Dimension XPS Gen 2 - Graphics Card replacement problem

Forgive me if this has been answered elsewhere here; I have found people with similar problems on this and other forums, but the threads trickle to unresolved endings or the particular fix hasn't worked for me.

The backstory: Over the past couple of weeks my original graphics card began to die. Vertical lines down the screen which would grow worse the longer the computer was on; using the scroll bar would cause the whole screen to smear, etc. Sometimes with rest it would revert to being fine for short periods, then the problem would pop in, until finally it was that way with every boot up.

My system basics:

Dell Dimension XPS Gen 2; Intel Pentium 4 Processor at 3.2GHz HT

Bios ver. A06 (the only release on this unit)

250GB hard drive; 2GB RAM; running Windows XP Home

460w power supply

Graphics Card (now bad): 128MB DDR ATI Radeon 9800 Pro AGP

Dell Support had only one card they suggested when I called about a replacement: a Radeon X1300 256 MB PCI card. When I received it, it would not fit properly in the PCI slot and be able to connect to the monitor cable even after working for 1 -2 hours with Dell support using both brackets provided. Dell couldn't help any further with other cards in their inventory.

So I searched the web for days, concerned about compatibility, and finally found an article about good AGP cards for older systems. To avoid continuing delay I ordered two different cards, a Sparkle GeForce 6200 256MB DDR2 and an EVGA GeForce 6200 512MB DDR2. There seemed to be many people in forums who found both cards a lifesaver for their older systems.

However with both of these cards - though recognized by my system on startup - the monitor would go to a black screen after progressing through the Dell load screen and the Windows XP startup. Tried various solutions from help forums where others had similar problems with new cards (though none having my particular XPS machine). I began to think it's a basic compatibility with the particularities of my motherboard - or something else.

So I decided to search online for an exact replacement for the 128MB DDR ATI Radeon 9800 Pro. (My control card during all of the testing with the new cards was my failing original ATI card. Whenever I put it back in, it would get me all the way back to my desktop - so I could tell the system was OK.) To get a a replacement card, most that are available are refurbished or used - but I was desperate. I ordered one, but what I received yesterday was not the 128 DDR version as advertised, but the 256MB DDR2 Radeon 9800 Pro. That one too gives exactly the same result as the Sparkle and EVGA - after crystal clear and speedy boot up through the Dell and Windows loading screens - the screen goes black.

Dell support told me they have no other cards for this system and they wouldn't help with advice on whether any of the other cards I have would work. They of course advised purchasing a brand new Dell system.

Current status:

My original Radeon 9800 Pro card is pretty dead - just seeing hundreds of tiny squares when it is connected.

Cannot get to a screen that would allow me to load any drivers needed with a new card.

Starting in VGA mode gives the same "black screen"

Can't start in safe mode - on attempt I get a long scroll of driver files (I assume missing ones - but drivers for what? My original graphics card drivers were deleted as procedure for installing the new cards.)

My Question:

I realize my 8 year old computer is "old" and limited to upgrading. But does anyone with this XPS system have any experience with successfully replacing/upgrading the graphics card? I'm really looking for a temporary solution to get back to some basic computer work, web surfing, viewing online videos when needed, and a lot of Photoshop and other image editing. No gaming. I will be getting a new desktop eventually - but likely now not a Dell - and trying not to do so immediately. Apart from the graphics issue of the last 10 days, the unit was working fine.

My next step would be trying again to order another exact replacement of the old card (Dell told me that's the only solution)

Is this true or is there another?

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  1. Well lets see if we can find an answer. I am going to ask a few of questions.

    1. Do you have a interated graphic card, one that is built right into the mother board (MOBO)?

    2. Did you use a driver sweeper program to get rid of the old drivers?
    If you used the CD that came with the graphic card (GPU) it will not get rid of all the old drivers. You have to use a driver sweeper. The new 9800 with the extra Vram will not change how your card will resopnd.

    I think all you have to do is go into safe mode the F8 key hit it at start up before windows welcome screen. While in there us the driver sweeper. Then put the disk that came with the GPU in.

    Follow the instructions and after you did that step. Shut down reboot go to AMD web site and down load the new drivers. Here is driver sweeper programs. This should do the trick. That is if you haven't already did this. You can choose which one you want.


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