Hard-to-Diagnose Graphics Card Problem

I have a custom-built system with components of varying ages. Here is the set-up:

Case: Antec (10 years old)
PSU: Antec Eathwatts 650W (3 years old)
CPU: AMD Athlon X2 64, 3.1 MHz (3 years old)
Mobo: Asus M3A78, Chipset AMD 770 / SB700, PCIe 2.0 (3 years old)
BIOS: AMI BIOS ver. 2301, Date: 10/22/2010 (Last update available)
Video card: Diamond Radeon HD 6670 PCIe 2.1 (New)
OS: Multi-boot, Win XP Pro, Win XP Pro x64, Win 7 Ultimate x64

What happened was, my old video card's fan failed, and I replaced it with the one listed above. But I'm still having similar problems as the old one: Under normal conditions it seems to be okay, but when it's under a heavy load, such as full-screen video or 3D game renders, frame rate is choppy, and after a few minutes it crashes, either with a BSOD or just hangs. The error messages I get state that the drivers keep getting caught in an infinite loop, and the BSOD error (when I get it) is 0x---EA, THREAD_STUCK_IN_DEVICE_DRIVER.

At first, I thought the issue was residuals from the last card's drivers not getting fully removed, but the problems persist, even after doing a clean install of Windows. Here are the things I think *Might* be at issue:

--- PCIe 2.0 Mobo with obsolete and un-updatable BIOS can't handle PCIe 2.1 card (Based on other threads I've seen here on this topic)
--- Hardware issue with Mobo
--- Faulty RAM
--- Thermal problems from inadequate cooling in old PC chassis.
--- Buggy XP drivers (I seem to have fewer problems under Win 7)
--- Or possibly, the new video card is a lemon??

Anyone have any other ideas? What's the best way for me to proceed with diagnosing the problem(s)??

Thanks ahead,

Dave
10 answers Last reply
More about hard diagnose graphics card problem
  1. your processor is old and slow and dual core. the video card is low end. unless you're playing at 800x600 they're almost useless.

    for some of the problem.......... are you using on board sound ? if so try uninstalling the HDMI sound drivers. reboot, don't let Windows reinstall.

    what monitor/resolution ?.......... is it running the right refresh rate ?
  2. Monitor: Samsung Syncmaster SA300, Currently running at max resolution: 1600 x 900. 60 MHz (only refresh rate available)

    Sound: SoundBlaster Audigy SE card (Onboard sound disabled)

    So what video card would you recommend? I'm not what you would call a "power" gamer -- I only play a few once in a while. I'm frankly more interested in programming games than playing them. If the problems were just with the games it wouldn't matter as much, but these crashes happen while playing DVD and flash videos too...

    Dave
  3. did you disable the HDMI sound ( uninstall it ) from the device manager ? again, on reboot don't let Windows reinstall it. how's it work ?

    let's fix the problem before you go shopping.
  4. make sure you got the newest mb chipset drivers. I also see if a friend has another ps you can use for testing.sound like it not holding up under load. try runing programs like prime95 and memtest and unreal engin test to see if it your cpu that locking up or the gpu.
  5. @ swifty_morgan: HDMI sound was not listed in Device Manager. All onboard sound is disabled in CMOS.

    @ smorizio:

    --- I have all the latest drivers for my mobo / chipset, but there have been no available updates since 2008. (Are there any mobo manufacturers that are better about providing support and BIOS / driver updates over the long term? I kind of gravitated to ASUS by default --- I used to be an Epox loyalist.)

    --- I ran MemTest overnight, 9 hours and 6 passes, with no errors. So I should try prime95 next?

    --- Is Unreal Engin Test a 3D benchmark, like Unigine Heaven? I've been running the latter, and it causes the "infinite loop" problems on the video drivers.

    In the last few days, I have noticed one additional symptom: When accessing a web page with interactive flash content, the mouse pointer will thereafter keep "sticking" onscreen for a second or two before popping over to wherever I've moved the mouse. This happens every several seconds until I reboot. This is assuming the flash content hasn't caused a lockup or BSOD --- Sometimes what happens while viewing video or flash content is the system will hang for about 10 seconds, then "come back to life", and I'm holding my breath to see if this time around it does "come back" or if it crashes.

    Dave
  6. wasn't there a malware problem with adobe and they put a fix out for it ?
  7. Don't know how long I should do it for, but I just ran Prime95 for an hour with no problems / errors.
  8. @ swifty_morgan: Adobe updated this morning, and since then the problem previously described with flash has not recurred (*knock wood*), so maybe that was a red herring.
  9. Been continuing tests all weekend. At this point, it seems clear that these crashes are happening because the card can't handle detailed 3D gfx. (After reinstalling Windows, everything else works fine now, so I've ruled out RAM, mobo, etc.)

    I'm using _Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix_ as my test game, and it always crashes in the same place -- When it first attempts to render the exterior of Hogwarts. This card doesn't seem able to digest a whole castle!

    But the STOP error I'm now getting most is "PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA", which seems connected to memory. Could the problem be faulty RAM on the video card? I know it's been said in this thread that this card (Radeon HD 6670) is "low end"; but the card that this one replaced was less powerful and I had no troubles with it rendering this game or other 3D (before the fan failed, that is).

    My tentative next move will be to return the card. Do you agree?

    Dave
  10. Or could it be the issue of a PCIe 2.1 card in a 2.0 mobo (and no way to update the BIOS or drivers)??
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