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I have a PC which is exhibiting strange graphics artefacts on startup. It manifests as thin blue vertical lines appearing, sometimes on the BIOS screens but always on the "Windows XP" loading screen.

After that sometimes Windows starts but the screen display is completely corrupted. Or sometimes it fails during reboot with PAGE_FAULT_WITHIN_NON_PAGED_AREA message and then reboots immediately.

I have removed the graphics card and cleaned off the dust and cleaned the connectors but this didn't make any difference.

I opened the case and left it open in case it was a heat problem, no effect.

The problem happens immediately, even after the system has been off for a while.

I checked all the fans in the system and the CPU/Gfx/chipset fans are all spinning and not making any strange noises.

Does anyone know what the above symptoms might point to? Is it possible to say with some degree of certainty that it is the gfx card or might it be the motherboard/memory/something else.

The PC is quite old (4 yrs+).

  • Motherboard: Asus A8N-E
  • CPU: AMD 3700
  • Gfx: Nvidia 6600 GT (Link)

Though even if the Gfx is the problem I'm not sure I could buy a compatible one these days!

UPDATE: So it was the Gfx card. Replaced it and now everything is fine.

share|improve this question
You could buy a compatible one at almost any hardware store. – Joe Taylor Oct 11 '10 at 9:07
@Joe I haven't really kept up on gfx hardware TBH. Can I buy any cheapy PCI-E card or is it possible to buy something that is new enough to be incompatible? – Mike Q Oct 11 '10 at 9:19
if your current card is PCIe then pretty much any PCIe card should work in the slot (assuming your PSU can provide the likely-to-be-higher power a more modern card may require). They pretty much all work via PCIe x16 and it's then just a case of installing the relevant drivers. – DMA57361 Oct 11 '10 at 9:28
@DMA Thanks I will probably just buy a cheap one (which are all better than my current one). – Mike Q Oct 11 '10 at 9:56
up vote 3 down vote accepted

All the symptoms you describe point to it being a graphics card problem.

Does your motherboard have an onboard graphics chip? If so you could remove the graphics card and try connecting to that. If the problem goes away then it's further proof that the card is failing.

BTW - The fans are designed to move air through the case assuming that there are vents at the front and back. Taking the lid off disrupts these airflows and might make heat problems worse.

share|improve this answer
Thanks, unfortunately no in-built gfx to test. – Mike Q Oct 11 '10 at 9:17

ChrisF's answer is correct - your graphics card is likely to be malfunctioning. Since you see the given symptoms on the BIOS screens we can be fairly sure it's a hardware problem.

I had almost exactly the problem about four weeks ago - except that I got green horizontal lines, not blue vertical ones. So I'd like to extend upon ChrisF's answer.

I'd like to add that it might not be the graphics card itself that has failed - it could instead be a power issue. If your graphics card takes a secondary power line, it could be that the PSU is failing instead and so the graphics card is not recieving the power it needs to function correctly.

I was able to borrow a PSU (and gfx card) from a friend to test with, and trying different combinations of the hardware helped pin-point the problem to my PSU. Unfortunatly, I'm not sure how you go about verifing a PSU's ouput directly.

share|improve this answer
Thanks, but the Gfx has no secondary power feed, just the MB connection. Don't know whether that rules it out or not. I've ordered a new card (only £35 so no biggy if it doesn't work) so will see if that helps or not. – Mike Q Oct 11 '10 at 10:10
@Mike if the card doesn't have any secondary power lines then it doesn't need that much power (compared to more modern cards), so power is much less likely to be the cause. – DMA57361 Oct 11 '10 at 11:52

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