How can you tell if your new graphics card is working well?

By theH ยท 21 replies
May 2, 2006
  1. I just got my ATI X1900 XTX "taken straight off a new system" from eBay today. I installed it and ran a few games, and it seems okay.

    However, during bootup (after the windows loading screen but before the select user screen), it always displays a second of graphical corruption. In addition to this, the screen flickers kind of weirdly when opening the ATI Control Center. However none of the games had any problems and neither did windows (except for bootup). Do you think I should return it? I have three days.

    A broader question is how can you tell if a new graphics card is working? I mean other than waiting for something obvious to happen. Do you just play a lot of instensive games on it? Is there a better way?
  2. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,187   +470

    Not quite enough information. What graphics driver are you using and how did you install it? Did you uninstall the previous graphics driver prior to installing the new one?
  3. theH

    theH TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 31

    This is how I did it:

    1) I removed the old ATI X600 and put in the new ATI X1900 XTX. I made sure to connect its power supply.

    2) I turned on the computer and ATI Control Center complained, and Windows began installing the ATI X1900 XTX.

    3) I used the UninstallAll program from ATI to uninstall everything. I restarted my computer.

    4) I downloaded the newest Catalyst Control Center (Version 6.4) from the ATI website.

    --> Do I need to take care of Windows' attempt to install drivers on its own? Should I do something to tell Windows to uninstall its own drivers for the card?

    5) I installed the Catalyst Control Center (In the setup I went with the default selection of installing the Drivers, WDM Integrated something, and the Catalyst Control Center).

    6) Restarted computer.
  4. Masque

    Masque TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,058

    You're not using an Abit motherboard by chance, are you?
  5. AMDIsTheBest010

    AMDIsTheBest010 TS Rookie Posts: 398

    If your graphics are better than they were b4 u put the new card in
  6. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,187   +470

    Upon restarting when Windows attempts to find/install a driver, cancel it, then install your downloaded driver.
  7. theH

    theH TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 31

    Masque: I don't think I'm using an Abit motherboard. I'm using the one that came with my Dell Dimension 9100.

    mailpup: I uninstalled, restarted, cancelled windows attempt to install, and then re-installed the graphics card. I am still getting a weird screen for about 1-2 seconds during bootup (it is something different everytime), and some flickering whenever launching the ATI Catalyst Control Panel.

    The card doesn't mess up anywhere else including while playing any games (which I've played a lot of) and while converting video files.

    I am okay with its behaviour; I'm just concerned that it might be a symptom of something worse.
  8. kirock

    kirock TS Rookie Posts: 1,221

  9. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,187   +470

    Since you're not having trouble when you are playing games which stresses the components the most, I don't think you should be too concerned. It does sound like a driver issue though. Perhaps you could try an older version of Catalyst, say 6.3. I happen to have an Asus Radeon X1900XTX using Catalyst Control Center 6.3 and don't see your problem. Of course, that doesn't guarantee anything but you could try it.
  10. Masque

    Masque TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,058

    Actually Mailpup's right. I've got a Sapphire X1900XTX on an Abit board (which is why I asked) and had my troubles (exactly as yours) when I tried updating to Cat 6.4's. I'd heard that there were some issues with the Nforce 4 boards and I ended up reverting back to my 6.3's. I also had some ghost error messages that stated that the drivers hadn't been installed (which they had after a check).

    Nonetheless, after reverting to the 6.3's, all is well. I'll wait for a future version of Cat's to see if there are any known issues on the other.
  11. olefarte

    olefarte TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 1,345   +13

    To confuse the issue, I've got a MSI 1900XTX, and with the 6.3 drivers I had the corruption at start up that was described in the first post, but only for a very brief flash. I had no problems with anything else.

    I'm using 6.4's now and no problems whatsoever. I can't believe how good Oblivian looks with nearly everything maxed out. And I'm using an Asus nForce 4 Ultra board.

    The only issue I have is with the Control Center taking so long to open. And I used to complain when my nVidia Control Center took only a few seconds to open when I had an nVidia card.
  12. kirock

    kirock TS Rookie Posts: 1,221

    olefart: stop confusing the isssue with facts! :p I was just about to say:"look at my sig" after reading mailpup's and Masque's last two posts. But I still say ATI plays best with Intel and nVidia best with AMD and that is specifically referring to driver compatibility as described (stupid little glitches).

