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I have a situation here which I am unable to solve.

I bought a PC last year March, here are my specs:

  1. Intel Core i3 550 @ 3GHz
  2. 4 GB RAM @400 MHz
  3. XFX GeForce 9500 GT graphics card 1GB @550MHz
  4. 500 GB HDD

Lately as soon as I load my save game of Skyrim, it crashes. I have been playing Skyrim since I joined this site.

Crashes as in the entire scene gets red lines. I can not ALT + TAB back or even CTRL + ALT + DEL either.

My only recourse is a hard reset via the power button. Can not take a screen shot either.

I have the latest Forceware 296.10 drivers also. This has been happening since the last 2 weeks. I always use Driver Sweeper to clean my old drivers, since that is what XFXForce recommends before installing new drivers.

I installed MSI Afterburner lately to see my GPU temperature. My GPU is default, never over-clocked it. In MSI's Afterburner, I can not adjust fan speed. It is greyed out. Also in settings there is no fan tab.

With normal Internet browsing it stays at 51 C. Ran Memtest86 over night with level 11. Took about 13 hours, but no errors in my RAM.

I even re-installed my OS, with just the 296 drivers. The fan for the GPU does come on. I can play Diablo 2. I can not get past Warcraft 3's menu selection.

There WAS some dust in my machine, but I always try and keep everything clean, since in my home town dust is an issue. Always keep cool my entire PC cabinet.

My friend came with his functioning graphics card, we bought our PCs at the same time with exact same specifications. His card did not work either. Same problem with the scene freezing with red lines.

I did do my research before posting here. That is how I was able to learn about MSI Afterburner, Driver Sweeper, SpeedFan etc. I followed posts on Tom's Hardware too regarding people that had similar problems. One person suggested and was followed by worked as well the suggestion to "Bake the card in an oven".

Since I bought it, played Diablo 2 for months, Starcraft 2 campaign for months and Skyrim recently for months. Bought ME3 also.

I am at my wits end. I do not know what else to do. I can go out and buy a card, but my friend's card did not work either.

I can use the machine for Eclipse or VS2010 development just fine. Just not with 3D gaming.

Can some experienced gamer(s) shed some light on this scenario? Is it a 3D graphics card problem? Will a brand new card work? What else can I try to pin point the problem?

Thanks.

Edit

Replaced my PSU with a new Corsair CX430. Problem is still there.

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Did you try plugging your graphic card in another slot? If it doesn't work with another card, it is most likely a motherboard problem. –  Jupotter Mar 25 '12 at 17:21
    
@Jupotter I will try that and get back. Should have tried that first. It is a little late here though, so will post my findings tomorrow. But got a close vote already. This site was my final shot to try and fix my problem. Go ahead if it is not a good fit or too localized. –  ヴァイシャリ Mar 25 '12 at 17:25
    
Most of us here are gamers, I am not sure if we can help much with hardware issues, however we do have a sister site that specializes with hardware: superuser.com you might find a better chance of getting an answer over there :) –  James Mar 25 '12 at 17:30
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@James I will try it there. Just thought gamers might have faced issues with GPU or mother board issues and might recognize a pattern. Anyway will try there tomorrow. –  ヴァイシャリ Mar 25 '12 at 17:33
    
Just trying to give your question the best chance it has to get answered. No response so far so I thought the hardware site might help :) –  James Mar 25 '12 at 17:39
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2 Answers 2

Since I've been there and my heart goes out to you, I feel inclined to take a stab. Such debug can be a nearly endless process, and I'm not an authority on all aspects (but I do have 10+ years building and working on computers). Some additional options and debug to try:

Debug/Questions

  1. When the computer crashes with Skyrim or Warcraft, do sounds on the computer stop/skip, or do they appear to continue normally? Can you press the CAPS LOCK or NUM LOCK keys on your keyboard and see the light turn on/off? These are indications that your computer is alive, but the graphics are dead. This would mean a new graphics card (different brand or new version) would be worth trying. Make sure you buy from a place with a good return policy (if possible).

  2. For whatever display output you use (VGA, DVI, HDMI, etc), can you try a different one? Moving from DVI/HDMI to VGA or vice versa stresses different parts of the GPU in some cards and may provide insight or a temporary workaround.

  3. Does your motherboard support integrated graphics? If so, try running the games in question with the GPU uninstalled. This presents it's own challenges in that integrated graphics are often under powered - but it may provide a useful reference point.

  4. As Jupotter suggests, try the card in a different slot. Various scenarios can cause one slot to be bad temporarily or permanently - although this seems less likely given the failure mode you describe.

  5. Check that the OS settings for the GPU power management are all set to "Max Performance". I have observed cases in the past, particularly with Warcraft, in which severe graphics corruption resulted from the GPU attempting to enter "low power mode." However, typically for desktop computers the default is already "Max Performance".

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I think it might be my PSU. Swapping it today. Will post here for sure. I did +1 for your effort. –  ヴァイシャリ Mar 27 '12 at 13:40
    
The sounds skip for some brief seconds, but then continue. This is after I replaced my PSU. When my GPU is getting stressed, there are artifacts. But for some seconds my NUM Lock can be turned on/off. Takes a second more though. But after those few seconds keyboard is not responsive, but sound is back from skipping if this makes sense. –  ヴァイシャリ Mar 29 '12 at 16:40
    
Do I try a new GPU? My current one is only one year old from my date of purchase. But it could have sat in some Indian person's shop for who knows how long. –  ヴァイシャリ Mar 29 '12 at 16:42
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up vote 0 down vote accepted

I finally fixed my issue.

The problem was with my graphics card. I cross posted on SU and did replace my power supply. That really needed to be done after I started digging.

Here in India, the Indian brand PSU's are the main culprit in high/mid end gaming systems.

Changing the PSU did not help, except my computer was booting a bit faster.

Next on my list was the GPU. I installed a GTX series 550 Ti card from Nvidia. And that did the trick.

If it had failed to solve my problem, I was next going to change my motherboard.

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