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Random Video Problem?!


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#1
TeachPower

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As of 3 days ago I have been experiencing some strange video problems. Seemingly random my monitor freezes and shows the image of the last thing I was working on with some blocky grey squares and the colors on the rest of the monitor looking like a sick version of VGA. I have noticed this happen more frequently when I tried to do certain things like watch a video posted to a Facebook page or play games. Although when the monitor has frozen I have noticed the computer seems to be still working fine as I can hear the video playing or the game working as regular game sounds and my input (mouse button press and keyboard play correct game sounds). To solve this issue I have:

Downloaded and installed the newest drivers for my video card
removed, cleaned the video card, and reseated it
cleaned the rest of the computer case and parts from dust and dirt


Can somebody please help me because this problem has me stumped. I am very familiar with building and repairing computers but do not know what could be the problem. Another detail that might help is to read the problem I wrote about in this thread link
GtG thread I wrote about taskbar/rebooting issue
as I still have the same problem and just learned to live with it. I believe I have a partially corrupted Explorer.EXE and have not done a clean install of XP as I am not looking forward to re-installing all apps and programs I have.

If the two problems I have written about in this thread are needing me to re-install XP, can somebody point me to a tutorial that will show me how to in the most efficient manner? Is there a way to re-install and not have to re-install all your apps and programs? Maybe make an image of the "Programs" folder, "My Documents" folder, etc., re-install OS, then copy the image back of those folders after the clean install of the OS? I just don't want to lose the stuff I have already on the HD or look for CD's of apps/programs I might not be able to find.

Thank you in advance for reading and offering any help.

UPDATE: I did a re-install of the OS (Windows XP) and it is still doing the same thing. Computer boots up much faster than normal now of course. Although now about 5 minutes after boot the same video problems occur. Could it be the video card itself? Does that sound possible?
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#2
D-Berd

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Can you give more details about your pc? name and model #

If you or someone else built it could you post the specs?

Have you tried using a different monitor?

You can try this program and post a screen shot of what you see. http://www.almico.com/sfdownload.php

You can also use this program to stress the video card and see if you can reproduce the problem http://www.geeks3d.c...-8-2-available/ **** Just make sure you read and fully understand this program before using it ****
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#3
Digerati

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Could it be the video card itself?

Assuming the monitor is good, and your temps are fines, I would suspect the card, or the power supply. There's really no way to test the card without substituting in a known good one, or trying that card in another computer. And testing a PSU is difficult at best for most users but nevertheless, here's my canned text on testing PSUs:

To properly and conclusively test a power supply unit (PSU), it must be tested under various realistic "loads" then analyzed for excessive ripple and other anomalies. This is done by a qualified technician using an oscilloscope or power analyzer - sophisticated (and expensive) electronic test equipment requiring special training to operate, and a basic knowledge of electronics theory to understand the results. Therefore, conclusively testing a power supply is done in properly equipped electronic repair facilities.

Fortunately, there are other options that are almost as good. I keep a FrozenCPU Ultimate PSU Tester in my tool bag when I am "in the field" and don't have a good spare power supply to swap in. While not a certain test, they are better than nothing. The advantage of this model is that it has an LCD readout of the voltage. With an actual voltage readout, you have a better chance of detecting a "failing" PSU, or one barely within specified ATX Form Factor Standard tolerances. Lesser models use LEDs to indicate the voltage is just within some "range". These are less informative, considerably cheaper, but still useful for detecting PSUs that have already "failed". Newegg has several testers to choose from. All these testers contain a "dummy load" to fool the PSU into thinking it is connected to a motherboard, and therefore allows the PSU to power on, if able, without being attached to a motherboard - great for testing fans, but again, it is not a true load or suitable for conclusive testing.

Note the required voltage tolerance ranges:

Posted Image
NOTE: Disregard the -5VDC reading. It is no longer used.


Swapping in a known good supply is a tried and true method of troubleshooting used for years, even by pros. If you have access to a suitably sized, spare power supply, carefully remove the suspect supply and replace it with the known good one, and see if the problem goes away.

I do not recommend using a multimeter to test power supplies. To do it properly, that is, under a realistic load, the voltages on all the pins must be measured while the PSU is attached to the motherboard and the computer powered on. This requires poking (with some considerable force) two hard and sharp, highly conductive meter probes into the main power connector, deep in the heart of the computer. One tiny slip can destroy the motherboard, and everything plugged into it. It is not worth the risk considering most multimeters, like plug-in testers, do not measure, or reveal any unwanted and potentially disruptive AC components to the DC voltages.

