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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
One of these days I've got to learn to stop trying to fix my computer myself. I always wind up making small problems into massive ones.

It's been a very difficult couple of weeks, and I'm not sure which of the following is relevant and which is not. I'll start at the start, and go through as many details as I can remember.

My current machine is a homebrew system, put together for one guy for another guy, who then gave it to me after I tried to perform some maintenance on my last desktop. Belarc advisor has it using a Micro-Star MS-7255 V2.0 2.0 motherboard, 3.07 gigahertz Intel Celeron D, and traditional Dell CRT monitor. (I can provide other info, if needed, but you may have to tell me how to get it.) When I got it, the graphics card was a GeForce 7200, but it never worked terribly well. Occasionally it would freeze up- the image would freeze, and the sound would start skipping very fast. Power Cycling the machine was the only way to get it working again. Over the past month or so, "occassionally" became "often", and then "constantly". When I finally got fed up, I hit a different tech support board, which shall remain nameless. They had helped me with some problems in the past, but this time they were negative help. They run me through the idiot's grocery list (update drivers, scan for viruses, etc.), a tactic that always irritates me in its' condescension and dismissiveness towards the problem-haver. I jump through the hoops anyway, and of course it doesn't work. I suggest it might be the video card, but I'm redirected towards running Memtest86+ and checking to see if the machine's overheating. I go along, but I suspect the people advising me don't know what they're talking about, and possibly don't care- they misread my posts at least once. When nothing works, I try a little experiment of my own, pulling the card from the slot and reverting to on-board video. This stops the crashes, confirming that it was the video card's problem. So I go out and get a new card, the aforementioned Radeon HD 4350. Things get better, for the time being.

I should have just left it at that, but I keep on getting crashes. The behavior changes, however- instead of freezing up forever, it freezes up for a few minutes, goes to a blank screen, then comes back up in 640X800 or so, with wonky colors and a message that ati2dvag has failed. (I suspect this has to do with a feature in ATI's Catalyst software that attempts to reset the GPU when the driver craps out.) It informs me to restart, which I do whenever it happens, but typically after restarting it will then display a blank screen, prompting a second restart and booting to "Last Known Good Configuration". After that it seems to work, but then inevitably it crashes again and the whole B.S. starts over.

I got mad. Which was probably my biggest mistake. After having the internet give me bad advice with this whole thing, I'm determined to fix the problem myself, despite the fact that I have only the vaguest idea of what to do. I try to uninstall the card through Device Manager, wipe the excess drivers with Add/Remove Programs and Driver Sweeper (in safe mode), and then reinstall. But I hit an obnoxious Catch-22: I need to plug in the card before reinstalling. No problem, but this routes the video signal through the card. And since I nixed the drivers, this means I'm staring at a blank screen and can't do nothing. (At least, that's my interpretation of the problem. All I know for sure is, whenever I tried to reinstall the card from scratch, I got a black screen after Windows takes over from the BIOS.) Additionally, I for some reason can't install it with the New Hardware Wizard, and the install disc from the card manufacturer is sporadic and doesn't detect it. I don't remember exactly what I did to get things working again, but System Restore was involved at some point. I'm sorry, but like I said, I was mad, not thinking rationally, and convinced that online tech support couldn't help me and didn't care.

Anyway, cut to the present- I get another crash this morning when I start thing up, after closing off last night with a seemingly endless series of crashes. I System Restore to a point before I even installed the card, thinking again to start from scratch, but hit that same Catch-22 as before, and now I can't boot without it either crashing or giving me a blank screen. Finally, I have to pull the card from the slot and revert to on-board video again just to get things functional.

And that's where I am today. I'm convinced the problem is that I f'ed up with the drivers somewhere, or probably everywhere, but there's possibly also an underlying problem that was causing trouble before I decided I was MacGyver and conked the whole thing up. Can anyone help me? I'll be glad to provide any information on my system that you could show me how to get.

EDIT: One more thing. Found New Hardware Wizard is now also detecting a "Video Controller (VGA Compatible)" that needs to be installed. The Graphics card isn't in the slot currently, so I think that's for on-board video.
 

