Firefox, and the "Black Screen of Death"

By captaincranky ยท 10 replies
Aug 21, 2016
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  1. OK, so my internet box is an Intel G-41 based home brew, still using the IGP.

    It's running Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit, with 2GB of RAM.

    After running a few videos and / or having "too many tabs open", Firefox locks up. It really does "black screen", rendering web pages in solid black, despite the page being fully "loaded and locked".

    Oftentimes, you can get the screen to redraw, simply by running the mouse cursor around it.

    What I'm guessing is the problem, would be the IGP hogging too much system RAM, causing the video issue, lockup, and oftentimes a full app hang and crash. Closing tabs does help a bit, but when you start to get to that point, only a full exit and restart of the browser cures the issue. (At least until the next time). :oops:

    Way back when, Intel limited the VRAM usage by chipsets such as the 915, to about 224MB. AFAIK, by the time they got to G-41, the limit was closer to 500GB. (AFAIK)

    So, we get to something over 1+ GB being used by Firefox itself, and that's when the trouble begins.

    I just ordered one of these new Nvidia GT-710 cheapie Graphics card with 2GBd of RAM to replace the IGP, thereby freeing up maybe an extra 500GB to be used by the browser.

    Unfortunately, Intel G-41 only has one PCI-E x 8 or 16 rail. Which means I have to yank my beloved Hauppage tuner, (which I really only use as a "TV Guide'), to make room for it.

    I'm just sort of curious to see how any of you feel about my diagnosis, while we wait for the new part to arrive.

    So.........whaddyathimk? Anybody?
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
  2. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing. Posts: 3,000   +653

    Sounds like a reasonable solution for overactive browser, but would more RAM do the same without losing joy of the telly guide? Also, might there be a cooling issue with the IGP? Black screen kind of issue?
  3. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Topic Starter Posts: 12,961   +2,516

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, G-41 takes DDR-2.and the board is only double slot, so I need 2GB x 2 for the upgrade. I did price the RAM (Again (*)), and @$51.00, it's 20 bucks more than the on-sale video card. :oops:

    I empirically know that Win 7 32 bit will deal with 4GB of RAM better than XP. Still, I stuffed 4GB in an XP box one time, and Nero 6, couldn't handle it. It kept returning "out of memory" errors, every time I tried to burn a disc. I took the extra 2 gigs out, and it, (ironically I might add), had plenty of memory to get the job done. The experience scarred me, :eek: *nerd*, and I haven't gone near more than 2GBs of RAM in a 32 bit system since! (OK, so I'm probably being irrational).
    Black screens happen because of heat? Holy sh!t! I honestly didn't think an IGP could compute fast enough to hurt itself..:eek: Well, unless you took the heat sink off just to see what would happen. In any event, I just black screened this junker with Pink Floyd videos, and nothing in the computer is over 50C.

    It's the memory issue. I checked last night, and G-41 allocates 750(!) MB to video.

    This rig has a vertical monitor anyway. Good for pages, not for 16:9 video. I have a tuner in one of my i3 rigs, and I'll have a spare to put in the other. I don't want to put AV in either box, but I suppose I'll be good if I only hook up to let WMC update the program guide. Que piensas?
  4. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing. Posts: 3,000   +653

    Your analysis is sufficient. May the action be rewarded. 750MB is a large reward in a 2GB box.
    captaincranky likes this.
  5. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Topic Starter Posts: 12,961   +2,516

    Who knows, I'm liable to wind up buying the 4GB of RAM and a dongle tuner for this machine anyway. By then, it will have cost as much as a real computer.

    That's it though! That's where I draw the line. No "Pentium Inside" screensaver, and that's final.:oops:
  6. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,122   +982

    Did you try Google Chrome? FF has a history of misusing memory and multiple tabs (aka more tha 2-3) just make it worse.
    captaincranky likes this.
  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Topic Starter Posts: 12,961   +2,516

    @jobeard Well, Google is absolutely merciless at their tracking even when running a competing browser. For example, yesterday I was asked to answer a questionnaire about, "why I dismissed 2 Google placed ads from on top of my Gmail "promotional" column". Surely you can see how anyone in their right mind should find that offensive and "over the top".

    Then too, I've heard complaints about Chrome being a memory hog in and of itself, with M$ launching the most recent volley against it. (I take that with a grain of salt, but jus' sayin'). I really think adding their browser would be "too much of a good thing", with respect to Google's seemingly doting parental concern about my browsing habits.

    I can load a staggering number of pages, (>200), of images into FF under XP, without issue. That's in a 915GAG Intel board, with only 1.5GBs of RAM. That chipset limits the VRAM allotment to 224M. FF uses LESS RAM to do more, under XP!

    With respect to what you're saying about FF, it does have issues with releasing RAM back to the system. For example, you're cruising along with 60 tabs open, using 1.1GB of RAM, should you close 30 tabs, FF will still be hanging onto 1GB, possibly a touch more. But, that also could be part / fault of Win 7's memory allotment strategy, which really isn't that far away from Vista's Which, IIRC), everybody and their mothers complained bitterly about! "We dun gotz us no free memory", I believe was the gist of that bellyaching.

