TechSpot

VGA monitor going blank during 3-d game play on new computer

By Tlaloc
Jun 4, 2005
  1. Hiya,

    With the help of a friend, I finished building a new computer this weekend.

    The problem is that the monitor just shuts down randomly about 2-10 minutes into playing any 3-d games. The monitor goes black, and in a couple of seconds, the green light next to the power switch starts flashing.

    This has happened in the exact same fashion for three unrelated games all of which are 3D based. So far, non-gaming computing (internet etc) is going fine.

    The monitor is recycled from my old computer, and it may be the problem:

    1) The display driver is from 2001. It is a Gateway VX900, (SVGA) and the Windows XP driver update did not find anything newer. ANY ideas on safe/reliable sources of updated drivers? (Gateway.com was not forthcoming...)

    The specs of the new system:

    Windows XP operating system Home Edition

    Asus A8N-SLI motherboard
    Athalon AMD 64 3800+ CPU
    XFX nVIDIA SLI GeForce 6600 GT graphics card
    ***This is a DVI-out card, I had to use a DVI to VGA conversion plug to connect it to my monitor***
    2 Gig ram


    What else might you need to know?
     
  2. zephead

    zephead TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,483

    3d gaming stresses many parts of the system. are you sure you're looking at a monitor problem and not something else, like a video card cooling problem for example? attempt lowering your refresh rates and/or screen resolution to take some stress off the monitor. if no problems exist within your box, the monitor is faulty.

    reply whether or not your numlock key triggers the led on your keyboard during one of these blackouts.

    also: when does the monitor come back?

    PS > the dvi to vga converter is not a problem.
     
  3. Tlaloc

    Tlaloc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Current monitor settings are at 60 Hertz / 800 X 600 resolution / 32 bit color

    Those are the settings under which the problems occurred, I have not yet tried the games with lower settings.

    Another thread mentioned monitors self-protecting by shutting off under certain conditions, so I will try lowering those.

    Numlock key: Once the monitor has shut off, the numlock light will not come on. The CPU/system appears to still be running though - case fans a cpu fan run, system lights are on.

    The monitor comes back only when I manually reboot the system. Ctrl/alt/delete will not reboot the system, I have to use the reset button.


    Also, if it matters, the games I've had the problem on are Armored Fist 3 demo, Tachyon demo, and full version of Pirates of the Caribbean. I thought it was a Pirates problem until the exact same pattern occurred on the other games.

    Thanks for help by the way!
     
  4. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,802

    :wave: Hello & Welcome to TechSpot :wave:

    Try following this thread as it's about (somewhat) the same problem... And from your description, I think you'll be able to benefit, especially from the memtest part...
     
  5. Tlaloc

    Tlaloc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks Garibaldi :)

    So far downing the Color to 16 bit did not help.

    Playtesting an older 2D game led to smooth game play - playtesting across more 3D games led to the same pattern.

    If the numlock happens to be on, the light stays on after the monitor goes dead. The monitor cannot be turned back on until the computer is totally rebooted.

    I have not changed refresh rates yet or tried the memory test, will post when I get results.

    Thanks all.

    Tlaloc
     
  6. zephead

    zephead TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,483

    your monitor is fine. your computer is hanging, causing your troubles. because 3-d gaming stresses many components, it is very likely that your computer is overheating. attempt running the case with the side panel(s) removed, and then run your 3-d games.

    how many fans have you got in that case?
     
  7. Tlaloc

    Tlaloc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Update:

    Lowering the refresh rates and other vid settings has done the trick (for now, tested across two games so far).

    Following up on a few loose ends though:

    I have one front intake fan, a side intake, a rear exhaust, a motherboard chipset fan, a CPU fan (with a Big Typhoon on order), and the graphics card and power source (500w) both have their own fans. I'm keeping the case off the floor and out of direct sunlight for good measure. The case is an Ultra dragon something or other full tower, using almost all rounded cables (one is still flat).


    Thank you to everyone who responded so fast. What a great community. :hotbounce

    I will check back on this thread to see if there are any other questions I can answer to provide more complete documentation of this experience for future questioners, and to let you know if the problem comes back.
     
  8. Tlaloc

    Tlaloc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    RATS!!! :hotouch:

    I spoke too soon!!

    The issue is still present - the only variable that has changed (that I know of) is length of play time. This implicates vid card heat, probably, right? :(


    Gah.
     
  9. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 8,459   +228

    I'm assuming you haven't installed any utility programs to monitor temperature, voltage and fan speed. I suggest you do so to find out what your temperatures actually are. Until then, you're just guessing.

    If they didn't come with your motherboard and graphics card, check their respective websites and see if you can find them to download.
     
