Chicken or the egg, graphics card version
May 22, 2015 5:57 PM   Subscribe

How in heck do I install my new graphics card drivers, when AMD Catalyst recognizes my old graphics card and will only install those drivers? How in heck do I install my new graphics card drivers, when, with the new card installed, there's no video?

This is happening on a Windows 7 (64-bit) desktop. I also have a Win 7 64 laptop, on which I'm typing this.

I have a new graphics card, a XFX AMD Radeon R9 290. Here's what I did: I removed the old graphics card (AMD 7700) and installed the new one. When I turned on the computer, it beeped happily and I could hear the fans on the new graphics card, but no video. D'oh, no driver. So I took out the new card and put back in the old one, and downloaded AMD Catalyst for R9 2XX cards. When I ran it, it had an "Analyzing" step and told me the drivers were already installed for my card. I could not see how to make it install the drivers for my new card. I hoped for the best, though, and when it was done installing, I took out the old card and put back in the new one. Sure enough, no video. I thought it must be possible to download just the driver I need. So I downloaded a beta (optimized for GTA5!) but no -- same Catalyst software. This time, it appeared to install something new. But it's the same sad story: take the old one out, put the new one in, no video.

My monitor plugs into the graphics card through DVI. I don't have a cable to plug the monitor into the motherboard via VGA. You see the problem. If I have the old card in, Catalyst detects the old card -- if I have the new card in, I don't know what it does because I have no video! At least I think that's what it is. Maybe I broke the damn thing. I feel like breaking something.

How do people do this? Do I have to go out and get a VGA cable to switch out my graphics card? Am I not seeing something really obvious?
posted by pH Indicating Socks to Computers & Internet (26 answers total)
When you boot do you see the BIOS appear, or just nothing at all? If nothing appears, then likely the graphics card you bought is not working. BIOS loads before the OS so has nothing to do with the driver, and Windows should load without proper drivers in safe mode anyway.
posted by selfnoise at 6:13 PM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

(If the BIOS is not loading, open up the case to make sure that the video card is properly seated, and that any PSU connectors that the R290 needs are plugged into it. Also, the R290 requires a very beefy PSU, do you know your wattage rating?)
posted by selfnoise at 6:16 PM on May 22, 2015

You don't actually need a graphics card installed at all to turn your computer on -- your motherboard should provide onboard graphics, so it's not like you would need the old card in just to download and install drivers. But if you have a spare machine, I would see if your new graphics card works in another system. If it does, that will help you know there's some sort of communication problem. If it doesn't, it might be a lemon. When I've had problems with new graphics card, it was just me not inserting it all the way/properly by accident. I also once had an issue where my power supply was too small for all my hardware -- I notice the video card you bought lists a 750-watt power supply as a requirement under specs. That is a larger power supply than is typical, so that's a possibility.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:21 PM on May 22, 2015

You have it, selfnoise. Yes, it's 600W. I need 750W, it says right here on the R290 box. I feel pretty foolish, but hey -- more stuff to install! That will maybe work!
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 6:28 PM on May 22, 2015

Not all motherboards have onboard graphics (although I guess these days most Intel CPUs do.)

Anyway, boot in safe mode (or VGA mode) and remove the old drivers. The reboot and install the new ones.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:29 PM on May 22, 2015

Aside from the specs of individual hardware, you may want to use a power supply calculator to make sure your full system is covered.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:31 PM on May 22, 2015

Also make sure that you get a PSU that can supply through one 8-pin power connector AND one 6-pin power connector, as the R290 needs both (and both should be connected to the ports on your video card right now).
posted by selfnoise at 6:34 PM on May 22, 2015

Seasonic tends to be a solid brand and value. Both quiet and efficient.

This site is a good resource for PSUs. There are other goods ones but it's hard to go wrong with Seasonic.
posted by VTX at 6:56 PM on May 22, 2015

Thanks so much, everyone, for your very helpful responses to my mistaken question!

In case any of you are reading your recent activity -- I went to Fry's and got a new 850W power supply. Took the old power supply out, only to find that my motherboard has a 4-pin connector, not an 8-pin as came with the new power supply. My new power supply has no connectors like that. Looking at power supplies online, I cannot tell whether they will have a 4-pin 2x2 connector, like my motherboard has, or a 4x1 connector, like the case fan has. I do not know the proper names of these things. This is the computer I have, and this is its motherboard.

So can I get an adapter that makes the 8-pin a 4-pin? I can't find one on Fry's website, maybe because they don't exist?
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 8:24 AM on May 23, 2015

First, check if you can't split the 8 pin into two 4 pin connector. Often the 8 pin EPS12V connector is made up of two pieces that can be separated. See image here. If not, you should still be able to plug it in with only 4 pins connected, unless other mainboard components block the unused part of the connector. It's keyed such that it can't be plugged in incorrectly (some pins have a perfect square plastic sheath while others have one rounded side). Make sure that it's actually the 8 pin CPU connector and not an 8 pin PCI Express power connector before trying to shoehorn it in.
posted by delegeferenda at 8:52 AM on May 23, 2015

Yes! It worked! I have power!
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 10:53 AM on May 23, 2015

But my new graphics card still doesn't work.

