emachines new graphics card, now black screen, no POST, no BIOS

By trljcl
Dec 2, 2005
  1. Hello,
    I have an emachines 370 with the Trigem IM845GL motherboard and Windows XP Home SP2 installed. This has the onboard graphics chipset (Intel 82845GL graphics memory controller hub). I recently installed an ATI Radeon 9250 PCI graphics card to get better graphics performance. This achieved the performance increase I needed, but after installing the new card, the system consistently took about 3-4 minutes to boot up and be useable after going through POST. There was also the same delay when using the "switch user" function.

    I thought this delay might be caused by some internal conflict between the new ATI card and the motherboard onboard graphics. So I tried at first disabling and then uninstalling the onboard graphics through Device Manager/Display adapters, leaving the ATI card as the only adapter. On restarting, everything worked OK, but I still got the same slow boot problem as before.

    Next step was to check the BIOS settings. This is a Phoenix BIOS. Under the "Advanced" menu, there is an option to set the primary video adpter to "PCI" or "Onboard". When I had initially installed the ATI card (i.e. before uninstalling the onboard graphics), I changed this to "PCI", but subsequently found that setting to this or "Onboard" didn't affect the signal output through the ATI card. So, after uninstalling the onboard graphics (probably foolishly), I tried changing the the setting back to "Onboard", saved settings, and restarted.

    Result - system powers on but will not now go through POST and the screen stays black. Since there is no video output, I can't even get into the BIOS. If I switch the monitor lead back to the old onboard graphics socket, I get an error message warning to effect that the graphics controller cannot be reverse engineered, together with a few coloured flashing symbols. This seems to be a default message put out by the onboard grahics chipset indicating it has power but is not communicating with the operating system.

    It seems to me I've shot myself in the foot. I think what I've done is delete/uninstall the onboard graphics controller but tell the BIOS to use it and not the ATI card, with the result that on startup the BIOS looks for the onboard graphics, can't find it, doesn't know to look for the ATI card, so then stops starting up. Trouble is, I can't get into the BIOS to change the settings.

    Can anyone offer a solution to this? The only things I can think of doing are:

    1)Physically remove and replace the ATI card, hoping this will force it to be recognised as the primary video adapter during POST.

    2) Clear the CMOS via the motherboard jumpers to reset to default settings - but not sure what this will do.

    3) Most drastic - install a new motherboard, keeping all my other components (CPU, HD, etc). But then I would also need to reinstall the whole OS from scratch, and I don't have a full copy of XP, so not the cheapest option.

    any help/advice would be much appreciated,

  2. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    You should perform this step, but remove the Radeon PCI card first.

    The Clear CMOS jumpers are precisely for this kind of mischief- to return BIOS to a known/working state in case the system can't get to or complete it's POST tests.

    Once you've cleared the CMOS, you'll need to immediately go into the BIOS setup screens and redo all your settings, date, time, HD's, etc.etc.

    At that point, you may reset video to PCI (disable onboard) and re-insert your Radeon. With any luck, Windows will boot and the drivers will still be intact and working.

    As far as the pause you are describing before the BIOS fun.. did you install .NET and Catalyst Control Center version of the ATI drivers? These are very likely the cause of your pause/longer boot time and user switching.
  3. trljcl

    trljcl TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Dear Sharkfood,
    Thanks for the advice. A few more questions - I've never cleared the CMOS before. I can see the jumpers on the motherboard and a guide sticker that gives a jumper setting of 1-2 for "default" and 2-3 for "clear CMOS". So do I just switch the jumper to 2-3 with the power off for a few seconds and then back to 1-2 again before switching on? I have a user guide for the motherboard but it doesn't give a step-by-step procedure for clearing the CMOS.

    Secondly, you suggest I should remove the ATI card before clearing the CMOS. However, the "last working state" was using this card, not the onboard graphics. Are you saying a clear CMOS should return the system to its factory defaults (onboard graphics), which will also include a default driver?

    Finally, in answer to your question, .NET and catalyst were indeed installed. Are you saying I don't need these for the ATI card to run - if so, can you suggest alternative setup/drivers to make use of this card?

    Sorry to ask so many questions, but I am doing this all from my work computer and once I get home and start troubleshooting, I won't have any recourse to ask for more help!

  4. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    It's difficult to be 100% positive how your mainboard expects this to occur, but 90% of the systems I've used require the following steps:
    1) Power down the system and unplug the power cable
    2) Move the jumper to the clear CMOS position for 20 to 30 seconds.
    3) Move the jumper back to it's default/normal position.
    4) Reconnect power and power-up.
    5) Go into the BIOS immediately on power-up

    Precisely.. the only known/good working set. It'll be factory default.

    ATI produces two(2) versions of their drivers, Control Panel and Catalyst Control Center. The drivers are the exact same but the GUI for adjusting settings is different. I'd also recommend picking up the 5.11 Catalyst drivers if you haven't already. Direct links:

    Control Panel version:

    Catalyst Control Center:

    The CP version is plain-jane vanilla. The systray icon doesn't have all the fancy right-click features, profiles nor the fancy preview screens for adjusting 3d settings. It simply has it's settings in the advanced display properties- which you can get to by right-clicking on an empty portion of the desktop, selecting "Properties"- then going to the "Settings" tab and hitting the "Advanced" button near the bottom. Only basic 3D features can be set there.

    The CCC version is a .NET application with the handy right-click systray icon, game/program profiles and the custom CCC interface- complete with previews and such. As CCC is a .NET application, it must launch/initialize a server process.. and once this is alive and listening, it then launches two .NET client processes (all 3 show up as CLI.EXE in the task manager). This process of starting server/clients takes 5-10 seconds at boot-up and also must unload/de-initialize when switching users. Longer on a slower computer, dynamic IP or wireless network connection, etc.etc.

    The 5.11 CCC has shortened the launch time a little bit. Also, if you don't have many other .NET applications- you may wish to try the newer .NET 2.0 framework from Microsoft. You'll need to uninstall the CCC, then .NET 1.1 and any .NET 1.1 hotfixes first, then download and install .NET 2.0.. then finally the ATI CCC drivers. The newer .NET 2.0 framework uses a little less memory and performance/launch times are improved for CCC also.

    Good luck!
  5. AtK SpAdE

    AtK SpAdE TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,495

    I have somtimes found that when you cant get the cat drivers to work the omega (which are 3rd party) could do the trick. Not an exact science, though so there is no guaranty that these will help they can be found here

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