    Yeah you guys are right, if he can play without artifacts then he's prob ok in the power department (i overlooked that fact).

    theH: Have you checked for the latest mobo chipset drivers? (as in the nForce4)
    These can be found at the mobo manuf. website.

    Cheers all.
  13. theH

    theH TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 31

    kirock: You were the one who recommended this PSU to me !

    mailpup & masque: I reverted back to CCC 6.3. The "screen of corruption" no longer appears. The card still causes some flickering during bootup and upon opening CCC but that is all. I haven't tested this driver out with any games yet though.

    olefarte: How are you getting everything looking so good with oblivion. I've set the textures to medium and put down the view distances, but I still get a lot of hitching. I get good frames though (>35 at all times) but I do get sporadic hitching.

    kirock (2nd post): I have the latest drivers for my motherboard, from here

    Thanks everyone
  14. kirock

    kirock TS Rookie Posts: 1,221

    SEE!!! That's why you're NOT having a PSU issue. :)
    That explains why your name looks familar, sorry but I do do a few of these post thingys and get a little fuzzy (but that's a different thread).

    Well if you've got the latest mobo drivers, a good PSU and no symptons of BSODs, besides the little display glitch, then it's probably is just a driver issue and playing around with a few roll backs might help.

    Just to be certain, try to connect the 4 pin molex from the PSU straight to the card and hopefully dedicated. If you have to jumper it to something else make the 1st molex connection at the X1900X card, then onto to whatever.(reduces resistance and increases current surge capability to the gfx card).
    Also it's a big honkin card, check that it's seated firming in the socket and not catching on some mobo component.(it can happen)

  15. theH

    theH TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 31

    The 4 pin molex comes out of the PSU alone, there are no other connectors on that wire.

  16. Masque

    Masque TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,058

    Have you got another 4-pin connector on the motherboard that needs power to it for the PCI-E slot for power stability? Not a square plug like that of your cpu power, but similiar to the 4-pin inline that you have on your drives.
  17. theH

    theH TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 31

    Okay I have another autobiography:

    I have one large connector to the motherboard, one small square connector to the mother board, one connector (the wire has two connectors on it) to the DVD drive, one connector (the wire has two connectors and one small connector) to the media card reader, one connector (the wire has two connectors on it) to the SATA hard-drive, and one square connector to the graphics card.

    I have another wire similar to the one I used for the DVD drive (i.e. having two normal connectors on it) that goes no where.

    In general:

    I am concerned about whether or not I reconnected everything properly or not. I changed both the PSU and then the graphics card and I am experiencing some problems now.

    First off the graphics card is doing its thing.

    Secondly, whenever I connect headphones to the front bay audio connectors I sometimes get a weird noise (like a low-tone clicking or scraping). This usually happens (or is it my imagination) while playing 3D games. That is to say the headphones work fine for movies or music.

    Finally, FEAR, Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2 Lost Coast, and Oblivion all "lag" even though the reported frame rates are high (at minimum >30 for oblivion and >45 for the rest). I feel like this is due to the hard-drive hitching, so I tested it with SANDRA LITE and got it at 54mbps and 9ms seek time (SATA, 250GB). Is this hitching? Needless to say I used PerfectDisk 7.0 to defragment everything (including the page file and meta data).

    I don't get this lagging problem for Half-Life 1, Blue Shift, Opposing Force, Doom 3, No One Lives Forever 2, Quake 4, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, The Chronicles of Riddick, or Counter Strike Source.

    I think this may be due to the power wires coming too close to a certain wire that leads from the sound card to the front bay audio connectors. Does this sound like the problem? When I first opened my pc the SATA power wire, the wire connecting the SATA to the hard-drive, and the PCI-E power wire were all (carefully maybe?) wired on one side of the CPU heat-sink and this other wire (from the sound card to the front bay audio connectors) was on the other side of the CPU heat-sink. I forgot to re-wire it in the same way, and now I don't have a screwdriver (to remove the heat-sink) to do it on a whim. But does this sound like a problem? Are the power wires too powerful that they interfere with the sound wirte?

