How to kill a video card

Posted in General at 2:02 pm by jw

It all started with my PC making a strange beeping noise while I was playing Vanguard last night.  After taking some time to actually figure out it was really the PC making the noise and not one of the other dozen pieces of equipment shoved into the corner, I couldn’t figure out exactly what was wrong.  Digging out a torch, it was soon apparent that the coolant was no longer swishing around the reservoir the way it should have been, so it looked like the pump had failed.

This wasn’t a huge problem – I turned off the PC (noting the screen had blanked by this time) and took it out of the corner into some real light to bang a few times at the water pump to no avail, so proceeded to pull all the water cooling apparatus out of the PC’s case and replace it with the fans and heatsinks I’d taken out when I installed the system last year in San Jose.

About an hour later, the PC was all assembled again, but still wouldn’t boot.  A quick overview indicated the CPU fan wasn’t spinning now, so stranger things were going on.  Connecting one of the case fans to the CPU fan plug on the motherboard showed the case fan not spinning when power was applied, so it looks like what had actually happened was the motherboard had for some reason decided not to power the CPU fan plug, which caused the water pump to stop pumping, and the CPU fan to not work after I replaced everything.  Fishing around in my computer parts soon gave up a cable to connect the fan directly to the power supply inside the case, bypassing the motherboard, so now the fan works again.

This time, booting showed no signal on the DVI output of the video card, and a garbled output on the VGA.  Messing with the card didn’t seem to help much, and plugging the card into another machine showed the fault followed the card – guess it’s dead.  Oh well – I needed an upgrade anyway.

The downside of all this is I’d really wanted to wait until ATI brought out their DX10 card before upgrading, but looks like I’m going with the 8800GTX now.  In either case, it’s a very big step up from my two year old middle-of-the-road card that I have now.

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