Two Cards, at least one is damaged

I bought a high-end gaming machine a little over a year ago that came with two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280 graphics cards. A while back I had some issues where in the middle of a game my screen would go rainbow and the computer would crash. Seemed like a graphics card problem to me, but someone suggesting it might be the machine overheating and after some quick checking with Speedfan I learned that I was indeed running hot. I learned that the first thing to try was to open the case and dust, which I did, and discovered a nice dust plug completely blocking the fins of one of the main heat sinks. After removing that, the temp went down to acceptable levels.

However, the rainbow crashes still happen, and with greater frequency. Usually my system will crash within about 5 minutes of starting a game, and I'll have to restart everything once or twice. Curiously, if I can make 15 minutes or so, I rarely get a crash and can play for hours. But something is obviously wrong and I'm guessing its that elevated temp caused permanent damage to my GC.

Ordinarily I'd just order a new GC and replace it. However, I have TWO. I'm not sure if they are both damaged or if only one of them is. My first thought is to try pulling one of them out and seeing if I still get crashes (if I don't that's the damaged one, and if I do I can switch cards and try again). However I don't know if that will confuse my system or not (if it's expecting 2 GCs and suddenly there is only one).

Are thoughts or ideas? I'm quite new at this but not afraid to tinker.


- Ron P.
5 answers Last reply
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  1. The fact that the crashes don't happen if you get past the fifteen minute mark would suggest a software issue to me but either way pulling one of the cards out will not "confuse" your system and neither will swapping them around.
  2. Thanks for the reply! Another friend suggested that I might have fried my power supply somehow... Does that sound possible, and if it might be, is there an easy way to check?

    I'll probably try to pull one of the cards out this weekend and see what happens. I'm thinking best case scenario is that there aren't any more crashes, and then I decide whether I want to replace the missing card or not.

    Given the cards I have, how much difference in graphics quality would I expect to see in removing one of them? If I decide to replace, is there a problem with having two mismatched cards or do they both need to be the same?

    Thanks again,

    - Ron P.
  3. Replacement wise you just need another GTX280, it doesn't matter who's. As for performance loss, I would have thought you would see quite a bit depending on the resolution that you game at and the titles you play.
  4. Try some testing ..... download OCCT and run the GFX tests.... look at the graphs when done (60 minutes) specifically for high temps and voltage anomalies.
  5. Thanks for the answers. Still haven't gotten around to opening the case yet... The pattern is definitely this:

    * I'll turn on a game (World of Warcraft, typically)
    * Within 15 minutes (usually 3-5), the screen turns into a rainbow pixel version of whatever it was just showing and freezes
    * System locks up too, and I have to manually switch off and reboot
    * After rebooting, I can turn the game on right away and it will play for hours with no trouble


    Probably one big reason I haven't invested much time in this just yet is that my system DOES work, once I reboot.
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