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Author Topic: Problems with new AGP X1950 Vid Card  (Read 2059 times)
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Rowdy
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« on: January 12, 2007, 11:19:15 PM »

I just bought a Sapphire 512MB X1950 AGP card. I've used it on the desktop for several hours, watched a DVD with no issues, but as soon as I loaded Medieval 2 I began noticing some graphics corruption and artifacts. The problem got significantly worse as time went on, and continued on the desktop after quitting the game.

I was half prepared for problems, because I only have a 350 watt power supply, which delivers 26 amps on the 12 volt rail. The card asks for a 450 watt supply and 30 amps on the 12 volt rail.

CPU temps immediately after the issue were at 49C and mobo temps were 29C, so I doubt heat was the issue (although the fan on the card is pretty weak).

Anyone have any ideas or suggestions? I'd hate to bring the card back, I was really hoping that this card would save me from having to upgrade to PCI express for a few more months. However, I have read some negative word of mouth about the AGP version of this card. Would the weak power supply be the cause of the problems, or is it likely the card is a lemon?
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Kobra
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2007, 05:29:20 AM »

Weak power supply would be my guess.  I had to bump all of my boxes to 500+watt or higher, I was having major problems with even a 450Watt unit and the newer graphic cards.

But I will say I have had nothing but trouble with ATI myself, but thats another topic.
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2007, 01:12:35 PM »

Quote from: Kobra on January 13, 2007, 05:29:20 AM

Weak power supply would be my guess.  I had to bump all of my boxes to 500+watt or higher, I was having major problems with even a 450Watt unit and the newer graphic cards.

But I will say I have had nothing but trouble with ATI myself, but thats another topic.

I'll agree with Kobra on the PSU part of his statement.  Beyond that, I'd rip and reinstall your drivers using a cleaning utility, see if that helps.  (also see if you get the texture nonsense with other games)
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pingwrx
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2007, 03:57:39 PM »

Quote from: Kobra on January 13, 2007, 05:29:20 AM

Weak power supply would be my guess.  I had to bump all of my boxes to 500+watt or higher, I was having major problems with even a 450Watt unit and the newer graphic cards.

But I will say I have had nothing but trouble with ATI myself, but thats another topic.

Gotta be the power supply had that same problem with my old 6600 gt corruption and artifacts installed bigger psu problems went away.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2007, 03:59:29 PM by pingwrx » Logged

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ROTC1983
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2007, 09:17:00 PM »

If the power supply or the reinstallation of the drivers do not fix the problem, I would attempt to exchange the video card.  You just might have a dud on your hands. 
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stiffler
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« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2007, 04:40:02 AM »

I definately want to pick up one of these newfangled X1950 cards.  I have kind of let my PC gaming fall off lately since I felt stuck in the dark ages with my AGP motherboard and 9800 Pro.  This sounds like a nice bump (I really want to play FEAR and some newer titles like NWN2) and I am honestly shocked by the price.  May I ask where you bought it?
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2007, 08:07:43 AM »

I'd definitely check the thermal path on the card before splurging on a new psu. depending on how the temperature is actually measured, your reading could be off by quite a bit (or it might be dead on.. my x800xl seemed to be spot on... and it's a sapphire too)

However, I noticed after I got it that the temps ran pretty high... disturbingly so. I pulled the card and disassembled it, cleaned, redid the paste, etc. Card dropped 15c idle and loaded, from that by itself. Even with the pos stock cooler. The cooler on the 1950's is much nicer, but I'd still check the construction.

After all, it's free, and it doesnt take even an hour. Just be careful on the disassembly/reassembly, and be aware it'll most likely void any warranty you might have. (try holding the card up in front of a lightsource, edge on, and see if you can see the cpu/heatsink interface, look for gaps, etc.

Sapphire makes good cards, but their product assembly may lack. My experience is based on one unit. Your mileage may vary.

Also, be aware of the changing nature of psu's, before you upgrade. If you're on an older agp motherboard, the psu requirements may be slightly different from newer stuff. For instance, the latest atx spec ditched the -5 volt line, iirc.... that used to be in use, but no longer is.

Also, newer  cpu's run on the 12 volt rail, instead of the... was it the 3.3 volt rail before? Cant remember. In any case, what this means is that the load balance on an older system, was different from newer stuff, so if your motherboard is fairly old, you might keep that in mind when looking for a new psu.

All that said, Seasonic makes some wonderful, QUIET, psu's.