  10. zephead

    zephead TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,483

    run the box with your side panels removed and reply whether or not you still get the problem.
     
  11. Tlaloc

    Tlaloc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Run with side panel open, from a totally cold start (first time turning on the computer all day), led to about 20 mins of 3D gaming before the problem occurred again.


    I looked all over my system and have not found any in-built reporting systems or utilities for power consumption or temperature, yet I am a noob, so I might have overlooked something obvious. Then again, I'm not THAT much of a noob, and I did look for an hour through settings, taskbar items, installed programs, and the control panel.

    Thus: Anyone wanna suggest free utilities I might try?


    I have yet to run Garibaldi's suggested memory checking software - will get on that soon :).

    Tla
     
     
  12. zephead

    zephead TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,483

    place a large fan next to your open box, blowing into it on a high setting. how long before your pc hangs?
     
  13. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 8,459   +228

    Go the ASUS site for their utility for the CPU and maybe NB chip and to XFX for a utility for the graphics card GPU.

    I didn't check the XFX site but I did ASUS. ASUS has a downloadable utility program.

    I have retail versions of my MSI motherboard and ASUS graphics card and they both came with utilities on cd for monitoring temps, voltage and fan speed. However, their respective websites have them too, so the same probably applies to your components (ASUS for sure).
     
  14. Taber

    Taber TS Rookie

    me too

    After much searching, this sounds exactly like my problem, man I hope something works for you Tlaloc, so I can somehow try it. It became progressively worse over a week or so, first only during gaming, and then outside of gaming. Opened it up, blew a fan on it, no difference, so it's not an overheating problem. Then I brought it in for a diagnostic. Everything checked out fine, they couldn't duplicate the problem.

    It was suggested it was a power problem (Brown-outs), so I set everything on its own, even turned off the nearby fridge. Well that worked for three days. Turned off the TV, it worked again for a couple of days. That may be coincidence in hindsight.

    The reason I'm posting is that it's gotten to the point that the monitor hardly stays on long enough to get to the "Pentium Inside" screen, which is first to display. I moved to another room, hooked up another monitor, managed to get that to last about 4 minutes, during which time I reduced the refresh rate to 60 Hz, but it still crapped out. I wanted to try reverting to old drivers to try that out, but now I can't- basically I can't even troubleshoot anymore. Just a heads-up, Tlaloc. I hope you can resolve your problem before it gets to where mine is now.

    -Tab
     
  15. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,802

    :wave: Hello & Welcome to TechSpot Taber :wave:

    What you describe sounds like a faulty PSU to me... Have you tried using a different one?
    Also, how does it behave when you've only got cpu, ram and videocard in the machine (disconnect harddrives, CD/DVD-rom/RW's, sound cards etc both from power cables and IDE/SATA cables)?

    Lastly, how hot are the cables that connect the pc to the power lines? Room temp, or hotter?

    Sorry Tlaloc, no new ideas today... :-/
     
  16. liquidice

    liquidice TS Rookie

    I had the exact same problem 2 years ago when I built my new computer with a 9800 pro card. My computer would freeze when I started playing Halo or in the middle of some other games. I reinstalled windows, reinstalled drivers and the problem disappeared. I still dont know what the problem was but I dont have it anymore. Unlike your case, it did not happen every single time either. The monitor would just randomly turn off during playtime and I couldn't do anything about it.

    I dont think it is a power supply or overheating issue because I didn't change my hardware. It is still a puzzle to me and I don't know exactly what fixed the issue.
     
  17. Tlaloc

    Tlaloc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Updates and ... unconfirmed progress

    Heya, copying an update to you just in case it jars an idea.

    Hi all, thanks for the continued support. I have had some bad things happen irl, so I have not been on the ball in chasing down this issue this week, but I have not given up. One problem was that I lost internet connection until next week, so that's a slow down.

    A friend suggested I borrow a monitor to rule out my monitor as the actual cause. I have no friends with independent monitors right now - only one that has a laptop. I'm exploring options like borrowing one from work or a neighbor.

    Another friend found documentation suggesting that the newest XFX vid card drivers were giving people problems. I checked, and I have an older driver, ruled that out.

    A tiny new alteration to the pattern emerged in that the last crash was accompanied by a double or triple loop of the most recent sound effect before the whole system went quiet and dark - except for mobo light and fans. I think this adds to the suspicion that the problem is in the system not the monitor?

    I've done some other suggested stuff, including running a heat/voltage/fanspeed monitor on the system through some tests. Unfortunately it does not monitor the graphics card, which is where I suspect the problem to be at this point (because of the results that follow). No heat monitor was included in my XFX installation CD, and I'll have to wait til I get internet at home before I can get an online utility.

