Screen goes black randomly

Discussion in 'PC Hardware' started by .Matt., May 25, 2010.

  1. .Matt.

    .Matt. MDL Novice

    Jan 10, 2010
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    #1 .Matt., May 25, 2010
    Last edited: May 26, 2010
    Hi,

    recently I've been having some problems: whenever I do things that put a large load on the video card (games), the screen goes black randomly and the entire system stops responding (music that's playing may or may not stop). This does not always happen, and it does not always happen at the same time: it may be after 15 mins or after 2 hours.

    I'm thinking this is related to my graphics card or the PSU, but I'd like to know more before I start spending money.

    My system specs are:
    Intel Core2Duo E4500 @ 2.2 GHz
    2x 2 GB RAM
    nVidia Geforce 9600GT 1GB
    420W PSU (don't know more)
    Windows 7 Ultimate x64

    I've looked around and the nVidia site said that 400W should be enough for this card, and the card itself has not always acted this way.

    Any help would be appreciated, and if you need more information feel free to ask :)

    Thanks
     
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  2. kingedwards

    kingedwards MDL Junior Member

    Mar 17, 2010
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    What exactly are the games this is happening on? I had a similar issue when playing Fallout 3 and it just required a patch to fix the nvidia drivers compatibility issue. Also try making sure you have the latest driver for you video card off the nvidia website.
     
  3. .Matt.

    .Matt. MDL Novice

    Jan 10, 2010
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    It mostly happens on Trackmania United Forever and Battlefield 2. It also happens while playing Dragon Age: Origins but this is a known Windows 7 issue as far as I know. Both the games and the video card drivers are updated to the most recent version.
     
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  4. fdjc

    fdjc MDL Member

    Feb 27, 2010
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    Update drivers?
    Checked GPU temps? (I would recommend CPUID's HWMonitor)

    What make is the PSU, if you can see I mean. Even a crappy 550w (I know yours is 450) could still cause this kind of issue.
    Could also be a USB or PCI device, I seen a PCI wifi card cause same issue on a really old PC (about 8-10 yrs old tbh).
     
  5. .Matt.

    .Matt. MDL Novice

    Jan 10, 2010
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    Well, the PC itself is maybe 3-3.5 years old, and I never had much problems with it.
    The GPU temps are maybe a little high: 69 C on idle, and it goes up to 85-90 degrees C right when I start a game.
    Maybe it's a good idea to check the fan for dust or something..
    Oh, I found the PSU box. It's a Trust one
     
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  6. fdjc

    fdjc MDL Member

    Feb 27, 2010
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    PSU could be on its way out, them temps would also worry me.
    Idle is 69, that's a bit hot tbh

    Clean out dust with compressed air if you can, if worst comes to worst use a hoover but you need to be really careful with it >.<

    I would also update tyour graphics card drivers as well.
    Check CPU temps too, maybe its a general overheating issue.
    If you can post a screenie of temps idle and under load
     
  7. .Matt.

    .Matt. MDL Novice

    Jan 10, 2010
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    #7 .Matt., May 26, 2010
    Last edited: May 26, 2010
    (OP)
    Okay, I have opened up the case and cleaned out some dust that was on the fan blades. Right now I'm running with an open case and while playing a game the card barely hits 60 degrees C. I don't know if the system will crash again. Should I continue running with an open case for today to check if the crashes are an over-heating problem? Also, if this is an overheating problem, what can I do to prevent this from happening in the future?

    Also, on the removeable side of the case, behind the air vent, there was a sort of plastic tunnel which, if the case is closed, is placed directly over the CPU cooler and thus preventing the air from anywhere else in the PC to go out through the vent. I removed it and closed the case. Temps on idle (and watching a movie) range from 40 to 50 degrees C, I haven't tested games yet but later today I will.
     
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  8. kingedwards

    kingedwards MDL Junior Member

    Mar 17, 2010
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    You should take a look into investing in a new heatsink and maybe a PCI system blower to lower your temps. I but the ZEROtherm BTF95 heatsink in my Pentium D 3.6Ghz CPU and it lowered the temperature 30 degrees celcius from stock heatsink.

    Your best bet is ebay or newegg.
     
