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Is my video card dying?
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matthewkane
 
 
2006-07-26, 15:30

Hi i'm new to these forums, and I'm having a problem with my MIrrored Drive Doors G4 Tower.

I recently purchased a Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Edition with 256mb of vram, so that I could play Call of DUty 2 and Quake 4.

I was well into Quake 4 when I decided to put a 9200 video card in a PCI slot and plug in another moniter into that. After that, funny pixilated dots appeared on my screen when playing Quake 4. I knewt hat the 9800 was overheating so I took out the 9200, but the dotrs persisted.

The guys over at insidemacgames.com told me that i've permenentaly damaged my video card, but when I Underclocked the memory by 10% and the proccesor by 5% the dots went away. The game plays normal again. However when I put them back to stock frequencies the dots do appear in the game. Have I permenentaly damaged my card? Has anyone heard of this problem before? What would you suggest I do? I really don't want to modify my cooling system as I don't know how to do things like that.

Thanks in advance
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Luca
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2006-07-26, 15:36

I doubt it's permanently damaged. Those are just artifacts, which appear whenever you overclock a video card just a little bit too much (not so much that it crashes, but more than it can really handle). I encountered artifacts too, back when I had a PC and I cared about video card overclocking.

If it's causing artifacts at stock frequencies, the card should be considered defective. If you bought it from a store you should be able to send it in for a replacement, but it might be more trouble than it's worth.
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matthewkane
 
 
2006-07-26, 15:47

Artifacts. So that's the offical term for it?

I even had artifacts with my old 9000 Pro/64mb when playing Return of the King. I wonder why.

Anyway that's good to know. Thanks. I can't tell a difference in anything that I do with the card underclocked, so I think i'll keep it like this. I think that if what you say is true it might be getting a bit too hot at stock frequencies and that's all. Like, stock frequencies in my machine is like being overclocked in another machine.... maybe.

Thanks again.
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Banana
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Join Date: Feb 2005
 
2006-07-26, 15:49

Actually, if there's problem with stock frequencies, there are two possibilities:

1) it is really defective. I'd get that replaced if it's still in-warranty.

2) your computer is next to a furnace. If that's the case putting it in a slightly cooler place can make a difference.
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matthewkane
 
 
2006-07-26, 15:51

Quote:
Originally Posted by Banana
Actually, if there's problem with stock frequencies, there are two possibilities:

1) it is really defective. I'd get that replaced if it's still in-warranty.

2) your computer is next to a furnace. If that's the case putting it in a slightly cooler place can make a difference.
Well, it's not next to a furnace, but it's a furnace inside the computer. Temperature Moniter says my CPU is 58.9 C.
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Banana
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2006-07-26, 15:57

The least you can do short of modifying your cooling system, is to remove the panel and ensure there's steady air flow (e.g. a fan or open window or whatever).

This will work for now until you decide on more permanent solution.
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matthewkane
 
 
2006-07-26, 16:06

Quote:
Originally Posted by Banana
The least you can do short of modifying your cooling system, is to remove the panel and ensure there's steady air flow (e.g. a fan or open window or whatever).

This will work for now until you decide on more permanent solution.
The Panel?
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Banana
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2006-07-26, 16:08

The case's panel. Open up the case.
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Windowsrookie
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2006-07-26, 16:42

You weren't plugging in cards with the system on were you?
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matthewkane
 
 
2006-07-26, 20:30

Quote:
Originally Posted by windowsrookie
You weren't plugging in cards with the system on were you?
No I was not.

I contacted OWC tech support and they said they'll replace it, and to ship it back to them by August 26th. I didn't even ask for a replacement I just described the problem. I don't want to send it back.

I wrote back saying that I didn't ask for a replacement and that i'm not sure I want a replacement, because i'm pretty sure that it's just a heat issue cause of the computer getting too hot, and that any card would do the same. Right?
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billybobsky
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2006-07-26, 21:55

No.

It is quite possible that there are defective transistors in the card's processor and at full speed you are catching these glitches because there are skipped cycles or otherwise... I would actually return it...