    Through testing, the CPU / MB heat stays within tolerances, so do voltages. The Mobo fan speed is WAY high, according to its suggested max (6000 rpm), it is sitting at 8800 rpm nearly always, even though the mobo heat appears to be significantly below tolerance.

    Also, by suggestion, I ran a BOX FAN, as in, a 26 inch fan, right into my case to supercharge airflow. This tends to drop CPU temps fast after I quit gaming, but does not change the max it hits while gaming is ongoing.

    The basic monitor-quit problem, as of the end of this week, with the fan blowing into the case (not a long term solution), is not showing up in any games but Pirates of the Caribbean now. { puke: This is not at all a reliable sample!}

    I played each of the other games (6 games, all 3-D, different developers) for about 20 minutes, from start to finish of at least one mission, logging into and out of the games normally, thereby experiencing all files and processes that might have been causing the crashes before (Ruled Out?) Ordinarily the problem would have shown itself in at least one of the games. Total CPU up time was at least an hour each time.

    If PotC is run after I have played a while, it crashes early, in the first 5 mins, maybe even at the log-in menu before serious gaming and 3D processing has started.

    This morning, with a cold start up and the box fan, PotC ran fine for 15+ mins until the ship ran into a storm, engaging the awesome graphics storm engine (or at least the first 1.99 seconds was awesome). I suspect that might have put it over the edge, but it could be coincidence.

    It's maddening that I've been so busy that I cannot run really reliable replications on tests, so I attach caution to everything I write here.

    Here's a little problem that might be related:

    When we first installed and got the system up and running, Windows XP found some hardware that it tried to find drivers for - four items I think. At the time we were just trying to get basic computer operations working, so I had XP ignore those. Since this problem cropped up I went back to find them in Hardware Manager, and they all map onto the XFX graphics card - even though the graphics card itself is recognized and installed. I do not understand this - is Windows not properly understanding components of my graphics card?

    Any help is welcome!

    Tla
     
  18. zephead

    zephead TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,483

    i also suspect the graphics card. is it still possible to return it as defective? to rule out the rest of the system, try running prime95 for a while. prime95 stresses the motherboard and cpu, causing great heat there but does not involve the graphics card. reply what happens when the prime95 test has been running for longer than 20 mins.
     
  19. Tlaloc

    Tlaloc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Update:

    6/9

    Problem consistently absent in all games but Pirates of the Caribbean and Medieval Total War (which totally sucks, cause that game ran on my 7 year old system fine :( ). However, I have not installed many new games, seeing as what's the point in spending $$ on games that might not run.

    6/10ish

    Removed zip and old floppy drive, rearranged cables to give better airflow (all round cables).

    Installed two more fans - double front drawing in, double rear flowing out, plus mobo, CPU, GPU, power, and side panel fans.

    6/14

    Just got Internet back.

    Downloaded prime95

    42 mins of torture testing (while I was surfing the net no less) with 0 errors and 0 warnings, CPU temp consistent at 51-52 celcius, mobo chipset 30-31 consistently.


    Will try Pirates and Medieval TW when I get a chance and post here.
     
  20. Tlaloc

    Tlaloc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Found my NVIDIA GPU (vid card) utility, it was cleverly hidden under the name NVIDIA temperature utility or something cleverly obvious like that! ( :knock:)

    Unlike the mobo / CPU monitor, it does not log its values ( or at least I have not figured out how to make it log them ) so I can't see the LAST data point before a crash.

    Breaking away from a 3D game with alt-tab I can sample the GPU temps, 46-47 at worst, relatively consistent across several minutes, with Mechwarrior IV Vengence, in full super high detail combat mode, things are flowing fine, and BAM, same old problem occurs.
     
  21. zephead

    zephead TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,483

    this rules out the cpu and board. your graphics card is causing the trouble. if you can acertain that it isn't overheating, the card is probably defective.
     
  22. tdeg

    tdeg TS Rookie Posts: 348

    Definately not a monitor problem... monitors don't crash computers.

    Is your DirectX up to date?

    Have you tried an uninstall of your video drivers and then a re-install?
     
  23. Tlaloc

    Tlaloc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    UPDATED log of what's been done

    This is a SUMMARY of the problem, and the steps I have taken so far.

    THE PROBLEM:

    At apparently random intervals into playing some 3D games the monitor goes black. In a couple of seconds, the green light next to the power switch starts flashing (like it's in standby mode).

    Occasionally a sound effect will loop 2-3 times before going silent, as if the system were hanging.

    The system fans keep running, and the MoBo lights stay on.

    The numlock key will no longer toggle the numlock light afterward (on stays on, off stays off).

    Restarting the monitor does nothing - the light goes green, then returns to flashing mode.

    Rebooting the computer with the reset key brings the system back normally.

