why did my video card burn out?

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by The Grid, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. The Grid

    The Grid OT Supporter

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    specs: dell dimension 8400; geforce 6800 vid card; 3.4mhz pentium 4 processor, 1gb ram, stock power supply/fan; windows xp

    i only use it to play games/watch videos/use internet/microsoft office


    it has been running fine for the past 3 or so years, and about 2-3 months ago i added a monitor (so now i have 19'' lcd and 17'' crt). I've been watching videos on one screen and playing a game on the other screen (or using microsoft office). Been doing htis for about 2 months. I also never turn the computer off (keep it running at night).

    THe other day i smelled smoke coming out from the back of the cpu, fan went into overdrive (blowing very hard), i turned the cpu off, rebooted, and the screens were blank (even though the cpu powered up) and the fan was blowing very very hard.

    Took it in, and they said they found the vid card burnt out and put in a new one and it works fine now.

    I asked them what could have caused this and they said the card was just old and a new one should work fine.

    I'm wondering:
    is dual monitors with vids + games too much here? is my surge protecter not strong enough (i have the entire computer setup in 1 surge protector)? power supply too weak?

    I'm going to get a geforce 7200 to replace it but i'm worried it will just burn out like the 6800 did

    thanks
     
  2. eideteker

    eideteker Who jarked off in my frakkin' coffee? OT Supporter

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    Could be a lot of different things...was it really hot in your area when the card croaked? The video card's fan may have slowed to the point of inefficiency or even stopped completely due to old age or dust buildup. This would allow heat to build and probably pop a capacitor.
     
  3. Stilgar1973

    Stilgar1973 New Member

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    In some ways computers are like cars, in other ways computers are incomparable to cars.

    Your question is really, 'Hey I have been running the video card pretty freaking hard. Did that burn it out?'.

    The answer is - no it did not. In this way you can't compare a car to a computer. If you ran a car at 100mph 8 hours a day for 3 years straight you would destroy it.

    But not the PC. Not the video card.

    Off the top of my head I can see 3 possible things that brought you down.

    1. Dust inside the machine.
    Dust, animal hair, the occasional reptile ( <- CLIK ME!), smoke from tobacco products, etc. regularly get sucked into the computer. The fans that sit on top of the chips sit over aluminum heatsinks. These things REGULARLY collect so much crap that they fail to keep the chips cool.

    Solution: Once a year (or twice if you got pets or smoke heavily around your machine) open the computer up and go after the insides with a can of compressed air. Do this outside because you will blow crap all over the place. It is tempting to use a vacum cleaner, but a vacum cleaner can create static electricity and static is the enemy of all things electronic.

    2. Your PC is not in a well ventilated area. It IS possible that your PC is not in a well ventilated area, or maybe in a room with no AC in the middle of July. If the PC gets too hot things start to fail. The good news is that most critical parts (mobo, chip, video card) have built in safe guards against this where they should just simply turn themselves off if they get over a certain temperature. The bad news is that this isn't exactly a 100% reliable way of making sure your PC doesn't overheat.

    Solution: Move the PC to an area where it is better ventilated, get window air conditioners, point a fan at it.

    3. Electrical spike.
    The cause of this is a combination of 2 things. Your power supply failing and an actual electrical spike traveling down the line into the power supply.
    The thing is, in a perfect universe a power spike that is dangerous would damage if not destroy the power supply - but the power supply would not allow the spike any farther then the power supply saving your PC.
    Power supplys are cheap and easy to replace. I will take a burned out power supply any day over an expensive video card or a mother board that needs swapped out.

    Sadly this isn't how things tend to work. What tends to happen is the power supply somehow survives *visibly undamaged* and the spike is sent down it to destroy other sensitive components.

    Solution:
    Let me say this again, power supplies are cheap and easy to replace.
    Need I repeat it?
    Buy a new power supply. Don't throw out the old one, just set it aside. That way you have a backup in case you ever want to use it.

    Replace the power strip the PC is plugged into. If possible try to balance out the load of all the PC components and whatever else you have between different circuits.
     
  4. The Grid

    The Grid OT Supporter

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    thank you both for your posts!

    There was a TON of dust all over the back of my cpu (vents/fan) and a lot inside the cpu itslef (i've cleaned it maybe once since i bought it).

    the room itself was pretty hot (around 75 degrees probably)

    as for the positioning of the cpu, i just have it on the ground (carpet) next to my desk (about .5'' from the side of the desk) and the rear of the cpu is about 10'' from the room's wall

    i dont think it was an electrical spike (nothing seemed out of the ordinary... no bad weather, comp running fine... although i do now remember that 1-2 days before the vid card went out, one of my monitors was flickering in and out (black screen to normal) while i was playing a video on it... i tried turning the monitor off/on and nothing would fix it so i just left it off since my other monitor worked fine... then next day BOOM, vid card burnt up... this may have been a clue :noes: duh lol

    thx again~!
     
  5. Stilgar1973

    Stilgar1973 New Member

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    Be careful about assuming about the electrical spikes.
    While obvious things (like electrical storms) can definetly cause them do not underestimate the sensitivity of the electronics inside your PC.
    My point about the Power supply protecting the PC was that a large one might break the power supply to the point where it stops protecting you from small ones. Then a small one comes around and you have mysterious problems.

    Having said that - I am not endorsing the idea that you are in a situation where you really should replace the power supply - yet.

    I think you made a pretty strong case that you had a cooling problem where possibly dust build up got so bad the card was not cooling (most likely) or maybe a ventilation problem.

    I recomend that twice a year you take it outside, open it up and take a can of canned air to it. Also take a look at where it is in your room and see if you can think of a way to get some better air circulation around it.

    If after doing that you have other components mysteriously die on you, then I definetly recomend replacing the power supply.
     

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