Possible vidio card problem?

By DanLM ·
My BSD box runs a amd 1.6 gig processor had/has a AGP video card. This machine runs as a server with the video rarely seeing the light of day. Meaning, I ssh into it almost always.

I came home today from work and found my home network down. When rebooting the bsd machine, I powered up the flat screen that is beside it and seen that I had all kinds of ascii characters appearing on the screen. This is during the both the bios boot and the os coming up. There may have been a power spike during the day(love cleveland, such a lovely power grid). The bsd machine is sitting on backup battery/upc but the monitor was not. Just a surge protector.

I plugged the monitor itself into another pc and seen that it is a clear screen with no ascii characters and clear video.

When I ripped everything apart and moved the machine to another room(girl friend was waaing about the parts all over) to work on. I found that I the video issue was more intense then previously described. Sometimes I had distorted video on the boot, sometimes I had nothing. I also found that the machine would not always boot..... It would post, but not always go through the identification of hardware.

Now............. This is a server, it has no other purpose in life then to be that. I only ever use a monitor on this beast when I am trouble shooting problems that can not be corrected via ssh. Chuckle, like right now.

My question is.... With the possibility of a power spike and the symptoms that I see. Does this sound like a video problem???? Or something greater? I do not have the eyesight to mess with the motherboard, don't have the knowledge either. I'm willing to have someone look at it, but I am unwilling to put a new motherboard in when I know that I will have to pay for someone to do it for me. Don't live where I use to to have friends help.

Can anyone offer any other possibilities of what this problem might be?


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by tintoman In reply to Possible vidio card probl ...

Lets face it you could be the worlds luckiest guy couldn't you? I mean the truth is if this machine was power spiked the possibility of dmage is endless, I have known all components of a pc to become faulty or completely useless after a surge, other times damage has been limited to just the power supply.
You will have to determine this by a process of elimination. but please BEWARE it is sooo easy to screw up new components in this scenario, for example if you fit a new graphics card and your psu is producing incorrect voltages - pop!

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Sounds much more like the Case is full of Dust and other Contaminates

by OH Smeg In reply to Possible vidio card probl ...

Have you cleaned out the insides of the case and applied power to see if it works now?

You may also have to lift out the Video Card and RAM and re-seat them all as the contacts can go High Resistance over time and removing and re-seating them cleans the contact points and allows the system to work correctly again.

As for Power Spikes I've seen the full range of things Damaged/Destroyed over the years and what I have noticed is that the better the Power Supply the less damage that is done inside the case from a Mains Event. However that doesn't mean that the High Voltage can not come in from another point like the Modem or Monitor.

In an extreme case where wind brought down the High Voltage lines they contacted the normal Mains and the place got hit with a 33 KV Spike. The Antech Power Supply was the only destroyed item in the entire computer and 5 years latter it's still running fine. Of course the rest of the electronics in the house didn't fare anywhere near as well and they have all been replaced.

On the other hand I've seen a Main Frame completely destroyed from a Power Spike well a Lighting Strike but it didn't come through the Mains it came in from the Phone System and fried things.


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What I finaly did was

by DanLM In reply to Sounds much more like the ...

One of the first things I did was clean out the inside of the machine. I had gone through the removing of the video card and reseating it, rebooting during each of those instances. I got to thinking about how old the video card was. I had this video card from before I built the machine. And even then, I got the card second hand.

I went out and bought another video card and this appears to work fine. All ascii characters gone, clear screen, no more colored blocks. One thing I did not menntion was that after I moved the monitor farther away from the case I lost all video to it. I did double check that I didnt pull the connection loose from the card.
Seems to be fixed sence I put in a new card. Which is a kick in the butt, this is a file server and I couldn't find just a crap video card that had low resolution. Oh well.

Now that the machine is pulled apart, in a seperate room where nobody can complain about the mess. I think I'll upgrade to FreeBSD 6.3 with a clean install.

Good point about the dust... It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but it wasn't perfect either.


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