Video card dead - any way to determine if it's fried or not? Also, which new card?

I was on my computer an hour ago when both my monitors suddenly went blank. Nothing i did could fix them, so i rebooted in the hope that it was a video driver problem that would rectify itself. When i restarted, however, same problem straight away.

I opened up the case and started the computer again. The case fan and CPU fan were running fine, but the fan on my video card wasn’t working, and the card itself was hot as hell.

I checked the connections, but no luck getting the fan working, so i removed the card and i’m now running a single monitor straight off the motherboard’s build-in graphics adapter.

I’m assuming that the video card is simply fried, or that the fan just went kaput, but i’m wondering if there’s any way to check this? I’m fine messing around with modular computer parts like this, but the actual electronics stuff is beyond me, so i was wondering if there’s anything i can do, or if i should just bin the card and buy a new one.

Second, IMHO-type question: what new card?

The one that just died is a very low-end card: Nvidia GeForce 9500 GS 512MB.

I don’t want to spend a lot of money on a replacement, i don’t really game (at least, nothing new and high end), and because the computer is an HP with a standard HP power supply, i don’t want a high-power card that will tax the PS. My main requirements are that it support dual monitors, and that it comfortably handle high-def video viewing. Anything else is a bonus.

The connectors on the card are the same as the bottom card in this picture, which i think makes it PCI, not AGP.

Tom’s Hardware Graphics Cards Recommendations.


Thanks. I actually thought for a moment about upgrading the card a little further, but most of the more powerful card require a more powerful PSU, and mine is only 300W.

I think i’ll go with a Radeon 4650. It has all the graphics power i need, and is a fair bit more powerful than the one that just died on me.

A more robust replacement PSU would be a good upgrade if running any kind of recent model GPU. See Newegg - Decent PSUs are not that expensive.

No recommendations for specific models, but I had the same issue a year or two ago, and I replaced my card with a fanless model (nvidia G84/86000 GT chipset). If you’re not going for top-of-the-line graphics, you should be able to find one that works well enough for you.

Upsides to fanless: they’re completely silent, should draw less power, and there are no moving parts to break.

Bake your card back to life.

The theory is sound anyway. A card is subjected to thermal stress and one or more of the connections crack. Reheat the whole thing up to the point the solder melts and reflows repairing the damaged connection.

I haven’t tried it myself but I’ve got a good candidate that’s on my list.

And if the card is already dead, what’s the harm to try?

But if it is well and truly toast, I love my 9800GTX. Although I’d probably research some of the 1 gig models if I were buying today.

Thanks for the advice, folks. Projammer, that looks interesting; as you say, if the card’s going to be chucked anyway, it can’t do any harm to try. Your 9800GTX, though, is a bit too power-hungry for my PS, and a bit pricey for my budget.

I’m thinking now about going for the NVidia GeForce GT 240. It has considerably more oomph than the dead card, it’s only $85 (and currently has a $15 rebate offer at Newegg), and it doesn’t even need a power connector because it draws so little power that it will run straight off the PCI-E card slot.

This is handy, because the old 9500GS ran a two-pin power connector, and my computer doesn’t have a 6-pin power connector, so if i want a Radeon or a higher-spec NVidia, i’ll need to get a molex-to-6-pin adapter. The GT 240 slots straight in without needing any extra connection.

According to this test on Benchmark Reviews:

For that sort of power usage, combined with the convenience of no power connector, and the increased performance of the card, the GT 240 looks like a pretty good deal.

Surprised the subject of freezing the dead component hasn’t come up. Or is that only for failed hard drives? In any event, this theory requires heating the entire board up to reflow solder. The same board that originally died because of what is evidently heat-related issues. It’s quite likely that additional damage will be caused to the onboard components, especially temperature sensitive capacitors.

You are correct that it’s worth a try, but if you want to talk about harm, well, I really wouldn’t fumes from toxic materials floating around my oven, residues sticking to the inside surfaces… in perfect position to be reheated later when I’m cooking some food that I intend to ingest…

From the article:

Just make sure to pull off removable plastic components like cooling fans.

And it wasn’t 5 minutes after my first post that the guy that told me about it messaged me that he had revived a card this weekend with just this procedure.

Back to report that i’m back up and running on two monitors with my new NVidia GT 240. All the reviews i read suggested that it is basically the most powerful NVidia card that doesn’t require a separate power connector. I thought about upgrading the power supply and getting a better card, but the truth is that, while i’m a bit interested in trying out a few games, i don’t really consider myself a gamer, and even this card is probably overkill for most of my needs.

I was going to go for a 9500GT, which has pretty much the same specs as my old card, but the GT 240 was only $15 more. I wanted an NVidia card because, along with Windows 7, i dual-boot Ubuntu 9.10, and the consensus is that NVidia drivers on Linux tend to be more stable than ATI.

The card i got is very short in length, but it has a fairly large, high-profile fan, so it takes up extra height in my case, filling two slots spaces instead of one. That doesn’t matter, because the space isn’t being used for anything anyway. The fan is incredibly quiet; the case is still open and i can’t even hear it.

Hardware installation was simple, the new drivers installed without a fuss, and everything seems to be working fine, knock wood.

Windows 7 users will be familiar with the Windows Experience scorecard, which rates a computer’s performance based on its hardware. With the old 9500GS, my graphics score was 5.7. Running on the motherboard’s native video adapter, it was 3.3! Now, with the GT 240, it’s 6.6.

One final shout-out to Newegg. I placed the order at 10 a.m. yesterday, chose free 3-day UPS ground, and the card was in my computer by 3 p.m. today. That’s 29 hours, order to installation. Pretty awesome.