Diagnosis: Videocard?

Any of you who have been playing LoTRO with me know of my travails with my PC. I have reinstalled Windows, and relocated the box to a more air-flow efficient spot. I’m pretty sure I’ve cured the heat issues that were causing me to hard lock every 30 minutes or so.

Now, however, I’ve developed a whole new set of symptoms! I’m getting crashes to the desktop with the lotroclient.exe showing as failing. I’m getting DirectX errors (and I’ve just done a clean install of DirectX). I’m getting other weird error messages from LoTRO telling me to change my video resolution, or update my drivers.

The worst failure I’m getting is a total system failure. I get this weird quasi-BSOD which I’ve never seen before. It’s in a system font, and talks about going in to BIOS and disabling some features. I haven’t been able to read the whole thing, because before I can get through it, the system resets.

I have an old x800 Pro. I had to roll back to the penultimate drivers, because the most recent driver set was causing on-screen artifacts.

SO, I’m assuming this is a videocard on its last legs. Is this symptomatic of anything anyone here has seen before? I’d like to confirm the diagnosis before I go drop 2 bills on a new card (my wife is going to KILL me) and then find out it was something else after all. Any recommendations on an AGP card that will hold me over until my ship comes in and I can afford a completely new box?

If it is LOTRO and only that, I would not think it is your video card dying. If it happens on any graphic intensive game, then yeah, it could be your video card. Or your motherboard. Or you CPU. Or your powersupply.

Well, the truth is the only game I’ve been playing on PC is LOTRO. I guess I should install something else and see what happens.

Though, if, as you suggest, it could be any component (as I fear), I’m pretty much FUCKED. Oh well. At least I have lots of Xbox 360 games to catch up on.

PC gaming is doomed.

Hardware could be video card, PSU, RAM, motherboard.

Control panel, system, Advanced, uncheck automatically restart so you can see BSOD. Also go to Event monitor to get some hints.

You have to diagnose these separately. Software, you said you reinstalled windows from scratch so we can probably eliminate that.

Memory is tested with Memtest86.
PSUs are unfortunately difficult to test. A temporary parts swap is what I could manage.

Video card. If your X800 is NOT crashing, in a brand new windows install, while the newer card is still crashing, implies either video card dying, or PSU is marginal. Probably more likely it is video.

As for recommendation, you should state what you were using, what rest of system is like (for balance).

Video cards will ramp up their power requirements as they worker harder to render more complex scenes. Maybe your powersupply is just too weak, and when the card ramps up its power consumption, it can’t provide enough power. If that is the case, power supplies are cheap, you can buy one and install it for like 50 bucks or less.

One thing to find out if it is a heat problem. If you can run a super-graphics intensive game (or benchmark like 3d mark) when you system is stone cold with no ill-effects and then after it runs a bit and gets hot (it may only be a few minutes after you start your test) and then starts BSOD, it is a heat problem.

How long from a cold-boot (I mean really cold, as in your computer has been for for a while) to BSOD with LOTRO?

Turn off AGP Fast Writes in your BIOS and see if it helps get rid of your crashes. Also, try switching AGP from 8X to 4X or 2X.

Google “BurnInTest” and try that out. Run the 2D and 3D tests. A friend used it to discover her video memory was corrupt and she got a replacement video card, fixed everything.

For the sake of completeness, I thought I’d update this thread. Might help someone else down the road…

After much Googling and message board posting, the problem, it turns out, was RAM. Specifically, RAM latency and timings.

When I did my reformat/reinstall, I updated my BIOS as well, clearing the CMOS settings that were working for me so well. This latest BIOS update is not stable on my mobo, in spite of the assurances and recommendations of MSI. Flashing down to an earlier BIOS rev and resetting the latency/timing on my RAM has solved the Windows Stops.

Today, I’m picking up a new fan or two to try and cure – once and for all! – the heat issue I’ve been having.