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Random black screens, desesperate for some help :)


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#1
Celidya

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Hello there, i've done a lot of tries myself and research but can't find anything useful so, i end up coming here for the second time. First time was some years ago and i remember getting some very helpful advices, so hopefully it will happen again. I'll try to describe as much as i can what is happening, but please not english isn't my main language (though i'm fluent enough i think).

First, a short description of what's going on. I'm getting some random "crashes" when playing games or using some 3D software such as Daz|Studio. The screen turns black with no warning, with no signal, then the graphic card fan makes some noise (faster speed i believe) and the computer is just frozen like that. The green light from the hard disk stays green, pressing the power button doesn't do anything, not keyboard or whatever. I then need to remove the plug and do a hard reboot, which isn't too great for the computer health i believe.

For the details, it's a lot more complicated (i think) than it looks at first. I got that computer in early july 2010, bought it on the advice of a friend. My old one died so i had to get a new one with a rather low budget. He adviced to take this one then switch the awful video card for an ATI HD 4850, which i did just fine. Computer itself. The computer itself is a Fujitsu ESPRIMO P1500:

- Win 7 64 bits
- Motherboard Name FUJITSU D2950-A1
- CPU Type QuadCore Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400, 2666 MHz (8 x 333)
- North Bridge nVIDIA nForce 7100-630i (MCP73PV)
- Disk Drive Hitachi HDT721010SLA SCSI Disk Device (931 GB)
- Audio Adapter Realtek ALC663 @ nVIDIA MCP73 - High Definition Audio Controller
- System Memory 4096 MB (DDR2-800 DDR2 SDRAM)
- Power supply: Device Name S26113-E546-V50

The computer was running perfectly fine from July to September. I did some quite intense stuff, the environement was hot (summer time) yet it was flawless. At around mid september, i left an online game (Aion) running overnight while i was sleeping as i had to stay in game, when i woke up i found the screen black and computer in a crashed state. Next day, it happened again, back then i had no idea what was going on, so i just stopped running the game for too long. I didn't change any driver or anything before that could make that, so i began searching what was wrong.

I found out my powersupply is quite terrible and the computer has some weird (rare info on the net) motherboard and devices. But the powersupply itself scared me: it seems to have lower Watt output than what the video card needs. Yet it was running fine for two months. I thought maybe there was some dust now, which could mean the videocard was getting harder, then it needed to activate the fan to a higher speed. The powersupply could not bring enough power so eventually it crashed the computer. I then began to use Rivatuner to monitor fanspeed and block it at 25%, while using Everest to monitor the temperature.

While the video card seemed fine (50-65°C while playing), i noticed the chipset was very hot (up to 80°C+). After some research about it i just came to conclusion that my computer didn't have enough fans for it, so i opened it to make it easier to cool down. But it still seemed odd as around that time (end september) it was rather cold here. Anyway it pretty much stopped crashing and i played fine for more weeks, while still monitoring heat and trying to not push the computer too much.

On 24th december, black screen again. Exactly the same crash. I was shocked, so i cleaned the dust again, then i added a large fan outside of the computer to bring some fresh air, thinking the hot chipset might be bringing too much heat, activating all the fans, and then running out of power. A friend told me playing youtube and having several windows opened while playing could make a crash so, i stopped using that.

It went fine for several days, then i installed Daz|Studio to start again on some 3D rendering and posing. And there, ouch. In 3 days using it i had several crashed, and some odd driver error from windows (driver has been reset or something like that after a quick blinking screen). It was obviously raising a lot the crashes frequency, but that driver error was something i considered. I then looked on the net for the "most stable ATI 4850 drivers" and installed the Catalyst 10.1, instead of the latest i had. After cleaning with CCleaner and doing a proper installation, i stopped using Daz Studio and went back to my usual gaming, i thought it was fixed.

Then, two days ago, crash again while playing Aion for several hours. One more yesterday after playing for 20mn, one today after 30min. The temperatures are fine (proc cores at around 50°C, the MCP chipset 57°C, graphic card 50-58°C while playing, hard disk 33°c so i'm now pretty sure it doesn't come from the temperatures.