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Welcome to tsf. You might want to shorten up your posts next time. A lot of people won't bother reading all that.

For your original 7200 that infact does sound like an overheat to me. Although your new card also has compatibility problems so it may not have. First make sure that motherboard is using the latest bios , and also post the power supply make and model and wattage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Welcome to tsf. You might want to shorten up your posts next time. A lot of people won't bother reading all that.

For your original 7200 that infact does sound like an overheat to me. Although your new card also has compatibility problems so it may not have. First make sure that motherboard is using the latest bios , and also post the power supply make and model and wattage.
Well, it's like those police shows where the big clue that cracks the case is the piddling little thing that the witness didn't think was important, y'know.

My Power Supply isn't listed on BA, but the sticker on the side says "Austin Power Supply Model DR-B300 ATX, MAX 300W".

How can I update the BIOS safely? I know enough to know that if I mess that up, I'm COMPLETELY screwed...
 

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what are you running
video card
cpu
m/board
ram
power supply
brand
wattage

check the listings in the bios for voltages and temperatures and post them

a 300w will not power much these days
 

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Yea that's not a very good power supply. I've seen power supplies cause the strangest problems before, even when video cards are not installed. See if you can borrow another power supply to test in the machine.

As for the bios the safest way is to boot from a floppy , cd , or pen drive and not do it from within windows.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yea that's not a very good power supply. I've seen power supplies cause the strangest problems before, even when video cards are not installed. See if you can borrow another power supply to test in the machine.

As for the bios the safest way is to boot from a floppy , cd , or pen drive and not do it from within windows.
Then my question is, where do you get the updates and how do I set them up to update from a USB drive?

But, I think we getting ahead of ourselves. None of this is going to help me install the video card right until I have the driver issue sorted out. Can we focus on that?
 

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The drivers might be causeing some problems. But what you describe sound like typical hardware related errors , especially when it happens with two different cards. If you have removed all the nvidia and ati related drivers using driver cleaner , and have install the ati drivers fresh and it will still not function , then I would say borrow another power supply and see what you get.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The drivers might be causeing some problems. But what you describe sound like typical hardware related errors , especially when it happens with two different cards. If you have removed all the nvidia and ati related drivers using driver cleaner , and have install the ati drivers fresh and it will still not function , then I would say borrow another power supply and see what you get.
Unfortunately, that's not doable. I can't find a power source greater than 300W, and I can't afford a new one, especially after just buying a new video card. Are you ABSOLUTELY SURE that the power source is the problem? The box for the Radeon says it should be fine, and if the problem is somewhere else after all I'll have blown money I don't have in the first place on nothing. What else could be causing trouble?
 

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whatever is listed on the box add 50% and you will be in the ballpark

video and psu upgrades generally go hand in hand so you need to check when upgrading the video

a lot of people are upgrading these days so one of your friends who has upgraded may have one suitable
as your requirements are at the lower end for psu's

look on the label for a 12v output of 36amps or better on the 12v line
 

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The power supply for that machine SHOULD be a decent quality 350 to 400w. But even if you cannot find a source higher then 300 , then still try another 300 to confirm your power supply is faulty. A separate 300w should work for a little while (few days maybe)to confirm your psu is faulty.

Also try the bios update. You can simply google how to update the bios with a disk , or you can ask in the motherboard section. The manufacturers website might also have some insight , or a simple utility to use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Turns out the best power source I can find is actually a 250W. I thought the machine with the 300 was disused, but apparently not. And the user was miffed when she found me taking a screwdriver to it. Communication is a wonderful thing, isn't it?

Anyway, a friend who works IT said my power source should be just fine, and the real solution is to backup what I need, then wipe the hard drive completely and reinstall everything. I don't really put much credence in that opinion because A) that's his solution to every problem and B) He's a jerk who always thinks he can do everything better than everyone else. His solution is appealing, though, just because it's a zero-dollar solution, whereas if the power supply is no good, I'm just going to have to make do with onboard video until I can afford a new one- or a new machine.

In any event, I updated the BIOS and motherboard drivers and it didn't help. I'm at the point of just shrugging resignedly and giving up. Is there anything else we can try that could possibly solve the problem?
 
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