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September 4, 2006 8:47 PM   Subscribe

Help me diagnose my recent computer woes--a tale of rhythmic lag pulses, involuntary reboots, and sporadic "No Signal" messages from the monitor.

Recently, five minutes after I load up any number of games (including the trusty benchmark Quake3) the sound and the graphics began to skip in perfect rhythm : 1! and a whats you say 2! and a whats you say 3... and so forth -- during the first 5 minutes the games run smoothly as always

After closing the game and returning to XP desktop, I notice that the pulse is still there... if I move my mouse in a circle 'in beat' it always pauses at the same place on the screen...

If I reboot at this point, it will get to the blue "windows is saving your settings" screen but will freeze and require a manual restart

If I do nothing and go about my business, within about 10 minute the computer will either restart suddenly, or the monitor will give a "no signal" message -- the same it gives when the computer is off -- and no matter how I coax it with any number of button presses or keyboard commands, the song remains the same ;|

The problem was irritating me to no end last night, so I reformatted, made sure everything was up to date (chipset, bios, video drivers etc) and...

its the same story... so to make a long story short, what has happened to my computer that it no longer wants to run programs it has handled a million times before -- even after a format ;\

computer specs:
athlon xp 1800+ (mb: ECS K7S5A)
768MB DDR 2100
geforce 6600GT

350W PS (could this be the problem? Im hoping this is just malfunctioning, since its cheap to replace!)
posted by Satapher to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
did you open the box and refit all the cards again? similar thing happened to me once adn the guy just came and refitted everything and it worked fine. I keep it on the floor and there are small tremors where I live, something could have come loose?
posted by infini at 8:56 PM on September 4, 2006

Might be a dying power supply, or dying video card. A dying video card sounds more likely, given the problems you've described.

I don't have any experience with faulty video cards under Windows, but the problems sound somewhat familiar to problems I had with a faulty Matrox G450 under Linux several years ago.
posted by jzb at 9:24 PM on September 4, 2006

My guess would be overheating. All those symptoms are possible if you overheat the motherboard/cpu/video card.

Open up the case and look for dust build-up and make sure all the fans are running. Feel around for any hot spots.

Also, try running with the sides of the case off to see if that helps.
posted by Argyle at 9:46 PM on September 4, 2006

Second the overheating possibility. It could be either your video card or your CPU. Check the fans on both to make sure they're running (I'd wager that one of them stopped working, or got so dusty that things aren't being cooled properly anymore). If you don't have a case fan, it might be prudent to get one.
posted by neckro23 at 9:58 PM on September 4, 2006

If I do nothing and go about my business, within about 10 minute the computer will either restart suddenly, or the monitor will give a "no signal"

And yet you got all the way through a windows install?

I'm thinking bad video card too (or overheating, of course). Failing cards may survive 640x480@60Hz, but when you push them to high resolution or do intense 3D, bad things can happen. Particularly, accessing areas of video memory that aren't needed for low resolution and low colour modes, or overheating.

Still worth trying a knoppix disc though, it is always interesting to see if the problem crashes linux too.. Knoppix will run in a relatively high colour/resolution/refresh mode, so it should be an interesting test.

I'd suggests Bart's PE too, but I expect it will perform much like the re-install did..
posted by Chuckles at 12:00 AM on September 5, 2006

My vote is that the fan on your video card has seized.
posted by krisjohn at 6:31 AM on September 5, 2006

Response by poster: And yet you got all the way through a windows install?

I should clarify that if I dont load up any graphically intensive games, my computer runs just fine -- its after I close the game that every goes downhill -- otherwise, if im just using firefox or whatever, it runs perfectly
posted by Satapher at 10:57 AM on September 5, 2006

Okay.. Well, seems like the driver is leaving some process resident when the game terminates, and that is causing the crashes.

Still sounds a little like overheating, but you might also try going back to an earlier driver version.
posted by Chuckles at 4:50 PM on September 5, 2006

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