|Resolved -> faulty video card| HD4850+Vista 64bit constantly locking up in games. Downgrade to XP?

Update: The card was defective and has been replaced with a new one. Now the computer is solid as a rock *fingers crossed*

I am at my wit's end here and hope you guys can help me out.

I built a new computer and installed Vista 64bit in December and have since been having nothing but trouble when playing older games like Rome: Total War and Company of Heroes, both purchased through Steam (I'm catching up on games my old system couldn't play)

The Problem:
After playing for any amount of time the computer will lock up in any of the following ways:
a) The image first getting scrambled and then the screen just shows weird colored lines. At this point the computer either automatically reboots, goes to a blue screen (sometimes also scrambled) before rebooting, or I have to to a hard reset.
b) Screen suddenly only shows the weird colored lines. Hard reset the only escape.
c) Screen goes to standby "no signal" mode. Hard reset the only escape.

In all cases the music will either continue in the background for a short time, or loop for a short time.

My system:
Windows Vista Home Premium x64
Gigabyte EP45C-DS3R motherboard
Intel Core2 Duo E8400 @ 3.00GHz (no overclocking going on here)
4094MB RAM
Force3D ATI Radeon HD 4850 (Catalyst 8.12)
Realtek High Definition Audio (on-board audio)
Edited for correct name of PSU: Seasonic S12 Energy Plus SS-650HT 650W
500GB Samsung Spinpoint HD502LJ (part of the F1 line AFAIK)

Also running Avast!

What I've tried:
Tried all versions of Catalyst from 8.7 - 8.12. I was getting the same lockups in Portal and HL2: Ep1 until I downgraded from 8.10 to 8.9.
Tried disabling virus protection
Disabled UAC and Aero
Updated motherboard BIOS
Tried to mess around with underclocking my card through the catalyst control center. It is now set to the defaults with [email protected] and [email protected] (AFAIK these are the defaults). Weirdly enough, since installing 8.12 the control center is reporting my "Current Values" at 500MHz and 750MHz, the lowest possible settings.

Please help me out
The problem is either Vista or my video card, and I don't think I can find out unless I try formatting and installing XP again. That would be a huge pain as I really like Vista and am not sure where my old XP disk is (partly the reason why I purchased Vista). Also a friend of mine has been playing Company of Heroes on his Vista64, HD4850 system without any troubles, a fact that bugs me to no end.

Edit: I have played hours and hours of Left 4 Dead without any lockups. This problem seems to only happen with older games.

What's the specs on your power supply?

Are you running multi monitors?

Try doing the TDR bugfix i mention in this thread. Sounds like the same thing.

Assuming the TDR fix doesn't work, that sounds most like either an overheating card or an inadequate power supply.

To test for an overheating card, one thing you can do is watch the heat levels. Also try going into the overclocking area and turning the fan speed up some, just in case. ATI, by default, doesn't run the fan very fast, and it gets pretty hot in there.

If that doesn't help, it might be a power supply problem. I hunted around a little and couldn't find that exact model name on the Seasonic site. Other ones that look pretty similar are quad-rail supplies, meaning that each rail only supports 18A.

Assuming you do indeed have a quad-rail: usually, they color the different lines coming from the supply so you know which is which. Pop the case and make sure that the video card is on a different rail from anything else; don't share it with anything, and especially don't share it with the motherboard.

If it's already not shared, the fan tweaking doesn't help, and the TDR fix doesn't work, you could try falling back to XP. But, FWIW, my "Workstation 2008" (Server2k8 + a few bits of Vista) in 64-bit mode has been essentially flawless since installing the 4870. Knock on wood, but I haven't seen any of the problems that others have talked about. It's a very nice card. I haven't tried WoW with it yet, though, which is apparently a trouble spot.

Oh, one other thing you could try would be removing the drivers, using DriverSweeper to remove all traces of ATI anything from the system, and then reinstalling. I don't think that's a very high chance of helping, but the next step after that is probably RMAing the card. The half-hour time investment might be worth it, on the off chance that it saves you all that hassle.

Only running one monitor
The PSU is Seasonic S12 Energy Plus SS-650HT 650W
Also my HD is a 500GB Samsung Spinpoint HD502LJ (part of the F1 line AFAIK)

I'll add this info to the original post

Edited for correct name of PSU

I popped open the case and found that I got the name of the PSU wrong. It is Seasonic S12 Energy Plus SS-650HT 650W (Active PFC F3). Now corrected in previous posts. A quick Google search turned up this review which includes some pictures of the PSU. This seems to be a quad rail PSU. I'm not sure on the color coding though...my HD4850 is at least not sharing its power cable with anything else... I'm going to try and hotlink to the image in the review here:


This is an image I took of the part that connects to my video card (it snakes up)

And here is the part that connects to the motherboard. Are these sharing the same color code?