It could have been the heat that caused the issue, but you can't know -- and the safest bet is to get a replacement and keep your computer in a cool location... One other thing, the temp you cited is not that hot -- has it been hotter?
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matthewkane
 
 
2006-07-26, 22:16

Quote:
Originally Posted by billybobsky
No.

It is quite possible that there are defective transistors in the card's processor and at full speed you are catching these glitches because there are skipped cycles or otherwise... I would actually return it...

It could have been the heat that caused the issue, but you can't know -- and the safest bet is to get a replacement and keep your computer in a cool location... One other thing, the temp you cited is not that hot -- has it been hotter?
It hasn't been hotter, although I don't know what it's like during gameplay.

I emailed them again saying that I will send the card back and get a replacement.
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scratt
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2006-07-26, 22:27

My experience with ATI cards, particularly my 9600 Pro 128MB in my G5, is that they are buggy and unreliable when playing any games..

Civ IV, Quake 4, Doom 3, X2 & Halo will all crash at some point or another during a game.. This can be in the first 5 minutes, or after an hour or more..
It is strange that these are all high end graphics games, and probably part of the reason.. I have never had any kind of problem in OS X, running Pro apps, or with my own simulation I am working on which uses both OSG and Open GL to render nice eye candy.... So I really can't throw much help in from that direction, other than to say that both Multi-threading and Multiple-monitors do increase the frequency of the above ATI problems in my experience.

At that point I have to ssh into the machine from another Mac quick smart or I will lose the machine and have to shut it down hard.

I really don't know if it is a hardware problem, or a driver problem, although I suspect that latter..

I do know that in most developement communities I frequent that ATI drivers and cards are a constant source of annoyance.

I actually prefer ATI to NVidia, but in the last 24 months I am begginning to change my mind, and think that AMD buying ATI is actually a boon for us Mac users, assuming that everything doesn't end up with Intel Integrated Graphics *spits* on it.

'Remember, measure life by the moments that take your breath away, not by how many breaths you take'
Extreme Sports Cafe | ESC's blog | scratt's blog | @thescratt
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Windowsrookie
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2006-07-26, 22:30

Well, Halo is just a bad game (The actual game play rocks though). It crashes a lot on any system. I believe it's something to do with Microsoft's original code.


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scratt
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2006-07-26, 22:35

That may be the case.. But it's pretty damning that all of the apps I mention, from different sources, all cause the same lock up and crash on my ATI graphics card, and on no other system I own..

That does tend to point to the card, or its drivers, rather than just Halo's code.

'Remember, measure life by the moments that take your breath away, not by how many breaths you take'
Extreme Sports Cafe | ESC's blog | scratt's blog | @thescratt
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matthewkane
 
 
2006-07-26, 22:59

New problem guys.

I packed up the 9800 Pro to send in for the replacement, and put my 9000 Pro back in my computer.

After the apple and the spinning circle thing, the screen turnes blue and stayes like that. It won't continue.

I booted it up on the software restore CD's and ran disk utility and repaired permissions, it didn't do anything.

What on earth is this??
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scratt
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2006-07-26, 23:01

Time to call an adult I think.
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matthewkane
 
 
2006-07-26, 23:02

I beg your pardon?

I just wanna be able to start up my computer. How can it not see my original video card?
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scratt
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2006-07-26, 23:36

I am sure I replied to you just now.. But it appears to have not been posted.. Oh, well perhaps my last post is in another thread somewhere. That should be fun!

I was just being silly... When I have a problem I can't fix I always suggest to myself that perhaps I should call an 'adult'.

Personally I think with the problems you are having it is quite likely that your Hard Drive is a bit messed up and your Mac wants time to sort it out..

If you are getting something on your screen then your graphics card is working.

Perhaps check out the faq thread about fsck.. Start your machine up and then hold down Apple & S. Once it boots into single user mode, run fsck.

Also, perhaps check all the connections are good with things you've touched inside the machine, and all the things you have not touched too..

Then report back.

