Help? Dead Computer

OK, my main computer is dead, at the worst possible time, although, isn’t it always the worst possible time?

It died in a way that felt very much like 2001 and was unfamiliar for me. It started out by periodically blanking the screen and Vista (yes.) giving me an error regarding the Nvidia drivers. This is a very common error, and I spent a lot of time running all over the web trying to figure out a solution. At first, I was OK in Safe Mode, but then I started getting artifacts even when it was generating text on the startup screen. So, having spent several hours on this, I now figure that was wasted time: it’s a dead graphics card. Eventually, it’s not putting out any signal to the monitor.

The card was an XFX 8600GT. (No making fun–I’m not a gamer and this was overkill for what I use the computer for.) I dig out of the closet a “someday this will be a project” computer and pull its old MSI 7300 card. I put this in the newer machine, and nothing: blank screen. OK… So maybe that’s not the problem.

I stick the 8600 in the old machine, and it comes up with nasty artifacts on the boot screen. OK–so that problem is solved (I guess), the 8600 is toast. I’ve never had a video card fail on me, but I’m sure it happens. But what’s with the MSI card?

I pull it out of the newer computer and throw it back whence it came. Blank screen on startup. Now, I never tried starting it up after I pulled it out of the closet, but I have to assume that it was working when I mothballed it. It was going in the closet to be a headless file and print server (never got done), but I know I must have had it plugged into a monitor before it went into the closet.

So… My first impulse is to go out and buy a new video card ASAP, and put it in the new machine. But now I am wondering if the new machine is somehow killing video cards. That seems to me to be be extraordinarily unlikely, but I am uneasy about betting a new video card on that unlikelihood. I suppose it could be baking the things–it’s a pretty crowded case–but when I put the 7300 in it, I left the case open. I suppose I could have somehow killed it with my static touch: though I took precautions, and I have never killed a board this way before, so that seems like a strange coincidence in timing. In any case, I am befuddled.

Needless to say, this is putting a crimp in an already overstuffed schedule. If you have ideas, let me know. Otherwise, I’m off to some retail shop to pay too much for a video card so that I can have it in hand right now.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted 4/10/2009 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    45 bucks, go get a new motherboard with a video card on it. fastest cheapest solution. then you won’t need to figure out if the mobo is killing it or not. another 100 bucks will get you a new processor too. I suspect the agp slot is dead minimally on your old one. of course it could be a bios problem too, but i’d need an hour alone with it in a dark room with a flashlight to really make any headway

  2. Posted 4/10/2009 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    oh an even quicker fix is to just go get an external had mount, and pull the hd on the desktop, load the data on your laptop and off you go. that’d be fastest. in fact that is what i usually do for faculty, put their hd in a new computer.

  3. alex
    Posted 4/10/2009 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Well… It’s not so much a files issue (though that machine has a pair running in RAID in addition to a larger store, which complicates things). In fact, I have an almost new setup for my HTPC/PVR, which is really an overkill box for that application–you don’t need a quad-core to watch TV–and if necessary could call that into service. The issue is this is my *main* computer. and I hardly have time to deal with popping out the video card, let alone doing a new motherboard and dealing with re-activating Vista, etc. I’ve only ever had to do that with XP, and I’m sure they haven’t made the process any less of a PITA now.

    Don’t think it’s a BIOS issue: thing’s been running like gangbusters for over a year. Unfortunately, I’m out of PCI video cards–all of my other machines have either onboard video or are PCI-E bus.

    So, I guess I’m going mobo shopping :(.

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