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Graphics issues and crashing

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Meagen Image

Meagen Image

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Basic description

When I am playing graphics-intensive games like City of Heroes or Tomb Raider: Legend, I quickly start having severe graphics issues. Polygons appear missing, flickering, twisted or stretching in odd directions. If I play for any longer amount of time, random noise covers the screen, and finally the monitor shuts off completely as if it had been disconnected and everything freezes.

The computer is just over a year old and had previously been working fine. The problems started a few weeks ago.

My system specs

Athlon 4200+ dual-core
GeForce 7900 GT
Antec Smartpower 500W PSU

Suspicious circumstances

* Crashes only ever occur when running graphics-intensive 3D games. Old Tomb Raider II runs without problems, at any time of day. If not playing a game, the computer can run fine for hours.

* Crashes *always* happen in the daytime, and fairly quickly. From about 2 hours after sundown onwards, I can play my games for hours with only a few minor graphics problems. The temperature outside at this time of year is 25-30 C in the daytime and around 18C at night. My room faces East and does not get any direct sunlight after 9 AM or so. We don't have any air conditioning in the house.

* The back fan of the power supply does not start as soon as the computer boots. Rather, it seems to wait until the PSU reaches a certain temperature. I have no idea why. All other fans work just fine.

* The nVidia temperature monitor shows temperatures no higher than the 55C mark, well within tolerance (supposedly).

Things I have already tried:

* Cleaning out all internal fans of dust, including the fan on the card.

* Throttling down my graphics card with Power Strip. From the default 500MHz engine, 750 MHz memory clock, down to 451MHz and 701Mhz, respectively. (And lowering the graphics settings in the games as well.)

* Disconnecting everything, opening the PC case, aiming a fan at the components for 10 minutes until everything is at room temperature. After reconnecting everything, turning the PC on and starting a game, graphics problems started after 5 minutes, crash followed shortly.

* Cooling down the environment of the PC case with standing fans and icepacks. This seems to help a little, but I still get crashes within 20 minutes or so.

I'm kind of at a loss for further things to try and would appreciate any suggestions, or links to better monitoring tools so I can at least pinpoint the problem. Thank you.
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The Skeptic

The Skeptic

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By your description it looks indeed as if the problem is with overheating of the video card. Another possibility is that the cpu of the computer is overheating.

Please do the folowing:

1: Remove the video card, clean the contacts and the slot and place it back.

2: Download Everst from the link in my signature. Run it on Computer > Sensor.

3: Run the computer with the game that causes it to crash. Do not apply any external cooling aids. After about 10 minutes (or less if the computer fails before that) run Everst and record the temperatures of the computer cpu, hard disk, motherboard and graphic card cpu.

4: While runnig, touch the video card gently and feel if there are any points in which it is particularly hot (the temperature is measured on the card's cpu but there are other potential sources for problems which are not registered).
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