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Horizontal "shadow" streaks across screen--Annihilator graphics card

Posted on 2002-06-22
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Last Modified: 2013-11-08
Hello,

I've been having a problem with "shadow" streaks across my screen for a couple of months. I've determined, by trying another monitor, that it's not the monitor; I've also changed the resolution, colour depth, and refresh rate with no change in the streaks. They are not fixed streaks but rather they correspond to what is on the screen--high contrast things, specifically black text on a white background. Depending on the contrast and the size of the thing causing the streak, each streak can vary from pale grey to charcoal grey, and it reaches from one side of the screen to the other. I do alot of graphics work, so this is obviously interfering with my ability to do that. My graphics card has been reseated, so I don't think the connection is bad. The card is a Creative Labs 3D Blaster Annihilator (NVidia), using the Creative drivers provided on disk. I haven't tried updating the drivers, but I doubt that could be the problem--these streaks appeared suddenly one night while I was away from the computer for a few hours, but were completely not present ever before (I had not installed any new software or hardware previously).

I'd appreciate any help anyone can give. Thank you very much.

--Jennifer
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Question by:WhiteFantom
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by:jhance
ID: 7101158
Are you using a video extension cable or a video/KVM switch box?

Is your video cable the one that came with the display or have you replaced it?

Is the video cable damaged or kinked?

What you have described fits the symptoms of an imdedance mismatch.  Mant things can cause this but the most likely are the issues I've raised above.

It could also be a fault in the video driver circuits on the video card.  This is independent of the drivers and so that will not help.  It would be that a hardware problem has occurred due to some component on the board.  IF you have access to another video card you might want to try it.
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by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 7117438
Just for fun, try updating the video driver.  You didn't specify if you have Win98/ME or 2000/XP, so here are drivers for both:

Win98/ME:
http://www.nvidia.com/view.asp?PAGE=windows9x
Win2000/XP:
http://www.nvidia.com/view.asp?PAGE=windows2000

You want the Detonator XP driver in either case (the XP in the name doesn't have anything to do with Windows XP except nVidia trying to get even further in with Microsoft).

-dog*
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by:goatdriver
ID: 7119175
I have the same problem on a Dell system using an NVIDIA Geforce 2 card. I tried a different monitor with no change, upgraded from Win98SE to Win Xp with no change, and installed the latest driver from NVIDIA with no change.  
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by:jhance
ID: 7119794
Are you using a video extension cable or a video/KVM switch box?

Is your video cable the one that came with the display or have you replaced it?

Is the video cable damaged or kinked?

What you have described fits the symptoms of an imdedance mismatch.  Mant things can cause this but the most likely are the issues I've raised above.

It could also be a fault in the video driver circuits on the video card.  This is independent of the drivers and so that will not help.  It would be that a hardware problem has occurred due to some component on the board.  IF you have access to another video card you might want to try it.
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by:goatdriver
ID: 7120379
Regarding jhance's comment: I'm using the original, undamaged cable as installed by Dell.  I suspect there's nothing to do except try a new video card.
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by:jhance
ID: 7120723
goatdriver,

How does what YOU are doing have any relevance to this question?
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by:WhiteFantom
ID: 7120827
Actually, I might find what goatdriver does with his problem helpful, especially if what he does affects the problem positively; as for your original comment, jhance (and thank you by the way), I'm checking into it (mostly, I'm looking for the *time* to check into it; as far as extension cables go, I used to have an extension cable between my monitor and computer [a cable which was unshielded and caused a vertical line of interferance on the monitor), but I've since removed it [which removed the vertical interferance line, but *not* the horizontal streaks]. I had the extension cable on for the full two and a half to three years I've owned the computer, though the horizontal streaking problem only appeared two or three months ago). I've updated my video drivers now, just in case, but that had no effect; I also don't have access to another video card, so that test will have to wait. I very strongly believe it's the video card, and that it's hardware-related; my only questions ultimately are "What is it?" and "Can it be fixed?" I have a feeling the answers to those questions are going to end up being "I have no idea" and "probably not," respectively, but here's hoping for the best. :-)

Thanks to everyone who's commented, by the way.
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by:jhance
ID: 7120842
The horizontal streaks as you call them are properly termed "smearing" and are caused by a phenomenon called "ringing" of the video signals due to transmission line effects in the cable, in the hardware output drivers of the video card, or in the input circuits of the display.

The signals do not rise and fall cleanly but rather they ring at their edges.  You see this on the screen as smearing as the signal rings.