    I am downloading 3DMark06 to test out my graphics card (to rule out the possibility that it alone is the culprit). Now I just need to find out what mark an ATI X1900XTX should get on it...

    Take pity on a Newbie and help me out please (further I mean :) )
  18. theH

    theH TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 31

    Okay I see that my previous post may have been too long, so I'll make it quick. Given these test scores, can anyone tell me where my problem is?

    Tested Using: SiSoftware SANDRA Lite 2005 SR3
    Results (bypassing Windows cache): 54mbps, 11ms seek time.
    Results (using Windows cache): 49mbps, 7ms seek time.

    GRAPHICS CARD & CPU (ATI X1900XTX & Pentium D 2.80Ghz respectively)
    Tested Using: 3DMark06 Basic Edition (1.02)
    3D Mark Score: 5335
    SM2.0 Score: 2194
    HDR/SM3.0 Score: 2536
    CPU Score: 1374
  19. kirock

    kirock TS Rookie Posts: 1,221

    Umm, 5335 in 3Dmark06 is just fine IMO, I'm not sure what you think the prob is.
    I have a 6600GT and AMD 3500+, 1GB of high speed ram and I only get 4100.
    Maybe you could get a little more (with that X1900X), but you're limited by CPU and slow RAM. I think your video card is doing all it can. My CPU is running 2.3GHz and that will kick xxx compared to a 2.8GHz P4 D when it comes to 3D gaming , as in 3DMark. You beat me by gfx card. 6600GT<<<<X1900X.

    Ok next issue: It's hard to say why you feel like those games lag, my guess is it's the HDD lagging you. 250G is no small drive, is it one partion? You might try partioning it into small sizes and loading the games into one 1 partion.

    Clicking sound on headphone jack: Take the wire from the jack to mobo and twist it as much as you can. (as in braiding , like girls do with their hair). Then wrap some tin foil around the length of the wire (be careful not to let the tin foil touch anything on the mobo). Prob put some tape over the tin foil as insulation.

    Let us know.
  20. theH

    theH TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 31

    I've got finals Monday and Tuesday, but I will do it hopefully Tuesday night.

    Can multiple partitions on the same drive really give more performance?

    I'm just disappointed with this hitching I'm getting. It only occurs when loading new places in a game. For example if I suddenly turn a corner, it will hitch, but then I can run around the new room all I want and it won't hitch.

    Well thanks for your advice I'll let you know how it goes (I'm sure it will solve the sound thing). I have a feeling that this hitching problem is going to be one of those things that takes weeks of tinkering to solve though....
  21. kirock

    kirock TS Rookie Posts: 1,221

    The hitching is definately the game loading more info off the HDD or CD into RAM. How much RAM do you have? I've not done this yet for Oblivion (just bought it last Thursady), but all my other games I use the desktop icon command line to increase the HunkMegs. This is the amount of RAM you dedicate for use in the game. For HL2 Counter Strike, Doom3 etc I set this to 512M. I have 1GB of RAM, so no problems giving the games this much. Don't use more then 512M (the game won't use it anyway) or more then half your RAM (windows needs some too.)

    This won't reduce the hitch time, but it will reduce the frequency (how often). The length of time the hitch occurs is intrinsic to your PC. CPU speed, RAM speed, amount of RAM, FSB speed , DVD/CD reading speed etc etc.

    To enter this command, right click on the game launch icon and select properties. Look at the command line window. Scroll to the right most end after all characters stop. Now each game has it's own command instruction, but it typically goes like this: -HunkMegs 512 (including the dash and a space after the last character). You can google the game tweaks for further details.

  22. theH

    theH TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 31

    I have 1GB RAM.
    I messed around with half-life tweaks a little, changing the hunkmegs to 512mb, and setting a variable "cl_forcepreload" to "1". Didn't make any difference though.

    I set FEAR to absolute minimum settings, and I still got hitching. It was quite reduced, but it was still there.

    BTW, when I ran the 3DMark06 CPU test, my frame rate never went above 0. On all the other tests my frame rate was in the 15-30 region. I still got a CPU score of 1700 though.

    Anyway, I don't have much time I got more finals today.

    EDIT: Can anyone recommend a good version of Memtest to use? There is memtest, memtest86, memtest+, are these all difference gui's for the same source (memtest is open source right?).
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