Atomic
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DrJones
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« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2007, 01:18:39 PM »

I also recently purchased a Powercolor x1950pro AGP.  I could never get it to work properly.  It would hard lock my computer in games randomly.  Sometimes within 30 seconds, sometimes it might be an hour later.  Desktop stuff worked fine but any 3d game and crash.  It didnt appear to be overheating as far as I could tell.  Tried various drivers, install/reinstall, nothing worked.  I finally gave up and ordered a PCI motherboard and a nvidia 7950gt.  I too had problems with a previous ATI product and swore I would never get another one.  I have had 7 various nvidia cards and they always worked without problems.  I hope you solve your problem. 

DrJones
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ROTC1983
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« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2007, 08:46:19 PM »

If it is within the return policy and you tried all of the routes that are mentioned above, attempt to exchange it.
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Rowdy
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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2007, 03:52:30 PM »

Thanks for the replies all, it definitely seems to be heat related - using ATI tools to monitor, I can see it hitting more than 80 degrees during gaming, which is when the problems start.  I don't think a new psu is the solution here, I'm probably just going to return the card, as others seem to have problems with the Sapphire stock cooler as well.

The Sapphire version of this card gets a huge thumbs down from me, which is a shame, because other than the cooling the X1950 is a great card at a great price.
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Kobra
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« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2007, 03:48:06 AM »

Quote from: Rowdy on January 17, 2007, 03:52:30 PM

Thanks for the replies all, it definitely seems to be heat related - using ATI tools to monitor, I can see it hitting more than 80 degrees during gaming, which is when the problems start.

Heat seems to always be a problem with ATI, hence, another reason I will never buy another ATI or ATI referenced product again.  80+degrees is way too hot.  In a really tough game, overclocked, my 7800GTX won't even break 65'.
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2007, 07:37:30 AM »

my x800xl runs nice and cool once I swapped out the crappy cooler for a much nicer zalman 700. Now it never breaks 55c, even under full load. Idle is 39c. Mind you, I haven't tried any of the new x1k series yet. Up to you, but I really think you ought to check your thermal path on the card. Like I said, sapphire doesnt have the best assembly in the world. Hardware is good though, they make all of ATI's cards for them.

Atomic
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Rowdy
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« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2007, 05:59:35 PM »

I looked at the card - there doesn't appear to be any space between the pads and the chips, but the cooling solution on the card is very weak to begin with.  In addition there's documented problems with the VRM's not being cooled by the card on the Sapphire forums.  Now, having said that, there doesn't appear to be a huge number of people with the massive overheating issues I have...  it's nearly instantaneous, and I have minor artifacting even at the Windows desktop. 

Could underpowering the card significantly (as I acknowledge my current PSU is no where near what this card wants to be happy) cause the heating issues I'm seeing?  I am torn between buying a new PSU and trying again - which means my window for returning the card will be gone, or simply returning the card for a refund.
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2007, 08:01:27 PM »

I cant see how not receiving enough power could cause overheating issues on the card. It might indeed simply be a crappy thermal design in the end. The artifacting could be a result of 'dirty' power though... insufficient, outside of spec, etc. A good psu is becoming a necessity these days, for any rig that includes a high end gpu. Motherboards would seem to me to be slightly less vulnerable due to their beefier power circuitry... 8 phase power designs, anyone? GPU's don't really have that, dont think... they dont have room on the card for it... which was ok when they received all their power straight from the motherboard, nice and filtered.

Instant overheat really does sound like an assembly problem though. Even with a piss poor cooling solution, it should take a little while to go nuclear on you.

Simply put, you may have a combination of problems going here.

Fortron, Sparkle, Seasonic (my recommendation due to a combination of quality, silence, and money), pc power and cooling.

A psu from that list will do you well... do you need it? Possibly. And other than breaking out a multimeter and some creative testing, I know of no way to be absolutely certain. 350 watts _should_ be enough to run a system (most systems dont pull over 200-250, until you start looking at SLI rigs), but depending on the psu, it could be weak in some areas, or dirty power, etc.

The card... if your window is shrinking and you have doubts, get a refund, bide your time, and do some thinking. You've got a valid cause, unless they wanna be stinkers about it and claim there's 'nothing wrong with it' because they put it in a machine and it boots windows.

Which, btw, is not a good indicator the card is ok... running the 3d circuitry on the chip is much more taxing than just showing a desktop. Desktop is basically just idling the card.

Atomic

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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2007, 08:06:32 PM »

btw, I looked at the card on newegg last night... assuming it's the same card (agp x1950 pro 512 mb sapphire), it does indeed look to be one of sapphires typical coolers, instead of a 'nice' one.

basically a flat piece of coopper, and another piece that's been 'folded' to make 'fins', and then bonded together somehow. fan on one end, and then either another copper layer to form the top surface, or plastic, or somesuch (not looking at it right now).

