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Video goes to solid color intermittently

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
August 12, 2012 8:15:25 PM

Greetings all; thank you for reading. After searching around, I have not found a discussion on the same issue that I am having.

Since buying a new video card, I have been having a problem, and am hoping for some help in determining my best course of action in resolving it.

About once every 4-5 days, the video feed turns to a solid color and stays that way until the computer is restarted. The monitor backlight remains on and the monitor reports that it is getting an active signal (I do not have another monitor to test it with, but there were no problems with the current monitor and the old video card). At first the screen color went black during these occasions (with backlight, not a sleeping monitor), but lately it has been more colorful with it being a nice purple a few times, and most recently it was all white. The problem seems to occur when the image on the screen is changing, but is not related to times of stressful graphics activity such as gaming. For example, the video has went out while changing a Firefox window from minimized to maximized, while scrolling down a webpage in Firefox, and while returning from screen saver. Reinstalling the video driver (using "Repair") has not helped.

Power supply - Dell, Model: N350N00, 350 W max
System model - Dell Dimension 8400
OS - Windows XP Professional, version 2002, service pack 3
BIOS - Phoenix ROM BIOS PLUS Version 1.10 A08
Processor - Intel Pentium 4, 3.20 GHz
Memory - 3326 MB RAM

Old video card - Radeon X300 SE
New video card - nVidea GEForce GT 630, 2048 MB, DDR3, 350 W min power requirement (with min 12 V at 20 A)

Installation - removed old video card, inserted new video card, installed new video driver, noticed problem, uninstalled old video drivers, reinstalled new video drivers, continued having problem

-The computer is still running after the video goes out. I have my power button set to do a normal shutdown when pressed. After my video goes out, I press the power button and am able to hear the shutdown sound every time. One time my video went out as I maximized a Firefox window that was playing music through Pandora, and the music continued playing after losing video.
-The problem never occurs during the times that I assume to be maximum power consumption and heating. The most high-powered graphics activity that I do is play League of Legends, and the video has never gone out mid-game, despite many games of LoL and many occurrences of the problem. Most recently, it went out after I had not done anything since powering on besides word processing and youtube.

It is probably not an issue with my power supply or overheating, because if it was the problem would occur during the times of peak activity (like playing LoL). It is probably not an issue with my motherboard, because if it was the computer would not continue running after the problem occurs.
It is most likely a DOA graphics card, or some unknown incompatibility between my system and the chosen card.

Please let me know if you have any idea as to what is causing the problem, and whether I should try a fix with the current video card, get a new replacement of the same video card, or try a completely different video card.

Thank you!
a c 85 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
August 12, 2012 8:29:51 PM

this is a dimension one give model and name from dell and yes it could be your psu not powerfull enough for the new card
August 25, 2012 2:43:19 AM

Ok, here is the info I got about the motherboard and CPU by running "sudo lshw" in Ubuntu (the computer is running Windows XP; I just ran Ubuntu from a flash drive to use lshw). And then some info from running "systeminfo" in windows command prompt.
description: Mini Tower Computer
product: Dimension 8400
vendor: Dell Inc.

description: Motherboard
product: 0J3492
vendor: Dell Inc.

description: CPU
product: Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 3.20GHz
vendor: Intel Corp.
physical id:
bus info:
version: 15.3.4
serial: 0000-0F34-0000-0000-0000-0000
slot: Microprocessor
size: 3200MHz
capacity: 4GHz
width: 32 bits
clock: 800MHz
Original Install Date: 3/17/2006, 12:26:08 PM
System Up Time: 0 Days, 0 Hours, 9 Minutes, 44 Seconds
System Manufacturer: Dell Inc.
System Model: Dimension 8400
System type: X86-based PC
Processor(s): 1 Processor(s) Installed.
[01]: x86 Family 15 Model 3 Stepping 4 GenuineIntel ~
3192 Mhz
BIOS Version: DELL - 7
Windows Directory: C:\WINDOWS
System Directory: C:\WINDOWS\system32
Boot Device: \Device\HarddiskVolume1
System Locale: en-us;English (United States)
Input Locale: en-us;English (United States)
Time Zone: (GMT-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada)
Total Physical Memory: 3,326 MB
Available Physical Memory: 2,620 MB
Virtual Memory: Max Size: 2,048 MB
Virtual Memory: Available: 2,006 MB
Virtual Memory: In Use: 42 MB

Any ideas on what could be causing the problem? Maybe the power supply needs to be replaced? Maybe my system is just outdated (the "original install date" shown in "systeminfo" is actually a reinstall, the system is from 2004)?
Related resources
a c 85 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
August 25, 2012 3:04:14 AM

could you try this card in another system or get another card you could try for test also when was the last time you check your hdd with the drive maker tool
August 29, 2012 5:10:39 AM

1) Test in another system:
As for testing it in another system, I do not have another system available to me. And I can't do a quick check with someone else's system because it can take over a week for anything to happen.

2) Try another card in my system:
But, Best Buy was kind enough to let me exchange it and try a new video card (same model) in my computer. I got the new card on August 12, and have had the problem occur once since then (again, just with Firefox running a few tabs). So with the new card it happened once in over 2 weeks, instead of 1-2 times per week (but I have been using my computer less). And the one time it did happen, I was not actually there when the screen went out. So I am waiting for it to happen again, but am planning on trying a different model card eventually. I am guessing the problem is in fact some incompatibility with my system, because its unlikely I got a video card with the same defect twice in a row.

3) Check HDD:
SeaTools for DOS (my main HDD is a Seagate, the other is a WD just used for storage) ran all tests without error, as did the windows "Check Disk" test.

4) Monitor:
Not sure if this makes any difference, but I am using the HP 2311x 23-Inch LED Monitor, which means I am using the highest resolution setting possible for me, 1920x1080. I didn't have any problems with my old video card (Radeon X300) and this monitor except for some slowness when streaming online videos at max resolution.

a c 85 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
August 30, 2012 1:38:36 AM

read back the post and you write that your system got a 350 watts psu and card ask for a 350 so what is the power left for all the other components on the system if you could find someone that could lend you a bigger psu for test
September 16, 2012 12:53:58 AM

After waiting a while, I did have the problem occur a couple more times. So, I tried putting a PC Power & Cooling Silencer 500 Dell in there. When I plugged it in, the fan started running. Trying to turn it on just gave me a flashing yellow power light (means "the computer is receiving electrical power, but an internal power problem might exist" according to the owner's manual). So I guess the bigger PSU I was going to try is busted... will have to figure something else out.

Put back the old 350 W PSU, turned it on, got a message saying "Alert! CPU Fan Failure". The fan seems to be working fine as I type this. Took out the fan, cleaned a lot of dust off it, plugged it back in securely, still got the fan failure message upon startup.

Going to wait and see if this fan failure message persists, and find another PSU to try.
a c 85 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
September 16, 2012 12:56:46 AM

do you have another cooler fan you could try to see if you get the alert