How would I go about watching the heat levels of the card? Should I just Alt-TAB out of the game and check the Catalyst Control Center? Also, I thought the card automatically controlled the fan speed depending on how hot the card is running.

Duoae wrote:

Try doing the TDR bugfix i mention in this thread. Sounds like the same thing.

The original poster in that thread did post again where he said he was having some stability now by disabling the ATI External Event Utility service. I will try that first before trying the TDR fix.

Thanks alot for your suggestions, this is the most help I've received anywhere.

I've read that the ATI External Event Utility known as the ATI Hotkey Poller service should be disabled unless you have an absolute need for using hotkeys mapped to your ATI driver functions. This service seems to cause problems for a lot of people.

Also try disabling the ATI Smart service. It is unecessary and will not affect your performance negatively once disabled.

It may not be a software problem. If you have a spare videocard around or one you might borrow, you might install it to see if you get the same problems. Wierd lines on screen may be a sign of a faulty videocard.

To give this some context, I have played hours and hours of Left 4 Dead without any problems or lockups at all. It's seems to be only the older games that cause this.

Yikes, good stuff to know as I'm building a similar system with the ATI card and Vista 64 this weekend...

I never consider it a "downgrade" to go from Vista to XP. Be aware that you're going to "lose" about 500MB of RAM if you do, however. XP only recognizes 3.5. If you take into consideration how much more resources Vista itself uses, the net loss may be less.

Eep, it sounds like a hardware or power issue. Is it possible to do a card swap?

I would try a card swap if you have another video card of some kind laying around to narrow down your issue if possible.

I was running similar set up vista 64 Ultimate, 4GB RAM, E8200 CPU, 4850, a gigabyte mobo (forget the kind), and a 650w PSU.

Not that this helps too much I am using 4850s with my 64 bit Vista and love it.

Swat wrote:

Eep, it sounds like a hardware or power issue. Is it possible to do a card swap?

How can it be a power problem when I can run L4D, surely a very demanding game, without any problems?

Dr.Mister wrote:
Swat wrote:

Eep, it sounds like a hardware or power issue. Is it possible to do a card swap?

How can it be a power problem when I can run L4D, surely a very demanding game, without any problems?

I would say it's a heating/hardware issue over a power issue, but usually they go hand in hand which is why I mentioned it. Even the best power supplies can be faulty, I bought a 750W PC Power and Cooling when I did my build last October and had to RMA it because it was spiking the power randomly which was causing all kinds of havoc on my 4870x2.

Heavy tearing, lines, artifacts, lock ups or other general signs point to overheating, chipset failure and all sorts of fun stuff, from my experiences. I've had several cards, my 360s as well as my Dell XPS laptop run through very similar symptoms before they completely fried. Some games are just more of a catalyst than others, and L4D isn't a very taxing game compared to many others.

You can nuke the OS, refresh all the drivers, and start from scratch, and see if the problems still occur. If I had the receipt though, I'd be taking it back and getting it RMA'd, especially if I had exhausted all other options. Sometimes you just get a bad batch, no matter what the hardware. Good luck!

Are you overclocking your processor at all? I had some trouble with lockups, Vista 64, and a 4850 while overclocking my Q6600 to 3ghz. I dropped it down to 2.8 and all my issues went away. I did not mess around with increasing the voltage to the cpu though I suspect that may have helped. I haven't noticed the speed difference at all.

Have you tried running those games in compatibilty mode?

I have a similar setup to you Dr. Mister, except with an 8800gt instead of a ATI card. I also had trouble in a 64-bit vista premium in a few games;
1) Halo 1 would run at 600fps, then periodically dip down to 14-15fps for a period of 15-30 seconds approximately every two minutes.
2) Doom 3 bluescreened on me about once an hour
3) Fallout 3 was stable but sluggish; couldn't get a consistent frame rate.
4) Crysis... well, I don't plan to blame its performance on anything but Crysis. When people with triple-SLI $1,400-worth-of-video-cards are bragging about getting 40fps then something is amiss.

Anything besides games Vista handled quite well; spreadsheets, playing music, documents, web stuff, etc.

I decided to dual-boot with Xp 32-bit home to see if it was Vista giving me trouble; after going back to XP it was if I'd flipped a switch; Halo 1 ran perfectly again, Doom 3 was solid as a rock, and Fallout 3 acted as if I'd put a new video card in there it was so snappy in comparison.

The only time I ever boot into Vista anymore is to watch a DVD-movie (which it handles perfectly) , as I can't seem to get it working properly in XP.

