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x800xl artifacting

My radeon x800xl just started getting major artifacting when running graphic intensive programs and I'm not sure what the problem could be.

Everything was running just fine until yesterday when during a game my graphics started freaking out. Crazy artifacts started dancing all over the screen and after a minute or so the screen went black and the system froze and had to be rebooted.

Once I rebooted, XP started up just fine and I could surf the web or do whatever else just fine for however long I wanted to, but just as soon as I started up a game the artifacting started again and if I didnt stop the game, the screen would go black and the system would freeze again.

I tried uninstalling my ATI catalyst 6.4's and used their driver cleaner too, and reinstalled the drivers again, but nothing changed. I checked the card heat, the cooler seems to be working fine and the heatsink doesnt feel hot, just warm, same with the back of the card.

So I'm at a lose to figure out what the problem is. Everything works fine as long as I dont run a game or anything like that, 3dmark05 results in the same problem, but once I do artifacting and video cuts out every time.

Now this is my girlfriend's system, her 9800xt died about 2 weeks ago (system wouldn't post with it in anymore) and I gave her my chaintech vf4 ultra, athlon64 3000+, x800xl, and enermax 430w PSU. This stuff has worked solid for me for over a year. Only thing new to the system is her old 2x512mb Kingston pc2700 valueram, her antec case, her audigy, and her old power strip (one of those that you rest the monitor on and has different switches to turn on/off different equipment). I am curious that this problem would suddenly crop up now that she has it, but I dont know what it could be.

Could it be the ram? or powerstrip? or something else? CPU and system temps are low 29c for cpu and 32 for system.
Artifacts are the video card saying "I've had enough". At first they show up under load at high temperatures. Then the card eventually dies even doing 2D applications.

-If you are overclocking stop! The X800XL is not particularly overclock friendly inspite of it being a "cool running GPU".
-Blow out the vid card fan with "canned air".
-Make sure you have at least 2 case fans, front blowing in, rear blowing out.
-Make sure the exhasust fan is not pushed up against the wall. It needs 4-6 inches of open space. Make sure the PC is not located near the exhaust of a heater.
-Download atitool.exe and use it to read the fan speed and gpu temperature while it is running it's little 3d window.
--My x800xl runs 43/41 deg C w/fan @ 57% while surfing with no 3d screen, room temp at 24C (75F)
--My temp jumps to 71/47 with the 3d window updating at 208FPS average and then the fan kicks up to 80% and holds the temperature.

If you are not overclcoking my first guess is that the room/case temperature has risen as summer approaches.

Guess 2 is that the GPU HSF got dislodged/dirty/damaged during the move to it's new home.

Guess 3 The GPU fan settings could have been messed up and it is being commanded to run too slow. ATItool tells you what the fan defaulst are set to. They can be fixed speed ot set to kick up in speed as gpu temps rise. The fan speed up thresholds are also adjustable.
Thanks for the quick reply, as always I greatly appreciate it!

No, the card is not overclocked, it's just running at stock just the way it came to me. I did replace the standard grease with arctic silver 5 when I got it 10 months ago, and it's been running rock solid right up until yesterday.

The new box it's in does have an intake fan I put in at the same time I moved the card etc., but I'm waiting on an exhaust fan to come in. Nvidia ntune tells me the cpu is running at 30c and the system temp is at around 35c. The heatsink on the gpu feels warm but not particularly hot when it does the artifacting.

I've cleared out the heatsink with canned air, so don't think that is the problem either.

I'll check again to see if the hsf is loose or not, and I'll download the software you suggested to check on it and update what's going on.

Thanks for the tips so far!
Run ATItool.exe to check the GPU temp and GPU fan speed. Unless it just up and decided to die (they do that sometimes) it sounds like the GPU is getting too hot during 3d applicaitons.

My x800xl runs cool to the touch in 2d but warms up real fast when I satrt a 3d application (including atitool's little pop up window.).
Alright, I downloaded atitool and installed it.

It reported that my card was working at stock frequencies, about 390mhz and 429mhz more or less and that my temps at idle was around 48c gpu and 42c gpu environment.

At idle my fan speed was around 55%.

When I first started running the 3D demo, the artifacting started and if I let it run for a bit, the screen would go black and I'd have to reboot.

