View Full Version : 6800GT PCIe stability issues

12-25-04, 08:05 PM

I've recently put together the following system for GPGPU research (hence the need for a PCI Express system):

Antec TruePower 550W EPS
Intel Pentium 4 550 1MB (3.4GHz)
Leadtek GeForce 6800 GT TDH 256MB (WinFast PX6800)
2 * Crucial 1GB DDR2 PC2-3200
Western Digital Raptor 73GB
(Pioneer DVD+RW / IBM Deskstar 40GB peripheral drives)

My early attempts produced a variety of odd effects:

The BIOS randomly reported overclocking errors, when I hadn't requested any overclocking. This happened once again quite recently, but is much less frequent now.
After a few fan activations, the framebuffer text (e.g. in the BIOS screens) became badly corrupted. I think I fixed this by moving unused power cables away from the card, and securing them to the case.

These issues seem to have gone away, with the occasional exception of the first. Now I have these problems plaguing me:

Any application that changes the screen resolution freezes or reboots the machine with alarming regularity when the resolution changes. This happens sufficiently often to be very annoying.
A few applications that don't also cause freezes and reboots, e.g. starting and quitting WinTV, and once with Windows Media Player.
I got one blue screen while booting Windows XP, but the machine rebooted instantly. It's never blue screened apart from that occasion.

The system has a fresh install of Windows XP with SP2, drivers upgraded with Windows Update and NVIDIA's 6693 Forceware drivers. It runs fine (and fast) when it's not busy freezing or rebooting.

I thought I might try updating the graphics card's BIOS, so I installed WinFox 2.0 which came with the card. When I tell the VGA Flash BIOS utility to read the BIOS information, the screen goes blank but Windows keeps running in the background.

I'm running Memtest86 right now to confirm the DIMMs are ok, but I'm at a bit of a loss where else I should be looking for the problem. Can I draw on some of your wisdom to help me? :)

12-26-04, 04:22 PM
Just to update, I've successfully flashed my ASUS motherboard's BIOS up a few revisions but it hasn't improved the situation. Even though WinFox 2.0 wasn't able to read the card's BIOS without shutting down the display, I found the NVIDIA utility was able to identify it as, which matches the most recent BIOS for the card I can find on the manufacturer's website.

I've also managed to make the problem entirely repeatable - a save game I made in Doom 3 seems to have become corrupted. Its name is blank, and when I try to load it the load window closes. If I attempt to load it again, the machine reboots predictably.

Memtest86 didn't find any problems overnight (and as I can repeat this problem quite easily, I don't think RAM is the problem) and I reseated the 6800GT and its auxilliary power connector to make certain. That didn't change the situation.

Power wouldn't seem to be the problem. BIOS versions are up-to-date. DirectX and NVIDIA drivers are up-to-date (I even tried using the supplied CD's drivers, no change). Temperatures seem to be reasonable (GPU core at 46C, ambient at 38C, CPU at about 55C) and I've taken the side off the case to increase circulation.

Time to send the card back and try a different manufacturer? :(

12-26-04, 04:44 PM
try different drivers

12-26-04, 08:24 PM
Ahh, problem solved at last. :D

I took the clean format approach, and rebuilt the system driver by driver, application by application, each time testing with my repeatable Doom 3 crash.

I can't put down the cause of the problem exactly, but the crash started occurring only after I installed my PCI WinTV (analogue) card and I'd wired up the Line-In to my C-Media on-board sound card. I got a similar crash even after removing the card completely, but after disabling the Line-In and removing the audio cable (in case it was picking up interference) the crashes went away.

Let's hope that was the cause of these instability problems. It's a good excuse to invest in a USB digital TV card anyway, I never really liked the analogue TV and audio cables hanging nearby my sensitive PCI cards anyway. ;)