Faulty RAM or graphis card?

Powercolor / Ati radeon hd 4870x2 vide...
June 6, 2010 at 19:34:48
Specs: Windows 7 64-bit, AMD Phenom X4 9950. 8GB Corsair XMS2 800mhz (4x2GB)
Hi guys,

This is my first post on this site, so as a little introduction I'm Clayton from Leicester (UK) :-) and I'm hoping someone will be kind enough to help me.

I'm using my mobile phone to write this post because my computer isn't stable enough to use, which leads me to my problem...

Whilst playing Call of Duty MW2 a couple of days ago my computer crashed - lots of undesirable dots and patches appeared on screen, before sound distorting and the screen going completely grey, then not long after my monitor lost signal, I had to restart. Similar crashes had happened in the past during gameplay (allways cod mw2) so I assumed it was a software issue, however this time, on restart, even before the op system had a chance to load (on the ASUS mobo screen) the patches remained and the computer failed to boot. Worried, I restarted again, I had the expected option of loading in safe mode but I chose to run normally, it started up but after playing aimlessly on the internet for 5 mins the dots appeared, then the screen went grey and I had to restart.

I've had a little play around... I've discovered the error also occurs in safe mode. I've found out that music will carry on playing during/after the error, but I'm fairly certain the computer is completely unresponsive (combinations of alt + f4, enter, alt + tab, windows + d, don't shut down the system or stop the itunes music). I don't think there's anything else I can report. I am not particularly computer literate but I am confident with some aspects, however I couldn't tell you any temperatures without guidance.

I've owned the pc for around 20 months, but only got 1 year warranty from purchase. As far as I can think, the only problems I've ever had were while playing Call of Duty from around February, but now the error is completely random and not game related.

possible relevant specs of the computer I am running are:
Windows 7 64bit
AMD Phenom 9950 X4 processor
8 GB corsair XMS2 800mhz RAM (4x2GB sticks)
PowerColor ATI Radeon HD 4870x2 2048MB graphics card
ASUS M3A32-MVP deluxe mobo
800W quiet Quad rail PSU
Soundblaster X-Fi Xtreme music 7.1

I suspect either a RAM problem, or graphics card, but like I said, I don't have the knowledge to assess further than this. I've looked all over google for similar stories but havn't had any luck.

Thank you to anyone who takes the time to help me out, luckily I have this phone to check online for any advice.

See More: Faulty RAM or graphis card?

June 6, 2010 at 20:33:25
I think it might be the power supply.

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June 6, 2010 at 22:56:05
Hi Clayton
you are welcome to computing.net.

I think it is the video card issues.
Did u try other games?
If your getting dots before os starting to load it's a bad sign (v-card is bad).
Download gpu_z to check gpu temp, also u can try cleaning v-card and make sure it seated fine.
U can try to update v-card drivers, the latest drivers can be found from ATi website (make sure to un-install the old drivers)

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June 6, 2010 at 23:03:07
Boot directly to the BIOS screens and check the temperatures and voltages. 3.3V, 5V, 12V should all be within 5/10% of those numbers.

I suspect your system or parts of it may be overheating. Open the case and look at the insides. If you see lots of dust and dirt then use canned or compressed air to blow it out. Blow out the power supply from both ends too. This will be messy so I suggest you move the tower outside.

Also verify all fans are spinning freely, including any small fans on the motherboard and graphics card.

The issue you describe sounds like your graphic card is overheating. Overheating can permanently damage the card.

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June 9, 2010 at 06:52:30
Hi guys - thanks for all your fast responses. I've managed to blag an hour on a mates laptop to get back to you.

First off, there's no chance of me being able to download and install the new graphics drivers - I get less than 5 minutes after pressing the power button before the error reoccurs. I did get into BIOS and check the voltages though,

vcore started at 1.280v but had changed to 1.296v by the time I'd finished jotting the numbers down.
3.3v voltage was 3.280v
5v voltage was 5.026v
12v voltage was 11.430v

CPU temp slowly rose from 35c to 41c and mobo temp rose from 26c to 28c.

I noticed the dots appear on my screen whilst in BIOS, but i was still able to jot down the temps/voltages and change menu's before the dots disappeared (first time it's ever gone away). I restarted the computer (through BIOS) but at start-up the error occurred again and I had to manually turn it off.

Back to Kuwese, since the start of these problems I didn't play any other games, but before I had COD MW2 I was able to play Crysis and Red Alert 3 fine.

I used a hoover to get rid of all the dust before my first post (I heard somewhere that that's probably a bad technique due to static or something, but since it was after the problem I know that's not the cause), there wasn't a massive amount anyway - there's a net material on my case that collects dust but I bet that lowers the air-flow.

Card has been removed, blow-cleaned and reinserted and still no improvement.

the company I purchased the computer from have offered to arrange an RMA for the graphics card via them, I suppose I should just go for it and get it replaced/repaired? Would you say with a reasonable amount of confidence that it was the graphics card and not something else?

Thanks again guys for your time :-).


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June 9, 2010 at 09:35:15
Sounds like a heat issue, or driver issue with the video card. Go to AMD.com and update your video card drivers to the latest version.

PowerMac 9600(1 ghz G4)
512mb RAM
50gb SCSI
ATi 9200 PCI

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June 9, 2010 at 10:17:08
If you are getting artifacts while in the BIOS screens I think your Graphics card may have been damaged due to overheating.

Drivers don't come into play until you are into Windows.

Open the case and verify any fan on the graphics card is turning at a decent speed and the fan is clear of dust. You could also try re-seating the card, after unplugging the computer. Be sure to take proper anti-static precautions.

DO NOT use a vacuum cleaner on your computer. Canned or compressed air works best. Blow out the power supply from both ends too, if you find excessive amounts of dust.

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June 11, 2010 at 10:35:34
Ok, glad there's a general agreement about it being a graphics card (hardware) issue. I've sent it off to be RMA'd, let's hope I get a card back rather than a pathetic cash alternative.

Once it's back (about 6 weeks) I'll start thinking about case cooling since it sounds like an overheat is what caused the problem in the first place, aswell as updating to latest drivers etc... It's best to remove all traces of graphics card drivers before updating isn't it? Which could be done through control panel > Add or Remove Programs?

Again, thank you all for your input :-)


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July 20, 2010 at 05:58:36
For anyone wondering the outcome or has a similar issue, it was a fault with the graphics card. I was only RMA'd £230, so I put it towards a similar card - 5870.

All is working fine now, thanks for your time guys.

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July 20, 2010 at 06:07:04
Thanks for getting back to us with the results.

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