Video Card Issues

*bumped for urgency*

I'm having some serious trouble with my rig. Specifically with the graphics card/display.

Occasionally, when I try to start the computer, the basic boot screens will show normally, but as it begins to load Vista, the screen will flash black several times, as if my monitor isn't getting any signal from the graphics card. It'll flash black a few times, flash green bars across the screen, and then just go totally black before saying it's not receiving a signal from the graphics card. Finally monitor's power light will then begin flashing orange, in it's "on but not receiving a signal" state

The good news is that, as far as I can tell, the computer's starting up just fine. The bad news is that my card and my computer are getting old. My card is a nVidia GTX 260, which has been discontinued, so I can't just buy a replacement. My PC is a Shuttle barebones kit, and the list of compatible graphics cards is rather long.

I've tried updating the drivers several times, and the problem just returns. Like I said, it only seems to be an issue with the display when I start up, nothing else has a problem. Should I just grab a compatible replacement card? Would that fix the problem? Or am I looking at a symptom of a much deeper issue?

EDIT: It's now started this problem when i'm running the computer normally. I managed to get through playing The Walking Dead with no trouble on Steam, even got in a few games of Just Cause 2, but the moment I opened VLC media player, the display threw a fit, flashing on and off, black to normal screen over and over and over again, repeatedly making that "bu-dink" noise that indicates you've attached/detached something to the USB or to the computer. Eventually, the screen came back (that's the only reason i'm writing this) but I can't see the taskbar (it's there though, just below the bottom of the screen).

I tried changing resolutions, to no luck, updated drivers again, no luck. Like I ask above, is this just a graphics card issue? Or do I need to worry about my PC as a whole, because, as I said, as far as I can tell, i'm having no issues with booting up, other than the display. Any help would be really appreciated.


So it looks like my little rig has become almost completely outdated. The vast majority of the cards on the compatibility list in the above post are no longer produced or sold. Kee-rap.

Not so much outdated as Shuttle stopped updating their lists. You'll be mostly concerned with dimensions, where the case can get rid of heat, and power available. I'd guess for many of those you could use the old cards they list as a template against more modern cards.

Wow, sorry I missed this thread originally... I tend to scan the 'replies' column, and occasionally I miss new posts that way. My apologies.

It sounds very much like you have a failing graphic card. This could be just due to heat, so you should open the case and make sure the fan and heat exchanger on your graphic card are clean. However, if you see a bunch of dust there, it's very likely that the card has already been cooked, after having so many heat crashes, and it's likely that you'll have to replace it.

Fortunately, it sounds like your motherboard and CPU are still working okay. If you do need to replace the 260, you can use any card with a similar TDP; the compatibility lists are to give you an idea of what the power supply and case cooling can handle, not the actual electrical compatibility. As long as you choose a card that uses no more power than the 260, exhausts through its rear port, and is no thicker than the 260, it should work fine.

The TDP on the 260 is 202 watts, so you should be able to use most midrange cards.

Another possibility is that the power supply is failing. The very best solution is to hook up a voltmeter while the system is crashing to see what the power supply voltages to the video card look like. If you don't have a voltmeter, or if you're worried about messing with the computer while it's live, I see the Open Hardware Monitor, which claims to be able to read voltage and current demands by ATI and NVidia cards, along with a bunch of other things and -- this is the cool part -- it can spit that info out to a web browser running on another computer. So you should be able to read temps and voltages, start a game, force a crash, and then see if anything has changed, even though the monitor on the main PC isn't working.

However, if the card is crashing, the results you get may not be correct. I'd take a bad reading to be a certain sign that you need a new supply, but a good reading is only neutral; it neither proves nor disproves anything. If the supply gives out and the card crashes, the voltage monitor may not detect the problem before the driver stack fails and restarts.

Note that if you do have a bad supply, you may also have a bad card; one can easily damage the other.

Oh, another way to test is to see if you can run that card in another computer, if you have one available.

I don't have another PC available, sadly.

Probably my major gripe is that I've had a little trouble with Shuttle PCs before, RE: graphics cards and going off their "suggested" list. Maybe i'll give Shuttle support a call and see what advice they might be able to get me. I don't need a $500 replacement, just a stopgap until I get a new computer. I hate to give up on this thing, other than the video card, this thing's still pretty good for what I need it to do.