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Strange graphical problems with many errors causing freezes


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#1 Schwarzwind

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 05:38 AM

Dell Dimension DXP061
Intel® Core™ 2 CPU, 6600 @ 2040GHz
1.00 GB
32-bit Operating System
Nvidia GeForce 7300 LE
Windows Vista

I'll try to explain thoroughly as best as I can... I've never really been computer savvy, so please bear with me. x_x

I've recently been experiencing (often critical) strange graphical glitches - the 2 most common ones being:

1) whatever I'm mousing over gets a 'smearing' effect

2) vertical lines of mostly green, pink, and white will pop up at random points which always freezes the PC.

With the smearing effect, whatever portion of the screen I am moused over, the graphics will become 'smeared' and will drag the graphics wherever my mouse moves to. This has usually led to an eventual freeze. Curiously, I've been able to Ctrl+Alt+Delete to the Options screen a few times, and the glitch often doesn't seem to affect it. A couple of times I've waited several seconds and cancelled this screen and everything is back to normal... at least until one of these glitches eventually kicks in again, often ending up in a freeze.

With the vertical colored lines, it often occurs randomly... more so after I've started up the PC at any time (even after the PC has been shut down for several hours). The lines will remain for a few seconds, then the computer ends up freezing. This only started happening just over a week ago and I don't recall installing or uninstalling any kind of program around that time. I've only had my monitor for around a year or so.

I've already tried:

- Checking cables for loose connections

- Malware scans: using one scan at a time and found no malware

- Memory checks: no errors found

- Updating monitor and graphic drivers: updating my Nvidia card actually made things a lot worse so I had to use a rollback on it

- System Restore

- Careful dust removal on both the outside and inside of tower

 

I've also glanced at my 'Event Viewer' and it displays a large variety of recent errors I don't quite understand, but I'm not sure if posting any of these errors would be of any help (or how to at least post them properly if needed). I'm at my wit's end with this and don't want to have to purchase a whole new computer if it can be avoided. =(



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#2 jonuk76

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 08:50 AM

Do you get any graphical glitches during the boot process, e.g. during POST (power on self test) or on the Windows loading screen or is it only once the desktop loads up that you notice them?  Is the problem continuous or does it only happen when doing certain things or after the computer has been on for a certain amount of time?


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#3 Schwarzwind

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 10:34 AM

Thank you kindly for replying, jonuk76. =)

 

I did notice on occasion that during boot up while the PC is listing specs (about 3-4 seconds after powering on), the text is garbled shortly before the actual loading screen comes up.10-15 seconds after the loading screen, the desktop will come into focus, and now around 70% of the time, the vertical lines will surface and freezing occurs. Both graphical glitches are continous and random; it seems now though as if the vertical line glitch is increasing in frequency.



#4 jonuk76

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 11:30 AM

I can't guarantee it, but what it very much sounds like to me is a hardware fault with the graphics card.  Typical giveaways are screen corruption which occurs both in Windows itself and in BIOS/loading screens (before drivers are loaded), or for that matter, other operating systems e.g. if you were to run Linux from a LiveCD (this helps to absolutely rule out Windows drivers as being the issue).  Problems often show as garbled areas of the screen, strange "blocks" which follow the mouse pointer around, lines going across the screen etc.

 

The really certain way to verify it's the problem is to change the graphics card and see if it goes away.  From what I can tell your PC is also known as an XPS 410 (I'm not certain on that) and uses a PCI-Express graphics card.  This is good because it's a current standard, and a basic replacement card can be found for around $30 online (something like an AMD HD5450 would be suitable).


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#5 Schwarzwind

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 11:52 AM

You hit it right on the bullseye, it is an XPS 410. =)

 

I've never changed a graphics card myself before, and aside from some of the popular brand names (Nvidea, Radeon, ect), I'm unfamiliar with most of the other terminology in regards to graphic cards. x_x What is PCI-Express in laymen's terms? Would there be any chance of computer repair shops carrying these?


Edited by Schwarzwind, 25 August 2015 - 11:53 AM.


#6 jonuk76

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 12:32 PM

PCI Express is the interface the card uses (effectively the slot type that it goes into on the motherboard). It's a current standard.  Obsolete standards include AGP and PCI, and cards for these older standards are a bit harder to come by now, especially away from buying used parts.

 

The AMD card I mentioned is a Radeon.  Nvidia's cards usually have Geforce branding.

 

Yes computer repair shops will be likely to carry replacement graphics cards.  Don't be talked into over paying though, the card you have (Geforce 7300LE) is a basic model, and so a basic replacement should do.

 

It's quite straightforward to do.  This video shows the process of changing a video card.  Only addition I would make to that is suggest fully uninstalling the old video drivers before changing the cards over.

 

https://youtu.be/O9x097QRXeA?t=1m8s


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#7 Schwarzwind

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 02:52 AM

Thank you very much for all this helpful info. =)

If it's not too much trouble, a few of other questions ...

 

- What would be a reasonable price for a card + installation by a professional if I were to go that route? And would they be able to do it on the spot?

 

- If I were to try my hand at it, how exactly would one go about fully uninstalling old video drivers before switching out cards?

 

- Are there any specific limits to how powerful a card can be for an older PC like this?

 

My apologies about so many noob questions, I truly appreciate your assistance and patience with me. When it comes to technical situations like this, I prefer to make my best attempts to play it safe. I've never had much luck with electronic devices and it shows with my hesitation on trying to remedy problems like these when they occur. I often fear that just one little mistake and I'll end up rendering the device completely useless, lol.



#8 jonuk76

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 08:50 AM

I'll try

 

- I really don't know on that one.  I'm in the UK so prices are going to be different but I should think anything over 1 hour labour would be pushing it.  If you know what you're doing it should take about 5 minutes, plus a reasonable time to install drivers and test it's working properly.

 

- To uninstall your current Nvidia drivers go to Add/Remove programs in control panel.  Choose Nvidia Control Panel and choose uninstall.  If it asks you if you want to completely remove all Nvidia drivers click yes.  Reboot.  There are "Driver Cleaner" applications out there, but I wouldn't recommend them personally.

 

- Yes.  More powerful graphics cards will be likely to need a power supply upgrade.  I'm not certain where that point would be but a reasonable assumption is that for any card that needs external power (over 75 watts power draw) it would be sensible to upgrade the PSU on an older PC.  Also cards with very large amounts of memory (latest are coming with 4Gb+ memory) will probably cause problems with 32bit operating systems. Video memory is basically included in the maximum 4Gb address limit of 32bit Windows.


Edited by jonuk76, 26 August 2015 - 08:51 AM.

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#9 Schwarzwind

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 11:55 AM

It's funny you mention Driver Cleaners because I had actually just come across a couple of guides about them before you posted, lol. And from what I found, the number of steps that were outlined on how to use a Driver Cleaner just to remove one card seemed rather daunting. So I breathed a sigh of relief when you said you wouldn't recommend them.

 

And I know you're probably sick of hearing this, but thanks again. Although I haven't yet made a solid decision on which route to take, your guidance has proven conducive and it has been a pleasant learning experience. =)



#10 jonuk76

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 08:40 PM

No problem.  Glad it was some help ;)

 

The reason I don't like driver cleaners is that I am aware of cases where they cause more problems than they solve.  Uninstalling completely through control panel is normally good enough IMO.  In a situation where for some reason that method doesn't work, this one seems to get reasonable reports - http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/367109-display-driver-uninstaller-how-use.html


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