  9. fdjc

    fdjc MDL Member

    Feb 27, 2010
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    Keep testing, its hitting summer time, comps more prone to overheating like.

    Seems you might have found the problem, them temps btw are they CPU or GPU?

    Could try artic silver 5 for new thermal paste for the CPU, its probably never been changed since you bought the PC like
     
  10. .Matt.

    .Matt. MDL Novice

    Jan 10, 2010
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    #10 .Matt., May 26, 2010
    Last edited: May 26, 2010
    (OP)
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  11. fdjc

    fdjc MDL Member

    Feb 27, 2010
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    Could have burned out, you said it hit 85-90 soon as u launched a game.
    Dust on a GPU cooler is a nightmare, temps just sky-rocket, or they did on my old ATI cards.

    Have you ever checked the System Event Viewer for any errors roughly around the time when your PC crashes?
    Also, might sound stupid but have you directx up to date?
     
  12. kingedwards

    kingedwards MDL Junior Member

    Mar 17, 2010
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    Yep, it sounds like your GPU is on the fritz. Those temperatures are definitely not normal. A good cheap temporary fix is a PCI system blower placed right next to the video card. Also check to make sure the heatsink is not loose and check the capacitors on the video card to see if any are blown. They would be bulging on the tops inside of smooth and sometimes there is a crusty fluid on the tops.
     
  13. .Matt.

    .Matt. MDL Novice

    Jan 10, 2010
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    Well, my directX is up to date, and the cause for the high temps has been removed (the plastic tunnel thing I mentioned earlier). Could be that it was a sort of after-effect of those high temps, but the card gave up while on 50 degrees C. Before that, it worked normal for a few hours. The capacitors (assuming they are those cylindrical things) look fine, they don't bulge or anything. The heatsink and fan are screwed on correctly: it doesn't move when you touch it or anything. Actually, the only weird thing about the card I can identify is that it smells burnt, but I think that could also be caused by overheated dust.

    I've had a look at the Event viewer, but even though the services ARE started, I get an error that the Event Viewer is unavailable.
     
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  14. fdjc

    fdjc MDL Member

    Feb 27, 2010
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    Don't suppose you have another card to swap it with or onboard video?

    That way you can be sure its the card tbh, as you said its under a year so you could get it replaced if you have your receipt handy.
     
  15. .Matt.

    .Matt. MDL Novice

    Jan 10, 2010
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    That's exactly what I just did :). I had an old 8400GS lying around, so I replaced the 9600 and I got video output again. I just went to the store and the card will get repaired or replaced because my warranty is still valid. They expect the card to be back in a week or so, so until then there's not much I can do anymore.
    Thanks everyone for the help and suggestions. When the card is back I'll post again to see how it went. :)
     
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  16. kingedwards

    kingedwards MDL Junior Member

    Mar 17, 2010
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    If the capacitors look good and you have that burnt electric smell my next guess would be that the chip is blown. Gotta love those warranties.
     
  17. fdjc

    fdjc MDL Member

    Feb 27, 2010
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    Good to hear progress has been made.

    If it runs fine with the 8400GS in then obviously it was the gfx card like. Failures happen, you have been lucky its covered under warranty still.
     
  18. RJARRRPCGP

    RJARRRPCGP MDL Member

    Feb 24, 2010
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    The burnt smell is a red flag.
     
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  19. RJARRRPCGP

    RJARRRPCGP MDL Member

    Feb 24, 2010
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    #19 RJARRRPCGP, May 28, 2010
    Last edited: May 28, 2010
    Your RAM might not be in all the way. But, it's more likely your PSU. Also, the RAM-to-FSB ratio may be set wrong in the BIOS. (The RAM frequency too high) That can cause error messages, such as "file not found" "X is corrupt and unreadable" "Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: PCI.SYS" "STOP: PAGE_FAULT_IN_NON_PAGED_AREA".
     
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  20. .Matt.

    .Matt. MDL Novice

    Jan 10, 2010
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    Okay, just to let you guys know :)

    Today I finally got a replacement card. I put it in and everything seems fine. Temp on idle is around 40 degrees C and I'll start stressing it later this afternoon
     
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