After I made sure all the parts of the computer were working on the new power supply, I booted into safe mode as Snuffleupagus suggested and uninstalled the old graphics card drivers. I installed the new graphics card, and started up again -- no video.

I am reasonably sure I seated the new card correctly.
I am reasonably sure I didn't fry it with static discharge.
I am reasonably sure I connected the PCIe 6 and 8 pin connectors properly.
I am told that, even if I have PCIe 1.0 (which I think I do) this PCIe 3.0 card should work, just not at full capacity.

You guys are telling me that it cannot be a driver issue, because I can't even see BIOS. I can't see anything at all.

Any more ideas?
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 11:34 AM on May 23, 2015

My suspicion, based on everything you've tried and the symptoms you're seeing, is that your graphics card is a dud. Either return it or RMA it.
posted by Aleyn at 1:11 PM on May 23, 2015

Unfortunately we have kind of run out of easy fixes here. I'm not too familiar with the operation of 3.0 cards on older motherboards but I agree it should probably work.

I think what you'll have to do is exchange the card and see if a new one works, OR try the card in a different PC if one is available to you.
posted by selfnoise at 1:12 PM on May 23, 2015

The only other thing I can think of is if you could install the old card, boot and get into the BIOS and see if there is some weird video setting you need to change for some reason and then install the new card.

There used to be a common problem for people who had on-board video on their motherboards (instead of the CPU which is more common now) that were upgrading to a stand-alone graphics card that looked similar to what you're describing. They'd have to boot into the BIOS, flip the video setting from on-board to PCIe or AGP, install their new card, move the monitor plug over, and then reboot.

I can't imagine what setting that might be when you're swapping a PCIe card for a different PCIe card (on the same slot even). But it's the only other thing I can think of to look at.

I think the card is a dud.
posted by VTX at 2:03 PM on May 23, 2015

Is there a BIOS beep on boot from your old card that you don't get with your new one?
posted by demiurge at 4:39 PM on May 23, 2015

It's not the card -- well, it's not only that card.

I went back to Fry's and got a Nvidia GeForce GTX 970, and it's the same story. No video at all.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 6:08 PM on May 23, 2015

the driver issue is a red herring if the screen is all black all the time. assuming there isn't some BIOS misconfiguration which is causing the problem:

1) You need to find out what the BIOS beep code is for your motherboard for a "missing video card". You can look that up on the internet somewhere. it should be a sequence of beeps on boot.

2) assuming that the the beep(s) don't say "missing video card" you can assume the video card is being detected i.e. it is getting power. this leaves whether it is properly connected to your monitor. is the only output that one DVI port? if it has other video out ports i.e. VGA or HDMI, I would get the appropriate cable and try one of those before going through the hassle of a RMA.
posted by at 6:19 PM on May 23, 2015

it looks like your motherboard does have onboard graphics. you might go into the BIOS settings with the old card and see if you can totally disable the onboard graphics. if the motherboard isn't recognizing the new video card(s) it could be defaulting to the onboard video if it isn't disabled.

if you disable the onboard video and still don't get a "missing card" beep with the new card installed and this happens with all the connectors on the card i.e. HDMI et al... then... I don't know.
posted by at 6:35 PM on May 23, 2015

Hmm. If you look on the motherboard PCB, what revision is it? It doesn't look like Gigabyte did much to update the BIOS on these machines, but depending on the revision you could try that. Other than that... hard to say. I'd suggest replacing the MB but I know that's kind of a pain in the ass.
posted by selfnoise at 6:51 PM on May 23, 2015

I am told that, even if I have PCIe 1.0 (which I think I do) this PCIe 3.0 card should work, just not at full capacity.

Yep, 100% true, in theory.

Search around for "UEFI graphics card issues". Also "970 doesn't work with my motherboard".

I'm betting that both of these cards, which are new enough to be made for UEFI are somehow not playing nice with the clunky bios on your motherboard.

This is a huge, tiresome, and known problem.

I just dealt with this problem and literally ended up just saying screw it and buying a cheap refurbished MSI board on ebay for $40 because meh, it has a warranty and life is too short to spend another 6 hours trying stupid fixes. Some motherboards are REALLY persnickety and stupid with this.

Brands of board i will unquestionably buy again:

MSI, asrock(cheap! up to high end, but cheap basic "eh, it runs reliably" options without a lot of bells and whistles or super high quality bits)

Asus, zotac, EVGA(quality quality quality, but $$$. Asus and MSI probably make the best "cheap" boards)

Brands that are BS and cause problems like this even if they should be better:

Foxconn, biostar, gigabyte, ECS(the only brand i've seen catch fire), Any dell OEM board ESPECIALLY, any HP/etc board that isn't just plainly made by ASUS or something when you open the case that has their stupid proprietary BIOS.

