Display Glitch
May 29, 2006 10:48 PM   Subscribe

So my computer has been doing a lot of this lately. Only a hard reset will fix it. Hardware malfunction suspected, but what? Video card? Or could it be something else...

Usually happens when I am taxing the system doing something graphically intensive.
posted by sophist to Technology (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sounds like a video memory problem. Do you have another video card you can test?
posted by aberrant at 11:06 PM on May 29, 2006

You could try going to Control Panel > Display > Settings > Advanced > Troubleshoot and reducing the level of hardware acceleration. That solved some strange graphics phenomena I was experiencing a few years back.

Also, you might check if there's an updated driver for your video card.
posted by clarahamster at 11:06 PM on May 29, 2006

I'm seconding clarahamster and saying turn down some hardware acceleration and see if that helps. Might also pay to turn your resolution down a notch.

Meatbomb; I suspect they are torrents, not the actual films.
posted by Effigy2000 at 11:45 PM on May 29, 2006

If turning off the acceleration doesn't help, artifacts like that are indicative of two hardware problems - minor processor damage due to overheating, or (much more likely) some sort of physical problem in the video RAM.
posted by Ryvar at 11:57 PM on May 29, 2006

Your video card could just be simply overheating, too. Blow that sucker out and check temps.
posted by cellphone at 12:09 AM on May 30, 2006

Response by poster: thanks for the help, ill try turning down the acceleration.

if i had another screenshot handy, believe you me, I would have posted that instead.
posted by sophist at 12:40 AM on May 30, 2006

Mmm.. torrentporn.

Specs would be helpful, but it's definitely sounding like not good times in your video card. Either overheating, or memory issues (video card or system, though system is usually a much more BSODable offense).

Any probe or monitoring software to check your temperature would be nice, but otherwise, gear up to change video cards.
posted by disillusioned at 2:44 AM on May 30, 2006

Another vote for physical problem with video RAM.

Had the same thing happen with a system I built a couple of months ago.

It was a low spec system for the office (onboard graphics, aluminum case, excellent ventilation, low temperature CPU) so, in my case, it could not have been a problem with overheating.

It happened right after I built the system and installed Windows. I was not running any graphics intensive applications.

The screen would freeze exactly like your screenshot and was completely unresponsive. Num Lock was responding so the system itself was not frozen. Only a hard reset would bring back a working screen.

I was using an onboard graphics chip (meaning a part of system memory is allocated as video memory). When I exchanged the system memory, the problem disappeared so it was likely a physical problem with the system memory that was being allocated for graphics.

Again, another vote for physical problem with video RAM.
posted by cup at 3:18 AM on May 30, 2006

Looks like a heat/video card problem to me.
posted by ludwig_van at 4:41 AM on May 30, 2006

i've had this problem twice. both times the cause was a hardware malfunction on the graphics card. once because the fan on the gpu broke, once because the card just sort of generally stopped working.

if your box is from a retail manufacturer, call their tech support and prepare for a lengthy process of troubleshooting that will involve at least the following steps, in variable order:

1. reboot machine into safe mode.
2. uninstall graphic drivers.
3. download newest graphic drivers.
4. install newest graphic drivers.
5. swap out graphics card for other graphics card to see if problem persists. (if so, the problem lies elsewhere). if your motherboard includes on board video, this step may be replaced with disconnecting your monitor and reconnecting it to the onboard vga or dvi jack.
6. disconnect your monitor and plug it into another computer, if available. if problem persists on that monitor, it's the monitor that's the problem. (unlikely.)
7. connect a different monitor to your machine, to see if problem persists.

if the only time you see the problem in all of those scenarios is when you have your current graphics card connected, using any and all drivers, and with any variety of other motherboards and monitors, then the problem is the card.

If you can run these diagnostic steps yourself, and your card is not the one that came with your computer, then you have to replace the card yourself. if you're still under warranty, contact your card manufacturer and perpare to undergo all those steps with a tech on the phone telling you what to do. if you're not under warranty, you're gonna have to go buy a new card yourself. i've been there and it sucks, but it was a good excuse to upgrade.

now, if you've done all this diagnosis yourself, i recommend letting the tech on the phone with you tell you what to do until he's blue in the face, and just pretending to do what he tells you while you sort of make general tapping and dragging noises in the background just to make things easier on yourself, and always give him the answers that you got when you did your own diagnosis. if it's your card that needs replacing, always say "yes it still happens" if the card should still be in your box, and "now it's fine" if the card should not be in your box. the most frustrating thing in the world is to actually do what the guy tells you, and have him give you some bullshit reason why it's not the card just because the problem only sometimes happens and it didn't happen to occur while you were on the phone with him.

good luck.
posted by shmegegge at 6:35 AM on May 30, 2006

Get a virus scanner and scan every porn video you download. They can contain some pretty dirty things, apart from the actual video =p
posted by lain at 7:26 AM on May 30, 2006

i dont think media files can carry or run viruses, then again i don't use bittorrent. in fact, i tried searching for an example of a porn movie with a virus and couldn't find even one :)

Lain, could you provide some links that show that downloading porn movies could indeed have a virus in them?
posted by bigdave at 9:40 AM on May 30, 2006

Is this a laptop? Most common cause of that is the ribbon cable between the motherboard itself and the display. Getting open & closed a lot can cause them to fail. I've seen this behavior before.

If this is a laptop:
Do you have an external VGA port? If yes, try another monitor. if the external monitor looks fine, then it is not your video RAM or your video card (unless you have some REALLY funky ass laptop that has a separate GPU for the external video...)

If it's a desktop: Reseat your video card, if you can. If it's onboard, you might be pooched.
posted by drstein at 11:16 AM on May 30, 2006

Is this screen the ONLY symptom you've noticed recently? Word of warning - I had a similar issue, and had some odd restarts as well. I replaced my video card (after all I was seeing lots of artifacts similar to yours) and the problems continued. Turned out to be my power supply. Video cards (and many other components) apparently don't like changes in the power coming through, and this type of artifiacting is not uncommon for power supply issues, from what I understand.

Just saying - if you can get a $40 decent power supply, or have another one handy to try, that's a lot cheaper than a new video card.
posted by skechada at 1:29 AM on May 31, 2006

bigdave: Provide some links? No. Just from experience with downloading movies and video clips on the internet. Some downloads will have the videos in a zip file, which can definately contain viruses and keyloggers. But a single video file? I'm not sure.
posted by lain at 3:11 PM on June 1, 2006

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