If so, this is the same type of solution my x800xl came with, and mine, at least, was barely sufficient, especially when combined with a crappy assembly job.

Sapphire... hardware good, assembly, hideous. You'd think ATI would put some smack on them, since it makes ATI look like their chips run too hot in general.

Atomic
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Rowdy
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« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2007, 08:36:11 PM »

It's an Enermax Whisper 350 Watt PSU, and was very high end at the time.  Enermax and Antec are the PSU brands I've always gone with, they have extremely good reputations.  I was determined to return the card this morning, but I just can't find a sizable number of people with serious heating issues with the Sapphire card.  (yes, the one you looked at is the one.)  Decisions, decisions...
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2007, 11:47:48 PM »

Aye, Enermax should be ok. It might be a 350, but if it can push 200 watts to the computer, it should be ok, unless the 12v rail is coming in too weak.

All that said.. though my x800xl ran hot.. it did NOT artifact on me... however, my psu was never in question.

Methink I'd go ahead and swap it. Perhaps the card was repackaged from a previous user (who damaged it) and reshelved. You never know. I've gotten 'new' products before, that turned out not to be. Worked ok, but it ticks me off everytime I catch some place doing it to me. Last time was the computer case I ordered... I noticed on the paperwork 6 months later that it had come from one of neweggs' refurb centers... I paid for a brand new one. Mind you it was in premium condition (apparently, as I didnt even notice until I happened to read some paperwork later on and caught it)..

Anyways, you never know. If the new one runs good without artifacting, but hot, then you're ok and can simply look for a replacement cooler.

Got a question on the psu.. how are you powering the card? molex connectors? anything else on the chain with those connectors? hard drives, fans, etc? ANYTHING else on the chain, can be a source of electrical interference (which can cause artifacts)...

In theory, it'd be easy to test this, assuming you can rearrange your power connectors so the card is on a chain by itself.

Also.. you said your corruption continued on the desktop after you shut off the game... but didnt start until you fired up the game, and got worse over time. Is it still corrupting, even after cold boot + time to cool, while showing the desktop? Such is likely a sign the card is permanently damaged.

Upon re-reading all this, it does sound like a heat issue for the most part. I don't know your setup or anything, dunno how your cooling is rigged, etc.
* TheAtomicKid frowns

oh, and turn off fast writes, if you didnt already. often a source of problems with agp setups... and it wont make a difference on your performance.

Atomic

If it were me... I'd try and redo the computer to isolate the gpu on a power chain by itself, if possible. If not possible, as close as you can come. Feel free to temporarily disconnect stuff like the cd and floppy to get this done. After that, you could try either using some canned air to cool the card during testing by spraying the interface between the heatink and the gpu to keep it cool, and see if your artifacting goes away. (and your temps drop)... spraying the heatsink wont necessarily work if the thermal path is screwed.. the heats still in the gpu.

If you feel risky, you could try disassembly/reassembly to see if you can improve the thermal path with the crappy cooler. If that 'fixes' it, all you'd need to do at that point, is, if you wanted, look for an aftermarket cooler. I dont know how good your skills are in this area. If you dont feel you can do it without damaging the card, dont, cause it may cause problems returning it if you try this and fail biggrin

I had wonderful luck with my x800xl, but... two different cards.

It may be that sapphire simply looked at the total thermal power of the gpu from ati, and simply designed a cooler with 'x' surface area and 'y' fan, to supposedly meet specs. The chips are supposedly rated to like 80c, but mine experienced problems at that range of temps. (it's based on a slightly different process than the normal x800 and x850 chips were)

I dunno. /me mumbles
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Rowdy
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« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2007, 04:11:26 PM »

I got the store to agree to give me a few days grace on the return window, so I picked up a 550 w Enermax PSU to experiment with.  I kept the original card - it was factory sealed, so I don't think it was repackaged.  It gave me problems on boot the other day - wouldn't even display the POST at first (monitor in standby mode) until I did a soft reset, so there shouldn't have been any heat issues at that time.  The tech at the store also said that the 80C peak I'm seeing should be well within the operating temps for the card.  So, either the card is simply being underpowered, which the new PSU will fix, or else the card is damaged or defective, in which case back it goes.

I'll redo the power connections and see what happens.  If it's still not working, I'm going to return the card but keep the PSU.  I have limited gaming time over the next few months, and the old 6800 will have to do.  I have a backlog of 360 games and have to finish FF12 still, so the PC just won't get much love from me for a while in that case.  I'll need to build the new dual core rig this summer rather than waiting for another year or so, no big deal.

Thanks for all the suggestions.

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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2007, 05:08:45 AM »

Any updates on this? I'm curious, cause a friend is pondering one of these, or one similar to it.

Atomic
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