View Full Version : Sparkle 8400GS 512MB PCI + Dell Optiplex GX260 = problem

07-30-09, 11:55 AM
Hello all! Sorry for writing such a long post, please bear with me. :)

The plan is to upgrade the MythTV HTPC with a HD-capable card (VDPAU support), and since the motherboard had no PCI-E slots I opted for the Sparkle 8400GS PCI Passive 512 MB. I received the package the other day, but I just can't get it to work on my HTPC.

I am confident it is a hardware problem, since one of the symptoms is that I cannot enter the BIOS setup screen. The screen just goes blank and nothing happens (the LED on the monitor is still green, indicating a present signal). POST:ing works fine, and I can even boot a Linux system as long as it remains in the terminal and doesn't use a framebuffer. If I try booting the GUI, or try turning on the framebuffer I get the same blank screen.

The computer in question is a Dell Optiplex GX260 tower with a P4 1.8 GHz CPU, 250W PSU.

My first idea was that it was some kind of a PSU problem, so I borrowed a 480W and installed it, but no avail. It doesn't matter which PCI slot I'm using. I have tried removing all HDD:S, CD-ROMS and all other cards except for the GPU.

When I put the 8400GS into another, newer, Dell machine (still with a 250W PSU) it worked like a charm, so I have become quite confident that the power supply isn't the culprit.

Now, what on earth can make the 8400GS fail on this very computer? The motherboard seems fine, I have been using it for MythTV for several years without a problem. I should also mention that before trying the 8400GS, the computer was equipped with a 6xxx series AGP GeForce card.

Also I have two TV tuner cards (PCI) that are fine, so the PCI bus seems OK.

I also read somewhere that the 8400GS could need more power than the 25W specified for a PCI slot, could this be an issue? I have upgraded the BIOS to the latest version and I have also tried clearing the CMOS.

I hope I have given a detailed enough description of the problem and I really hope that some of you nVidia experts could shed some light on this issue. Thank you very much,


Card: Sparkle Geforce 8400GS 512MB Passive PCI (not pci express)
Computer: Dell Optiplex GX260, P4 1.8 GHz Tower

07-30-09, 02:52 PM
My friend has a similar problem except it is with a Dell Dimension 4550 instead of an Optiplex GX260, although I believe they might share the same motherboard or at least the same Intel 845 chipset. He has the same Sparkle card though. I was going to suggest to him that he update the BIOS, but you said you already tried that for yours. Which BIOS revision did you update to? Because in the latest one (A08) for the Dimension 4550, it says that it "Fixed issues with some video cards that have a PCI to PCI bridge such as, but not limited to the Matrox G200 or G450PCI." which I think describes the 8400 as well. The problem is that this latest update is from 2003, way before the 8400 was released.

Here is the link to it: http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/download.aspx?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs&releaseid=R67246&SystemID=DIM_PNT_P4_4550&os=WW1&osl=en&deviceid=308&devlib=0&typecnt=1&vercnt=7&formatcnt=3&libid=0&fileid=87177

07-30-09, 05:37 PM
Thank you for your reply, interesting information about the BIOS.
I do have A09 on the GX260 already, but I believe there is a large chance that the GX260 suffers the same problem as your friend's bios. Too bad there isn't an upgrade to download from dell, probably never will be.

I tried removing the PCI extension card (a card that plugs in on the side of the motherboard), but that didn't help either. I thought there might have been some collision between PCI-PCI bridges, but nope.

Is there any way one could report this probable bug to Dell? Do any of you know of any way?


07-30-09, 05:39 PM
Bad capacitors that model is known for it look by the CPU area at the 6.3v ones, you will know if they are bad, if they are bulging or brown stuff on top of them.

07-30-09, 05:47 PM
Thanks for your reply.

As far as I can see, the capacitors are all OK. No bulging or brown stuff on anyone of them.

I must add that the system has been working perfectly and very reliably for a long time.


07-30-09, 06:00 PM
Try a Sparkle 9400gs I know the 9400 drain less power due to revamp core, I used one in that same machine for 1.5 years before changing computers never had any problems sure work, weird problem.

Edit: Then again I changed the CPU to a 3.0HT/533FSB and added more ram because I had problems with it locking up when I watch any HD content.

08-02-09, 10:46 AM
Your system probably has an onboard Graphics chip built into the motherboard. You need to connect your monitor to the internal graphics, go into the BIOS and disable the internal GPU and then reboot with the geforce connected to the monitor. Then it should work.