIOS not VGA :) 
As for Grey screen,yes it' "was" a very common issue when HD 58xx series were first released.Newer drivers seem to have taken care off this problem.
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December 8, 2010 7:20:45 AM

I'm a bit of a home tinkerer, so my experience and expertise are limited to only what I've encountered before, but the Motherboard BIOS only affects the initial detection and startup, doesn't it? And then performance responsibility is handed off to the drivers and devices? It's detecting the card just fine on startup. Performance logs show no errors related to the card or its drivers. As far as the computer is concerned, there is nothing wrong. My display just occasionally stops receiving signal.

Someone else I spoke to mentioned that there are multiple kinds of DVI signal? My screen is currently running DVI-D, is there a chance that that is simply a badly supported output type?
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December 8, 2010 8:18:41 AM

Yes,but sometimes updating the BIOS may help.
Anyway,since you mentioned that you tested this card on another monitor,then maybe your card is defective.
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December 8, 2010 9:25:41 AM

Did you try creating a profile in CCC and increasing the idle (2D) core clock from 157 to, say, 300 and memory clock from 300 to, say 450 MHz ?

I have Radeon HD5770. Since day one I have been experiencing a TDR issue, even when I am on the desktop. And the only remedy is to increase idle core/memory clocks.

I have single gfx card and single monitor system. I have increased core clock to 200 and memory clock to 400 and I am happy. I am on CCC 10.11, the latest.

Therefore, I strongly suggest you to do the same. Even when you are gaming, there may be times where you have a dropped tempo of the game and you fall back on idle (2D) clocks. Then you run into an immediate TDR and a momentary loss and blank screen results.

By the way, AMD dropped the adjustability of core/memory clocks using profiles starting from CCC 10.5 to CCC 10.10. Therefore, I always had this TDR issue from late May to late November. Now with CCC 10.11, the adjustibility returned.
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December 8, 2010 4:41:17 PM

What does TDR mean? Thanks for the recommendation, I'll look into it. Now that you've mentioned it, most of the flickers have been occurring during periods of low graphics activity generally following moderate-or-high graphics activity.
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December 8, 2010 4:46:32 PM

Okay, in CCC I have the screen that lets me OVERCLOCK the card, but that's not what you were suggesting... where do I go to increase the idle clocks?
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December 8, 2010 8:14:22 PM

You have to create a profile,here is how
Set your 2D clocks to 400/900,here is how:
1_Open CCC and choose Overdrive tab,unlock the settings(by clicking on the " Gold Key" icon)
2_Go top options,profile and choose profile manager.
3_In the composition tab,choose "The following settings" and in the "ATI Radeon HD 5900 series"make sure only ATI overdrive is checked.
Then enter a profile name,then save and close it(Do not activate).
4_Go to C:\Users\Your UserName\AppData\Local\ATI\ACE\Profiles (Its hidden so make sure you unlock hidden files and folders)
5_Open the profile with wordpad and do this edits:
<Feature name="CoreClockTarget_0">
<Property name="Want_0" value="40000" /> (the default should be 15700)

<Feature name="MemoryClockTarget_0">
<Property name="Want_0" value="90000" /> (the default should be 30000)
Save the changes and close.

6_Open CCC,in options tab go to profiles,profile manager and choose the profile that you saved before and then click on Activate and close.

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Best solution

December 9, 2010 5:34:33 AM

Thanks for all your help guys, I figured out what the problem was- it's the Displayport-to-DVI adapter that came with the card. It's cheap, and occasionally decides it's going to lose connection with my DVI cable. As it was hanging at the back of my computer in a relatively enclosed space, it was heating and cooling, and the resulting expansion and constriction was making it unseat. Knowing this, when the screen blacks out I can now just jiggle the connection and it'll fix itself; however, I will also be looking into replacement adapters that are NOT so temperamental.
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December 10, 2010 6:36:42 AM

Glad you found the solution soon. But anyway, if you run into a problem again this time with TDR, you have the solution to it, too.

Though, I must add, the rate of heat generation and dissipation in the enclosed space should not be a cause for such metal expansion-contraction problem resulting in complete loss of signal.

Anyway, happy computing.
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December 10, 2010 7:16:25 AM

I'm sure the unseating was also gravity/tension aided, but I've noted a significant decrease in the number of flickers I am experiencing now that I've routed the connector around the side of my case, rather than leaving it in the cubby it was backed into. The heat was not the only cause, but it was definitely an exacerbating factor. The connector is just cheap, sadly.

In any case, if a moderator would like to close this thread, I think that it can be safely called resolved.
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December 10, 2010 8:32:20 AM

Glad it's solved then,please select the best answer and I'll close it :) 
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December 17, 2010 3:23:51 AM

Well... I wasn't sure selecting a "Best Answer" would be right. While I do appreciate your help, none of the suggestions in the thread ultimately led to a solution; I found it on my own, and then told you about it. I do not appear to be able to select my own reply as a best answer... I think the logical solution for assisting someone else that might have a similar problem would be for you to quote my resolution, and then I'll select the quote as the best answer?
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December 17, 2010 5:50:04 AM

Best answer selected by Maziar.
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December 17, 2010 5:51:12 AM

Done :) 
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