I have an XFX HD-685X-ZDFC. Other system system specs listed at bottom of post. Since I have owned the card I have somewhat randomly received the "Display driver stopped responding and has recovered" error while browsing the internet in Firefox and during gaming. I have never overclocked or messed with any settings on this card. I always attributed it to driver issues, and since it happened somewhat randomly I never really investigated the issue. I mostly ran into issues with it while playing BF3 (where random crashing is sadly not uncommon for a lot of people) and viewing photos on facebook (random, I know).
Here is where it gets interesting. This past weekend I upgraded my motherboard/RAM from a DDR2 mobo/RAM to DDR3 mobo/RAM. Now I consistently get "Display driver stopped responding and has recovered" while browsing around the internet, typically on graphically heavy pages (IGN, Facebook photoviewer). Also, I am unable to load any games that previously worked before the motherboard upgrade. Games tried: TF2, BF3, SC2, HL2. All will load, go through their splash screens to the menu, but as soon as anything requiring some graphical muscle comes along the games freeze. Sometimes giving the "Display" error, or just quitting to the desktop. I tried to check the CPU and GPU temps when these freezes occurred, but found nothing suspicious, CPU temps usually in the 30's/40's and GPU temps around the 40's.
I reseated the video card. No difference.
I downloaded and installed latest motherboard drivers from ASRock. No difference.
I have uninstalled and reinstalled the AMD drivers using conventional uninstall methods in windows and with driver sweeper, trying 12.2, 12.1, and 11.12. The problems persisted after reinstallation with all of them.
I thought maybe my power supply was overloaded, as it is a little undersized. Unplugged all case fans, drives, USB devices, etc. except for essential devices. No difference.
I uninstalled all new utilities that came along with the motherboard. No difference.
To make sure it was not any hardware issue other than the video card, I took the 6850 out and installed an old ATI 4650 I had laying around. I installed the 12.2 drivers for it and everything works like a charm. All the games run, albeit with low settings that look terrible, and no "Display driver stopped responding and has recovered" errors.
The only other troubleshooting option I can think of is putting the 6850 in another machine to see if I can duplicate the results, but I have no access to another machine.
All this leads me to believe that the 6850 is defective, and has always been defective and the motherboard upgrade has really exposed the problem. I registered the card with XFX when I received it and it is still under warranty, so I'm think doing an RMA with them is about my only option left.
I haven't done a clean install of windows, but I'd really prefer not to, as I don't feel like its going to solve the issue, and its a lot of time spent for nothing.
Does anyone have any advice, or any other troubleshooting I should do before starting the RMA process?
Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium
AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE w/CM Hyper 212+ (all testing was done at default 3.2GHz, although I have had it overclocked to 3.6GHz at times in the past)
ASRock 970 Extreme3 motherboard
2x4GB DDR3 Corsair Vengeance LP
Zumax 550W Power supply
Antec 900 case
Hitachi 5400RPM 750GB HD
I don't have access to another PSU. Although not getting enough power would make sense, as when the card really needs to draw power, it can't and therefore craps out. I may try a more extensive test with only the essential devices plugged in to test the power.
I don't think there is, but is there any way to monitor the total wattage being used by the PSU? I do have an ammeter that I could put around the power cord going into the comp, and use the amperage reading*120V to get total watts being used? That sounds pretty far fetched, has anybody ever done that?
My eventual build was to crossfire with another 6850, which I knew would require a PSU upgrade. I may have to consider doing that sooner than expected if power is in fact the issue..
Did more testing with only the motherboard, CPU fan, HDD, 6850, and mouse/keyboard connected. Still receiving the drivers crashed error. According to this tool, at most I should be pulling 500W. The 550W PSU should be able to handle this, right?
Ok, pretty sure the PSU is undersized, or is failing.
In my tinkering I noticed that my fans (including CPU fan) were running much slower with the 6850 versus with the 4650. With the 6850 in, I ran a CPU stress test in OCCT and my CPU temps climbed extremely quickly to over 70 deg C, with no signs of stopping because my CPU fan was running so slow, obviously I quickly stopped the test.
I redid the test with the 4650. All the fans (especially the CPU fan) run noticeably faster . The CPU test topped out with a CPU temp of 63 degrees after 10 min of running. So, the 6850 is obviously pushing the PSU over the edge of its performance max.
So I replaced my listed PSU with a 900w Antec PSU. I'm still getting the error message all over the place while browsing the web. I am able, however, to load some games like TF2 and Portal. I haven't been able to load BF3 or CIV5 successfully. In both cases they crash to the desktop after they are done loading and entering the game. I've tried the 11.12 drivers and the 12.2 drivers. I've spent way too much time/money on this already, and its starting to frustrate me too much. I'll try troubleshooting more possibly after the next driver update.