Diagnostics to test 8800GTX and motherboard?

By davidstrongarm
Jan 24, 2010
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  1. Hi all,

    I think I have a problem with my nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX.
    I was watching a dvd on my computer when suddenly strange artifacts started to appear, and then the whole computer froze up (but the sound kept playing). I switched my computer off.

    Now when I start up my computer, strange lines and dots appear on the XP loading screen, and when the desktop should appear, I get white/black/blue bands across the screen, and I can't see the desktop at all.

    I can start up in safe mode with no problems.

    I tried to install updated drivers but I get an error message saying "The nVidia control panel could not be installed...the most recent driver will be restored". It has now rolled me back to driver version 6.14.10.9794 (dated February 2007).

    I have also tried cleaning and resetting the card. I am certain it is not a heat issue, as the hottest it gets is 85 degrees (only on very hot days and when I'm playing the latest games) and the original crash occured while I wasn't playing a game, but watching a dvd. I have not overclocked my card.

    I'm assuming the issue is most likely a hardware problem and is either my graphics card or my motherboard. Can anyone recommend diagnostic utilities/tests that I can run to isolate exactly where the problem is occuring?

    The computer was bought from Dell just over 2 years ago, and I have not installed or removed any hardware since getting the computer.

    Here are my specs:
    Dell Dimension 9200
    Intel Core 2 Quad Processor Q6600 (2.4GHz)
    Windows XP SP3
    2GB RAM
    768mb PCIe x 16 nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX

    ANY HELP WOULD BE MUCH APPRECIATED!

    Thanks,
    Simon.
  2. EXCellR8

    EXCellR8 The Conservative Posts: 2,278

    sounds like it might be time to replace the video card... could be faulty vram. artifacts typically mean two things... overheating or faulty video memory. anything above 70c is pretty hot, even for a 8800GT but i wouldn't be surprised if it was the onboard ram. uninstall the drivers from the add/remove programs menu and then run Driver Sweeper to clean up the files. restart the computer and try to install the latest WHQL drivers from www.nvida.com and restart again. if you still experience strange artifacts or other performance issues, replace the card.

    i don't think you would get any video at all if the motherboard was the culprit, so start with the video card. as far as diagnostics tools go... you can't really isolate and hardware related issues through software. best thing to do is just trial and error.
  3. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,700   +586

    Sounds like the card is terminal.
    Check the artifacting against the screenshots here
    If the only way you can view the screen without artifacts is in VGA mode (800x600) then most likely its a Vram problem and not fixable in any feasible way.
  4. dustin_ds3000

    dustin_ds3000 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,126

    your 8800GTX warranty should be still good. if it is then go the Brand Names website to RMA the 8800GTX. thats why i like XFX and BFG video cards, they get a life-time warranty
  5. davidstrongarm

    davidstrongarm Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Thanks for the quick responses guys!!!

    I did some investigations inside my computer and have discovered that the wonderful morons over at Dell have sold me a computer with a 350W PSU that doesn't meet the minimum suggested 450W to run the 8800GTX that I ordered with the computer. I've read some people stating that wattage isn't really important and that it is all about amps, but still, 350W for an 8800GTX.....I'm never buying Dell again.

    Anyway, the artifacts on the screen are consistant with those of bad Vram. Also, the artifacts appear on the initial Dell loading screen, before the BIOS screen appears. It seems only VGA mode is unaffected.

    Now I know practically nothing about PSUs, but if it has been running the card ok for the last two years, could it be that it is entirely the PSU that is causing these sudden faulty graphics and that the card is actually ok? I would assume no. I don't run any fancy hardware or fans, just the DVD drive the gfx and sound card, and one hard drive.

    I unplugged my DVD/CD drive from the PSU to give the GFX more power and it made no difference.

    One thing that worries me is that I can't install the latest nVidia drivers. I keep getting the error message "The nVidia control panel could not be installed...the most recent driver will be restored". Even after using driver sweeper I still get this problem.

    So I'm thinking I will have to get a new card and a new PSU.
    I'm currently eyeing a 1GB 9800GT and a Zalman ZM600-HP 600W Power Supply Unit. Does this sound ok? I know the 9800GT isn't necessarily as good but they appear to be MUCH cheaper to buy here in Australia.

    I'm assuming that if my motherboard supports an 8800GTX it will support a 9800GT no probs?

    Thanks guys.
  6. Archean

    Archean TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,988   +66

    Yes you need a 450W power supply unit with +12 Volt rating of 28 Amps; and you can measure the ampage with a multimeter (you can look for it on bing/google)
  7. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,700   +586

    The PSU will be fine-should have more than enough horsepower.
    Is Zalman cheapish in Aussie? They are bloody expensive in NZ.
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