Ok, so I built a pretty good system back in 2005 consisting of an Asus P5E board dual core 3GHz CPU with 4GB of (matched-same-box serial) RAM, a Corsair HX620w Modular power supply and an Asus 7800GTX and it has been a terrific machine ever since. XP Pro (SP3) is still my OS of choice (Tried Vista for a few months but went back to XP and stayed ever since). Nothing is overclocked - all standard. Default settings in BIOS.
A few weeks ago I started getting sudden freezing in the middle of browsing (seemed to be when I was scrolling past images on a web page) and rebooting behaviour then my screen started displaying 50-75% artifacts (even at P.O.S.T.) and I was getting the one long beep and three short beeps (GPU error) on boot up with a black screen (it would finally load after a few attempts) so I figured my trusty old 7800GTX (which had delivered many hundreds of hours of faithful gaming) had finally bitten the dust so I just took delivery of used 8800GT and last night I installed it.
My drivers were pretty old (v181.22) so I figured I'd best update to the latest drivers (v301.42). All seems to be going well in 2D, card powers up fine, no more beeping, good clean display but I can only get into about 3 minutes of Serious Sam 2 and the machine freezes, music goes on a very short loop, screen goes black and on restart I get GPU error codes again (1 long and three short beeps). When I press the small reset button I keep getting the same beep code and a black screen (no post).
The only way to get the machine to start up again is to power off with the power supply switch, wait a few moments and restart. Even then I sometimes get the GPU error beeps but eventually it will load as if nothing ever happened. The moment I try to play SS2 the same happens (a few moments of game play then freeze, black screen, looping sounds...etc).
Here's my guess as to what might be going wrong...
1) PCIe slots are failing (I've tried both and getting the same problems)
2) Power supply is starting to fail or not up to it? (From what I've seen the Corsair HX620w is a great PSU and should be up to the job)
3) Motherboard is starting to fail? (How do I test it?)
4) I got another bum card (it is used but with hand on heart the seller said he's had no problems with it and to bring it back if it proves DOA)
5) Could it be the new drivers? I can go back to old drivers if need be (is there a Nvidia driver "blaster"/remover I can use to clean my system of all old drivers?)
The board is in good condition but I did blow it out gently to move some of the dust accumulated over the years but it wasn't that bad (I've seen much worse).
I know there are many variables but is there anything that stands out to anyone? I've installed TechPowerup GPU-Z installed - what should I be looking for to see if a setting is wrong?
What should I be testing for (and with what?) to see what's failing? Is the 8800GT too much for this board/system? Is my power supply not up to it? I want to play big gun go boom boom!
Any idea which drivers where the last to offer improvements for the 8xxx series and where I could find them? The NVidia archive seem to stop at (Quadro release 182s) 182.65. I have a stash of drivers from twin digit but the 3 digit drivers I have are 158.24, 177.83, 181.22 then the newer series 296.10 and 301.42.
I've been searching for the answer on here and Google but can't seem to pin down the answer to which drivers are the best for this card. In the meantime I'll try the 181.22s and report back if that helps.
I tried Driver Sweeper (after removing from control panel) in safe mode but I got some errors though I'm now trying it in full windows mode and it seems to have found far less versions of the driver (pointing to lots of old drivers in the system) so hopefully this time it'll work a treat.
Thanks, I'll give it a try. The version I got off the ASUS site on the 8800GT page was version 259.44 and that managed to give me (an amazing!) 20 minutes of Serious Sam 2 (Demo by the way) but only about 3 minutes of FarCry (demo). I've got temp monitors running all the time so I can check to see if the card is overheating but it's not. It's staying at a constant 50 degrees (c) or there abouts. This morning it's running at 46 degrees.
Not sure what this tells me and I've been reading a lot about my power supply and apparently it is well up for the task of running the 8800GT. Is it possible that drivers can be making THIS much of a difference? I find it hard to believe. With 100% crashing rate and the fact that the game does run for several (up to 20) minutes (last night) makes me scratch my head.
Pretty farquing frustrating I've got to say. Could the variation in play (before crash) time be pointing to the board?...and if so, why the delay? Why not crash immediately? Anyone with any ideas or suggestions welcome.
Had I known about baking I would loved to have fried that farker however smashing gave me a lot of satisfaction. It fought back though, tried to send some shards and schrapnel my way but in the end big angry with hammer won the battle.