The voltages can be checked in the BIOS Setup Menus of most motherboards but they do not reveal ripple or other anomalies either. And the Setup Menu places very little demands on system resource so, like the temperature readings found in BIOS Setup Menus, they may not reflect values obtained when the computer is processing demanding tasks.

And remember, anything that plugs into the wall can kill. Do not open the power supply's case unless you are a qualified electronics technician. There are NO user serviceable parts inside a power supply.


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#4
TeachPower

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Thank you everybody for such a prompt response. It is much appreciated.

D-Berd... the specs for my machine are listed in my profile. I was thinking about taking a screenshot and posting here to show you but once it freezes it's impossible to take and save a screenshot. What I might have to do is take a screenshot with my phone and then post it. I will also download the program and do a stress test and post it here. As I said in my original post, for the past week it has been freezing more and more often (LAST WEEK: would freeze after hours of working on the computer, until NOW: it freezes about 5 minutes after boot and sometimes the monitor goes black and it reboots).

Digerati... like the name by the way :D. If it is not the monitor or the video card (I hope it is the video card if anything as it will be cheaper) then I will have to take it to Tiger Direct as I believe they test your machine for free. Geeks Squad is too expensive as they charge $80 just to look at it ;) .
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#5
D-Berd

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Your down in Miami or fort lauderdale, If you can bring your pc there then that would be better. It sounds like the video card is going bad, or maybe like Digerati suggested, it could be the power supply. It could also be a heat issue with your system.
You must be running the AC in your place I'm sure. Cuz it's hot out there.:D

I'm in Port Saint Lucy, It's a little north of West Palm Beach. Good luck....If you can, please post back and let us know how it turned out.
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#6
Digerati

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Digerati... like the name by the way

Thanks - an old commander called me that years ago after I recovered a document the General accidentally deleted. It just stuck after that.

As far as getting the card tested, that's great if they would do it for free - but that's also a bit labor intensive, assuming they install the necessary drivers too - so I would be surprised if they did not charge you something.

Still, I always want to know if I am feeding my systems good power.
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#7
D-Berd

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I'm willing to bet that they find something wrong with it :D......Then they can sell him new parts. That's why they offer free diagnostics, to get people in the door. Tiger direct is huge, I wish they had something like that here where I live, I would go broke LOL!
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#8
TeachPower

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UPDATE: Downloaded FurMark and it didn't even get 5 seconds into it before it froze. I am thinking its the video card.

I realize that Tiger Direct has the "free to look at your system" as a marketing strategy to get you to buy the parts at the store of whatever is wrong with your computer. I like that arrangement better than Best Buy's Geeks Squad that charges you $80 to look at your system and then their formula of 4 X (what it normally costs) + (some ridiculous other fees). I will let you know what happens. Thanks again guys. Oh and by the way D-Berd, this week we dont' have to use the AC because of this cold snap that I am sure you are experiencing already.
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#9
D-Berd

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:D Yeah don't get me wrong about TD, I think they are much better than Best Buy. If TD can test the video card out for you then you will have a much much better selection of new cards to chose from... I wish they had a Tiger Direct in my area. I live out in the sticks so all I have is a couple of mom and pop computer shops and a best Buy..........And yeah It's getting cool out there now, shame it will only last a couple of days.
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#10
TeachPower

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I am going to go to TD tomorrow and see what they tell me. I will let you know. Pray that it is a cheap part.

*Side Note*: D-Berd... couldn't you buy online at TD and have it shipped? Wouldnt' that be cheaper and more variety than those mom and pop shops?
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#11
D-Berd

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Yeah I usually only go on line to buy parts. But sometimes I need or in most cases want a part as soon as possible. The closest thing I have to a TD is Comp USA but that's a hour drive for me. The mom and pop / Best Buy stores are close and are ok for emergencies, if they have the part......It's cold out there today! :D
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#12
TeachPower

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Well it turned out to be my video card as I forgot that my MB had onboard video. I took out the video card and connected the onboard video. Voila no more video problems. I called the video card company XFX and they said to send it to them so they can send me a new one. Thanks guys and hope to run into you more on these forums :D
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