There are boards that specifically wont run 900 series nvidia cards or R9 290/x AMD cards. This is a known thing.

ON PREVIEW: That's an old AM3 board, not even an AM3+ board. AMD boards are fucking NIGHTMARES for bios issues because a lot of them will support like, seriously, 6+ years of CPUs. There's so many generations that you could pop a newer CPU in but still use DDR2 ram, or that were originally made to support much, much older hardware. The BIOSes are a mishmash.

The good news is, that's a cheap ass board to replace. And AM3+ boards support AM3 cpus!. Sort of like how you can run slower ram on a board that would in theory want faster ram most of the time, or vice versa.(and the PCIE example you gave)

This looks like a kick ass board for $50.

O, and return that 850w power supply. 600w is fine to run a 290 or a 970. People run those cards on 80+ bronze and gold 450w power supplies in ITX systems. Never bother with anything over 600w unless you're running multiple GPUs, or it was a junk power supply(friends dont let friends buy non brand name PSUs)

All that said though, i'm pretty much 100% sold on this being a motherboard weirdness/bullshit issue, especially since it's brand spanking new current gen cards and an older motherboard.(we were running those boards in college 7 years ago, heh. Am3 PREDATES the gtx 580, which is 5 years old now)
posted by emptythought at 2:52 AM on May 24, 2015

Additionally: after cranking the old brainthinker, i just remembered that i DID have to swap the mobo on a friends system who upgraded from something like a 9800gtx to a gtx 470 because of well... basically this. In addition to my own personal recent swap.
posted by emptythought at 2:59 AM on May 24, 2015

Wow, a new motherboard. And if I do that, I might as well/might have to replace the processor, and if I do that, I'll need a new CPU cooler too. That means thermal paste. Thermal paste seems like some pretty hardcore shit for the likes of me.

On the one hand, Christ all I wanted to do this weekend was play The Witcher 3!

On the other hand, Tech Level increased! Epic glory if I can do this and get it all working!

I'm going to do it. Back to Fry's. Wish me luck!
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 11:09 AM on May 24, 2015

If you buy a new boxed processor, it'll come with a heatsink that has the thermal paste preinstalled. And that said, putting on thermal paste isn't hard at all. You just clean off the CPU with rubbing alcohol(if it already has some on there), put one thin line straight across it horizontally or vertically, and slap the new HSF on.

If you "fuck it up" the worst result is that your CPU runs like 1-3c hotter than it would if you did it perfectly. It's not a big deal. If you're using an aftermarket cooler(this, anything by scythe, or noctua, and anything by zalman are all high quality... and fry's will have some of any of those) it'll still be lower than with the boxed cooler anyways. Many of these, including likely cooler master and definitely noctua models, will come with decent quality thermal compound in the box.

And as i said, if you buy a new CPU it's going to come with a pre-set up heatsink with some sort of paste on it pre applied anyways. The only downside of them is that you'll run a bit hotter(but not too much, they are certified by AMD/intel after all) and that they're often louder. Especially the AMD stock heatsinks which sound like hair dryers.

I do, by the way, think you should get a new CPU. I'd rather have a slightly slower GPU(280x, 770/960) and a new CPU than just a new GPU with that setup. That CPU Is old enough that it'll bottleneck your card and you'll never get the full performance out of it. Especially on newer games and at 1080p in which the GPU isn't even going to be running at full utilization and you're more CPU bound. AMD cards faster than the 290 and nvidia cards faster than the 680/770 are pretty much bound by CPU calls below 1440p/2560x1440. It's like getting a bigger engine and using the same sized fuel pump. That cpu was comparable to the later core2duos in single threaded performance, and even when you add up multithreaded it's still pretty bad. Any 1-2 thread game would drag butt, and any truly multithreaded game would bog down on the still-low multicore performance(and there's always stuff newer CPUs with either good single threaded or turbo do good at, for example many parts of directx basically just stick to one thread and this is where "turbo" on newer CPUs shines)

I would have commented on this earlier, but i was stuck i the gear of thinking through what steps you had tried/what people had suggested and systems i've had to troubleshoot in the past.
posted by emptythought at 2:24 PM on May 24, 2015

I bought all my stuff on Newegg this afternoon. I followed your advice on motherboards, Emptythought. I decided to get another case and just make it a brand new build, so I can use the old computer to troubleshoot/cry for help/play Banished when it all gets to be too much. (Look for another question from me no doubt in a week's time!) My new processor does indeed come with a fan, so thermal paste has been averted, I think.

And since I uninstalled my old, working graphics card, now I know what I would have seen if it had been a driver issue with the R9 like I thought: safe mode. I would have seen safe mode. Now I'm installing the drivers again to get my old system back where it was.

Thanks, everyone, for all your help!
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 4:07 PM on May 24, 2015

Just to let you all know -- it was the motherboard.

I built my new system tonight, and installed that card, and it works great!
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 11:02 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

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