Warning! Graphic images

What happens when your video card is dying
What you really don’t want your PC display looking like!

When I switched on my PC this afternoon having returning home from a meeting at the SEC Synod Office, my screen showed bands of vertical lines across it (see image above). It looked as though Firefox was in prison!

I rebooted and got the same problem. I uninstalled my graphics card drivers. Nothing changed, same problem. It was only as I was booting again that I realised that the problem wasn’t just limited to Windows, I was experiencing this graphical ‘infection’ on the bootup splash screen, the POST (Power-On Startup Test), and in the BIOS. Darn! My graphics card is dying.

I had an ATi Radeon 9800 Pro 128 MB graphics card. A lovely piece of kit, fast enough for what I needed it to do which is mostly office tasks, some graphics work, watch DVDs, and play a few games (Battlefield 2 being the most demanding application).

When I opened up the PC I discovered that for some (unknown and bizarre) reason an elastic band had welded itself to the chips on the back of the graphics card’s PCB. I cleared off the remnants of the elastic band and reseated the card on the motherboard. The image was a little better, but still very bad.

Darn! I think I’ve melted some of the diodes on the graphics card! Solution: buy a replacement card. A quick trip to PC World — and telephone call to Jane, who was stuck in a traffic queue somewhere south-west of Stirling — later I now have my PC back up and running with a Sapphire ATi Radeon X700 256 MB graphics card.

The inside gubbins of my PC
My PC undergoing open-heart surgery. The old Radeon 9800 is lying on the case, the new Radeon X700 is already installed.

Everything is now back up and running, having installed the latest drivers (Catalyst 5.10). Although, I suspect that I’ll still have to reinstall Windows in the next couple of days to sort a reincurring soundcard problem. There’s always something…!

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 46 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Latterly, web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall. Currently on sabbatical. I am a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir.

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