Now the most obvious would be, the powersupply, and this is the core of the problem: i can't afford to change anything, and i don't have access to another computer to mix and match parts. Basically, i have to do with that, at worst i could switch the ATI 4850 for the GT 200 (or something like that) that came with the computer but, i'd rather avoid that as much as i can. Now the odd behavior remains: i can sometimes play for several hours with no problem, during weeks, then it crashes for some reason. It ran fine two months during the summer with a lot more intensive use (running two games at same time). It happens in several games and in the 3D program so it's obviously not related to a software in particular. So i tend to think it's not a systematic failure but something that triggers it, however i'm lost as to what it can be.

Taking some advices from different forums and friends i looked at the Windows event viewer log. For the crash two days ago, it showed a line about graphic card overheating, despite it never being too hot i think. I pulled it out today and cleaned all the dust, plugged it back, making sure it was done well, but it still crashed 1 hr later with the temperature at around 55°. The older event viewer logs often don't show anything for the crashs (only that the computer didn't restart in a normal way).

Any thoughts about it and how i could fix that ? If it can indeed come from the powersupply, is there any workaround to avoid it as i can't change it ? I would really like to find something to do to avoid that, while the crashes themselves are annoying (losing data, etc), it quite scares me as i don't think it's good for the overall computer "health" so, i hope someone here can tell me a way to get rid of them, either with a fix or most likely, a workaround. I really can't change anything in the comp beside switching to a cheap graphic card.

Thanks a lot in advance, for reading, and hopefully answering :D

Edited by Celidya, 21 January 2011 - 10:19 AM.

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#2
phillpower2

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Hi Celidya,
The PSU is most likely the cause of the issue, whilst it may have appeared that the computer was running fine the damage being done by the under powered PSU is immeasurable, the whole system has been under stress (especially the PSU) and this is shortening the the life expectancy of the MB, CPU, Ram and anything else attached to the MB.
If you cannot replace the PSU with one that can provide enough good clean power for the whole system I recommend you get the present unit tested, if it is ok put the original GFX card back in and see how it goes.
By putting in an upgraded GFX card without upgrading the PSU and continuing to use it after the issue had started has voided any warranty you may have had on the computer, whether you told the supplier about the HD 4850 being fitted or not would be up to you but a Tech would know by the smell of the PSU.
If you continue running the computer as it is it is a case of not if but when the PSU blows possibly taking the MB, CPU, Ram and anything else attached to the MB with it.
Just in case you are not aware the HD 4850 requires a minimum 450W output PSU with some brands requiring 75W on the 6 pin pci-e connection, your present PSU specs are listed as either a 250W or 280W 80+ efficiency output which is a big shortfall.
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#3
Celidya

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Thanks a lot for the answer, though i hoped it wouldn't be that bad. I think i'll just switch back the old card until i can afford a new PSU. Is it really that damaging for the system, i mean, should i expect the PSU to blow up in a few months ? I thought it wasn't too great for the PSU itself but i didn't think the whole system could suffer from it.
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#4
phillpower2

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It is entirely up to you of course but myself I would get the PSU tested as a precaution, if my advice wasn`t sound a Tech or other member would have made an alternative recommendation.
Graphics cards are very demanding on the system hence why the HD 4850 requires a minimum 450W output PSU, so effectively your card has been denying other components of the correct amount of stable power that they require to function correctly, this will include the system fans which will lead to overheating this then leads to brittleness and accelerated aging of parts and remember your PSU has an 80% efficiency rating which may explain why it handled the stress for a couple of months but it also means it has also been made to work harder.
Budgeting for a new good quality PSU is a sensible decision and I will find you a couple of suggestions and post back.

Edit: I have kept in mind you will not be purchasing the PSU straight away so I have ignored the special offers that are available + I don`t know if you are in the USA.

http://www.newegg.co...N82E16817371016
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16817139004

Edited by phillpower2, 22 January 2011 - 10:00 AM.