    Note that I am not overclocking, never have overclocked, and never intend to overclock.


    WHEN IT OCCURS:

    Playing 3D accellerated games, at apparently random intervals. It can happen in intense graphics moments, or simply at the start-up screen. Shortest duration a game was up was about 45 seconds, longest was about 25 minutes. It can happen if the game is left idle as well.

    Games when it has occurred:

    Pirates of the Caribbean
    Mechwarrior IV Vengeance
    Medieval Total War (a game that ran fine on my 7 year old Voodoo 2 system)

    Various 3D demos of games
    BREED (FPS+ vehicles) demo
    Tachyon (Space fighter sim) demo
    Armored Fist 3 (tank sim) demo
    Comanche 4 (helicopter sim) demo

    Games when it has NOT occurred:*

    *At least not during the hour or more of time I played.

    Stronghold and Stronghold Crusader (2D)
    Command and Conquer Tiberian Sun (2D)
    Homeworld: Cataclysm (3D)
    IL2 Sturmovik (3D)

    It NEVER occurs during non-gaming computer use, internet use, etc.

    Some demo games's missions are short enough that they can be played through entirely, closing out the game normally, thereby ruling out any given file or process as the cause.

    My system:

    ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard
    --SLI set to single card mode

    AMD Athalon 64 3800+ (512 cache)

    1xNVIDIA GeForce 6600GT GPU, 128 MB DDR3, PCI express, SLI capable (not using), DVI

    2x 1 GB RAM, DDR400, ULTRA brand
    --2GB total

    ULTRA 500w power unit
    Seagate 120 GB SATA hard drive
    BENQ CD/DVD R/W

    Recycled my Gateway Plug&Play CRT monitor (VX900)
    --It is 7 years old but has not given me problems ever

    Windows XP Home Edition, service pack 2


    WHAT I HAVE TRIED (that has not worked):

    *Changed / lowered refresh rates, graphics quality, color quality, and screen resolution

    *Upgraded all WinXP patches

    *Changed NVIDIA driver to ver. 66.93 - newer versions (70.90) are reported as buggy.

    *Upgraded ASUS A8N-SLI deluxe BIOS to 1011 (final)

    *Various game patches installed

    *Removed all extra drives except primary (E:, a SATA hard disk)

    *Used prime95 to stress test the MoBo, RAM and CPU. 45 mins of smooth testing, none failed, system temps (CPU, RAM, MoBo) remained below 52c.

    *Turned off ASUS Cool'n'Quiet utility - reported in online forums as causing system shutdowns. Later uninstalled it.

    *Turned off all power management settings in Windows

    *Checked the BIOS automatic power-down settings - all set well above the values I have observed just prior to shutdown.

    TEMPERATURE TESTING:

    *Reworked inner cables for better airflow - all round cables

    *Installed extra fans (2 front, 2 rear front-to-rear airflow), as well as CPU fan, chipset fan, side panel fan, GPU fan, and powersource fan.

    *Monitored GPU temps during regular computing and 3D gameplay. Temp values do not rise outside of tolerance ranges. However, the NVIDIA monitor does not leave a log of temps behind, so I have had to alt-tab out of games at intervals to record manually the temps - meaning if there is a sudden spike I could not observe it.

    3D gaming: highest recorded GPU temp 53c, CPU stabilizes at 50-52c (measured by ASUS probe, which leaves a log).

    (note: I have a Big Typhoon large CPU cooling fan ready to install, but I am using the OEM packaged CPU fan atm. Since the temps are not implicating a problem, I don't think installing the BT will help this issue.)



    PROBLEMS THAT MIGHT BE RELATED:

    On initial install, Windows XP found four items of hardware that it tried to find drivers for - but failed. At the time we were just trying to get basic computer operations working, so I had XP ignore those.

    Since this problem cropped up I went back to find them in Hardware Manager, they are all listed as unknown, and three of them map onto the XFX NVIDIA graphics card - even though the graphics card itself is recognized and installed. I do not understand this - is Windows not properly understanding components of my graphics card? THe fourth item is something associated with setting up RAID systems, which I am not using.


    Also The mobo chipset fan suggests that its max speed is 6600 rpm, it regularly runs at 8000+. The mobo temps are not out of range, but this fan seems to be running very fast for some reason.
     
  24. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 8,459   +228

    Mr. Garibaldi suggested the power supply may be at fault. Unless I missed it, I don't think you addressed this possibility. Can you try another power supply?
     
  25. Tlaloc

    Tlaloc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Is it possible to do that without buying a totally new power supply?


    It was also asked if I had updated Direct X - just installed Direct X 9c. I am certain I had Direct X 9 before, and might have had 9c, but maybe this will do the trick.
     
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