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Diagnosing a problem


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OK, I posted the beginnings of this problem over in the the running history of our lives thread.


The sequence is: try to wake PC from sleep mode, fans spin, lights blink, but nothing on the screen. Force restart. As it goes through the pre-OS boot, there are weird artifacts (lines of @^__~ type symbols) amongst the normal lines of text, as well as some colored background bits (lines of little marks like -------- -------) in CGA colors behind the text. When the OS starts to boot, it goes to 4-color 640X480, and the background lines remain (they're generally in whatever negative color corresponds to what the screen should be). It boots OK, and the windows device manager tells me that "Windows has stopped this device because it has reported problems. (Code 43)." This morning, I used this working state to back a lot of stuff up onto my external HD. Had to leave for work at that point before I could experiment further.


When I got home, I opened the case and checked all the connections. After doing that, the PC booted completely normally, and there was much rejoicing (although I didn't try to run anything more graphically intense than Firefox). I went off to cook dinner, etc., thinking that the problem was resolved. The PC went into sleep mode. When I tried to wake it up, everything went the same way that it did this morning (and there was much swearing). Further jostling inside the box has done nothing.


The system is the one that I built 3 years ago, and hasn't changed meaningfully since then:

Since I just wrote all this out in the PC pics thread, I figured I might as well throw it out here, too.


CoolerMaster Centurion 5 case

EVGA 680i mainboard (A1 revision)

Core2Duo 6400 @ 2.13ghz

Samsung 18X DVD-R drive (SATA)

Seasonic M12 600W PSU

2 ghz Patriot PC-6400 RAM

EVGA 8800 GTS 320 ("Superclocked" version)

Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB HD

Netgear WG311v3 Wireless adapter

LITE-ON SK-1788 keyboard

Logitech LX5 wireless USB mouse

Logitech X-230 2.1 speakers

Samsung Synchmaster 941BW 19" widescreen monitor (1440X900)

Vista Home Premium


So, my initial inexpert diagnosis is, not surprisingly, that I have a video card failure. But I am concerned that it might instead be a mobo issue. I don't have another PCI-E card that I could use to test the motherboard (this machine was an upgrade from an AGP system). My concern is that the replacement GPU I would buy for this system is quite different than the GPU I would buy for a system with a new motherboard.* So I ask you: is there any particular reason to suspect that my mobo (or even my power supply) is causing this problem, rather than the GPU?


The plan, for the moment, is to order a new GPU in the $150 range and drop that in to see if it works. Later on this year, I'd also like to wipe the HD, move to 64-bit Win7, and add more memory. (I figure that should last me pretty well until the next console generation rolls out, which is when I expect game spec requirements to start increasing in a meaningful way.) But I'm going on vacation in a little more than a week and don't want to mess with all that right now.




* In short, I'm going to be processor-bound until I upgrade that, and I'm probably not going to bother upgrading a LGA-775-based CPU that's only going to last me another year or two before I start over with a more modern mainboard. (Also, I hate removing/installing CPUs and the associated heatsinks/fans.) Thus, sinking more than, say, $150 into a GPU to use on this mobo just seems wasteful. On the other hand, if I were replacing the motherboard, I would invest a bit more in the GPU for future-proofing purposes.

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I don't think it is a video card problem since the problem doesn't occur during gaming (which would surely reveal bad video memory very quickly). Because the problems occur when the computer tries to come back from sleep mode, I'd guess you have a motherboard/BIOS problem. I would first go through all my BIOS settings to see if there's anything related to hardware sleep mode that can be fiddled with.


I had a similar problem myself a while ago. My computer killed all USB ports when going into sleep mode and it never revived them when coming back. I solved that by updating my BIOS and (after a little help from Gigabyte's excellent support) changing a few settings in BIOS.

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I concur. I don't think it's the video card either and I've had similar annoying problems too.. like the keyboard and mouse going numb, which makes it pretty hard for the computer to wake up. The reason for your gfx odd behaviour is probably that it doesn't get the power it really needs after returning from sleep. I assume that you have updated your drivers recently. Better to just disable sleep functions from hardware/bios and software and have the screen go blank instead, when idling and shut down your pc completely when you leave it until you fix the bios.

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Well, I have arranged to borrow a card from a friend sometime later this week. So I'll get to see if that helps. That probably means putting off finding a solution until after my trip(s) over the next 2 weeks, but I guess that's OK.

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Replacing the video card worked! Everything boots fine, goes in and out of sleep mode, and runs games effectively.


I didn't really think that the sleep mode was the key here. Awakening happened to be when the problems initially kicked in, but that also happens to be the most common way I get the PC running from an inert state. Subsequent restarts and the like didn't change anything (except for that once). What made me think that the mobo might be to blame is that I could see artifacts when the PC was going through it's BIOS process. That worried me because that's before the GPU driver gets rolling. But even when the PC is in BIOS, the monitor cable still connects through the GPU, so I suppose problems there can (and did) affect what shows up on screen.


Now I gotta buy my own replacement...

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