OH SHI- / Everything is fine, nothing is ruined

14 10 2009

Was playing TF2, system siezed up with dashed red lines through the screen. Rebooted, fine. Later, tried playing COH… polygons went crazy, system siezed, now it only reboots in Safe Mode and with dashed lines everywhere.

I suspect my graphics card melted down. I haven’t vacuumed the case in awhile. I’m gonna try to see if its’ just the fans being blocked, and I’ll run a memtest… may have to get a new video card.

This is horrendous timing. I have a dental appointment and day job work to do tomorrow AND we have to sit around waiting for my furniture to be delivered. Plus, safe mode isn’t giving me USB access and I want to back up my files just in case. (My last backup was over a month ago. Dammit. I should be doing that more.)

Hopefully I can resolve the mess tomorrow… but I have bad, bad luck with hardware. I just want my computer to WORK, dammit. I don’t care how or why. It’s integral to my life and this freaks me the hell out.

Edit: Memtest gave my machine a green light, no problems. I noticed the video distortion (which was even visible in the pure-text BIOS boot screen before) went away after I left the machine off for a few minutes while I prepped the memtest disk… maybe if I let it cool down overnight, I can at least boot normally, if not run any 3-D apps.

I strongly suspect my video card. The case is full of dust and crap. If I clean that out and the system runs fine again, good. If not, I’ll just take this opportunity to buy a new GeForce card (although hopefully not, since I don’t know what flavor of PCI-E this motherboard has and have no idea how to check… or how much PSU I have since a beefier card would need more power).

The absolute worst case scenario is that heat has mauled the entire computer, and somehow memtest missed that. I hope that’s not the case. I have my files backed up on a removable HD but I haven’t refreshed it in a month. I’d lose some stuff, notably music I purchased recently. (I backed up my 7Seas and anachronauts stuff a half hour ago to a secure location, just in case, so my creative work is safe.)

Please, o hardware gods, smile on me instead of crapping on me and let this be simple.

EDIT: Okay… popped open the case, and ye gads that was a LOT of caked on layers of dust, particularly on the CPU fan. I cleaned the whole thing out. There wasn’t much mess on the video card, weirdly enough. Booted up, ran TF2, and had no problems — no poly crash, no dashed lines, etc. I.. GUESS I’m back to normal? Hopefully.

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11 responses

14 10 2009
jaeai

GAH! Suck!!!
I just invested in a netbook for just this sort of problematic BS, b/c the comp is also the lifering around here.
Lemme know if you need parts, I am about to do a massive NewEgg Order. :D

14 10 2009
shadur

Yowch.
Sounds very much like a graphics card issue, yes. The best way to deal with the dust is to take the computer outside somewhere and using a can of compressed air to blow the fans clear. Of course, if the card got badly overheated enough the damage may be permanent.
As to the PCIX version, what model and make are your mainboard? Usually the specs can be found online.

14 10 2009
shachihoko

Ouch. Good luck, dood; having a toasted computer – or even just a toasted video card – sucks, and I’ve been there more often than I’d like. @.x;
Hopefully it’s just the video card, although my (limited?) experience with those is that a toasted graphics card means the video dies entirely. Have you tried plugging your monitor into the motherboard graphics port (assuming there is one, which there should be)? If not, give that a try; if the display remains borked on that connection, then try a different monitor, if there’s an extra monitor to spare. (Yes, I suspect the monitor might have gotten a bit sizzled. The fact that even a text-based 2-D display was distorted says to me that it might not be just the graphics card.)
I hope you manage to get things back up and running with a minimum of lost time and spent money. Meanwhile, I didn’t think there was more than one type of PCI Express slot. O.o
(Oh, and as for backing up files – if the computer is a loss, you can stick your existing hard drive in a working machine as the secondary HD and grab files off of it that way. That’s what Computer Harbor did after my old machine died. Portable hard drives are love.)

14 10 2009
meagenimage

I realize this is easy for me to say, but if having a working computer is important, you should consider making case clean-up a regular thing.

14 10 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

I can’t physically clean it myself. But I should’ve gotten some help cleaning it more often, yes.

14 10 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

That’s usually what I do whenever I upgrade compys — I use one drive as a bailing bucket and it becomes the new secondary HD on the new machine. But lately I prefer USB solutions… portable and with software baked right in to handle the backup process. I just tell it what files are of core importance to me and it handles the rest.

14 10 2009
jengagne

Well THAT’s unnerving. Glad a cleaning seems to have healed it up. Wouldn’t want the magic smoke to get out!

14 10 2009
cmdr_zoom

“Uh, we had a slight overheating problem but we’re fine now, we’re all fine. How are you?”
Seriously, hope that fixed it for you.

14 10 2009
ninjarat

Tip: tape a couple of layers of cheese cloth over the air intake vents. That will catch some of the dust without drastically reducing airflow. Just remember to change the cloth when it gets dirty. That won’t keep all the dust out but it will lengthen the time between cleanings.

14 10 2009
vulpisfoxfire

Just as a side note–as other’s have said you can find the slot types by looking up the motherboard online (or checking the manufacturer’s site if you have a pre-built?)…and the power supply should list the wattages and stuff on the supply itself (which you’d presumably be able to see while cleaning the dust out of the box…)

15 10 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

I’m not sure exactly what mobo I have, or how I can tell. The case is ‘buttoned up’ already, but I can open it if I need to check out the PSU.
My CPU is still decent; 2.4ghz dual intel core. But my graphics card is just so-so, a GeForce 7950GT. I’d really love to be able to play Ghostbusters, Bioshock 2, and Dragon Age, but my card either can’t swing it or would seriously chug on those games.

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