Solved

How to troubleshoot: is the problem video card or drivers?

Posted on 2014-11-18
12
311 Views
Last Modified: 2014-11-20
I have a computer with an AMD "A" series CPU/GPU. After a couple of years, I started seeing video problems which made me think video card degradation or overheating - but of course, I had no video "card" that I could inspect or clean.

I gave up and bought a cheap video card (Zotac GRForce 210), installed it, and it has been working fine for about 6 months. Now, I am getting pixelation and strange window layering artifacts - some freezes and Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD - its a Windows XP OS) - a memory dump screen that said there was an infinite loop in NV4_disp (which I figured had to be a file in the nVidia drivers. So, I went online, and downloaded their fancy schmancy "GEForce Experience" application that looks for, finds, and installs new drivers when available.

Now, after a reboot, I no longer have the exact same video card/driver problems, now I'm just seeing random pixelation noise randomly dispersed over the screen - mostly when I'm online. This happens sometimes when I'm not doing anything (maybe their is an auto refresh) and with tab changes, drop down menus, with pop up menus and screens.

Something obviously is wrong... So, how do I troubleshoot whether it is the drivers or the card? Seems really odd the APU's GPU would have problems, and then a video card would have video problems. Anyone have any ideas what to do? I hate to waste money on yet another video card, if that isn't really the problem.

Thanks!

Dennis
0
Comment
Question by:dtleahy
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
12 Comments
 
LVL 47

Assisted Solution

by:dbrunton
dbrunton earned 250 total points
ID: 40450817
First test memory.  Get the UBCD http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/download.html  Make the CD and boot from it and run memtest.

See http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/index.html for what exactly is on the UBCD.  Many of the utils may come in handy for other testing.

Get memtest to do three passes and see if there are any major memory problems.  Report back your results.

Monitor your temperature with a util such as Speedfan http://www.almico.com/sfdownload.php  It is possible that your CPU is getting too hot for some reason.  Also check your heatsink is clean of dust and the fan is spinning freely.

Next download Ubuntu and boot from the DVD.  See http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop

Boot from the DVD and try it out.  See http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/try-ubuntu-before-you-install  You are only trying it out, not installing.  If the screen behaves then you have a problem with your Windows installation.  If it misbehaves you have a hardware problem.

If you need instructions on burning these images to CD/DVD then ask.
0
 
LVL 5

Accepted Solution

by:
Aaron earned 250 total points
ID: 40450982
It is possible that the problem is neither. Some things that you should rule out (many are simple but things that get overlooked by experts):

If you have a spare monitor or can borrow one try swapping it out and see if the problem persists.

Try changing out the cable and if you can use a different video port on the card.

If the card was working fine when you got it you could roll it back to the drivers that worked to rule out if it is a driver issue (or reinstall with the CD).

Is there an additional PSU power connector to the card? Is there a second connector from the power supply you can change to check if that is an issue (intermittent power can cause a lot of issues).

Is the BIOS up to date?

Make sure that if you have any integrated graphics on the motherboard that it is configured not to use that at all (to rule out the onboard graphics as the cause).

Find the proper exact version of driver you need to match your OS and install that or one version older. Occasionally if you use an automatic downloader it doesn't pull the right driver.

I hope this helps you figure out the problem as the hardest thing in IT always seems to be the diagnosis I wish you the best of luck and please let us know when you have solved it.
0
 

Author Comment

by:dtleahy
ID: 40451492
Seems to have been the driver, in this case. Rolling back the driver a couple of versions seems to have cured it 100%. (if it degrades, I'll use Aaron's and dbrunton's suggestions for narrowing it down.

Thanks!

Dennis
0
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:Aaron
ID: 40453200
I think you might have missed in my comment:

"If the card was working fine when you got it you could roll it back to the drivers that worked "

:D glad that it worked!
0
 

Author Comment

by:dtleahy
ID: 40453412
Aaron,

No, I didn't miss your excellent advice - I had already done that before seeing your reply.

I credited both you and dbrunton with being correct, and made yours the "accepted" solution and dbrunton's the "assisted" solution to reflect trying drivers first in troubleshooting. I think you both have good info about how to troubleshoot this problem. I have seen motherboards and video cards physically degrade (cheap capacitors, overheating which might be overheating due to dust, dead video card fan, and I have had bad cables in the past. So, the next person that stumbles into this thread will have good troubleshooting advice from both of you.

I suppose I could have said, "As Aaron mentioned, it seems to have been the driver, in this case. "

I'm still wondering if the video card will show signs of degradation. It still does not make sense that the drivers worked fine for 6 months, and then started doing weird things on screen. That was what made me download a new driver (that was apparently too new, and buggy.) For now, it's working properly again, so it is hard to justify spending time going through further testing or hardware troubleshooting - but I can come back to this thread for further ideas if it starts to crap-out again

Thanks!