    In any case G-41 offers up to 750MB of RAM to its IGP. 750MB, plus the 1+ GB FF is using, against 2GB of system RAM, = a big crash. (after several minutes and iterations of the the "Firefox is not Responding", across the top of the browser frame.

    To make a long story even longer, I finally got fed up with the nonsense, and was shopping the new GT-710 (barely better than IGP) Nvidia offerings. When all of a sudden, the price of the 2GB passive heat sink model dropped from $39.95 to $29.95.
    Surely, a man would have to have ice water in his veins to resist such lurid temptation. It was as though Newegg put it on sale just for me! (y) Heartwarming, I tell you.

    All of the foregoing notwithstanding, I'm waiting for FedEx Home delivery person as I write this, who allegedly has my video card on board.

    I could use you take on whether or not it would be safe to hookup a box with no AV to the web, for the sole purpose of keeping the WMC program guide current? These boxes are completely air gapped now, so no need for any security.

    If no, I suppose I could spring for a dongle tuner for this one.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2016
  8. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,122   +982

    "I could use you take on whether or not it would be safe to hookup a box with no AV to the web, for the sole purpose of keeping the WMC program guide current? These boxes are completely air gapped now, so no need for any security."

    Here's the outline for any windows pc:
    1. install a new HOSTS file,
      # This MVPS HOSTS file is a free download from:
    2. ALWAYS logon using a UAC account and use Admin ONLY for maintenance
    3. DL & Install SpywareBlaster ( I use runas /user:admin )
    4. DL & Install Spybot S&D ( ditto )
    on 3+4, run them 1-2 a year to refresh their control files. (3) has Tools->Host Safe, run it to protect (1)

    I installed AVAST Free, but configure it to NOT FILE SCAN, only web & email scan (major improvement in laptop protection w/o impacting day-2-day usage)

    Things I do to get absolute control of the system:
    • disable ALL autoupdates, including Google. use (4) Startup to review and disable (major reason for the install)
    • disable RUN, RUNONCE junk I view as unnecessary
    • disable any form of FILE SCANNING. If I need it, it can be manually invoked.
    • set Windows Update to check, but not install. I've even gone as far to flat NO CHECK.
    I've run every system since XP/SP2 this way. It's my system and I am at the helm!
    captaincranky likes this.
  9. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Topic Starter Posts: 12,961   +2,516

    Thanks for that @jobeard. I should have gotten back sooner and I do apologize for that. Quick question though, Spybot S&D's "Immunize" function is basically a host file as well. Do those two programs have different websites that they view as threats?

    Anyway, I stuffed my new video card in the machine, and guess what? I made it worse! So much for my brilliant diagnostic skills....:oops: The screen now strobe flashes when I load up the browser memory load. I tried IE, but that locked up as well, but as I had both browsers open, that doesn't prove that much

    Couple of interesting things though. The computer won't go into standby, so I'm thinking I could have a bad PSU.

    I suppose I need to run MemTest86 as well. What thinkest either of you two about a possible fault with the board's memory controller?

    The Nvidia driver "stops and recovers" from time to time. This after several failed (?) attempts at installing it. (I put the latest driver in, then rolled it back to the one on the disc with the card).

    This you should find interesting; I tried to install .NET framework 4.0, and the latest, "Malicious software removal tool". I had only two (2) updates checked, yet M$ dumped the cumulative update on me anyway!

    Resulting of course, with me having to roll the machine back a few days... :mad:
  10. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing. Posts: 3,000   +653

    "Couple of interesting things though. The computer won't go into standby, so I'm thinking I could have a bad PSU." "Nvidia driver "stops and recovers" "

    Or new card is taking power 'badly' - remove / check slot for dust ball / reinsert card. Remove old driver, download new. Test card in another system.

    I know...teaching gram to suck eggs... just be encouraged.
  11. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Topic Starter Posts: 12,961   +2,516

    No, the no sleepy thingy was before the card. So, a negative correlation.

    I'm getting an erroneous reading on the +5 volt buss (+3.63). That may be due to the measuring software. I have to crank out the Meter and the board instructions, then measure it manually.

    I ran 3 passes on the memory MemTest86+ w/ no errors. I know it's not all night, but still...

    Yeah, I'm thinking I should bounce the card in and out a couple of times to clear any cobwebs off the contacts.

    I did blow out the computer, and the PCI-E slot, with the tuner out of the machine. But, the tuner is only a PCI-E x 4 form, so there were contacts exposed to air for years.... :oops:

    Old farts like myself don't really require the absolute newest gaming drivers. Somewhere on the order of ten out of ten, the driver on the disc is fine and dandy. Besides, this card is so cheap, they tell you "it can't be optimized". So, there's no point in even installing, "The GeForce Experience".

    I installed the newest driver first, then the disc driver and both behave identically.

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