If you want to try to dual boot XP as a test there's a great guide here that makes it pretty painless:

Puce Moose wrote:

If you want to try to dual boot XP as a test there's a great guide here that makes it pretty painless:

I saw that guide but it looks like it would be better to simply wipe the HD, install XP and then install Vista to make sure there are no problem.

I tried disabling ATI External Event Utility but just now my computer froze with a "no signal" message on the screen while playing Company of Heroes. Next step is to try the TDR bugfix.

Hmm, it doesn't look like your power supply does color-coding, but since you're using the dedicated PCIe cable, instead of a conversion from a drive cable, you're probably okay on that front.

Dr.Mister wrote:

How can it be a power problem when I can run L4D, surely a very demanding game, without any problems?

Do you have vertical sync on in L4D? If so, that can cut down the power and heat requirements a very great deal. I think it defaults to on. Try turning it off and running awhile; if you crash, it's essentially certain to be either an overheating card or a bad power supply, with emphasis strongly on the former.

I followed the TDR bugfix instructions in the other thread.

Open regedit.exe and find the mentioned key: HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\GraphicsDrivers

In my case, I coulnd't find any TdrLevel or TdrDelay values. So I just added those to the Graphics Drivers key.

Just right click the right pane, choose NEW – add DWORD 32 bit value, name it 'TdrLevel' ... and the same for delay.

Then I have set:

TdrLevel to 0 (means OFF),

TdrDelay to 10.

I have never edited my registry before but this is what I ended up with:

I'm not sure if this is correct. More info on the registry keys is available on this microsoft website

After about 20 minutes of Company of Heroes I got this on my screen with endlessly looping sound in the background. Had to do a hard reset.

I was running the game in a window and had the ATI Control Center open on the side. Checked the temperature regularly but it never seemed to be going over 51°C (124°F)

I'd do a registry search for the two values rather than creating the values yourself though to be honest i'm no registry hotshot.

yeah you could try backing the hardware sound acceleration back one notch. I've read that it fixes problems with other issues. Along that same line does the D3D diagnostics identify any issues? Just type in dxdiag at the run prompt.

I'd really try compatibility mode as well.

Ok here is a bit of a stupid question... How do I run Steam games in compatibility mode?

You shouldn't need compatibility mode.

Have you tried L4D yet without vsync? That would be a very strong piece of evidence, regardless of which way it came out, although stronger if it crashes.

Track down where Steam has saved the data. For vista I think it's c:\program files x86\steam\common or something like that. Find the executable and right click on it and probably set it to XP.

Well I turned off vsync in L4D and it froze after about 1/3 of a campaign. It was a bit different from the other cases though as this time I simply got a blank screen with the sound looping in the background. Furthermore I was able to push NumLock a few times and the light turned on and off, meaning that the computer was at least responding for a few moments. Ctrl+Alt+Del did nothing though.

Went back, turned on vsync and played through the whole campaign with no problems.

What is this telling me? That the video card is faulty? Power problem? RAM problem? MB problem?

- Should I still try to turn down audio acceleration?
- Should I try to remove one stick of RAM? I am currently using 2GB x2
- Should I try to manually increase the GPU fan speed through catalyst control center?

Are we sure that his realtek onboard audio is not contributing to the problem? I have had realtek cause hardlocks/crashes along with stuck/looped sounds but not with all games before. Ratcheting back the audio acceleration normally helped.

That is strange. You wouldn't happen to have another vid card you could swap in do you?

V-sync would be limiting your frame rates so perhaps the card isn't cooling correctly and as soon as v-synch is off the card gets a little warmer and locks it up? What temps are showing on the card after you play through L4d with Vsync on? Check the overdrive section in CCC.

If you're able to get the lockups to occur at the same time in the games then you should drop out of the game right before it locks up and check the temp.

You could also just manually set the fan on the card to 100% in CCC and see if you can play longer.

Might also be worthwhile to open up the PC case and run the game and see if that makes a difference. Would at least give a better indicator if heat is an issue.

It certainly sounds like a heat issue though and in the end it might just be a bum card.

I forced the GPU fan up to 100% before trying L4D again with vsync off.
My case also has two fans, one in the front and one in the back.
After playing through roughly 1/2 of a campaign the system locked up like before.

It seems like you need to start replacing hardware to find the problem, probably starting with the video card, since its the 'easiest' to borrow from someone else. It will be a pain in the butt, but when you replace components one at a time and everything starts to work, you've identified the problem and the solution.

You've said your friend has the same card. Buy him a six pack, get him over to your house with his PC and swap his card into your rig for a few hours, see what happens

Ok, you've proved that it's a hardware problem, absolutely. I'd give it about a 90% chance of being a heat problem, and 10% a power supply problem. The next step I'd personally take, were it my system, would be to RMA or replace the video card.