Dennis
0
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:Aaron
ID: 40453441
Thanks for the reply I just thought you might have missed it as my post was rather lengthy and sometimes when people solve a problem they don't read their responses. I appreciate your acknowledgement and this is certainly a nice troubleshooting thread. However lets hope you don't have to come back to it!

Thanks,


Aaron
0
Free Trending Threat Insights Every Day

Enhance your security with threat intelligence from the web. Get trending threat insights on hackers, exploits, and suspicious IP addresses delivered to your inbox with our free Cyber Daily.

 

Author Comment

by:dtleahy
ID: 40454268
It started happening again, which seems now to be more likely either overheating of some component or that some electronic component is starting to physically fail (I know capacitors do this - I have had it happen to me.) I have also seen a CPU slowly fail. I haven't had a bad RAM chip/module in decades, so I'm guessing the video card itself. I will check running temps, then thoroughly clean the inside of the computer, then recheck operating temp.

It is possible that the "cure" of the new driver was a false cure, and that simply rebooting the computer was the reason for a temporary reprieve in the self-destruction (or overheating) of some component.

Dennis
0
 
LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:dbrunton
ID: 40454313
>>  It is possible that the "cure" of the new driver was a false cure, and that simply rebooting the computer was the reason for a temporary reprieve in the self-destruction (or overheating) of some component.

Anything is possible.

Checking for dust and temperatures is good.  Also check how hot the temperature of the air coming out of the back of the PSU is.
0
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:Aaron
ID: 40455042
One thing you could do to test is something I haven't done in many years but when my friend had an overheating issue he took the side panel off his tower and put a large box fan positioned to flow more air to it and dropped the temp of that room to 50 degrees. But I would say that as a temporary way to check if it is overheating though it could still be heat trapped somewhere.

You mentioned you clean a lot but what I am wondering is that with compressed air or vaccum? Sometimes using compressed air you can wedge dust particles into components though this is rare I have seen it happen on high end server equipment (contractor came in and was cleaning a $3k card and just a few puffs of air that thing never worked again).

The cheapest thing to replace might be the PSU. Though I hate to see you replace parts until you have totally replaced the computer. If you had another computer you could swap parts around with to test the individual components that would help you out a lot.
0
 

Author Comment

by:dtleahy
ID: 40456208
Just for a baseline (before cleaning), I thought I'd check temperatures. I have not done that in so long on my computer, I could not remember if there is an application or if I can only see temps in BIOS (which is the only place I remember seeing any temperature monitoring.)

So, I did a quick search, and came up with an app called "SpeedFan", downloaded, installed, and ran it. If the temperatures reported are correct, I'm surprised the computer works at all. And, the CPU has a relatively sophisticated all solid copper heat sink w/ fan.

SpeedFan readings of my computer 2014-11-20
0
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:Aaron
ID: 40456215
The flame icons are awesome, almost spit out my coffee scrolling past that!
0
 
LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:dbrunton
ID: 40456264
First, don't panic.  Speedfan isn't necessarily accurate.  (I do use it myself).

Get AMD Overdrive http://download.amd.com/Desktop/aod_setup_4.3.1.0698.exe

Read the notes here http://download.amd.com/Desktop/AMD_OverDrive_Utility_4.3.1.0698_Release_Notes.pdf and http://www.tomshardware.com/faq/id-2122665/understanding-temperature-amd-cpus-apus.html

You can use this to see how close you are to the maximum operating temperature of the processor.

Other utils to also try
0

Featured Post

How your wiki can always stay up-to-date

Quip doubles as a “living” wiki and a project management tool that evolves with your organization. As you finish projects in Quip, the work remains, easily accessible to all team members, new and old.
- Increase transparency
- Onboard new hires faster
- Access from mobile/offline

Join & Write a Comment

Suggested Solutions

Title # Comments Views Activity
Desktop Icons are Huge 4 66
MacBook Pro (El Capitan) 28 87
VMWARE 5.5 1 68
DVI Ports 14 55
A little history Back in 1997 when I built my first custom computer using the revolutionary Gateway website I didn’t have much to choose from except for the CPU. The race between computer manufacturers was held back by processor manufacturers. They…
I have purchased two new systems and both are now Universal Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) based. UEFI is replacing BIOS for the desktop PC. It is a Linux based firmware with enough robustness it can communicate with a website without loading …
It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages.
Internet Business Fax to Email Made Easy - With eFax Corporate (http://www.enterprise.efax.com), you'll receive a dedicated online fax number, which is used the same way as a typical analog fax number. You'll receive secure faxes in your email, fr…

705 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

Join & Ask a Question

Need Help in Real-Time?

Connect with top rated Experts

12 Experts available now in Live!

Get 1:1 Help Now