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Graphics card dying?

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December 28, 2011 10:58:49 PM

Within the past 2 months my computer has been crashing while playing games like WoW and Star Wars: The Old Republic (within 5 minutes of starting them). What specifically happens is I will get a distorted image of pure random images meshed together like 200 times over and it will stay on that image before I have to shut it down by hitting my power button.

My screen looks like this when it freezes. I took the photo on my phone, sorry for the quality.

I have a 5870 vapor-x gpu. Can anyone tell me if my gpu is dying and if I'll have to buy a new one?

I dusted my entire computer, including gpu, just today and the problem still persists. Before it crashed, my gpu's temp was around 66 degrees celsius with my CPU in the mid 40's. At idle my gpu is in the mid to upper 30's. I don't believe it has crashed yet when not playing a game. When I'm just browsing the web and watching movies, etc. it's ok.

P.S. My computer is about a year and a half old and I haven't had any problems with it until about 1-2 months ago after updating my video drivers (although I'm not certain that's the cause of it). I had done a full system restore just last week and the problem is still there. Also, my OS and MMO's are installed on my SSD if that helps.

My system specs are:

CPU: Intel i7 930, non overclocked.
CPU Cooler: Corsair H50
Mobo: Asus P6X58D-E
GPU: Sapphire 5870 Vapor-X
Memory: G.Skill 6gb, tri channel
HDD: Intel X25-M 160gb SSD
Samsung 1tb HDD
PSU: Corsair HX1000W
OS: Windows 7 64-bit

If you need more info please ask and thank you for the help in advance.

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December 29, 2011 12:55:52 PM

hey i seem to be having a very similar problem but my problem usually happens right after i load into a game (wow or skyrim).. i have the 6870 and can't seem to find an answer on here.. a few weeks ago i was using an hdmi to dvi cable so i switched to just a dvi cable which worked! but the problem came back just yesterday! also i found with the hdmi to dvi cable i couldnt go past catalyst drivers 11.6 without it crashing at game launch... not sure if its all coincidence and the card is just fried or whats going on.. :(  let me know if you've found a solution.

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December 29, 2011 1:30:26 PM
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So if you did a clean install, did you happen to revert back to previous drivers or did you just download the latest and greatest again? Simple driver unfortunately i think will be a longshot, its more likely to be hardware and just because its visual queue looks garbled on the screen doesnt necessarily mean its the GPU. I had a similar issue happen to me, but it was completely random as to when it would happen, 2D or 3D, but when this happens to you, does it happen at random after you've been playing a while or immediately after loading the game?

Sure it could be a heat thing, Have you taken compressed air to your GPU and blow out any dust? that may help if its related to heat, Also for kicks why not stick a random case fan directly in front of your GPU to help keep things cool, at least temporarily, if its happening then its probably not heat.

RAM is one of the most common little buggers out there and known to just stop working one day randomly. So you could try removing 2 sticks and running with less. If it happens again, try another stick and so forth. If it stops crashing, then load a 2nd stick and so fourth.

I had something like this drive me through a wall and it was simply the 1 month old Coolermaster 800w 80Gold PSU! the screen did the same thing but computer would immediately reboot on its own.
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December 29, 2011 1:33:37 PM

Ohh and i have a 5870, Catalyst Control Center has my normal temp as i browse web etc at 47 degrees with a 850mhz gpu clock and 1200mhz memory clock and i know it goes way beyond that while gaming. Im sure beyond your temps
December 29, 2011 8:01:01 PM

When I reinstalled my OS I updated my graphics drivers to the latest because I thought the problem I was having was virus related, not tied to my gpu. Just today I uninstalled my drivers and reverted to those that came with my GPU when I purchased it. Now I'm getting BSOD, with my system restarting afterwards by itself. I get the BSOD within one minute of starting Star Wars.

I did use an air compressor to clean my GPU separate from my system, although I cleaned my whole system too. I also have 5 fans directing airflow through my case. My RAM is all recognized although last week one stick wasn't. I just took them out and put them in eachothers spots and it seemed to fix the issue.

Do you think it's the physical GPU causing my problems or possibly my PSU as yours did?
a c 92 U Graphics card
December 29, 2011 8:19:46 PM

try running something like 3d mark and see if it crashes or has graphical errors.
December 29, 2011 8:42:12 PM

So i downloaded the basic version of 3d Mark11 as I do not own it and when running it, it crashed about 2 minutes in, maybe less, with the following message "Workload work failed with error message: Process exited unexpectedly".
a c 92 U Graphics card
December 29, 2011 8:46:36 PM

thats weird.

I guess you have to test out a new psu if you can, there is the slim chance it could be dying. but it all looks like you have to replace your gpu.
a b U Graphics card
December 29, 2011 8:52:10 PM

Could you try to underclock the memory? System RAM malfunctions would not leave you with such a screen, but video RAM could. Oh, and also try to underclock the GPU.
December 29, 2011 8:52:34 PM

I am unfortunately unable to test a new PSU at this time. Would there be a way of determining if it is my PSU and not my GPU, without using different parts?
a c 92 U Graphics card
December 29, 2011 8:54:38 PM

you can take it to a computer shop where they do fixes and have it tested
December 29, 2011 8:54:55 PM

mathew7 said:
Could you try to underclock the memory? System RAM malfunctions would not leave you with such a screen, but video RAM could. Oh, and also try to underclock the GPU.

Could you please tell me what that does and how to do it?
a c 92 U Graphics card
December 29, 2011 8:56:40 PM

you can use catalyst control center to underclock it. I think its in the afterburner tab.
December 29, 2011 10:45:42 PM

I haven't underclocked it yet but now my desktop seems to be getting BSOD outside of gaming, randomly. Then when my computer restarts itself from that, it will power on and literally no more than 2 seconds later power down, then power on again. Do you know what's causing this?

My computer was doing this before I did a full system restore as well. It was getting BSOD but wasn't powering off immediately after powering on.
a b U Graphics card
December 30, 2011 12:09:47 PM

It's really hard to rule out PSU or GPU without replacing (even temporary). I mean PSU spikes can affect GPU RAM, but also the GPU could cause certain malfunctions to go the power-cycle way.
Either way, you will have to test with a replacement. If you have a friend with whom you could swap the GPU, it would be cheaper and faster to pinpoint, but on your own, I would try a PSU first (I don't think you will need more than 500W), but I cannot tell you that it will solve your problem, but it's the 2nd cheaper option.

PS: my i5-2500 with stock 5850 uses 270W AC (UPS included) under gaming (Skyrim). That is why I say 500W is enough. nVidia and AMD reccomendations are valid even for cheap, overspec'ed PSUs (technically they are not lying, just testing in unnatural controlled conditions). I'm using a Corsair HX450W.
January 7, 2012 1:18:08 PM

Best answer selected by ghost_702.
January 7, 2012 1:22:24 PM

I finally got it fixed! I uninstalled my video drivers and reverted back to the ones that came with my gpu, but my system kept doing everything described above. I had a friend check it out and all we did was update the video drivers and it was fixed.

I hadn't updated before because it was already up to date, with my most recent driver update starting my problems. I assume a newer version came out or something because now my computer is running smoothly again.

Thanks for the helps though you guys, I know it can be difficult diagnosing a PC's problems over the internet.
!