I have researched and researched and I have not been able to find a solution. It is too risky to just simply purchase a $200+ card right now. A few days before I was going to change out my watercooling coolant my computer started becoming flaky with the good ol' "ATI driver has stopped responding" popup and BSOD (atikmdag.sys). Also, I noticed one of my GSkill sticks went bad and I was running with 4GB (from 8GB). I replaced the sticks and the BSODs were still happening as expected. After that, I suspected that the video card was overheating after not replacing the coolant for a while but that wasn't the case either. It was running idle at 30C and in high-end games at 40C. After replacing the coolant and cleaning the waterblocks of CPU and GPU, I booted everything up and still experienced the atikmdag.sys issue. So after extensive research, I found that ATI Man fixed the driver crash issue. However, after that the system started freezing without the BSOD. The thing is it happens randomly.
Here's what I've done:
* Ran memtest through the night three times and with cycling out sticks
* Ran stress tests on CPU --- passed
* Reinstalled windows 7 64-bit completely on my Crucial M4 SSD
* Checked that I have updated BIOS versions
* Flashed to recent version for my SSD
* Ran 3DMark 11 and benchmarks check out above average
* Used a multi-meter and all PSU plugins check out
* Declocked the video card from 800mHz to 795mHz, kept memory at minimum 1250
Here are some symptoms:
* Artifacts appear randomly
* Doesn't matter what I'm doing -- playing games, watching YouTube, coding a website template, idling on desktop for a random amount of time, etc.
* Runs well after a good boot up
* Monitor does not recognize the device after FIRST turning it on in the morning. I have to usually turn it off completely or restart the entire computer
* Freezes with barely visible black and grey vertical lines. Computer remains on. Keyboard lights are on but non-responsive when tapping Caps Lock.
Here's what I have:
ASUS Crosshair IV Formula Motherboard
AMD X6 3.3GHz CPU --- watercooled --- temperatures are stable
MSI 6950 Twin Frozr II --- watercooled --- temperatures are stable
Corsair XMS (4x 2GB) 8GB DDR3 1600mHz RAM
Creative X-Fi Gamer Edition Sound Card
Crucial M4 SSD 64GB --- win 7 loaded
Seagate 1TB Internal 7200 RPM --- data storage
Corsair 750W --- the higher-end version in Summer 2011.
Coolermaster HAF932 Full Tower (might be HAFX, can't remember)
Here's what I know it's not:
* The hard drives - it shows artifacts on the boot screen and BIOS after a terrible freeze
* RAM - it's brand new RAM and was having same problem with previous RAM in
* PSU - tested all connections with a multimeter PSU tester and voltages check out fine
Here's what I think it is:
* Video card has simply gone flaky - even though temps are fine possibly poor memory block thermal application?
* Sound card is interfering
* Motherboard is being a doucher and has gone bad (NB temps run up to about 41C)
* CPU could be the cause of all my problems. I've overclocked it before but suddenly became unstable. But that didn't happen until after changing out the coolant.
Ultimately, I think the MB is the problem. Why? Well whenever I was having the software issue, it seemed after the BSOD that it wouldn't recognize my SSD and not even my other SATA drive (1TB internal HDD). I'd have to enter BIOS and restart the computer or even reset CMS with the button in the back.
Before I start ripping components out and going on a buying rampage, I came here to ask for easier suggestions and experiences with specific issues. I am not a HUGE expert on this stuff but through extensive research I have certainly picked up a few troubleshooting strategies on the way and so far none have worked out to solve the problem which seems to be hardware-based.