Hey guys, so my card has always acted up... ever since I got it.. which is probably over 3 years ago... so it's good that it's lasted this long at least... but I'm cheap and don't want to buy another (college student =/).
The problem: Usually when I'm in a game, I would get occasional, random, freezes followed by my monitor turning off and my sound looping. The computer usually BSODs with atikmpag.sys error or SYSTEM_SERVICE_EXCEPTION and recently and occasionally something like "page fault in non-paged area." I usually handled these by letting it restart, and it would be fine. But what's scary is that recently it started artifacting (blue and red/yellow horizontal lines across the screen).
I tried system restore...failed
I tried re-installing windows...failed
So, I stopped turning it on, in fear it would die on me.
Recently, however, I tried turning it on again, and there was no artifacting (it only happens when I keep restarting the PC, not letting it cool I guess). installed GPU-Z and came up with VERY high IDLE temperatures... I'm talking never heard of on google (I'm the first... yay?) GPU core was about 90 degrees C and MEMIO was about 130 degrees C!!!!!
I realized this was the problem...I remember opening the card up a few weeks ago to clean out the loads of dust thats collected over the years, but I also realized that the thermal paste was SUPER dry as in cracking and flakes fell out lol... So i ordered thermal paste and it's on its way...
now here's the real question (sorry for the delay but I know more info is better than none)... I heard that MEMIO is on the GPU itself, and that VRAM is the stuff surrounding the GPU (the little black chips). I'm definitely going to replace the GPU thermal paste, but should I also get new pads? or should I just try the thermal paste first, and if that doesn't work apply a very tiny layer of grease to the top of the pads? I only ask because I heard artifacts are more due to VRAM than anything else.
Try replacing the paste on the GPU first and then see what happens. I suspect that the extreme heat buildup is affecting other areas of the card that normally do not require additional cooling. Besides, thermal paste by itself does nothing, it needs to be in contact with a heatsink.
So I applied my thermal paste and I did a sloppy job at it too (my first time) but my temperatures dropped to 80-90 C idle using the same fan speeds (0-26ish) so thats GREAT! Upping the fan speed to 50% (my usual), I am no longer BSODing and I can run FurMark perfectly (a bit underclocked but I just want to be safe) with ~54C GPU temp and ~60C MEMIO Temp under LOAD!!!
So maybe this wasn't the most difficult question but I really hope it helps others out when they face this problem! REPLACE YOUR THERMAL PASTE!!!! Thank you Herr_Koos!
Edit: I also want to mention that I did not replace my thermal pads, I just cleaned them with some cotton swabs even tho they had gooey stuff on them and dirt.