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#5
Celidya

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I am not in the USA (i'm from France) but, 550W would be what i need to run that system ? This will be first priority as soon as i have the budget for it anyway but, probably not before two or three months. What do you mean exactly by testing the PSU, is it something i can do myself or, should i bring it to an expert ? I'll try to find what you suggested on the french sites, though the price should be about the same i guess.

I tried to put the old graphic card back but, can't manage to make it work: while the fan is running, it gives no signal to the monitor, though i made sure it's plugged the right way. Maybe i should reinstall the Nvidia drivers before, and clean the ATI ones ? It was working when i first got the computer (installed the ATI about one week later) so i'm not sure. Anyway i reinstalled the ATI so i can still run the computer for now. If i don't run any game or demanding application, it doesn't crash at all, i guess i can at least stay on the net without damaging anything, or is the simple fact of running the computer enough to stress everything ?
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#6
phillpower2

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I am not in the USA (i'm from France) but, 550W would be what i need to run that system ?

I will have a look on the net for some French PSU suppliers, 550W is good but by shopping around you may get a 600W for the same price.

What do you mean exactly by testing the PSU, is it something i can do myself or, should i bring it to an expert ?

Testing a PSU requires specialist equipment to simulate computer load conditions, there are no user serviceable parts so they should not be opened or connected/disconnected whilst plugged in the wall socket.

I tried to put the old graphic card back but, can't manage to make it work: while the fan is running, it gives no signal to the monitor, though i made sure it's plugged the right way. Maybe i should reinstall the Nvidia drivers before, and clean the ATI ones ?

Save the Nvidea drivers to your desktop, uninstall the ATI drivers, shut down and disconnect the power cord, swap the cards, reboot and install the Nvidea drivers.

i guess i can at least stay on the net without damaging anything, or is the simple fact of running the computer enough to stress everything ?

Just having the ATI card installed is damaging your system.
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#7
Celidya

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Thank you very much for all the answers, you are very helpful :D

I will try again tomorrow for the card. I guess the old one not working was because of the ATI drivers not being installed ? I'm not very experienced with the technical stuff (changing the graphic card is about all i've ever done on a computer) so i feared i did something wrong but, it seemed to be plugged well, and i cleaned all the dust that could interfere. I have an old nvidia 8800 GT as well but, it's big enough i guess the power usage would be too high for that PSU.

I'm quite worried now, i really hope this computer can still run for a while if i can reinstall the old card again.
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#8
phillpower2

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I am happy to assist and I will be even happier when your computer is back to normal.
As long as you do not plug or unplug anything whilst the power is connected in any way and you take your time you will be fine, all you need to do is follow the guide at the bottom of post #6 post back if you require any assistance.
I found one good PSU for you;
http://www.amazon.fr...95716331&sr=8-6
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#9
Celidya

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I will save that link for when i can afford that, thanks. How hard is it to install a PSU by myself ? It looks quite complicated with all the cables, i wonder if i could do that, and if i need some special tools or manipulation to manage it. The computer itself is quite small, so it seems tricky to put my hands in there and unplug the cables as they tend to be fixed in a solid way. I will probably try it on an older and broken computer to see how hard it is.

Anyway i will follow the guide for the graphic card tomorrow and i'll update here on how it worked, already the evening here and not enough light around to do something like that.

Edited by Celidya, 22 January 2011 - 12:39 PM.

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#10
phillpower2

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Swapping a PSU is simple, here is a guide for you to read through http://www.fonerbooks.com/r_power.htm
Before you remove the present PSU you must make sure you can identify where the leads on the new PSU will go, to do this you could 1: Take a digital photograph of the present PSU whilst it is still fitted, use the picture for reference. 2: Again whilst the present PSU is fitted put numbered stickers on the new PSU wires and write down on a piece of note paper where each numbered connection goes to, only then remove the existing PSU.
The only tool you will need is a Phillips screwdriver, give yourself plenty of time to do the task, make sure that the power cord is removed from the wall socket before opening the case and be sure to ground yourself before touching anything inside, you can do this by touching a bare metal part of the case or the PSU itself.
I will look out for an update on the video card swap tomorrow.
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#11
Celidya

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Changing back to the nvidia card didn't work :D

Here's what i did:

1) uninstall the ATI drivers, then use CCleaner to remove anything left
2) shut off the computer, then remove all the cables and plugs, making sure i was grounded of course
3) pulled out the ATI card, then i plugged the nvidia one
4) plugged back all the cables and stuff, then i turned on => no signal

The computer started up to windows (by the sound of it) and i still had the screen black with the green light going on/off/on/off... When i removed the monitor cable though, it showed a message on the screen about no cable/signal, when i plugged it back it disappeared but screen was still black. The fan from the card was running fine, i heard no "beep" from the motherboard or anything wrong.

