My video card is malfunctioning

I’m pretty sure it’s my video card at least - an ATI Radeon 9800 pro 256. I’ll be playing a game (it seems to only occur with 3d) and the monitor will suddenly go black. The monitor’s power button goes from green to yellow and I’ll usually hear a high pitched humming noise. It seems to happen at random intervals… sometimes every 10 mins, and sometimes not for hours.

My best guess is that it’s overheating. So, today I went out and bought another fan to throw in my computer hoping it would do the trick. No dice…still crashing. I’m not overclocking anything, by the way.

I don’t want to buy a new video card if I don’t have to, especially if the problem is something else entirely. Are there any tests I can run to determine if overheating is undoubtedly the problem. And if it is the problem, is there anything I can do to fix it without replacing the card?

I would really appreciate it if someone can give me some advice… I’m not all that knowledgeable about hardware.

Total tech noob, but i’m guessing people will suggest opening up the side of the box and putting a fan on the card (as in a desk fan). You could also try underclocking it and see if that helps. Also, grab the omega drivers.

But I think overheating can kill cards so you might be SOL - how long have you had it?

Yeah, I’ve tried the fan thing. It didn’t seem to help.

Underclocking and omega drivers I haven’t tried - will have to do that. If overheating kills cards, I’m probably in trouble. This has been happening for months now so it has overheated quite a few times. The card is working fine though aside from the crashing and it doesn’t seem to be happening at any higher frequency over time.

I’ve had it since August 2004. I guess I’m almost due for an upgrade anyway. Was hoping to replace my 6 yr old monitor with the money though. sigh

My Radeon 9700 Pro has been doing something similar lately (sound stutters, screen goes into power-saving mode, no VPU recovery), but only in games using the Source engine. I can play Oblivion for hours, but as soon as I go in to HL:S or SiN, it’ll crash within 15 minutes.

I haven’t had much luck fixing it either, as it doesn’t seem to be overheating, voltages are fine, and everything was working a few months ago, so I’m starting to wonder if it’s a driver problem. The May Catalyst drivers should be out any day now, so perhaps those will help.

Another potential fix might be to roll back to a system restore point from a point back when it was working fine, and see if you still have trouble.

Check to see if there’s an updated set of drivers or try the Omega’s.
I had a 9800 Pro for a long while and I had a problem like that with HF2 that a driver upgrade fixed.
Update your Direct X to 9C if it’s not and see if there’s any updates too.

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. I installed the Omega drivers last night…crashed after about a half hour of RoL. I then tried underclocking. According to the Omega’s benchmarking software I am now running at the speed of a Radeon 9700 =(…but I played for about an hour without any problems.

Presuming the fan on your 9800 Pro hasn’t gone bad - can you tell if it’s running? - it might be as simple as your heatsink needs reseating. Consider removing the heatsink, cleaning it, putting a fresh layer of HS compound on it, and replacing it, making sure it fits securely. You may also consider buying a new heatsink / fan for your 9800 while you’re at it.

Have you tried an RMA to ATI? I believe all their cards have a 3-year warranty; if yours is only two years old, then it should be covered. [Unless it’s an OEM model.]

Interesting. Yeah, the fan is running. What are the chances I can pull this off without completely destroying something important?

I had no idea ATI cards had a 3 year warranty. If I tried to clean/replace the heatsink and screwed something up,that would probably void the warranty right? I’d rather fix it myself if possible rather than send it back as I don’t have a backup card to use. Well, I appreciate the info…thanks.

If it’s a stock Radeon 9800 cooler, if should just be attached with a couple of spring-loaded pins, IIRC: fairly easy to remove and reattach, as long as you’re careful not to break the pins.

Obviously, I’m just offering one possibility, as I’ve had a few CPUs and video cards need to have their heatsinks reseated this way. It’s entirely possible your card is just flaky and needs to be replaced.

If I tried to clean/replace the heatsink and screwed something up,that would probably void the warranty right?

Probably, yes.

I’d rather fix it myself if possible rather than send it back as I don’t have a backup card to use.

That’s why I always keep spare parts around. :-)

I think you can at least check your warranty coverage through ATI’s website.

After trying everything else, it looks like underclocking the memory by around 30MHz solves the crashes I’ve been seeing, too. I’m not sure why Source games would stress the memory any more than, say, Oblivion, but whatever works…

shrug Some games are just more sensitive / crash-prone than others when it comes to intermittent HW problems. If your card is dusty, try cleaning it off with a compress-air canister and/or wiping it off with a dry, lint-free cloth. Dust acts as a natural insulator, which means your components get hotter when they’re dusty. If you can, try placing a cooling fan near your video card to see if that helps.