Weird graphics issues

I’ve been having odd graphics issues as of late. Here’s the rundown:

In the game Waves, enemies and your guy tend to phase in and out of (visual) existence, as well as cursor flickering. It often looks like parts of the background are drawn in the foreground.

In Lego Harry Potter, it worked fine for a while, but near the end of Diagon Alley, weird graphical glitches started occurring (such as the polygons in Harry’s hand being drawn very strangely). After restarting the game, it seems that occasionally it will have the same problem as Waves, where weird slivers of semi-transparent polygons will be drawn in the foreground.

I haven’t played other games enough recently to know for sure, but I opened up Mass Effect 2 really quick and it seemed to have no problems. I also ran a couple other 3D games for a few minutes with no issues.

This computer has never had issues with any of these games before.

Every 3-4 days or so completely bizarre artifacting will occur on my computer. Small squares will appear in random colors over the screen, and parts of the screen will be in the wrong place (think the top half of the T in The Straight Dope logo being in the middle of the screen for no reason). The odd thing here is that it seems to be deterministic. That is, if I switch tabs, it will mess up in a different way, but if I switch back to the previous tab, it will mess up in the exact same way. Same with scrolling down/up and changing application windows entirely.

Full-screen video NEVER messes up at all, but non-full screen video is subject to the same errors as the above paragraph when the artifacting occurs.

Restarting solves the artifacting problem for another 3-4 days, but the games are just as bad no matter what.

I tried reinstalling drivers, updating drivers, rolling back drivers several versions. Nothing works on the drivers front.

Temperatures are completely, 100% fine.

I’ve run some tests on my graphics card (Radeon HD 5970) with OCCT, it never finds any errors.

I can’t tell what could be causing the issue. I’m gearing up for an OS reinstall, but does this sound like the card going to anybody? I’m betting on software because it FEELS like a software issue to me (like DirectX became corrupted and the calls are wrong or something), but I’m not sure. Does anybody have any ideas?

I would suspect it is the card itself, but your first step is to update your video driver (I know you said so, but let’s make 100% sure).

Does it happen more the longer your machine is on? If so you may have an overheating issue. Please report the temperatures of your CPU and video (GPU) 1/ before starting a problem game up and 2/ after say 20 minutes’ play. If your PC’s vendor has given you no way of reading temperatures, Google for and install SPEEDFAN.

Temps are at about 60C idle and go to about 65-70C under load for 30+ minutes (depending on the graphical complexity of the game).

And I’ve had my drivers completely updated for a while. In fact, I updated them in response to this issue. I’ve been running 11.x drivers since about an hour ago just to see if it would fix the issue, since it never happened when I had 11.x drivers (it didn’t fix it).

ETA: Those are GPU temps, CPU temps range from 25(idle)-45(load) or so (and it rarely gets up to 45).

Well, this is weird. I tried actually PLAYING waves, when the mouse cursor becomes invisible in game, it actually acts like there’s no cursor at all, i.e. it shoots in the default direction. There’s no way that’s tied to the graphics card.

Also, I forgot to mention, the artifacting can be “moused over” so to speak. That is, the mouse pointer can occlude the artifacts, which I’ve never seen before.

Is your power-supply adequate? That’s a pretty heavy duty card with dual GPUs, and if you don’t have enough watts to feed it and the rest of your PC, weird things like that can happen. I’d try disconnecting as many unessential peripherals as possible to see if that helps. If you run with a minimal load on your PS and that corrects the problem, you know it’s time to upgrade your PS.

If it’s PS related, another thing that can sometimes help is to plug your PC directly into an outlet/circuit by itself - no power-strip sharing the load with a bunch of other stuff.

Both suggestions are easy enough to try, and if you do them both and still have problems, at least that’s one possibility you can eliminate.

My PS is pretty beefy (1200W, I think, may be higher). It may be DYING though, I just don’t know how to test that without buying a bunch of equipment.

Issue persists after full OS reinstall, so I guess it is a hardware problem somewhere.

I agree. If you can borrow a different video card, try that out - I rather suspect the problem will go away.

Have you tried to take the card out and put it back in? It could be as simple as the card not sitting properly in the slot.

Your GPU idle temperature should be nowhere near 60C. Is the card’s fan working?

All my fans are working fine. I’ve been having problems with airflow despite having a two very large fans and one smaller one on the back. My old Nvidia card idles at 85 and constantly overheated under load, this ATI one does MUCH better, like I said, it rarely gets above 75 even under heavy load. I don’t know how to fix it save going to watercooling which isn’t going to happen.

I’ve been searching around and everybody has been saying that 60C is high-ish but fine, so long as it doesn’t go above 85C or so on load.

I have come to the conclusion that my computer is fueled by belief. I brought it in to the hardware store, they said they ran every diagnostic and stress test they could and nothing was wrong.

I brought it home, played the trouble games.

Nothing was wrong.

I hate it when that happens.