'Remember, measure life by the moments that take your breath away, not by how many breaths you take'
Extreme Sports Cafe | ESC's blog | scratt's blog | @thescratt
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matthewkane
 
 
2006-07-26, 23:48

Quote:
Originally Posted by scratt
I am sure I replied to you just now.. But it appears to have not been posted.. Oh, well perhaps my last post is in another thread somewhere. That should be fun!

I was just being silly... When I have a problem I can't fix I always suggest to myself that perhaps I should call an 'adult'.

Personally I think with the problems you are having it is quite likely that your Hard Drive is a bit messed up and your Mac wants time to sort it out..

If you are getting something on your screen then your graphics card is working.

Perhaps check out the faq thread about fsck.. Start your machine up and then hold down Apple & S. Once it boots into single user mode, run fsck.

Also, perhaps check all the connections are good with things you've touched inside the machine, and all the things you have not touched too..

Then report back.
Everything is connected correctly, I ran fsck and it said my disk was OK, and it still stops at the blue screen during startup.

I can bootup in safe mode however, holding down the shift key.

I also have my 9200 in the computer, and it works fine with that. I think the 9800 did something screwy to my AGP slot.

Have any other suggestions?
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scratt
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2006-07-26, 23:53

Let me just clarify..

You have a 9000, a 9200 and a 9800?

The 9000 works fine, but the 9200 and the 9800, don't?

Are they being used in different slots?

Have you tried the 9000 in the same slot as the 9800 was in?
That would tend to confirm or deny the AGP slot thing..

Other than that it may well be time to get this machine and the cards looked over...

'Remember, measure life by the moments that take your breath away, not by how many breaths you take'
Extreme Sports Cafe | ESC's blog | scratt's blog | @thescratt
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matthewkane
 
 
2006-07-26, 23:55

Quote:
Originally Posted by scratt
Let me just clarify..

You have a 9000, a 9200 and a 9800?

The 9000 works fine, but the 9200 and the 9800, don't?

Are they being used in different slots?

Have you tried the 9000 in the same slot as the 9800 was in?
That would tend to confirm or deny the AGP slot thing..

Other than that it may well be time to get this machine and the cards looked over...
I had a 9000 that came in my computer. It worked fine.

I replaced it with a 9800. Both AGP cards, both in the AGP slot.

I took a 9200 that my dad had in his older G4 tower, and put it in my computer as well, and then took it out. That was done in a PCI slot. Both the 9000 and the 9800 go in the AGP slot, so they can't be in at the same time.

The people at OWC said they'd replace my 9800 with a new one since they think it's defective.

I took it out, packed it, and put in the original 9000 that I had in my computer all along before I started upgrading.

It stopped at the blue screen, and wouldn't finish starting up.

The 9000 is the only one that's not working right now.
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scratt
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2006-07-27, 00:12

Hmmm...

If the 9800 works then I think your AGP slot is working also.
I am wondering if you are just unlucky now, and during all of this have managed to damage the 9000.

But without getting more hands on I can't help much more than that..

Where in the boot process is the Blue Screen you talk about? Have you had anything on the screen, becuase if you have then it seems the card is working, after a fashion...

When my ATI card crashes it will go to a blue screen after a short period... At that point I know that going in with ssh most likely won't work.. Normally just before that it shows a static screen of the last thing it was rendering for up to 30 seconds.. Sometimes the mouse and pointer 'layer' are even still working, but that's all.

I would be tempted to check out my Mac before I stick another new card in there, just in case....

'Remember, measure life by the moments that take your breath away, not by how many breaths you take'
Extreme Sports Cafe | ESC's blog | scratt's blog | @thescratt
  quote
matthewkane
 
 
2006-07-27, 00:14

Quote:
Originally Posted by scratt
Hmmm...

If the 9800 works then I think your AGP slot is working also.
I am wondering if you are just unlucky now, and during all of this have managed to damage the 9000.

But without getting more hands on I can't help much more than that..

Where in the boot process is the Blue Screen you talk about? Have you had anything on the screen, becuase if you have then it seems the card is working, after a fashion...

When my ATI card crashes it will go to a blue screen after a short period... At that point I know that going in with ssh most likely won't work.. Normally just before that it shows a static screen of the last thing it was rendering for up to 30 seconds.. Sometimes the mouse and pointer 'layer' are even still working, but that's all.

