Video Card Out?

Posted on 2009-05-23
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-08
Our Main PC is a Dell XPS 400. About 6 months ago I purchased a used video card from ebay (bad idea i believe in hindsight)  After installing the card and drivers, It seemed like the performance was improved, but i noticed a few "pixels" were not looking right. after a little internet research, I decided the card was probably on its last legs.  Today, while my wife was using the pc - the screen went totaly dark on her.  When she told me about it, i checked it out, and the screeen was flashing in and out. Some of the windows that had been closed were still stuck there (but not really there anymore).  I was able to get the computer logged off, shut down and restart.  Everything was working fine.  BUT - after a while (10 min?) the same problems - screen going black, and then flashing in and out when using the mouse.  Just for the sake of giving you the info (don't laugh okay?) - the computer was purchased new with an ATI Radeon x300 SE 128mb, and my "new" card is a BFG 7900 GTX OC 512mb. What do you think? is the Video Card Shelled out? Or do you believe there may be another problem? Thanks.
Question by:Smizzong
LVL 31

Expert Comment

ID: 24460362
When this has happened to me in the past, it has almost always been a problem with the cooling system on the video card failing and the card overheats. Most video cards I've seen this happen to, though, the problem was that the heat sink or fan was broken / cracked / no longer working, and couldn't easily be repaired. The video card had to be replaced.

If the card has a fan, make sure its working properly, and make sure the heat sink is firmly attached.

Author Comment

ID: 24460379
I poped the case open (while pc was running) and the fan is working. (not sure if it is at full speed)  Also - we have a pc wizard program that gives stats and info about your pc.  The temp on the graphics card was reading 123.8 F - is this too hot?  Thanks for the input Frosty555.
LVL 70

Accepted Solution

Gary Case earned 2000 total points
ID: 24460568
That's not a bad temp for the video card, so it's unlikely it's a heat issue.   More likely you have failing (or failed) video RAM.    The easiest way to confirm that is to replace the card with the original X300 Radeon if you still have it.    

Another possibility is insufficient power.   The XPS 400 only has a 375w PSU, and with a CPU that requires 95 watts, plus a video card that requires a fairly high 12v power bus (the specs for your card indicate you should have a minimum of a 400w power supply with a 12v current rating of at least 26A), you could easily be stretching or overloading the capabilities of your PSU.    Replacing the card with the X300 will also help with this, unless the PSU has degraded due to the potential overloading.

At this point, the two best troubleshooting steps would be to (a) try the X300 video card; and/or (b) try a higher power PSU  (If you're going to replace it, I'd get at least a 500W supply).

Expert Comment

ID: 24464730
I'm all but 100% sure it's the PSU at fault. According to official statistics, the 7900 GTX requires 84 watts by itself, and given the power draw of the rest of the system, your PSU is probably having trouble supplying a sufficient amount of power. I know this from personal experience, when a X1650 card would not work on my old computer with a 300W PSU.

Fortunately, good PSUs come rather cheap these days, and should you choose to upgrade, it will prove to be a worthwhile long-lasting investment. Try sites such as www.newegg.com and any local computer stores for good PSUs that can output more than 500W at a stable voltage. I personally recommend anything from Corsair, as I've used many of their PSUs in the past and none have failed me.

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