So i turned off the computer again and put back the ATI one, reinstalled drivers, etc.

I just don't get it, the nvidia card worked when i had the computer, then i removed it and saved it in the box to make sure it was fine in case i need it. ;)
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#12
phillpower2

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Changing back to the nvidia card didn't work :D

Here's what i did:

1) uninstall the ATI drivers, then use CCleaner to remove anything left
2) shut off the computer, then remove all the cables and plugs, making sure i was grounded of course
3) pulled out the ATI card, then i plugged the nvidia one
4) plugged back all the cables and stuff, then i turned on => no signal

The computer started up to windows (by the sound of it) and i still had the screen black with the green light going on/off/on/off... When i removed the monitor cable though, it showed a message on the screen about no cable/signal, when i plugged it back it disappeared but screen was still black. The fan from the card was running fine, i heard no "beep" from the motherboard or anything wrong.

So i turned off the computer again and put back the ATI one, reinstalled drivers, etc.

I just don't get it, the nvidia card worked when i had the computer, then i removed it and saved it in the box to make sure it was fine in case i need it. ;)


You havn`t mentioned reinstalling the Nvidea drivers first, does the GT200 require a seperate 6 pin power supply from the PSU and if so was it connected?
A word of caution, you should never plug or unplug anything in/out of your computer when it is powered up, it is asking for trouble.
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#13
Celidya

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The nvidia one doesn't need an additionnal power source, it's a very small card as well. I double checked that. I didn't reinstall the Nvidia drivers before, i thought it would be bad to reinstall them while the ATI is still inside but then, shouldn't a card be able to start without drivers anyway ? It seems weird that it could come from that, but i'll try it if you think it could help.

I thought unplugging the monitor was fine but, i'll remember that and be more careful. As i said, i don't know much about of this stuff, basically only the advices i could read or that i've gathered over the years.
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#14
phillpower2

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Can I ask you to check your PSU for any power output details, from the information I can find on the GT200 it requires 265W of power so the PSU in your computer may be more powerful than the one that is listed in the computer specs, see the attached link as an example of available information http://www.h-desk.co...00__t15939.html
Normally Windows would load its own drivers until the Nvidea ones can be installed so that is odd, try clearing the CMOS by removing CR2032 battery on the MB for a few moments and then replace it, if you get the screen you then need to reset the time and date in the BIOS, save the settings and exit, let me know if you require further information on this.


Thanks to rshaffer61 for the j.peg
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#15
Celidya

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Well, i could probably tell you the PSU informations if i could read chinese, japanese or whatever it is. There is only a bunch of asian symbols on the PSU sticker and i can't see anything i can guess out of it. I looked the motherboard as well, but i can't see anything looking like the picture, unless it's hidden under the huge main fan. ;) That said, this is reaching the point where i'm getting lost as i never ever looked into the BIOS (i barely know what it is) and i have no idea what could be the thing you're talking about on my motherboard.

It's quite small as well, i mean, with everything put together so it seems tricky to put my fingers in there and grab anything, with the cables hanging in front of it.

Maybe i could use the little ipod to take a picture of the sticker under the PSU, then load it on the computer and zoom on it to see if there is any number hidden between the symbols. Everything is very small size and it's rather hard to see the details, seems very complicated though. Now that i think about it, maybe a picture of the computer would help ?

As a side note, i am not even sure if it is a GT 200, 220 or 240, it doesn't seem to be written on it and as it came with the computer, i have no box for it. It would probably take some time to find the papers as i don't remember where saved them... :D

Edited by Celidya, 23 January 2011 - 11:43 AM.

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