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Old January 11th, 2007, 09:56 AM   #1
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Recommendation for new graphics card

Have a Dell XPS Gen2 thats about 3 years old - 3.4 gHz, 2 gig RAM, P4HT processor, AGP video bus, WinXP (may update to Vista, haven't decided). Came equipped with a 256mB ATI Radeon 9800 XT Pro.

Recently the video card has begun to go wonky, first symptom appearing a few weeks ago being video files playing as if they were stop motion, not so much that they were running slow but more like only every 30th or 45th frame being displayed with the intermediate frames beinmg skipped. Doesn't appear to be a computer slowdown because the SOUND side of the clips play normally. Phenomenon occurs with WMP, WinAmp Video, VLC Play, Divx Player, Real Player, but oddly, not Quicktime.

Second symptom is some corrupted on-screen graphics, especially desktop and taskbar icons. Some appear normal, but others appear as a series of vertical 'blinds' bars, sort of like little barcodes, instead of normal. Occasionally the mouse pointer looks like it has about a 1/8" long series of vertical blinds stuck to the arrowhead. When rebooting, the Windows splash screen sometimes is covered top to bottom with vertical blue bars about 1/4" long and separated from each by about a half inch. A power off and restart usually clears that but the screen corruption and video slowdown remain.

I've repair-reinstalled Windows, removed the existing video drivers and reinstalled them, and updated the video drivers with the latest drivers from ATI (10 Jan release) to no avail.

So much for my long tale of woe, leading to my questions and request for advice. I'm close to deciding that the problem is a hardware issue with the video card itself, possibly resulting from heat buildup. If anyone has any suggestions as to things to try further before replacing it, I'm all ears. But if a replacement is in the cards, I'm soliciting input on the best options for a new, current generation graphics card capable of supporting dual monitors and to be used with Adobe Creative Suite, Adobe Production Suite, and Vegas+DVD Production Suite. Suggestions welcome (other than 'Get a Mac!' LOL)

PS: Dell is pretty good about warranty replacements and the system is still in warranty (just got a new HD from them in fact) so they may send a new card. But if I choose to go with an update, what are the best options for an AGP card? As of the moment I'm kinda drawn to the ATI x1650 Pro-AGP 512 meg - comments?
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Last edited by Steve House; January 11th, 2007 at 04:00 PM.
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Old January 12th, 2007, 03:49 AM   #2
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What kind of power supply unit you have? The symptoms you describe look a little bit like what we experienced when the PSU was not powerful enough to power the graphics card.

As far as graphics cards are concerned, if you don't need 3D gaming performance, Matrox APVe is doing its job for me (dual monitors + external monitor at the same time).
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Old January 12th, 2007, 04:25 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart Walczak
What kind of power supply unit you have? The symptoms you describe look a little bit like what we experienced when the PSU was not powerful enough to power the graphics card.

As far as graphics cards are concerned, if you don't need 3D gaming performance, Matrox APVe is doing its job for me (dual monitors + external monitor at the same time).
Not a gamer here - about the only game I ever spend any time at all with is MS Flight Simulator, that's one I really like.

System has a 460 watt power supply, feeding 3.4gHz P4HT, 2 gig RAM, 2 250 SATA drives, 1 250 IDE drive, ATI card. System needs top-notch performance for professional level audio recording and editing, video editing & effects, and digital photo editing.
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Old January 14th, 2007, 06:24 PM   #4
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OK, before you replace your graphics card, try to put in another PSU, maybe from a different comp or borrow one from a neighbour :) Just to make sure that it is the graphics card, and not PSU. If you experience the same problem, chances are it's graphics. Otherwise - replace PSU.

You might actually enjoy playing MS Flight Simulator on Matrox APVe and 3 widescreen LCDs :)

However if you need OpenGL support for AfterEffects (heavy 3D scenes), then maybe you should consider one of nVidias.
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Old January 15th, 2007, 09:00 AM   #5
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I think I tracked it down. The new drivers from ATI have an option called "overdrive" than overclocks the card's graphics processor. It also monitors the temperature of the GPU and reduces the clock back down to the standard clock rate if it goes too hot. I think that the video codecs see the higher initial clock speed and set the frame rate based on the assumption that's what it'll stay. If the clock then is slowed down, the video codecs don't realize it and don't adjust for the slower processor speed. At any rate, turning off the Overdrive overclocking seems to have fixed the video skipping frames problem.

The other problem, 'bar-code'y' appearance of icons, seems to have been caused by corruption in the Windows icon cache. Switching the desktop settings to large icons, then back to small, seems to have forced a rebuild of the cache fixing the problem.
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