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Stupid Video Card [May. 16th, 2009|04:40 pm]
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[Current Music |Massive Attack - I Am Home]

So this past week my Sapphire Radeon x1650 PCI-E video card finally went kaput. Its been doing screen tearing while playing WoW for probably 2 or 3 weeks prior but I didn't think anything of it because about the time that it started 3.1 had just been released. So i thought it was a video issue with 3.1 not my card. Probably a week before is finally crapped out the video driver I assumed was crashing because the screen would go black and then come back up a few seconds later with the message, "Such and such .dll has stopped working and your system has recovered". I don't remember the exact phrasing of the message. That went on until it was doing it at least once a minute and as quickly as every 10-25 seconds. I asked about it after it had forced me to drop out of a raid because it was crashing every so often that it was affecting my ability to heal. One of the guys in the guild said that it sounded like it was a video card over heating problem. Great! I had asked about it multiple times in guild before it was a problem and no one said anything. Now as soon as it affects my raiding everyone decides to put in their .02 cents. I can't be to made at them because really I should have looked into it further but it still is kinda maddening that no one responds until it affects their ability to raid.

Anyway, so after I heard their diagnosis I promptly started to shut down my computer. I pulled out all of the unnecessary device cables (speakers, headphones, iPod connector, ethernet and tablet) from the back of the computer as it shut down. After the cords had been unplugged I looked back at the screen and noticed that there was a bunch of static and vertical lines that went across the screen. I opened up the case and took out the card, which was REALLY hot. I let it cool down for a bit and started to take a look at it. The heatsink was covered in caked dust, not sure what the technical term for it is if there's one at all, and several of the holes that let air run though the heatsink were plugged. So I found what was causing the problem. The following day I went and got a can of compressed air, with the help of Pam. The guys that worked at Lowe's didn't think they carried it. Pam knew exactly where to find it! <3 Pam. Went to the 'rents house taking the whole box with me. Blew and vacuumed the whole thing out, getting all the caked dust out of the fans, heatsinks, powersupply and anywhere else that I could see it. As far as I can tell it was as clean as the day that I put it together. Then I proceeded to take off the heatsink of the video card, cleaned off all the old crusty thermal compound and then put some new Arctic Silver III on the GPU and reseated the heatsink.

After I got back to my apartment I turned everything back on and started the machine up. To my horror the lines that I had seen when I shut down for the last time were showing up on the system check and windows boot up screen. Windows didn't even get a chance to fully boot before the computer reset. Let it boot up a second time and it did the same thing. Thinking that maybe it was still over heating some how I opened her up again and to my surprise I had forgotten to plugin the fan for the GPU! I thought, "well if it hadn't been fscked up before it sure as hell is fscked up now." Booted with no lines on system check, windows wanted to do a disk check and I let it run though that. Once I got into winblows the lines were back and crashing ensued. Every time that I would let windows boot up normally with in a couple of minutes of being in windows the system would crash with a bluescreen. When I went into safe mode everything seem to be stable, the video cleared up, no lines and most importantly no crashing. Called up Mike and he thought that some files might have gotten corrupted and I should try and reinstall the latest video drivers.

I guess I should mention that I had upgraded the latest drivers when the screen tearing first started. Thinking that it might have been a driver issue. Needless to say that didn't fix anything. So I went back to the ATI website to see if they had any newer drivers, but apparently there was some sorta error or something that was preventing me from accessing the driver download page. Other people had no problem doing, I was the only one with the problem. It wasn't any HTML error that I had seen before. Some script was giving me some weird error #.

Still at a loss on what to do I reinstalled Vista. Mike suggested that I do a fresh install, thinking that there might be an underlying issue with the OS. I backed up all my important files and reinstalled. During the installation where were no lines what-so-ever. Again working with the default drivers seemed to work fine. Got up-to-date on all of the Vista updates and tried to get the latest video drivers again from the ATI website and still go the same error that I had been given before, even though Mike had no problem accessing the page.

He downloaded the driver and attempted to send it to me via Windows Live Messenger, which by the way wont let you download anything without having a virus-scanner installed. What I should have done is just installed Avast right then, rebooted and had him send it through WLM. But instead Mike insisted that I download Pidgin, which pretty much an open source Trillian. Tried to do a file transfer with Pidgin and it was going slower the a herd of turtles! The fastest that it was downloading the ~70 MB file was only 5 Kb/s and the file transfer i guess canceled it self or something because after a while it just kinda closed the download window.

Feeling kinda defeated I just gave up on trying to manually download the drivers. Resorted to letting winblows download what it thought was the correct drivers. Apparently it found the right drivers for the card and installed them, though I wasn't sure if it was the latest drivers or not. Rebooted and the lines and cashing reappeared. Uninstalled the drivers that it had installed to go back to the default drivers.

At this point I had completely given up and left it along for a couple of hours. Came back and tried to connect to the ATI website just in the off chance that they had fixed the issue. So happened that they had and I immediately downloaded the latest driver and installed it. Unfortunately it didn't fix the problem. I went looking through the server hoping that I could find an earlier driver version and found one that I had downloaded when I first installed it. Tried it, still the same result. So I guess it came down to a hardware issue, heat must of really fubar'd it.

So a long story short I'm here running windows with the "Standard VGA Graphics Adapter" driver installed being bored outa my skull. I'm rather surprised how many programs use hardware acceleration. All of the Windows packaged games, WoW (of course, gave me a "Failed to find a suitable display device. Exiting Program", guess the drivers don't support DirectX) and Windows Media Player. I tried to play a DvD later that night and it was having trouble doing that. :(

I figured that the only way that I was going to get it replaced was if i were to get a job. So I spent a good part of yesterday lookin' at job sites. Hopin' that I might find something that I'm comfortable with. Pam suggested that I look at maybe working at Lowe's. Went to their website and looked at their online application. Mike came on and was asking me what I was going to do as far as the card goes and I told him that I'd just have to get a job and replace it. Told him that I was looking at maybe getting a job at Lowe's and he replied that I should try and find a job in design some where. Said I should talk to Lisa's mother and maybe she could help me out.

Both Mike and Pam asked me if I had looked at cards yet to see what I wanted to replace my old one with. To which I said hadn't really started because I wanted to get a job. Concentrate on business first and then toys later. Mike being impatient and said he'd look for me. He linked me the Asus GeForce 8000 GS PCI-E which is $34.99, before a $10 mail in rebate, and said "happy birthday". When I told Pam this she said she was going to offer to buy me one too had I linked her one. X.x I would have NOT accepted it from her especially since she is trying to get back up to NC. So now the card is supposed to get here in 5 days, most likely from this coming Monday since the order was placed after 6pm on Friday.

and I'll write moar later...