Street Fighter IV killed my video card!

I feel a bit guilty about making this thread because I rarely actually read threads here myself. I look at the long list of requests for hardware related help and go, “Whoa, look at all these problems. Who has time to read and troubleshoot them?”

Unfortunately for me, it’s my turn this time and I can’t think of another place to turn to. My problem first appeared when I was playing Street Fighter IV. The whole computer just froze, with no response to any input whatsoever and no beeping or any other kind of sound. I just did a hard reset and everything seemed okay. That was a couple of days ago.

This morning my wife turned on the computer and it locked up again with just the browser open. When I reset it, there were all sorts of weird graphical glitches on the screen and after Windows failed to load, it went into the Startup Repair Tool that I’ve never seen before. It didn’t do much good but I had something else to do, so I turned the computer off and went away.

When I came back later and turned it back on, 'lo and behold, it booted into Visa successfully with no artifacts on screen. Being suspicious, I started up the Dell diagnostics program (I have a Dell XPS 420) and sure enough, the computer just sort of shut down upon starting the 3D graphics portion of the tests. After much experimentation, I find that I can more or less use regular Windows normally (I’ve cranked the graphics card fan up to 100% to be safe) but whenever I start a game or a graphics benchmarking program, the whole thing crashes and it won’t start again until presumably the card cools down or something.

My questions:

  1. Is my video card well and truly hosed? It’s a 8800GT.
  2. What would be a good replacement for it without having to change anything else and keeping in mind the dimensions of the XPS 420 case? I have a Q6600 in case that helps, but I have no idea how much the power supply on it is actually rated for.

I’m also rather pissed off that the graphics card died just two months after the expiry of the warranty. I’ve only had this PC for 14 months. I thought video cards were supposed to last longer than this! I’m also kind of concerned that the failure might have been at least partially caused by the fact that the computer is often used in a rather hot room. Malaysia is just not a cool country. Looking at the temperatures on Rivatuner, it looks like the ambient temperature inside the case can go up to 55 degrees Celcius while the graphics card seems to idle at around 62 degrees. The only thing I can do is to have the air-conditioner constantly on while the computer is being used, but that gets expensive fast. Any advice? This makes me want to get a graphics card that runs cool, just to be on the safe side.

Ah, no one wants to throw me a bone here? I’m currently thinking of getting a GTX 260. Is that going to run without having to change anything else?

have you tried checking the heat on the card, and opening up your case and sucking any dust out of it? I had video related crashes and at the advice of folks here I actually took the card apart and found a lot of gunk inside the plastic fan assembly, and cleaning it out dropped my video card temp by 15-20’C which made a world of difference.

If you want a replacement I’d start by looking at that card linked a month ago by Nahr.

Low power, silent.

He reports that at peak it uses slightly more than the 8800 GTS, which uses slightly more than the 8800 GT. I am not sure if your PSU will handle it, nor the dimensions, but I think you can check that.

Check that card, and then whatever other popular replacement is bearing in mind power consumption. Difficult to beat the 8800gt thought, it’s just so nice. However, if 90% of the time you’re idling in 2d you may find an overall power savings.

It does sound like heat, but certainly check connections, make sure the heatsink-fan isn’t flopping around for some reason, update drivers. You can download programs that chart your GPU temperature, and it might be possible to watch it climb as you start those 3D benchmarks. Does it take a second to crash or does it hang the instant you start a game?

I’ve tried opening up the case. While there was quite a bit of dust inside, as far as I could tell, the fan on the card was still working correctly. I didn’t remove it from the motherboard though. The XPS 420 has some kind of mechanism to reduce vibration / noise that blocks the way. I removed that but the video card still didn’t come off after a bit of tugging. I’m not very good at handling hardware and was afraid that I’d missed some kind of locking mechanism so I didn’t try to pull very hard.

Also, I’m not really seeing a huge spike in temperatures when I start a 3D application. Typically, artifacts accumulate on the screen and then the whole computer hard locks, sometimes going to a blue screen. I was watching a video on it on Monday morning (actually a Twilight Imperium tutorial video that BlairFraser linked to in another thread) with the temperature monitor running. Again, no heat spike, but about halfway through the computer locked up for a couple seconds. The video then resumed on its own with some kind of “Video driver crashed but was successfully restarted” message in the corner. I’d never seen it do that before.

I’ve read that. As far as I can tell though, the big draw of that particular card is that it’s passively cooled. Since I have no particular fetish about having a silent PC, I don’t really see why I couldn’t go for a more traditional cooling solution.

First you should do some experiments with your graphics card driver, to ensure that it’s not a software problem:

  • Update to the most recent drivers
  • If that doesn’t fix it, uninstall drivers and install drivers that have worked for you earlier.

That said, this sounds more like a hardware problem (driver problems often manifest themselves as BSODs, not graphical corruption).

Just a quick update to report that I bought a Palit GTX 260 and it seems to be working fine in my XPS 420 with the stock PSU. It is however a very tight fit in the case as the top of the card nudges into the CPU cooler shroud.

From my brief experimentation, temperatures actually seem to be better than before. I did have a scare when I launched Nvidia’s System Monitor program and it showed the CPU temperatures for all four cores at 100 degrees Celsius each. However, Coretemp showed only about 45 degrees to a maximum of about 55 degrees. Not sure what’s up with Nvidia’s System Monitor. It also showed inconsistent hard disk usage percentages.