I would be tempted to check out my Mac before I stick another new card in there, just in case....
The screen turnes grey like it's supposed too, and the apple shows up, and it spins that thing, and then the screen goes black for a second, and then blue, just as it's supposed too.

Then the Starting Mac OS X window should show up, but it doesn't, it just stayes there.

edit: It really seems like everything is working just fine, it's just a little quirk, like a bug that prevents it from continuing. Cause it definetaly works. I can boot up on the OS X cd and run disk utility and everything. It puts images on the screen just fine. And now, when I go into System Profiler, the card shows up there, and everything looks normal.

What is it that's preventing that startup window from showing up? How can the video card be the culprit of that?

Last edited by matthewkane : 2006-07-27 at 01:23.
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FFL
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2006-07-27, 01:58

try resetting the firmware as well as zapping the PRAM (instructions in the forum FAQ sticky).

if that doesn't work - boot into safe mode, open system preferences, and specify your Display settings.

if THAT doesn't work - boot into safe mode again and delete com.apple.systempreferences.plist from Preferences in your home Library, and com.apple.windowserver.plist from Preferences in the root Library.
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matthewkane
 
 
2006-07-27, 02:20

Quote:
Originally Posted by FFL
try resetting the firmware as well as zapping the PRAM (instructions in the forum FAQ sticky).

if that doesn't work - boot into safe mode, open system preferences, and specify your Display settings.

if THAT doesn't work - boot into safe mode again and delete com.apple.systempreferences.plist from Preferences in your home Library, and com.apple.windowserver.plist from Preferences in the root Library.
I did all of that, and it still stops at the blue screen.

I've also tried deleting every file that has the name ati in it (drivers, aticcelerator etc), and reinstalling the latest ati drivers, and it didn't help.

Any other suggestions.....?
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scratt
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2006-07-27, 02:31

Re-install your OS.. I think it is broken.

EDIT - Better still.. Backup, reformat and re-install a fresh copy.

If that does not work, then it is perhaps some small component on your card that is causing a video crash, and / or the system to lock up at that point.. Sometimes a graphics crash will take out the system, even though the system is running fine. It hangs waiting on some timer, or something, is my theory, but don't quote me.

'Remember, measure life by the moments that take your breath away, not by how many breaths you take'
Extreme Sports Cafe | ESC's blog | scratt's blog | @thescratt
  quote
FFL
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2006-07-27, 02:35

Hmm.

The only more intensive remedy I can think of at this point is an OS X Archive & Install.

At this point, you have to suspect scratt's theory that the 9000 is damaged (although the fact that it seems to work in safe mode is perplexing). I'd try it in another machine if possible.
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matthewkane
 
 
2006-07-27, 02:35

Quote:
Originally Posted by scratt
Re-install your OS.. I think it is broken.

EDIT - Better still.. Backup, reformat and re-install a fresh copy.

If that does not work, then it is perhaps some small component on your card that is causing a video crash, and / or the system to lock up at that point.. Sometimes a graphics crash will take out the system, even though the system is running fine. It hangs waiting on some timer, or something, is my theory, but don't quote me.
As much as i'd like to get it working, I do have the 9200 and i'm getting a new 9800 Pro within a few weeks. I don't rely on this. Certinaly not enough to make me want to re-install my OS.

Oh and on that note, I have 3 hard drives in my computer that each have OS X on them. I tried booting up on a different drive and it did exactly the same thing. I don't think re-installing the OS would do anything.

I'll just let it be for now. Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be... whisper words of wisdom, let it be..... la la la.
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matthewkane
 
 
2006-07-27, 13:22

Hey I just fixed it!

I opened up my computer and unplugged my 2 80GB hard drives in the front drive bays, and the computer started up.

I realised that it must be some files on those drives. I booted up again with them plugged in, with the moniter plugged into the 9200 card, and I erased those drives. I then booted up plugged into the 9000 again, and it worked!

So now those drives are empty but that's okay, I didn't need any of the data. When I upgraded to 320GB drives, I put the 80GB drives in the front bays and never deleted the systems off them.
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