The cause is impedance mismatch.  Impedance mismatches are caused by the reasons I outlined above.
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by:WhiteFantom
ID: 7121125
That makes sense (though I'm coming from a background of only getting technical information by osmosis; my father is a certified electronic technician and my ex-husband is a computer programmer and former electrical engineering major. Living around them, I've picked up an understanding, but only in a very general way).

As I mentioned, I *did* have an extension cable between my monitor and computer, and that cable did cause interferance when it was on (though that interference was a single vertical line which disappeared when I removed the cable); removing that cable hasn't affected the smearing at all (and I had the cable on for more than two years with no ill effect besides the single vertical line I mentioned). So, it likely isn't the extension cable. I know it isn't the cable on the monitor itself (which is the original cable for that monitor) because I tried another monitor about a month ago and got the same smeared streaks, so it likely isn't that cable either, nor anything related to the display (as for kinks, my monitor as been transported a number of times since this problem began, so if it began as a kink, that kink is long gone and the streaks should be too if that were the cause).

That leaves only the hardware output drivers of the video card. Tell me more about that particular problem--what could have caused it? (Again, these streaks appeared suddenly one night just a few months ago with no warning and no apparent cause.) Can anything be done to fix it, or is the answer simply to replace the video card?

Thank you *extremely* for the help you're giving me--this problem has been driving me crazy since it began, and no one has seemed to have any idea what was causing it. You're the first person who's even posed a likely hypothesis--thank you *very* much.
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jhance earned 50 total points
ID: 7121478
I still think the most likely prospect is the cable itself or one of the connectors.  These are highly vulnerable to damage and even kinking the cable one time can damage the wires inside enough to cause this.

If you can replace the cable, try it.  Does this happen on ANOTHER display?  If so, you can eliminate the display as a suspect.

Have you inspected your connector pins?  A broken or bent one can cause this.

If the fault is in the video card, a visual inspection may show a loose component or even one that has popped off the board.  If loose and socketed, you should be able to press it back into place.  Sometimes manufacturing processes are faulty and components don't get soldered on properly.  If that is the case, there is probably nothing you can do but replace the board.
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by:WhiteFantom
ID: 7122757
Yes, I've tried another display, with exactly the same smeared streaks; that's why I didn't think it was the cables (thought I'll certainly examine the pins just in case--it never hurts to be safe rather than sorry). If it's the card, and if it was a faulty manufacturing process, would that fit my symptoms (not just the streaks, but the fact that the streaks appeared suddenly a few months ago even though the card has been working perfectly for more than two years)? I can deifitely see how loose componets might fit that scenario (though nothing was done--jostling, moving, etc.--that could have cause them to become loose at the time this problem began, but you never know). I'll check the board and see if I can tell if anything is loose; I'd probably never be able to tell, myself, if something hadn't been soldered on correctly (unless it was just utterly obvious), but if something's loose, I should be able to tell.

Could any of this have been caused by something like a power surge? Also, a couple of days after these streaks appeared suddenly, the partitions on my 45 gig Western Digital hard drive collapsed and I couldn't boot (that hard drive is currently in the possession of a friend who's trying to salvage the data, if it can be salvaged)...could the sudden appearance of this video problem and the sudden collapsing of the partitions on my hard drive be related? They happened only two or three days appart (video problem first), but I'd never had a problem even remotely related to them before.  
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by:jhance
ID: 7122800
Yes, a power surge could very possibly damage components on your video card.
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by:Piri
ID: 9214778
No comment has been added lately, so it's time to clean up this TA.
I will leave a recommendation in the Cleanup topic area that this question is:
Accept jhance comment as aswner
Please leave any comments here within the next seven days.

PLEASE DO NOT ACCEPT THIS COMMENT AS AN ANSWER!

Piri
EE Cleanup Volunteer
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by:arizonaman
ID: 12588708
Hi,

I'm having the same problem with gray horizontal streaks on my monitor during high contrast situations.

A few troubleshooting things...

1) Replaced the cable, that didn't help.

2) Tested another monitor on my computer, it worked fine, problem was gone.  I ASSUME that eliminates the video card.

3) Tested the monitor with my laptop... the problem shows up, but to a MUCH lesser degree.

So, I THINK the problem is in my monitor.  My question is... is this something I can repair myself?  If so, how?

Thank you for your help!

-D
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by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 12633986
Monitor repair is not for amateurs...you can try taking it into a TV repair shop, they might be able to do something with it...
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