If I tried the artifacting test, it would constantly be pinging because of all the artifacts showing up on the 3D screen.

I checked the gpu temps, and they didn't ever go up much, up to around 55C on the GPU when the room is a bit warm.

I manually set the fan speed to 100% and ran the tests again with no improvement. Temps never were high, but it would artifact like crazy.

I tried uninstalling the catalyst 6.4s again and tried the omega drivers based on the 6.3s. When I ran the tests there were still problems.

At this point I didnt know what to do, so on a lark I ran memtest for a few hours and no errors showed up.

I then ran the 3D demo with atitool again and this time no problems. I ran the artifacting test and also no problems. With the fan manually set to 100% I started playing some games, World of Warcraft in particular, which was the game that the artifacting first showed up in.

It's been over an hour now and the game is still running fine and the gpu temp never gets over 65C. Is the gpu sensor always accurate? Could it be that the sensor read a stable temp but the hsf might have been loose and the actual temp was higher?

Is it safe to run the hsf at 100% all the time? or should I set it back to autoadjust?

I am really confused now, not sure what changed. Don't know if I should just be happy it seems to have fixed, or try to send it to ATI assuming it's under warranty (bought it from newegg late last march).

Just find it weird that she has had 2 video cards flake out on her in the last 2 weeks.
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F@H - Is it in you?
Staff member
Political User
There could be an issue in the system from when her card first died on her.

Everything you are describing is a tell-tale sign of over-heating of of the gfx card.

Typically you will not see this in a 2'd environment till the card is damaged worse. If you keep running it in 3d, it will eventually start artifacting in 2d as well, if it even works after a couple more attempts.

Your card should be under warranty, simply try and get it rma'd.

Doesn't matter what you did and what steps you have taken to rectify the artifacting, once it exhibits those signs, I would highly recommend replacing the product.
Thanks, I borrowed a friends 7600gs card and so far it's running just fine in her system, I'll try the x800xl in a different mobo soon and see if it artifacts there too.

I'll see if I can send it off to ATI to get fixed, I really hope so since dropping money on yet another card would really suck. Despite being a devoted ATI user for years, having 2 ati cards die in the span of 2 weeks is really making me think that getting the 7900gt was the right choice.

I'm going to get an aftermarket cooler for it, but not sure what to get.

I'm thinking of either he Sytrin vf1 or a zalman vf900. The reviews of the sytrin seem to say it does a really impresive job of cooling, but is a pain to install. Whereas the v900 works well and is easier to install, though maybe not quite as strong as the vf1, not sure which way to go.
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If you registered the x800xl on the ATI website just call or email them for an RMA.

If you did not register when you bought it you they might make you produce a receipt. You should be able to argue around that if you tossed it (most people do after a year) the x800xl model is only 1-2 years old and carries a 3 year warantee.

Or newegg might be able to generate a duplicate receipt for you. I know Compusa will do this for warantees.

PS Your temps are normal with the fan at 100%. Sounds like the fan controller or temp monitor circuit died on the card.
I got an RMA number from ATI and shipped it off yesterday, so hopefully I'll get the card back good as new in a few weeks.

Before I packed it up, I gave the heatsink one more blast of canned air and managed to get a dustball to shoot out from one of the top fins that isn't directly visible when looking through. It couldn't have been blocking all that much, but who knows if it had anything to do with it. Of course, I was having artifacting troubles with normal temps reported so it may have had nothing to do with it.

Either way, hopefully ATI will take care of it. Whole thing has me reconsidering my devotion to ATI, we'll see how my new nvidia works out.

Only nvidia card I've ever had was a ti4200 or something from like 6 years ago, that I put into my little bro's computer. The fan died on it and the thing was soldered to the board so I couldn't replace it.

Anyhow, my xfx 7900gt card came in, factory overclocked to 550mhz core and 1630mhz memory, I installed AtiTool just to run the artifact test and it's geting minor artifacting all the time, just tiny little dots. The gpu temp, according to nvmonitor is about 45C idle and after running the test for a few minutes it seems stables at 59C.

Should I be worried at the artifacts? I've read some places that it's just a bug with AtiTool and the latest nvidia cards, which I guess makes sense, but after all the recent headaches I guess I'm a bit antsey.
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