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Some time ago, I picked up an HIS ATI 4670 graphics card.

It worked great, except that after 30-40 minutes of gaming (and sometimes Flash or other "2D" video) it would corrupt the display of the game or video by rendering the video from a single point in the display.

In my case, the point was always the upper left hand corner of the video. After I move the mouse the corruption would leak over to the rest of the display.

I'm fairly certain the card is to blame, but, could it also be other components? The Nvidia chipset? The system memory? The CPU?

Assuming the card is to blame, should we blame the chip? the memory?

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Perhaps a screenshot of the problem? (By which I mean shoot the screen, with a camera) – Grant Aug 17 '09 at 13:05
Next time it happens, I'll do that. It is pretty cool in a geeky way. – Mike Cornell Aug 17 '09 at 13:41
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The problem is almost certainly heat, judging from the time and usage you relate. The consistency of failure probably comes from the same portion of memory getting the hottest each time.

To fix it, you need to get a.) more cool air into your system, and b.) more hot air out of your system. I list a.) first because it is common for me to see up to 7 fans blowing out of a gaming box, and zero or one blowing in. There needs to be some balance.

For a hot system, you need at least two fans blowing in, usually one in front and one in the side. You may have to flip the side fan around as many case mfgs bizarrely ship with it installed to blow out. Input fans can run quietly at faster speed because most of the sound goes into the box.

You can run output fans at lower speed, and have more of them, and/or larger ones, in order to get the airflow you need and still stay quiet.

Another alternative is to upgrade the cooler on your video card, and/or add heat sinks to the memory of your video card (assuming the memory chips are exposed).

Finally, pay attention to airflow within your box. Having a large, flat IDE cable lay across the side of the video card can seriously restrict airflow, or may even reflect hot air vented from the video card cooler right back into its air intake. Liberal use of cable ties, round cable, and careful routing will improve airflow. You goal is to have nothing in between an input fan and the video card.

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Video card is cool, Never runs above 50C. Has a really nice fan for the GPU. Sounds like I have to blame the memory chips on top of the video card which do not have heat sinks. It must be the lack of airflow into the Dell case. I'll have to look into mounting a front fan and perhaps simple heat sinks for those chips. – Mike Cornell Aug 17 '09 at 13:40
Ah, a Dell. Most Dells are well-engineered to have the minimal acceptable cooling at very low sound levels. The problem is when upgrades are added... You may need an adhesive heat paste to secure your heat sinks. If you add an input fan, consider an extra output fan, maybe a PCI slot type if space is tight. You can cross-wire it to run at 7V instead of 12V if it is too noisy. – kmarsh Aug 17 '09 at 13:47
The other option is to recase it. – Mike Cornell Aug 17 '09 at 16:00

Check to make sure that the card is being cooled properly. Open your computer (unplug it first!) and look at all the fans, then vacuum it if needed. Also look at those parts that are passively cooled (heatsink).

I've seen too many cases where dust has clogged the fans to such an extent that they couldn't turn anymore, thus causing the system to overheat and become damaged.

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After some more research, I determined that the card itself was least when it came to 3D gaming.

After upgrading the drivers, I all but eliminated the star bursts. However, I gained blue screens. The blue screens led me to specific hardware related issues with the card.

Replacing the card today appears to have resolved the problem.

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